A New York Times reporter was mocked on Twitter when she attempted to explain why the paper took so long to report sexual assault accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden compared to allegations made against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
The Times took 19 days to report on Tara Reade’s accusations against Biden despite extensive, immediate coverage given to sex assault allegations made against Kavanaugh. A Twitter user with the name Jim McCarthy asked Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin – who co-wrote a book about Kavanaugh — why the paper handled the stories differently.
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“It appears you both have remained silent on the Biden sexual harassment story, even when your top editor contrasted it with NYT’s Kavanaugh coverage,” McCarthy asked. “Why is that?”
Kelly responded the claim was “not true” and praised the paper’s coverage before offering an explanation that did not go over well.
“And as our executive editor @deanbaquet pointed out in a recent interview with my colleague @benyt, Kavanaugh ‘was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment,’” Kelly wrote.
She was referring to a recent interview that the paper’s media reporter Ben Smith conducted with executive editor Dean Baquet.
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Baquet gave a lengthy answer about holding the story until the Times could do its own reporting and then explained why Kavanaugh was handled differently.
“Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way. Kavanaugh’s status as a Supreme Court justice was in question because of a very serious allegation. And when I say in a public way, I don’t mean in the public way of Tara Reade’s. If you ask the average person in America, they didn’t know about the Tara Reade case. So I thought in that case, if The New York Times was going to introduce this to readers, we needed to introduce it with some reporting and perspective. Kavanaugh was in a very different situation,” Baquet said. “It was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment.”
Kelly was swiftly condemned when she paraphrased her boss in an attempt to justify the paper’s decision.
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Reade, a former Biden staffer, alleges that she was assaulted by the then-senator in 1993 after previously going public last year about allegations of inappropriate touching.
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Reade said she tried to share her story last year, but nobody listened to her. This past Thursday, she filed a criminal complaint against Biden with police in Washington, D.C.
The Times also came under fire this week when it deleted a tweet and tweaked its report about Reade’s claim, which originally read, “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
The Biden campaign vehemently denied Reade’s allegation.
“Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to Fox News.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.