Joe Biden Denies Tara Reade Allegations

The presumptive Democratic nominee says, "They aren't true. This never happened."

YahooNews (“‘People need to hear the truth’: Joe Biden denies sexual assault allegation“):

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a statement early Friday morning denied allegations of sexual assault made by a former Senate staffer, addressing the matter publicly for the first time.

In March, Tara Reade, a former aide who worked in Biden’s Senate office, alleged that in the summer of 1993, he cornered her in a hallway, kissed her, reached under her skirt and digitally penetrated her without her consent.

In a statement emailed to the media, Biden categorically said those events did not happen.

“They aren’t true. This never happened,” the statement read. “While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”

Biden said his denial is supported by several former staffers who told major news networks that they did not recall Reade making such allegations at the time.

“News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one — not one — who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have,” wrote Biden.

In the weeks after Reade’s allegations, his campaign denied them but Biden himself, who has kept a low profile during the coronavirus pandemic, did not address them, nor was he asked, in the media appearances he made.

[…]

On Friday, nearly a month later, Biden spoke up. He responded to continued calls to release his Senate papers housed at the University of Delaware, saying they would not contain a record of an assault accusation — that the National Archives would be where any such record might be kept. In his statement, Biden said he was requesting the secretary of the Senate to make public any document mentioning the allegation, if indeed one exists.

“If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” said Biden.

On MSNBC later Friday morning, host Mika Brzezinski pushed Biden repeatedly on why he’s not opening his Senate records at the University of Delaware. Biden insisted “there are no personnel documents” in the archive, which contains official papers, including records of private conversations with President Barack Obama and other world leaders. Material in them “could be taken out of context” and might be “fodder in a campaign,” he said, explaining why they are sealed until after he retires from public life.

The denial is unequivocal. I’m inclined to believe it.

Biden is certainly right that we deserve to hear the truth. Either he or Reade are flatly lying. There is no room for confusion here.

The press has lagged in covering this story. They devoted far more energy to allegations of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh as a high schooler than they have to those regarding a middle-aged United States Senator.

Reade is apparently going to be interviewed over the weekend by Fox News, inexplicably the only major network to have extended her an offer.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jax says:

    I’m not sure I agree with you on the “the press has not covered this”. I’ve seen blips on my news aggregator about it for months, including every time her story changed and the allegations became “more serious”. When they first came out with it, there was no mention of “digital penetration”.

    It strikes me as highly unlikely that this man could’ve served as Vice President to a President that Republicans were DYING to take down, and this didn’t come out then. She didn’t go public, and Republicans didn’t chase it. So why now? Color me suspicious.

    32
  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Without knowing in advance what the National Archives has, Biden called for any documentation to be released. Why would he do that? Because he knows she’s lying. No NDA’s like Trump. No claims of privilege. Either there is, or is not, a complaint filed by Reade.

    This is the one objectively verifiable statement from Reade. If she filed a complaint at least that much of her claim is verified. If there was no such complaint, then you have to ask yourself why she said there was. You can add that question to the question: Why has there never been a similar allegation about Biden? Where is the pattern? And then add the question: Why has she told so many versions of the story? I was molested 54 years ago, and somehow I’ve told the story the same way for 54 years.

    Falsus in uno falsus in omnibus.

    36
  3. James Joyner says:

    @Jax: There was far, far more coverage of Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh than this one.

    @Michael Reynolds: There have been all manner of lesser sexual assualt allegations against him but I agree that this seems grossly out of character for him. But I’d have said that about Bill Cosby until I knew better.

    9
  4. Paine says:

    Yeah.. this story stinks to high heaven. The behavior she describes sounds like something done by a drunken frat boy, not a 50-year old pol with political ambitions to the highest office in the land. He was VP for eight years and she never thought to speak out? Or bring this to light during the primary season when Biden could have been undercut more easily? This has GOP ratf*ckery written all over it.

    21
  5. Kathy says:

    No smearing of the accuser, no questioning her motives, no implications or claims of conspiracy, an invitation to investigate, no hasty coverup, no shifting blame to the media.

    It’s as though Biden is an adult.

    45
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    No, there are not sexual assault allegations, there are, ‘He’s too huggy,’ allegations. Hugging is not assault, unless you hugging your daughters is evidence of molestation.

