Executive editor Dean Baquet has once again solidified his reputation as one of the most incompetent and unethical journalists to lead The New York Times.
He has been doubling as a not-so-covert Democratic partisan and operative who still seems to think the public can’t see through his disguise.
On March 25, Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s Senate office, told a podcast that he sexually harassed her in 1993.
The New York Times spoke with Reade and reported her accusation on Sunday after waiting two and a half weeks. It then quickly altered the story to whitewash other sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden at the campaigns’ request.
Reade told the Times that Biden pinned her against a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers. The newspaper confirmed that Reade had recounted her experience to people contemporaneously.
“A friend said that Ms. Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time. Another friend and a brother of Ms. Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden,” the Times reported.
A spokeswoman for Biden told the Times the allegation was false. The newspaper also interviewed several people who worked in the Senate office with Ms. Reade who “did not recall any talk of such an incident or similar behavior by Mr. Biden toward her or any women. Two office interns who worked directly with Ms. Reade said they were unaware of the allegation or any treatment that troubled her.”
Minutes after the newspaper published the story on Sunday morning it deceptively edited a paragraph, removing all references to past accusations by seven other women that the former vice president had touched them inappropriately.
The story originally stated: “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
At the Biden campaign’s request the sentence was changed to: “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.”
Baquet responded to allegations of bias toward Biden in an interview with New York Times media columnist Ben Smith published Monday. Smith asked him why the second half of the sentence incriminating Biden was deleted.
“ Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the [Biden] campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say,” claimed Baquet.
“The main obligation was to get a really sensitive story as close to right as we could, he asserted.
Smith also wanted to know if Baquet was following his own heart by downplaying a story that could hurt Biden’s chance to win against President Donald Trump in the next presidential election.
“I can’t make that calculation. I won’t,” Baquet replied. “I won’t let my head or my heart go there. I think once you start making those kinds of calculations, you are not a journalist anymore. You’re some sort of political actor.”
Many readers had been struck by the newspaper’s long silence about the accusations, asking on social media, “Where’s The New York Times?” Smith asked Baquet why the newspaper didn’t even bother to write a short news article when the story broke.
“I understand the argument. Just make a short, simple news story. But I’m not sure if a short news article would have helped the reader understand,” said Baquet.
His reluctance to publish accusations against Biden contrasts sharply with the speed at which he tackled those by Julie Swetnick against then Supreme Court nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination by Trump turned him into a target of liberal firebrands in the MeToo Movement.
The Times published a story on the same day Swetnik made her allegations of inappropriate touching and gang rape, noting that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.”
Baquet defended his editorial decisions with the pathetic excuse that, “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,” the executive editor insisted.
The more Baquet tries to make lame excuses for the Biden cover-up, the more obvious it becomes that he is just another lackey for the Democratic Party establishment.