NY Times (Badly) Explains Why They Sat on Biden Accusation for Three Weeks
When they finally went to press this weekend with the story of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden, The New York Times had on their hands a phenomenal contender for the Worst Article of The Year awards, wherever and whenever those might be handed out. Not only was the Times pathetically late in covering the story, the way in which they approached it was utterly unrecognizable when compared to…well, just about any other #MeToo story they’ve done over the last three years. Inside every paragraph, the reader could practically feel the reporters straining to withhold themselves from screaming: THIS IS FAKE NEWS, BIDEN IS INNOCENT, WE HAVE TO WIN THIS ELECTION!
But for as awful as the story was, the Times managed to somehow make it worse on Monday.
That’s when they went to print with an interview with Executive Editor Dean Baquet. The purpose of this interview? To explain to readers why the Times sat on this story for 19 days before finally publishing. Now, when the editor has to come in an defend a major piece of reporting, your paper is already well behind the eight ball. But when the editor mangles the defense as badly as Baquet did, well, it might have been a better decision to leave the interview on the cutting room floor. In fact, we’d say the Times’s reputation (such as it is these days) was better off when they were ignoring this whole story than it is today. What a mess.
To give Times’ writer Ben Smith some credit, he asks some pretty good questions throughout the piece. The big problem comes from Baquet’s answers.
“Tara Reade made her allegation on a podcast on March 25. Why not cover it then as breaking news?” asks Smith.
“Lots of people covered it as breaking news at the time,” replies Baquet. “And I just thought that nobody other than The Intercept was actually doing the reporting to help people figure out what to make of it. I thought what The New York Times could do and bring to the story was the expertise we had developed over doing more than a dozen of these kinds of stories.”
What? Websites like The Intercept and other left-wing forums were covering the story, so The New York Times didn’t feel the need to do so? Since when is that their modus operandi?
Smith later brings up the paper’s coverage of Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations against him. The Times, of course, took a far different approach to those allegations, including some from accusers whose credibility was…um, less than pristine.
“Why was Kavanaugh treated differently?” asks Smith.
Now read this doozy of an answer from 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.
What a bizarre, telling answer. Kavanaugh was “already in a public forum in a large way”? Are you serious? As opposed to Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party?
But you see Baquet tries to do a little pivot there, as though he’s comparing Tara Reade’s national profile with Brett Kavanaugh’s. It’s a complete joke, and it shows definitively that, when it comes to explaining why the Times is covering this story differently than Kavanaugh’s, he has no good answer.
Well, he does, but it’s not one he’s going to admit in the pages of his own rag.