    Personally I dislike the physical contact – hugs, cheek kissing, air kissing – that was a pre-Covid feature of meetings and appearances, but a peck on the cheek or a hand on the back is not assault or related to assault.

    This isn’t going to bury Biden, it is going to bury #MeToo. Once #MeToo became #BelieveAllWomen this was inevitable. Maximalist, categorical statements like that are stupid overreach. Believe all children. Believe all teachers. Believe all priests. Believe all plumbers. Believe believe believe believe.

    No, FFS, you never believe all anything, and as a practical matter you don’t make those categorical statements because they are too easily falsifiable, in fact are doomed to be falsified, and then what have you got?

    So much stupid in so many areas of politics. Does no one know how to play this game?

    22
  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Coverage of Kavanaugh v. Biden is explainable by the context, with allegations against Kavanaugh coming out at the time of his confirmation hearing.

    I did find Ben Smith’s article in the AM’s NYT about the refusal of cable news to interview Reade, the exception being Fox, interesting. This refusal, can hurt Biden, as CNN and MSNBC can be seen as protecting him. We would be better served if one of those stations brought her on and had her state and defend her allegations, Fox won’t challenge her. Both the Times and the Post have done deep dives into the allegation and have raised inconsistencies and questions, it would be edifying to see her respond to her story being challenged.

    10
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    By the way, this also dooms the 16 accusations leveled against Trump. He just got immunity. Jesus H. Christ.

    9
  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The press has lagged in covering this story. They devoted far more energy to allegations of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh as a high schooler than they have to those regarding a middle-aged United States Senator.

    Apples and oranges. The allegations against Kavanaugh were more credible, and part of a pattern. And let’s be honest…the allegations were never thoroughly investigated.
    The far more relevant comparison is with Trump, the other candidate for President in the 2020 election, who has admitted to sexual assault.

    22
  10. Joe says:

    Either he or Reade is [not are] flatly lying.

    FTFY

    6
  11. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    There was far, far more coverage of Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh than this one.

    One, Reade’s story has a smell of BS too strong for even the supposedly liberal MSM to miss. Two, COVID-19 has been sucking all the air out of the room. Three, a story has to fit the narrative, Blasey Ford’s story fit the Boof narrative, as confirmed by Kavanaugh’s own later rant in the hearing. Reade’s story doesn’t fit the old sleepy Joe narrative. Four, give the GOPs time. This is hardly over.

    24
  12. JohnMcC says:

    Reluctantly and late, made an exploration and think there are two articles for anyone who has not made their mind up already: At Balloon-Juice, Alex Silverman does his usual thorough work. “The Real Purpose and Objectives for the Accusations Against Vice President Biden”. And at Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau: “What Is Disturbing About Tara Reade’s Accusations”.

    9
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Pendulums swing. Except this harassment/assault pendulum was stuck full right for a long time. Then it swung a bit too far left for a bit. You’re probably right that it’s swinging back. And as men are still in charge of most things, will probably get stuck right again for awhile.

    7
  14. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: It’s way too early to say that there was more coverage of Kavanaugh’s case than Biden’s case. This is going to be hawked by the Repubs and endlessly cycled by Fox for the next 7 months. By the time this is over I very much doubt that there will have been less coverage.

    And, so far, the Kavanaugh case differs in another very important way. I don’t think Kavanaugh should have been confirmed, but not because of Blasey-Ford’s testimony. I think he disqualified himself by his childish temper tantrums, disrespect to the Senate, obvious partisanship and most importantly, by his defiantly obvious lies about his drinking and the interactions he had with his buddies. Everyone knew he was lying, and he knew we knew, but he delighted in the fact that his powerful sponsors could push his nomination forward anyway.

    I didn’t hold his past against him and if he had said he didn’t remember the incident and that he had matured as a person from the obnoxious adolescent that contemporaneous documents revealed, I would have accepted that. But he chose to take a scorched earth policy, spewing contempt for any that dared question him. That reaction should have been disqualifying because of what it said about his honesty, his impartiality and his character. I think there are many people that oppose him on the same grounds.

    If Biden were to take the same approach, I would also view it as disqualifying, at least in normal times. If he took that approach against, say, Romney or Dole, I would reluctantly vote for them. Obviously, against Trump, other factors weigh in.

    32
  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He just got immunity.

