ABC Ignores Tara Reade Interview, NBC & CBS Push Joe Biden Denying Sexual Assault

National   |   Kyle Drennen   |   May 8, 2020   |   2:41PM   |   Washington, DC

As former Senate staffer Tara Reade gave her first on-camera interview detailing her sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden on Thursday, neither ABC’s World News Tonight that evening nor Friday’s Good Morning America mentioned the important development. While NBC and CBS did cover the story, both networks framed Reade’s public comments as a “response to Joe Biden’s strong denial.”

NBC Nightly News was the only network evening newscast to report on Reade’s interview Thursday night, after clips of her conversation with Megyn Kelly were first made public earlier in the afternoon. “Tonight, Tara Reade, a former Biden Senate aide who is now accusing him of sexual assault 27 years ago, in her first response to Joe Biden’s denial,” senior Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed as she started off the 2 minute 19 second segment.

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She echoed that framing on the Today show Friday morning: “Tara Reade’s comments are her first on-camera response to Joe Biden’s strong denial of her assault allegation just a week ago with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC.” Mitchell added that the interview came “As the Biden campaign points out inconsistencies in Reade’s account over the years.”

“In her response to Biden’s denial, Tara Reade emotionally describing what she says happened in the spring of 1993,” Mitchell reiterated as the taped portion of the 3 minute 16 second segment began. The reporter explained: “She alleges Biden pushed her up against the wall of a Senate corridor and put his hand under her clothes.”

Soundbites ran of Reade telling Kelly about the incident:

He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then I said, you know, “Here you go, Senator,” I handed him the bag. And it happened very quickly….He had his hands underneath my clothes and it happened all at once. He had one hand underneath my shirt and the other hand, I had a skirt on, and he like went down my skirt and then went up….He pointed his finger at me and he said, “You’re nothing to me, you’re nothing.” And I think – I think that’s the hardest thing.

Mitchell quickly noted: “Biden has consistently denied Reade’s claims, repeating his denial Thursday when asked about her new comments.”

She wrapped up the report by citing statements from the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign:

The Biden campaign issuing a statement Thursday saying, “Every day, more and more inconsistencies arise. Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm – and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth”….The Biden campaign says no one from his Senate staff recalls ever hearing about such an incident and the lawyers who vetted Biden to run for vice president say they found no misconduct of any kind.

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Ed O’Keefe sounded similar to his NBC colleague as he began his network’s 2 minute 51 second report on Reade’s interview: “In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Tara Reade responded to Joe Biden’s denial that he sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill hallway in 1993.”

A clip played of the exchange in which Reade called on Biden to end his presidential campaign:

READE: You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.

MEGYN KELLY: You want him to withdraw?

READE: I wish he would. But he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.

KELLY: Do you want an apology?

READE: I think it’s a little late.

While O’Keefe acknowledged that “We have spoken with several acquaintances and her brother who have corroborated her story,” he also cautioned, “Reade’s version and their version of events have evolved in interviews with other news outlets.”

The reporter only briefly noted new corroboration of Reade’s claim:

Late Thursday, the Tribune paper in San Luis Obispo, California, reported that a 1996 court document shows Reade told her ex-husband about problems with sexual harassment in then-Senator Biden’s office in 1993. The document doesn’t say that Biden committed the harassment or mentioned Reade’s more recent accusation of assault.

NBC completely ignored that new evidence.

Concluding his report, O’Keefe touted: “In response, the Biden campaign said in a statement that as ‘more news outlets speak to Reade and her associates, more and more inconsistencies keep emerging.’”

While NBC and CBS at least covered Reade’s interview, the beginning, middle, and end of those reports repeatedly emphasized Biden’s denials of the allegation. That was not how the same networks covered sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in September of 2018. At that time, out of the 344 minutes the NBC, ABC, and CBS evening newscasts devoted to the claims against Kavanaugh over an 11-day period, only 14 of those minutes noted his denials.

Reporters may cover Reade’s claim, but they frequently include Biden’s denial in the same breath. Note: Kyle Drennen is an MRC News Analyst and a graduate of Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science. This was originally posted on the Media Research Center blog NewsBusters.