MSNBC Host on Tara Reade Accusation: 'The Right Is Running a Smear Campaign Against Joe Biden'

May 1, 2020

MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace said Friday that calls to investigate the sexual assault accusation against Joe Biden are a "smear campaign" orchestrated by the political right.

"The right isn't running an intellectually honest operation to get to the bottom of whether Tara Reade was victimized," Wallace said. "The right is running a smear campaign against Joe Biden. The right wants to create some sort of equal playing field on which Donald Trump's nearly two dozen accusers sort of have some company on the other side."

Reade's accusation is receiving significant attention across the political and media spectrum. The story came to light in March, when Reade told progressive podcaster Katie Halper that Biden penetrated her with his fingers in a congressional hallway in 1993. Additional reporting from The Intercept and Business Insider—neither of which is a conservative publication—showed that Reade told others she was mistreated by Biden in the 1990s. New York Times media columnist Ben Smith called out television outlets for not booking Reade for interviews and pressed his own newspaper's executive editor about why the paper waited nearly three weeks to report on her claim. Biden has denied the charge, telling Morning Joe Friday that the incident Reade alleges "never, never happened."

Wallace, who briefly served in the George W. Bush White House, often reminds viewers she left the Republican Party out of disgust with Trump and has pledged to vote for the Democratic nominee in 2020.

Biden was pressed Friday by MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski on his prior statements that women who make sexual misconduct allegations should be believed. Biden said he had always meant they should be taken seriously and have their claims investigated. Numerous prominent Democrats have echoed Biden's dismissal of Reade's allegation despite declaring that women should be believed when Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 2018.

Wallace, however, said Democrats are primarily concerned with "consistency."

"The right is not running the same operation that the Democrats are running, which is to try to have some consistency around statements that I think just about every elected Democrat has made about women in the context of the MeToo movement," she said.

Reade was one of eight women who accused Biden of inappropriate touching in 2019, but she did not publicly make her more serious charge until her podcast appearance in March.