An investigative journalist who has reported on Harvey Weinstein’s many sexual crimes, says major publications have run stories on sexual assault allegations with “far less” evidence than former Senate staffer Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden.
Rich McHugh served as Ronan Farrow’s producer at NBC News during the Weinstein sexual assault scandal, and later accused the network of tanking their investigations into the allegations at the request of Weinstein’s chief attorney, who happened to be Democrat “super-lawyer” and Clinton ally David Boies.
In an interview on the Hill’s “Rising” podcast, Tuesday, McHugh explained why the allegations should be taken seriously by the corporate media, which has been largely derelict on the story.
Reade first described the 1993 alleged assault in an interview with liberal podcaster Katie Halper, alleging that Biden pushed her against a wall, lifted up her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers. When she pulled away in horror, Reade says, he resentfully complained that he thought she liked him. She said he appeared to be angry and later pointed his finger at her, saying “you’re nothing to me.”
McHugh told “Rising” podcasters Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti that Reade reached out to him after the story broke in late March because she wanted an investigative journalist to look into her allegations. His in depth story about her allegations and her criminal complaint against Biden was posted Friday night at Business Insider.
The journalist said he interviewed Reade’s brother and a close friend, both of whom confirmed that Reade told them about the alleged assault after it happened.
“They struck me as incredibly credible people,” McHugh told Ball and Enjeti. “These were not short conversations. I drilled down on the details of the story and they matched up with her story.”
The reporter said he also spoke with a former Biden intern who wasn’t told about the alleged assault, but did remember that Reade was abruptly removed from her post in April of 1993, which tracks with Reade’s claim that she was demoted. Another woman Reade confided in after the alleged assault also told McHugh that she remembers being told “something horrific.”
The reporter said that after hearing enough of these corroborating accounts, he was convinced that there was “a bedrock of information from which to proceed comfortably” on the story.
He said that the fact that Reade last week filed a criminal complaint against Biden gave her “an additional level of credibility” because now if her allegations are proven to be false, she could be sent to prison.
McHugh went on to reveal that Reade before the assault happened, she had allegedly filed a complaint with the Senate about his sexual harassment, but said he has been unable to find that document.
“It appears to be at the University of Delaware with Biden’s senatorial papers, but it looks like they’re sealed,” he said. “So that’s a question mark.”
McHugh noted that Reade’s allegations against Biden may never be proven, but “publications have gone to print with far less and I think she deserves the same level of … being heard,” he said.
The New York Times finally reported on Reade’s allegations on Easter Sunday, stressing up front that “a Biden spokeswoman said the allegation is false, and former Senate office staff members do not recall such an incident.”
In a follow-up story, reporter Ben Smith asks Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, why it took 19 days for the paper to cover the scandal.
“I’ve been looking at The Times’s coverage of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh,” Smith said, adding that he wanted to focus on Julie Swetnick’s allegations.
She was the one who was represented by Michael Avenatti and who suggested that Kavanaugh had been involved in frat house rapes, and then appeared to walk back elements of her allegations. The Times wrote that story the same day she made the allegation, noting that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.”
Why was Kavanaugh treated differently?
“Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way,” Baquet explained, apparently unconcerned that the presumptive challenger to be President of the United States is also “already in a public forum in a large way.”
“Having gone through Harvey Weinstein and all of them, you make these judgments,” Baquet said. “It’s very subjective. It has to be. You just gotta add up all the pieces and talk to as many people as possible and then do a gut check. There’s no magic formula.”
“Actually, there is,” countered Ace of Spades. “The formula is, ‘Does this hurt Democrats too much?'”