A reporter from the San Luis Obispo Tribune landed a significant scoop Friday on the alleged sexual assault allegations of Tara Reade by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1996.
SLO Tribune reporter Matt Fountain uncovered a court document from 1996 that shows former Senate staffer Tara Reade had told her ex-husband she was sexually harassed while working for Joe Biden in 1993. This is a critical piece of information because it confirms in a legal document that Reade’s complaint was not recently manufactured, as some have suggested, simply to derail Biden’s presidential campaign.
Indeed, many Democratic leaders who are supporting Biden, including prominent voices in the #BelieveAllWomen contingent, have used the supposed recentness of the allegations to discredit Ms. Reade.
Yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) attacked Reade for failing to come forward on a more timely basis after allegedly having been sexually assaulted by Biden in the spring of 1993. Sen. Feinstein told CNN, “[Reade] came out of nowhere. Where has she been all these years?” According to CNN’s Manu Raju, Amy Klobuchar also declined to side with this particular woman. “Asked about criticism that Democrats have a double-standard on the topic, Klobuchar didn’t answer and walked into an awaiting car.”
So a document from 1996 — in addition to the recollection of Ms. Reade’s friend, and her brother, and the emergence of a 1993 phone call Ms. Reade’s mother placed to Larry King complaining of “problems” her daughter had had “after working for a prominent senator” — makes it much harder to cast Reade’s allegations as motivated by Biden’s 2020 run.
Despite the emergence of this court document at least partially corroborating Ms. Reade’s claim, the national morning news shows mostly ignoring this revelation. This stands in marked contrast to the booking policy during the “cover every lunatic Michael Avenatti can dredge up” phase of the Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings. During that period, this sort of contemporaneous court document verifying the claims of Justice Kavanaugh’s accuser never emerged.
Fountain’s scoop was only mentioned one time during all of the Friday morning news shows.
- “CBS This Morning” was the only morning program to mention that Tara Reade told her ex-husband in 1996 about sexual harassment in Biden’s Senate Office.
- ABC and CNN did not cover any aspect of Tara Reade’s story.
- NBC’s “Today” show did a segment on Megyn Kelly’s interview with Reade, but did not cover the corroborating court document.
- Likewise, MSNBC mentioned the Megyn Kelly interview, but only at 5:31 AM. The channel did not mention the SLO Tribune’s scoop.
- And CNN, whose own Larry King apparently spoke to Reade’s mother in an earlier contemporaneous verification of Reade’s claims, hasn’t mentioned Tara Reade’s name since Monday.
Fountain’s scoop reported:
Reade’s then-husband Theodore Dronen wrote the court declaration. Dronen at the time was contesting a restraining order Reade filed against him days after he filed for divorce, Superior Court records show.
A new court document obtained Thursday by a newspaper in California shows Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, told her ex-husband she was sexually harassed while working in then-Senator Biden’s office.
According to the document, which was obtained by the Tribune in San Luis Obispo, California, Reade’s husband at the time, Theodore Dronen, said Reade told him about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.”
The document, which was filed in the California Superior Court and dated March 25, 1996, neither says who committed the harassment nor does it reference Reade’s more recent allegation of sexual assault.
Dronen says Reade struck a deal with the chief of staff in Biden’s office and “left her position.”
The experience had a “very traumatic effect” on Reade, Dronen wrote.
California Globe contacted Matt Fountain and asked how he made this huge discovery. It turns out that being a local paid off.
Fountain said it was a combination of having a good editor who made sure he looked into Tara Reade’s background, and “some dumb luck that only a local reporter could take advantage of.”
“I cover the courthouse, so when Tara told me of her divorce, I immediately submitted a request for any court documents,” Fountain told the Globe. “About the same time, ABC and Snopes requested the same stuff. But because they’re not local, and the court’s draconian payment policies, I got to walk in and grab the records after the court had printed them out for the others, but were waiting for check payment via snail mail. Dumb luck.”
Sure, some dumb luck helped, but as Fountain reminded Twitter followers, “this is a good opportunity to remind folks why local newspapers matter and encourage a donation to @SLOTribune‘s #coronavirus fund.”
— Matt Fountain (@MattFountain1) May 8, 2020
“Reade called on Biden to drop out of the presidential race in a preview of an interview with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly released Thursday,” Fountain reported. “I wish he would (withdraw from the race),” Reade said. “But he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.”