Tucker Carlson cast doubt on Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden last night, perhaps in a signal to the Fan in Chief and the Trump 2020 campaign to look elsewhere for Biden smears.
As I wrote in a previous post, I have long suspected that Carlson is not the biggest Trump fan and that his bigotry, while genuine, is played up to appeal to Trump fans without having to actually cheerlead him. But Carlson is definitely not anti-Trump, either, at least not as far as his television gig is concerned.
The Reade story is very confusing (to me, at least) but as far as I can tell, Carlson gave a relatively straightforward and factual account of its details. However, he left out the fact that Reade abruptly canceled her interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace shortly after Biden appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, vehemently denied her accusations and requested the Senate and the National Archives search their records to try to locate a complaint. After Biden’s MSNBC appearance, Reade told AP she canceled the Fox interview over, as the AP put it, “security concerns” and that her complaint against Biden did not allege sexual harassment or assault.
For someone playing truth teller, it’s an odd set of omissions.
One thing Carlson made sure to include is his demonization of liberals and the rest of the media. No Fox News commentary seems to be considered complete without hate for a good chunk of America.
CARLSON: We’ve told you Biden’s weird reaction to the charges. He stammered when asked. We told you at length about the infuriating, the sickening hypocrisy of the media and the professional feminist movement. "Believe all women!" No, no they don't. It depends on the politics. [You mean like this, Tucker?]
Having established his conservative bona fides for the MAGA viewers, Carlson went on without inflammatory rhetoric:
CARLSON: But one thing we have not yet addressed in any detail is Reade's story itself. What exactly does she say happened between herself and Joe Biden? Is there any evidence to back it up?
In retrospect, we probably should have started there, which is really at the beginning. So tonight, we want to take you through the details of the story. Why? Because we think we're going to be hearing a lot more about it, and it's good to be grounded in what the facts are.
Then came his recitation of the facts. Let me know if I missed anything else he left out or skewed.
Then came his warning:
CARLSON: But the timing does mean -- and this is our duty -- that we ought to keep our guard up as this story progresses. Those of us who cover it going forward should be very wary of being used.
Again, this is a presidential year. Weigh everything against the facts. Take nothing for granted. The one thing you can be certain of this year is you're being lied to.
So, is this an admonition to Trump World? Let me know what you think.
You can watch the commentary below, from the May 6, 2020 Tucker Carlson Tonight.
I’ll note that Carlson starts off with a couple of cheap shots – one to smear Dems for somehow being hypocrites and the other to play a little game about Biden somehow being senile. (That’s why Carlson was having so much fun talking about Biden stammering – not mentioning that Biden has always had to fight against a speech impediment)
Carlson does provide several of the facts we know about Reade’s allegations and her recent history of sketchy behavior, which is only part of the reason why her allegations are being looked at with skepticism. (And the fact that she’s repeatedly changed her story is only one other part of her credibility problem.)
The Reade story is just the latest attempt to chase Joe Biden out of the 2020 campaign, and it illustrates an odd alignment between Far Left and Far Right advocates. Earlier, we had the “Ukraine Corruption” approach, which the Right spearheaded and some Bernie Sanders fans echoed – but that was based on long-discredited conspiracy theories and only resulted in Pence’s childish spokesman getting himself impeached. Then we had the “Biden is SENILE!” approach, which they’re still playing today, and which Bernie Sanders fans have enjoyed indulging. And now we have a rape allegation being trumpeted by Sanders fans and then being amplified by Right Wingers – with both sides agreeing that they hate Biden and want him to lose.
I’ll also note that the hypocrisy on display here is not coming from principled Dems and Leftists. Comparing the Ford/Kavanaugh situation to the Reade/Biden one, there are some clear parallels. People on the Far Left immediately condemned Kavanaugh in the former matter and Biden in the current one, even before hearing any evidence. So to be fair to them, they’ve been consistent in their approach. Dems and Leftists trying to examine these cases have also been consistent – looking for actual evidence and a stable account. With Professor Ford, we had documentary evidence from her therapist and an unchanging story from the moment she first told it to the moment she was put in front of the Senate. And we had Kavanaugh’s own history and his bizarre tantrum when confronted about it. So Professor Ford’s story had and still has credibility. With Tara Reade’s story, we have conflicting versions from her and from her friends and brother, and we have no documentation of any rape or of her filing even a complaint about harassment. And we have clear indications of bias from her and from the people trumpeting her story on both the Right and the Left. So this is not a story that has credibility.
But let’s look at how the Right Wing has reacted to the two cases. In the case of Professor Ford, they immediately rejected it before they’d heard any evidence. They decided he was innocent without even asking any questions, because he was their chosen man to help tip the Supreme Court farther into the realm of the Hard Right. In the case of Tara Reade and Joe Biden on the other hand, they’ve immediately decided that Biden is guilty without even asking any questions. So the Right Wing guy is automatically innocent but the likely Dem nominee is automatically guilty. Good to know.
He should have told her that THREE weeks ago.
The 800 pound gorilla in the room is, of course, Trump and his sordid past of walking through rooms of undressed beauty pageant contestants, serial adultery including while current trophy wife Melania was pregnant, sleeping with Playmates (while married), sleeping with prostitutes (while married), partying with infamous child rapist Jeffery Epstein, and a history of rapes/sexual assaults of over 20 women. Payoffs? Did I mention illegal payoffs? Even a whiff of that can’t get to his audience.
Biden is the enemy so this demands exposure; he’s on the wrong team. However, the #MeToo movement has made this topic like walking on eggshells, particularly for privileged white men who tend to be the ones abusing their power in these cases. Like the cases that drove Foxies like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly out of the building. So what to do?
Well, Tucker figures just mentioning the scandal to his MAGA cult followers will work. He treats it much better than one’d expect. Slate had the best balanced recounting of the facts I’ve seen but I have no serious complaints with Tucker’s. Though I do eye roll at his snide intro of being “honor bound” to mention Biden’s side like he’s doing it out of journalistic ethics, not because he believes any of it.
Will Tucker let this issue drop? The Committee to Re-Elect the President (AKA @TrumpWarRoom) is my best gauge of Trump (future Fox News?) campaign strategy and, while they pretty much left it alone of late, they initially took the approach of dividing the Democrats. They noticed folks like MSNBC’s team at “Morning Joe” were criticizing Biden and any of his supporters for being hypocrites: Democrats said women should be believed but apparently not Tara. There’s been a tremendous pushback on this but it’s been a notion promoted heavily in social media long before this hit the news by hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters who are running a campaign for him to unsuspend his campaign and for Biden to drop out.
While, frankly, I think the Bernie or bust crowd is exploiting this issue mostly as a cynical ploy to nominate Sanders, it’s a long-term problem for Democrats because it’s a symptom of a repeat of 2016 where Sanders supporters likely torpedoed Hillary Clinton’s election chances. Right now Tara is the ‘Bernie Bros’ best weapon.