In Depth

Reaction: Joe Biden sexual assault accuser pulls out of TV interview

Tara Reade’s claims are yet to be proven - but commentators say she ‘must be heard’

A former Senate staffer who claims Joe Biden sexually assaulted her has reportedly cancelled an interview with Fox News after receiving death threats.

Tara Reade pulled out of the TV appearance after the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate denied the allegations against him, which date back to 1993. On Friday, in his first television interview about the claims, Biden told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: “It is not true. I am saying unequivocally, it never, never happened.”

Despite his rebuttal, The New York Times says that while there “there are reasons to doubt” Reade’s story, “there aren’t good reasons not to hear her out”.

She had been due to speak to Fox News on Sunday, but just hours earlier The New York Times’ Lisa Lerer tweeted that Reade had cancelled after both she and her family were threatened. Reade later retweeted that tweet, reports Slate.

The interview would have been “a coup for the conservative network, and give its on-air hosts a club with which to beat a mainstream media that can’t quite explain why it won’t book Ms Reade”, says The New York Times.

Commentators have pointed to similiarities between the case and the sexual assault accusations levelled at Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as well as “four years ago, when more than a dozen women accused President Trump of sexual misconduct and assault”, notes The Hill.

But “that is where the similarities end”, says the Washington D.C.-based news site.

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Republicans “have wasted little time accusing Democrats of hypocrisy, citing their near-uniform outrage” in the cases of Kavanaugh and Trump, reports The Washington Post.

But in contrast to those two men, Biden both wanted his accuser to be heard and rebutted her accusations “head-on and in an unequivocal manner”, says The Hill.

And nor has the former vice president “disparaged, attacked or tried to discredit Reade, or attempted to undermine or question her motives”, continues the site, which adds: “Democrats wholeheartedly support the notion that survivors of sexual misconduct and violence should have the opportunity to tell their stories, regardless of politics and political party.”

So will Reade have an opportunity to tell her side of the story?

At least two of her former colleagues have corroborated aspects of her claims against then-senator Biden to the Associated Press, and seven other women came forward last year to say Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate displays of affection.

Given that body of evidence, “the Democratic National Committee should move to investigate the matter swiftly and thoroughly, with the full cooperation of the Biden campaign”, says The New York Times’ Editorial Board

“Even if certainty isn’t possible in this matter, the American people deserve at least the confidence that he, and the Democratic Party, have made every effort to bring the truth to light,” the opinion piece concludes.

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