Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) became one of the highest-profile figures to highlight the discrepancies in media coverage of sexual assault allegations against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“At the very least, it’s pretty obvious that the same people who were outraged about allegations—unproven allegations against Justice Kavanaugh when he was in high school—seem to have little or no interest, or certainly not as much interest, in suggestions of improper behavior by an adult who is in the Senate. I think these things ought to be dealt with symmetrically,” McConnell said during an interview on Fox News Radio on April 27.
“I think what most Americans would like is sort of a symmetrical evaluation of these allegations rather than what we have seen, at least so far.”
Just before being nominated to the nation’s highest court in 2018, Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual misconduct while he was in high school and college. Those claims suffered from no corroboration, and he was eventually confirmed, but not before major outlets ran dozens of stories suggesting malfeasance and largely aligning with Democratic lawmakers’ opposition to his confirmation.
The same outlets have run or aired few stories about Tara Reade, a former staffer for Biden when he was a U.S. senator in the early 1990s.
According to a study by the watchdog Media Research Center, neither NBC nor ABC have aired stories about Reade, while CBS spent one minute, three seconds on the allegations, MSNBC spent under five minutes, PBS spent just over seven minutes, and CNN spent no time until a video resurfaced relating to the accusations.
Besides having a proven link to Biden—unlike every woman who had accused Kavanaugh—several recent pieces of evidence have supported Reade’s claims, including two women going on the record relaying how she spoke of the alleged assault within three years of it happening.
Attempts to reach Reade and Biden for comment have been unsuccessful.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president hasn’t been asked about Reade’s accusations during his media appearances in recent weeks, including interviews with Politico, CBS 4, and MSNBC. Biden’s campaign has said Biden believes “women have a right to be heard—and heard respectfully.”
“Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen,” campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said in a statement sent to news outlets.
Several prominent lawmakers who were once running for the Democratic nomination and endorsed Biden after dropping out have faced questions about Reade’s accusation. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told NPR that “all women in these cases have the right to be heard and have their claims thoroughly reviewed.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said during an appearance on CBS’s “This Morning” that “any woman who feels that she was assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims.”
McConnell told Fox News Radio that the allegation will be discussed in the months leading up to November.
“I can’t imagine that this kind of an issue isn’t going to be discussed during the presidential campaign. Surely those in the reporting world who were so animated about the investigation of Justice Kavanaugh would have an equal interest in this subject,” McConnell said.
Biden in 2018, as many Democrats came out in support of the women accusing Kavanaugh, said that women who enter the national spotlight to accuse high-profile men of sexual wrongdoing “should be given the benefit of the doubt and not be, you know, abused again by the system.”
Ford “deserves to be treated with dignity. It takes enormous courage for a woman to come forward, under the bright lights of millions of people watching, and relive something that happened to her, assert that something happened to her. And she should be treated with respect,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.