The top New York Times editor admits an article about allegations of sexual assault by former vice president Joe Biden was changed after his campaign complained.
Executive editor Dean Baquet said Biden’s campaign got in touch after the article appeared.
Reporter Ben Smith, also of the New York Times, asked Baquet in an interview: “I want to ask about some edits that were made after publication, the deletion of the second half of the sentence: ‘The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.’ Why did you do that?”
Said Baquet: “Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct.”
“And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say,” he said.
The Times quietly edited the article, deleting the reference to “hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
Just minutes after the Times published a piece about allegations from former Biden Senate staffer Tara Reade on Sunday morning, an editor removed the phrase about other women who say Biden touched them inappropriately, Fox News reported on Sunday.
According to a copy of the Times’ article saved by the Internet archive Wayback Machine, the Times originally reported: “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
That paragraph now reads: “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.”
The Times piece mostly dismissed Reade’s allegations – unlike its coverage of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s, which the paper took seriously despite the fact that accuser Christine Blasey Ford could not remember when the alleged incident happened, and none of her friends at a supposed drinking party nearly 40 years ago when they were teens backed up her allegations.
Baquet said the varying coverage was warranted.
“Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way. Kavanaugh’s status as a Supreme Court justice was in question because of a very serious allegation. And when I say in a public way, I don’t mean in the public way of Tara Reade’s. If you ask the average person in America, they didn’t know about the Tara Reade case,” Baquet said.
“So I thought in that case, if The New York Times was going to introduce this to readers, we needed to introduce it with some reporting and perspective. Kavanaugh was in a very different situation. It was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment,” he said.
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