CNN’s Brian Stelter has largely ignored Tara Reade’s bombshell allegation that the Democrats’ presumptive 2020 presidential nominee, Joe Biden, sexually assaulted her in the early 1990s, which in turn has drawn the notice of some media watchers saying a brief mention in his newsletter and single tweet do not compare well to his extensive coverage of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 2018.
“At this point, it’s hard to pretend like Stelter is a journalist. The same guy who put Michael Avenatti on air… who treated every allegation against Justice Kavanaugh as the gospel truth and who is happy to peddle tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories about President Trump, can’t find his way to even mention serious and contemporaneously corroborated claims of sexual assault against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president,” conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News. Avenatti, an attorney, represented adult-film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against Trump; he later was convicted in a separate case linked to extortion attempts.
Stelter had been stone-silent for nearly a month since Reade first came forward with claims against Biden. The story expanded from a political narrative to a potential media scandal this past Friday when decades-old footage from Stelter’s own network was unearthed, appearing to show Reade’s late mother alluding to her daughter’s claims.
Reade, a former staffer for then-Sen. Biden, confirmed to Fox News that the woman heard in the “Larry King Live” clip was her mother, Jeanette Altimus, who died in 2016.
Still, despite the fact the clip was from CNN itself, Stelter buried the story in his Saturday night newsletter labeled, “In other news.” He then failed to cover it during his Sunday morning media show, “Reliable Sources.”
Why CNN didn’t dig up its own clip containing the words of the accuser’s late mother, especially considering how much time the network focused on assault accusations against Kavanaugh, then became a media story in and of itself.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, center right, is facing criticism for his response to the sexual-assault claim from Tara Reade, far left, against then-Sen. Joe Biden, far right. Reade’s mother apparently called the CNN talk show hosted by Larry King, center left, decades ago.
CNN finally started covering Reade’s assault claim against Biden after a month-long on-air drought on Saturday afternoon amid an onslaught of criticism. But Stelter, the network’s in-house media watcher, didn’t partake.
As a result, media watchdogs anticipated Stelter’s Sunday show, which has claimed to examine the media world on a weekly basis, to see if he would finally address the situation surrounding Reade on air.
Those observers were left disappointed, as Stelter never mentioned the scandal.
“CNN has a public perception problem, reflected in its low ratings. Taking a serious news approach to the Tara Reade case is an opportunity for CNN to help restore reporting credibility. Unfortunately, it appears CNN will miss this opportunity,” Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News.
Stelter, who has been extremely active on Twitter, had not even mentioned Reade’s name in a tweet or acknowledged her claims as of Sunday night — well over 48 hours after the 1993 CNN tape was uncovered and roughly a month since Reade’s claims first became public.
On Monday, the story continued to unfold and Stelter finally broke his Twitter silence, sort of.
Business Insider’s Rich McHugh tweeted a story that Reade’s former neighbor came forward to corroborate her sexual assault claims against Biden.
Stelter took to Twitter to highlight that the neighbor “is the first person to independently corroborate, in detail and on the record, that Reade had told others about her assault allegations contemporaneously,” quoting from McHugh’s report.
“This isn’t the behavior of a journalist, it’s the behavior of a shameless partisan hack,” Barron said.
Plenty of Stelter’s followers also took notice:
“It’s great to see CNN finally start to acknowledge the Biden sexual assault scandal, but it’s a pathetic attempt. CNN nearly did a better job covering the story in 1993 than they are now. Compare that to the round-the-clock coverage the network gave the bogus allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News.
“Even then, CNN is still CNN,” Gainor added. “Media scold Brian Stelter tweeted about Reade’s claims one whole time Monday. Of course, he also tweeted at least six times to whine about Trump press conferences. So, he has his priorities.”
Back in 2018, Stelter was all in when Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of assault. He delivered passionate monologues about her claims and how difficult of a time she was having. The contrast in coverage of Reade’s claims compared to Blasey Ford’s has been striking, as Stelter spoke about Kavanaugh’s accuser on all of his platforms.
“Believing women means doing so whether it’s politically convenient or not,” feminist author Jessica Valenti tweeted.
Stelter, who founded TVNewser and covered the media industry for The New York Times before joining CNN, wasn’t always seen as partisan but has emerged as an outspoken critic of President Trump, members of his administration and other conservatives.
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News, “a few stories on CNN.com here, a segment there, and a newsletter footnote won’t erase the latest full-court press from the likes of Stelter” to shirk the liberal network’s “journalistic responsibilities.”
Houch added, “The moniker of ‘Reliable Sources’ has always been to give viewers the inside story on the news and how it’s made. Theoretically, that remains. But, instead of showing viewers, Stelter has done so through what’s been predictable silence — aside from a mealy-mouthed nod in the newsletter,” Houck said.
Stelter, however, has had a pattern of overlooking major media stories that didn’t fit a liberal agenda. Last year, he essentially ignored a hot-mic recording that featured an ABC News reporter claiming her network could have exposed pedophile Jeffrey Epstein long before his crimes came to light. The story had all the elements that a media reporter typically would cover, but critics assumed Stelter didn’t want to give attention to Project Veritas, the controversial group that obtained the video because it previously had targeted CNN.
Stelter wasn’t the only CNN host who largely skipped Reade’s allegations; Jake Tapper interviewed former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams about her ambitions to be selected as Biden’s running mate on his “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, but he failed to mention the allegations against her potential running mate.
Stelter had not mentioned anything related to Reade’s claims on air as of Monday afternoon. CNN did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.