Tara Reade’s testimony: The media’s silence is saying something


Illustration by Ethan Gullett

Ebony Purks, Staff Writer

About a month ago, sexual assault allegations came out against projected Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and there has been practically no news coverage on the matter. A woman named Tara Reade came forward with sexual assault allegations against the former vice president, alleging he sexually assaulted her in the 90s while she worked for him when Biden was a senator of Delaware. Biden has denied claims of sexual misconduct, but where is the reporting otherwise?

It seems suspicious that news outlets have been relatively quiet about Reade’s story for weeks because, naturally, it is the news’ responsibility to report facts objectively. Whether the allegations against Biden are true or not, the story deserves attention. For a former staffer to come forward with assault allegations against a front-running presidential candidate is major, and for news outlets to blatantly ignore Reade’s allegations sends a harmful message to women.

By not reporting the story, these media outlets are picking a side, and the side they are picking is against the facts, the facts being the existence of Reade’s accusations. It was frustrating to only see the discourse of Reade’s story from Twitter users rather than reporters. I know liberal news outlets are hesitant to report the story because it is somewhat close to November, and they may feel Reade’s story gives Trump leverage over Biden’s presidential campaign. As we all know, the Trump presidency is perhaps the most controversial and messy presidency America has seen, and liberal news outlets do not want to report anything negative on America’s only chance at beating Donald Trump: Joe Biden.

However, it is not the news outlets’ responsibility to decide how people receive the facts; it is their job to report the facts. Whether or not people want to continue supporting Biden is the voter’s choice. By not reporting the story, news outlets are influencing voters’ decisions by keeping them in the dark. That is unethical, biased and irresponsible reporting, or the lack thereof.

Naturally, it makes me wonder: If Biden were a Republican, would liberal media outlets be as silent? When Dr. Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, the allegations were reported on by most major media outlets. Similarly, when the recording of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was leaked, it was also reported on most major media outlets. Many of the networks’ major TV personalities, journalists and panelists even discussed how that kind of misconduct, whether alleged like in Kavanaugh’s case or admitted like in Trump’s case, was unacceptable for men in their positions. I agree. But where is that same energy of reporting in Biden’s case? Suddenly sexual assault allegations are not newsworthy?

Furthermore, what kind of message do we want to send sexual assault survivors and young girls and women in the Democratic Party? Major news outlets opting out of reporting Tara Reade’s story are conveying that her story is not worthy of reporting, and that is disappointing. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, sexual assault survivors were finally getting national platforms to expose the sexual misconduct prevalent in so many aspects of a woman’s life and career. The movement is what allowed men like Kavanaugh and Trump to be critiqued by the media in ways they might not have been two or three decades ago.

Progress is slow, but it felt like America was moving toward a culture of finally supporting and believing women. However, it seems progression turns to regression because even ethical reporting on sexual assault allegations is now asking for too much.