    I get why you are saying this, but it assumes Trump can stop himself and his people from endlessly bringing up Reade. While Trump has shown some ability to walk away from such issues, he will be firing up his people constantly.

    4
  16. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: Read Silverman’s piece this morning. Second your recommendation. He comes at it as an expert on misinformation campaigns. Misinformation doesn’t need truth, it seeks confusion, as do Republicans.

    9
  17. drj says:

    I have thought about Reade’s allegations quite a bit (decent rundown here).

    In the end, it’s simply unknowable at this point whether they are true. So that leaves “character” and “trustworthiness.”

    And while I am not saying Reade’s allegations can’t be true, she is not IMO someone who can be trusted.

    It’s her (previous) support for Putin that disqualifies her.

    Not because she is “wrong” about this (lots of people have questionable beliefs), but because the case for Putin cannot be made fairly and honestly. In order to defend Putin or Putin’s Russia, it is necessary to lie and deceive.

    In other words, Reade is someone who has demonstrated a willingness to lie and manipulate.

    Again, that doesn’t mean her allegations can’t be true, but it does mean that we need a lot more to go on in order to believe them.

    10
  18. Jon says:
  19. gVOR08 says:

    Just skimmed FOX “News” on Biden’s statement. Preview of coming attractions in the RWNJ media.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @drj:

    Not because she is “wrong” about this (lots of people have questionable beliefs), but because the case for Putin cannot be made fairly and honestly. In order to defend Putin or Putin’s Russia, it is necessary to lie and deceive.

    I have made the same point repeatedly about the Republican Party.

    5
  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m with you. I hate maximalist, categorical statements.

    We live in an age of maximalist, categorical statements. They are what people say to try to punch through, to get attention. They are slogans, not legal testimony. They are not statements of policy. And if you demur on repeating the slogan, you are “off message” at best, and a traitor at worst.

    So, in my head I translate #BelieveAllWomen to “take it seriously, and investigate”. But that doesn’t make a good slogan. #TakeAllComplaintsOfSexualHarrassmentSeriously is a terrible hashtag.

    10
  22. inhumans99 says:

    Since I was someone who could be seen as clutching at pearls in other threads because so many people wanted Biden to say something and I preferred that he just lay low I will say that perhaps getting his statement out now so far ahead of the actual election is a plus.

    If, as Michael notes, this give Trump a free pass…well, that might be the price we pay to get past this and get our guy in the White House. I feel like the opposition party is prematurely going hard over this allegation as it will have gone down most peoples’ memory holes in a few months. Anyone with an R or claims to be a conservative who tries to keep this alive in a few months will be seen as being in the tank for President Trump and not caring how corrupt their guy is. Even Politico notes that President Trump gave Biden cover to make the statement noting he has also dealt with these type of allegations.

    I honestly think that our President does not want this story to be front page news in Sep/Oct as it just reminds folks of his issues. On the other hand, I feel that instead of using Tara Reade to take down Biden he was giddy at the thought of using Hunter Biden to pound away at Biden’s popularity among the folks who are likely to actually vote.

    The Hunter Biden GOP investigation being sideline by the Virus is what really drives President Trump bonkers, as he was hanging his hat on that investigation to screw over Biden the way Clinton was screwed over by a constant barrage of investigations that occasionally uncovered things that the GOP had uncanny success turning into mountains vs the molehills they actually were.

    If I were Biden, I would now shut up about the subject and lay low again. I think he or his advisors are smart enough to tell him to do this as he does not want to make the GOPs’ lives any easier when it comes to trying to keep him from the Oval Office.

    9
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Trump any time anyone asks him about complaints against him: “You know, sometimes people lie, there was a women, a good woman, who accused Biden of horrible, horrible things, much worse than anything said about me. I mean I never believed Sleepy Joe was a molester, but some people say he was. Who knows?”

    And our counter is?

    4
  24. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No, there are not sexual assault allegations, there are, ‘He’s too huggy,’ allegations.

    Unwanted touching, hugging, nuzzling, etc. that Biden has been serially accused of is sexual assault under most current definitions. It’s sexual assault under Defense Department policy, as I’m required to be trained on an annual basis.

    Hugging is not assault, unless you hugging your daughters is evidence of molestation.

