The New York Times is in “drag Joe Biden across the finish line” mode. There is no better example of that than its coverage of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against her former boss, who was a Senator at the time of the alleged assault.

The paper tried to downplay Reade’s claims by including a line about how “filing a false police report may be punishable by a fine or imprisonment.” The outlet then changed a pivotal paragraph to take out language about past allegations of sexual misconduct against Biden by numerous other women.

To recap, here was the original paragraph:

http://archive.is/sZ7hT

The new paragraph states:

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.

A tweet with the same language was also deleted. In another tweet explaining the deletion, the paper blamed “imprecise language”:

In an interview with NYT media columnist Ben Smith, executive editor Dean Baquet tried to explain why it took the paper 19 days to report the whole story. Baquet revealed their entire game (bolded emphasis added):

Smith: I want to ask about some edits that were made after publication, the deletion of the second half of the sentence: “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.” Why did you do that?

Baquet: Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.

It’s not very often you find a significant media outlet openly admitting to changing a story after complaints from the accused’s presidential campaign, but there you have it.

Baquet also gave a rather revealing answer to a question about why the paper’s coverage of sexual misconduct allegations against Biden had been so different from their coverage of the allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. They took their time with reporting on Biden’s but published allegations against Kavanaugh the day they came out. Smith asked why the difference:

Smith: I’ve been looking at The Times’s coverage of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. I want to focus particularly on the Julie Swetnick allegations. She was the one who was represented by Michael Avenatti and who suggested that Kavanaugh had been involved in frat house rapes, and then appeared to walk back elements of her allegations. The Times wrote that story the same day she made the allegation, noting that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.”

Why was Kavanaugh treated differently?

Baquet: 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. It was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment.

“Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way,” but Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States, is not? Baquet’s claim there literally does not make any sense.

This is further evidenced by a question from Smith earlier in the interview where he asked Baquet why the paper did not give Reade’s story the breaking news treatment:

Smith: Tara Reade made her allegation on a podcast on March 25. Why not cover it then as breaking news?

Baquet: But mainly I thought that what The New York Times could offer and should try to offer was the reporting to help people understand what to make of a fairly serious allegation against a guy who had been a vice president of the United States and was knocking on the door of being his party’s nominee.

Look, I get the argument. Just do a short, straightforward news story. But I’m not sure that doing this sort of straightforward news story would have helped the reader understand. Have all the information he or she needs to think about what to make of this thing.

Nonsense. It’s a standard operating procedure for media outlets to run with a quick breaking news story that gives what the known facts are at the time. More detailed follow-up stories then go up soon after once they conduct interviews, do research, analyses, etc. Baquet knows this because it’s standard for the Times to do the same thing. But apparently not when it involves serious allegations against a guy they’re trying to help win an election.

Brett Kavanaugh had to be stopped, so it was full-court press on throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him, no matter that the allegations against him were unsubstantiated.

On the other hand, Biden is the best chance the Times’ has to defeat Trump, so they’re willing to toss what little bit of journalistic credibility they had left out the window to protect him, including editing a damaging story after his campaign lodged complaints.

Quite frankly, the Q&A between Smith and Baquet did the paper more harm than good and only confirmed that the Times’ willfully and deliberately frames their coverage of public figures based on the left-wing political biases of their newsroom and editorial board.

While this is not new news for anyone familiar with the paper’s history of giving Democrats deferential treatment, it’s still infuriating all the same.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 

 
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