Opinion: Tara Reade, Joe Biden and the #MeToo trap

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. Here is one thing that Christine Blasey Ford and Tara Reade have in common: The Intercept reporter Ryan Grim was pivotal in publicizing their stories. Before anyone had heard of Blasey, Grim reported that Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, had a letter from a constituent represented by a lawyer specializing in sexual harassment and assault cases. And it was Grim who helped put Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault and harassment, on the public radar. In March, Grim raised questions about why a legal fund devoted to helping #MeToo victims declined to take her case. He later broke the news that a woman Reade identified as her mother called into “Larry King Live” in 1993 to ask foradvice for her daughter, who worked for a “prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all.” Try to imagine what would have happened if, a few weeks before Grim reported on Blasey, she had tweeted at him, apropos of Kavanagh’s fortunes, “Yup. To be clear, the fact that Reade timed her charges for maximum political impact doesn’t mean they’re not true. Her story about that assault has changed, but as my colleague Elizabeth Bruenig points out, that is not unusual in survivors. On March 18, she tweeted, “When I filed a complaint against Joe Biden for sexual harassment and more I was fired in ’93.” But The Associated Press reported that last year she said, “They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in thereonce, but then I chickened out.” According to The A.P., she now says she meant that she chickened out about reporting her full experience but did fill out an “intake form” with somebroaddetails. Initially, Democrats were credulous when the now-disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti introduced another accuser, Julie Swetnick, but many eventually realized her story didn’t hold up. They don’t want to repeat the errors many of them made when they dismissed Bill Clinton’s accusers, nor do they want to erode the #MeToo taboo against picking apart the motives and histories of women who recount sexual assault. On Friday, the website Law & Crime reported that a niece of Christine O’Donnell, a former Republican Senate candidate in Delaware, said that Biden commented on her breasts at a 2008 Gridiron Club dinner, when she was 14.