    My hugging my daughters isn’t assault because it’s consensual. When Donald Trump hugged teenage beauty pageant contestants because he was in a position of power, it was sexual assault.

    Obviously, both of those are much lower on the scale than other things Trump has credibly been accused of and what Reade is accusing Biden of here. Maybe “sexual assault” is too broad a category. But, again, Biden’s grabbiness and general creepiness towards women would get him fired in most workplaces.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The allegations against Kavanaugh were more credible, and part of a pattern.

    We didn’t know about them until the media started digging in.

    And let’s be honest…the allegations were never thoroughly investigated.

    They were investigated to death, such that a huge percentage of the public believes them. I tend to believe Ford, although mostly because Kavanaugh proved himself a boldface liar. (If you’re simply talking about the FBI investigation, I agree that the second look was rather cursory. But I think it’s impossible to solve a cold case of this type.)

    @MarkedMan:

    It’s way too early to say that there was more coverage of Kavanaugh’s case than Biden’s case. This is going to be hawked by the Repubs and endlessly cycled by Fox for the next 7 months. By the time this is over I very much doubt that there will have been less coverage.

    Oh, I think that’s true. I’m just commenting on the relative lack of coverage thus far.

    Again: My inclination is to believe Biden here. The climate has shifted such that allegations like this have to be taken seriously. I think there’s enough reason to doubt them. And, frankly, if we had a video of him committing the act, I’d still prefer him to Trump by a longshot.

    15
  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @inhumans99:

    If, as Michael notes, this give Trump a free pass…well, that might be the price we pay to get past this and get our guy in the White House.

    I’m less concerned by that, we have more than enough ammunition to use against Trump. What is a matter of concern is all the other men, all the truthfully accused men, who can shrug and say, “Hey, they tried this on Biden and it didn’t go anywhere.”

    I’ve been riding this hobby horse for some time now, and I’ll repeat: Unjust means do not yield just results. The minute #MeToo became #BelieveAllWomen the movement made itself hostage to the first high-profile false accuser. There are reasons why we insist – or used to – on a presumption of innocence. People desperate to get Biden have ended up protecting the real bad guys.

    8
  26. KM says:

    My question for the lady in question (who claims to be a Dem for what it’s worth) is why she chose now to speak up. 8 years of Biden the VP were acceptable but not 4-8 years of Biden as POTUS? Biden was considering a run last time around, why not speak up to sink the chances of a man you felt shouldn’t be Pres and needed to be held accountable?

    Maybe it took her time to work up the confidence to speak up as she was working through her issues. Maybe she thought it was worth Obama to grudgingly let Biden slide. Maybe it’s all BS. However you want to to view it, what it comes down to is her choice to speak up now is rather damaging to her credibility; she was fine with Biden being a heartbeat away from the Oval Office for nearly a decade but suddenly needs to speak up during this campaign…. especially when it would lead to another, far more prolific and unapologetic abuser to remain in power. Fair or not, it makes this look like a political hit piece and makes people less likely to take her seriously. As @Michael Reynolds noted, it’s going to cause #MeToo to take a hit, especially if things start coming out that make her story less credible.

    8
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    Maybe “sexual assault” is too broad a category.

    Yeah, no shit. If not then I’ve been assaulted by a whole lot of librarians, teachers and editors. And by the way, don’t tell me you’ve never hugged one of your kids to calm them down when they were throwing a tantrum and they didn’t want you to. Give a motivated therapist a week with one of your kids and you’ll be accused.

    Americans have always been fucked up when it comes to sexuality.

    Not only do we not have standards of evidence, we don’t even have a definition of possible charges. Again, I’ve been pointing this out for months at least. This is inherently unjust and unstable.

    Your honor the defendant is accused of unspecified, undefined charges of a severity we can’t measure and therefore must be assume to be maximally heinous, and therefore said defendant must be presumed guilty. Of something. And then punished. In some way.

    I believe that was the approach taken to black defendants during Jim Crow, writers under McCarthy, teachers from McMartin pre-school, intellectuals under the Khmer Rouge and women in Salem circa 1692.

    12
  28. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “And our counter is?”

    “In refuting the accusation, Biden immediately called on the National Archives to release the relevant documentation, thus showing he has nothing to hide. You refuse to release anything. What are you hiding?”

    Jesus, Michael, if all it took to immunize Trump from an accusation was an accusation against someone else, he’d be claiming Nancy Pelosi’s hotels are benefitting from government service.

    15
  29. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “What is a matter of concern is all the other men, all the truthfully accused men, who can shrug and say, “Hey, they tried this on Biden and it didn’t go anywhere.””

    Or they can wave their arms and scream “Duke Lacrosse!!!! Duke Lacrosse!!!”

    Anyone can say anything, in attack or on defense. Yes, I see a handful of (mostly women, mostly Bernie supporters) now calling Biden a “rapist,” but most people make their judgments in a context. Simply saying “he did it” or “no I didn’t” is not going to sway a lot of minds, even if it’s repeated on Twitter.

    Unless, of course, they[‘re talking about Woody Allen, in which a single, frequently disproved allegation is used to hang the man and no other version is allowed to be mentioned. But in that case you have a concerted political campaign by a powerful journalist working to stamp out any contrary voices…

    6
  30. wr says:

    @KM: “My question for the lady in question (who claims to be a Dem for what it’s worth) is why she chose now to speak up. 8 years of Biden the VP were acceptable but not 4-8 years of Biden as POTUS? ”

    I asked this of some crusading young woman on Facebook — a Bernie supporter, no surprise. She huffed that 2008 was a completely different time when women wouldn’t be believed.

    2
  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Our counter is to trot out the dozen and a half women who have credible accusations against Trump and the multiple lawsuits against him. But rather than stay on that tack, which is baked in at this point, it would be far better to talk about how all these flaws just show why he has had so many business failures. His lack of impulse control has been a recurrent theme as is his inability to control his temper, the inevitably of toxic splits with business partners… yada, yada, yada. Use it to pivot to attack what is perceived as a strength, in such a way as to reinforce the theme that is already known about Trump. Can’t control his impulses. Can’t keep his mouth shut. Inevitably causes bankruptcy for him or for those involved with him.

    Are the Dems sophisticated and disciplined enough to pull this off? Unfortunately I doubt it

    4
  32. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Oh, please. Someone said that? Seriously?

    1
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And then add the question: Why has she told so many versions of the story? I was molested 54 years ago, and somehow I’ve told the story the same way for 54 years.

    I don’t believe you have told that story the same way for 54 years. Human memory doesn’t work that way — you don’t just read from your unchanged memory, the act of remembering changes the memory itself. You might not have changed any relevant details, but you definitely changed it.

    For an extreme example, look at Brian Williams and his helicopter being shot at and having to land. It didn’t happen, and there’s a pretty good record of the story slowly changing over the years as details get an added weight. I have no doubt that Brian Williams would have passed a lie detector test (if they were reliable) with his version of the story, even though it was almost completely false.

    Hillary Clinton’s plane landing under fire in Bosnia is another example.

    As we go through life, we construct a narrative to make our actions make sense to us, and to fit who we think we are, creating motivations and even other events out of thin air. There are some absolutely fascinating studies on this, some involving people with curious forms of brain damage, and others with “normal” people doing the same thing but more subtly.

    My guess would be that Tara Reade isn’t lying, per say, but that her memory is simply unreliable. I think the odds are pretty good that she would pass a lie detector test.

    I could probably construct an elaborate story about how it took me three times to get the blockquote right here, but I think “Gus is a bonehead” covers it well enough…

    8
  34. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    Unless, of course, they[‘re talking about Woody Allen, in which a single, frequently disproved allegation is used to hang the man and no other version is allowed to be mentioned.

    Except with Woody Allen, it fits a pattern of creepy sexual behavior. Woody Allen might be perfectly innocent, but when he married his wife’s daughter, and created movies about middle aged men going after just barely legal women… he created a situation where a lot of stories are going to stick.

    Plus, members of his family believe the accusations and are quite vocal, so people may assume the repeated statements mean it’s true.

    5
  35. mtar925 says:

    @James Joyner: News orgs scrambled to cover Ford in part because if time pressure, with Ford only going public a few weeks before the vote on Kav’s nomination. When Reade told the rape story it was still ~4 months from the Dems finalizing their nomination and it seems responsible to give reporters more time to dig, no? She says that Ronan Farrow is looking into it, among others.

  36. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    When he was well into his forties, Allen was involved with two teenagers: Babi Engelhardt, who was sixteen, and Stacy Nelkin, who was seventeen. Nelkin was legal, but it is creepy for a middle-aged man to be so obsessed with very young women.

    2
  37. EddieInCA says:

    I’m stealing this from user “Esperanza99” from Rod Dreher’s site.

    Biden’s response should be, any time he’s asked aobut it, a version of this:

    “First off, I refuse to apologize for an event I maintain never happened, and the claimant can’t prove. Second, are you kidding me? Let’s work our way through the legions of accusations against the sitting president before we start talking about allegations against me. Give me a break. Nobody is going to change their vote over this issue. Nobody. Third, nothing about the ability to manage our federal government has anything to do with 30-year old sexual transgressions. This is a binary decision….one of us will be president next January…figure out who you know can do that better and vote accordingly.”

    10
  38. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Actually, you remind me of a comment from Roman Polanski to the effect that you shouldn’t expect him to not been sexually attracted to the beautiful teenage girl. To which a normal person would reply, of course we expect it. That’s why we have laws against it.

    3
  39. Pylon says:

    @EddieInCA: That’s not a good response, other than the first half of the first sentence. You never say “X can’t prove that” – it’s practically an admission in the court of public opinion. Second, I wouldn’t say “let’s compare my accusations against Trump’s” unprompted. Third, talking about strategic voting in response to a sexual assault allegation is just not on.

    The only response should be “it never happened, and I’ve already addressed this completely”.

    9
  40. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:

    Biden’s grabbiness and general creepiness towards women would get him fired in most workplaces.

    [emphasis added]

    OK, I see what you did there, equating unsolicited touching with pussy grabbing.

    In today’s culture (or perhaps that of the last 15 years), unsolicited non-sexual touching might well “get you fired”. But based on my experience in early 1990s industry, that same unsolicited non-sexual touching would warrant a rebuke and possibly a reprimand. (And only if the “victim” were outraged enough to file a formal complaint)

    8
  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t believe you have told that story the same way for 54 years. Human memory doesn’t work that way — you don’t just read from your unchanged memory, the act of remembering changes the memory itself. You might not have changed any relevant details, but you definitely changed it.

    Well, relevant details are rather the point, no? I have a very bad memory for things I deem irrelevant. Like humans. I don’t remember names or faces or who said what to whom because in my exceedingly peripatetic life, people are transient phenomena.

    But I can remember exactly what happened when I was 11. I told my mother at the time. I’ve never heightened the story, for example, alleging physical force was used – it wasn’t. I can give you the positions, the actions, what was said, I can detail the smells.

    I can also remember in precise detail meeting my wife, or being held up, or having my door kicked in, or being arrested in an antique store, or what I was doing when I hit the NYT list. I remember what’s important to me to remember.

    I agree memory generally is unreliable, but only memories that are demoted to less relevant. For example, normal people do remember names and faces. Normal people would never try to seat a couple they’d just spent two hours waiting on. Normal people don’t forget neighbors they’ve lived next door to for three years while still at that same address. Do you forget your friends’ faces? It’s a question of how a memory is catalogued. You don’t forget what matters to you. Neither do I.

    Reade’s memory – if that’s what it is – evidently did not store the event as important. If it had been important to her, she’d remember it. Ask my wife if she remembers being pistol-whipped in Annapolis. Ask my dad, even in the early stages of dementia, if he remembers shooting a shadowy suspected Viet Cong climbing onto his boat in the Mekong. Ask me if I remember walking through a tunnel between hospitals behind nurses rushing our first born to NICU.

    3
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    And as men are still in charge of most things, will probably get stuck right again for awhile.

    As a student of politics (amateur) this frustrates me no end. The reaction to injustice is not to push for some countervailing injustice, it’s to insist on justice. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. People prioritize their anger over their goal. It just pushes the pendulum one way so that it inevitably gathers enough energy to swing back. It’s like people’s thinking stopped when they rode their first teeter totter.

    5
  43. Jeff Wynn says:

    Interestingly, it appears Tara Reade’s tweets are best read in a Russian accent.

    1
  44. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    @Gustopher:

    Sorry Gustopher, I’m with Michael on this one.

    I have certain things seared in my memory that have NEVER CHANGED. I remember being 8 years old in third grade and my mom having to come pick me up at school because our teacher broke down over Bobby Kennedy’s shooting and death. I remember what my teacher was wearing. I remember what the principal was wearing.

    I remember, in scary detail, when my my friend Pat, was shot to death at a party in 1977.

    I remember, in scary detail, meeting my late wife for the first time in 1986.

    I remember, in scary detail, the entire morning of 9/11, mostly because I lost a cousin in Tower One.

    Those detail will never, ever change. If I had been sexually assaulted, I think I’d remember where, for example.

    7
  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA:

    …figure out who you know can do that better and vote accordingly.

    Exactly! Even if the accusation were true and in addition Biden was a raging alcoholic, gambling addicted, pedophile who fwked goats and corpses, he would still be a better than Trump was even in 2016 when we didn’t really know what a dumpster fire he and the GOP Congress were going to be.

    1
  46. mattbernius says:

    @Jeff Wynn:

    Interestingly, it appears Tara Reade’s tweets are best read in a Russian accent.

    Yeah, that’s one of the dumbest conspiracy threads that I’ve read on Twitter.

    I’m no Reade supporter, but anyone who regularly tweets — especially from phones — is going to have some awesome tweets due to distraction, brain farts, and autocorrection.

    Put another way, you probably could do the same thing with my feed (or honestly my posts here) from the last two weeks as well.

  47. mattbernius says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I did find Ben Smith’s article in the AM’s NYT about the refusal of cable news to interview Reade, the exception being Fox, interesting. This refusal, can hurt Biden, as CNN and MSNBC can be seen as protecting him. We would be better served if one of those stations brought her on and had her state and defend her allegations.

    Agreed. If MSNBC was smart, they’d bring him on the Scarbourough show and let Brzezinski handle the questioning (just like today with Biden).

  48. wr says:

    @CSK: “Seriously?”

    Oh, she was serious. You could kind of tell she was one of those who is always serious.

  49. wr says:

    @Gustopher: If you conflate a man marrying a 21 year-old woman and making movies about men attracted to women in their late teens with a man who sexually molests a seven year-old, then there’s really no point in having a discussion.

    Maybe when bookstores are open again, go skim those parts of his memoirs where he talks first about his relationship with Soon-Yi — which still lasts, although she is pushing 50 — his relationship with Mia Farrow, and what he says about the accusations. You can believe him or not, but at least you won’t come across like a McMartin school prosecutor.

  50. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @EddieInCA: The science says you’re wrong. You can find countless papers and studies on the subject. Here’s one from the NIH.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183265/

    Memory can be very easily distorted, intentionally or unintentionally, even for very significant and traumatic experiences.

    Either the science is wrong, or you’re wrong about how reliable your memory is, or you two are bizarre freaks of nature. I think that second one is way more likely than the first or third.

    3
  51. Teve says:

    I have one particular memory that I can see clear as day. I can absolutely see in my minds eye, this small series of events. The other person in this series of events pointed out that my memory can’t possibly be correct, because the article was written by someone at Boston University, not NC State. It’s a fact. There’s no way that article says NC State. But I can plainly to this day see the picture on the cover of the magazine, the article, and the words NC State. But it’s not real. My brain retconned it years later.

    There’s a reason eyewitness testimony is known to be terrible.

    Why science tells us not to rely on eyewitness accounts

    Reconstructing Memories

    The uncritical acceptance of eyewitness accounts may stem from a popular misconception of how memory works. Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.

    Many researchers have created false memories in normal individuals; what is more, many of these subjects are certain that the memories are real. In one well-known study, Loftus and her colleague Jacqueline Pickrell gave subjects written accounts of four events, three of which they had actually experienced. The fourth story was fiction; it centered on the subject being lost in a mall or another public place when he or she was between four and six years old. A relative provided realistic details for the false story, such as a description of the mall at which the subject’s parents shopped. After reading each story, subjects were asked to write down what else they remembered about the incident or to indicate that they did not remember it at all. Remarkably about one third of the subjects reported partially or fully remembering the false event. In two follow-up interviews, 25 percent still claimed that they remembered the untrue story, a figure consistent with the findings of similar studies.

  52. Mikey says:

    An interesting bit of news: after Biden’s interview by Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe, Reade abruptly canceled her interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace, which was supposed to have been recorded Friday for broadcast Sunday.