New York Times Says Biden Campaign Inaccurately Citing Report on Sexual Assault Allegation

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden / Getty Images
April 29, 2020

The New York Times is pushing back against talking points circulated by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential campaign that the paper says inaccurately cite its reporting to rebut a sexual assault allegation.

The talking points, whose existence was first reported Monday evening by BuzzFeed News, "inaccurately suggest" that the paper's investigation into the allegation detailed by a former Biden aide, Tara Reade, did not happen, the Times said Wednesday.

"BuzzFeed reported on the existence of talking points being circulated by the Biden campaign that inaccurately suggest a New York Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation 'did not happen,'" Danielle Rhoades Ha, the paper's vice president of communications, told the Washington Free Beacon in an email. "Our investigation made no conclusion either way."

The Biden campaign is asking supporters to lean into the Times report as evidence of Biden’s innocence. "In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen," they say.

The Times, however, made clear in its April 12 story on the allegations that it was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about the veracity of Reade's claims. The paper's reporters spoke both to former colleagues of the alleged victim who said they didn't recall the incident as well as to friends who said that Reade detailed Biden's sexual advances at the time.

"As BuzzFeed correctly reported, our story found three former Senate aides whom Reade said she complained to contemporaneously, all of whom either did not remember the incident or said that it did not happen," Rhoades Ha said. "The story also included former interns who remembered Reade suddenly changing roles and no longer overseeing them, which took place during the same time period that Reade said she was abruptly reassigned. The Times also spoke to a friend who said Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time; another friend and Reade’s brother say she told them of a traumatic sexual incident involving Biden."

Though Biden has yet to comment directly on the allegations, his campaign has vigorously denied them. The campaign's talking points have been parroted by Biden supporters Stacey Abrams and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), who are under consideration as vice presidential nominees. Both women referenced the Times report in when offering statements of support for the embattled vice president.

Since the Times story was published, additional witnesses have emerged to corroborate Reade's claims in on-the-record interviews.

Reade's former neighbor, Lynda LaCasse, told Business Insider that Reade confided in her about the sexual assault in the mid-1990s.

"This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it," LaCasse said, adding that she nonetheless plans to vote for Biden in the upcoming election.

The Times report on Reade's allegation was edited after its publication to remove a reference to Biden's "hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable." Dean Baquet, the paper's executive editor, said the edit was made after a request from the Biden campaign, which "thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct."