After criticism from media critics and the Republican National Committee (RNC), the liberal network CNN finally broke its silence on its own footage purportedly showing the mother of Tara Reade, who accused former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual assault, alluding to the alleged incident.
At 1:28 p.m. ET on Saturday, the network's website published an article on the issue. Prior to that, the story was missing from the network's coverage, including its "Reliable Sources" newsletter from CNN liberal anchor Brian Stelter, in what some critics are calling "journalistic misconduct". Yet and still, Stelter hasn't tweeted about the video even though he tweeted posts about Elmo and Big Bird. The broadcast programming spent some time on those characters as well, with "interviews" during "CNN Newsroom."
The Intercept reported earlier that Reade said her late mother once called into CNN’s “Larry King Live” to discuss her daughter’s “experience on Capitol Hill,” where the alleged encounter with Biden took place. Reade didn’t recall other information, such as the date or even year, and The Intercept managed to dig up a transcript of the call but not the video.
Tucked away among hundreds of thousands of hours of old archived footage was the long-forgotten clip that came to light Friday.
But rather than CNN's team of investigative reporters, it was the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters, a conservative group that seeks to expose liberal bias, that exhumed the footage from its own vault.
“It's truly despicable that this footage existed and yet CNN failed to do its own due diligence within its own archives,” NewsBusters Managing Editor Curtis Houck told Fox News.
CNN didn’t even mention the tape’s newfound attention during its Friday night primetime lineup. CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter didn’t think it was worth including, either.
CNN has largely ignored Reade’s claims, drawing criticism from media watchdogs that often contrast it with how the liberal network handled allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with hundreds of stories and countless segments. CNN finally published its first story on Reade’s claims on April 17, weeks after they were made, when correspondent MJ Lee framed the story as Democratic leaders and allies of Biden being “asked to respond to an allegation” against the 2020 Democratic frontrunner.
According to one analysis, CNN waited 24 days to cover the allegations. By contrast, the outlet published nearly 700 articles about allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the 19 days from when they became public to his confirmation in 2018.
“Perhaps they thought doing the bare minimum with help from the horribly biased MJ Lee would have done the trick and made the concerns about their on-air silence go away,” Houck said. “Now they've poured gasoline on the fire. Once again, we see a case of how the worst kind of media bias is the bias that you don't see, or bias by omission.”
The resurfaced CNN clip from 1993 appeared to show Reade’s mother alluding to “problems” her daughter faced while working as a staffer for the then-Delaware senator. Reade later told Fox News it was indeed the voice of her mother on the clip. Biden's presidential campaign has adamantly denied Reade's allegations but the video could be cited as evidence supporting Reade’s allegation – even though her late mother, in the clip, does not specifically refer to a sexual assault claim.
CNN did not immediately respond to a series of questions, including whether the network knew the footage existed.
“Larry King may have had the biggest scoop of his CNN career this evening ... And it’s an open question whether his former employer will say a word about it,” New York Post reporter Jon Levine tweeted.
Houck credited The Intercept’s report and the MRC’s “truly exemplary TV news archive” for being able to locate the clip so quickly.
“While unsurprising given how fundamentally unserious of a network CNN has become, it's gratifying for the MRC but shameful for CNN that they hadn't unearthed this long ago,” Houck said.
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that The Intercept reporter Ryan Grim “used to work for the Huffington Post, so he is presumably not some sort of Republican or conservative operative pushing a smear on Biden,” but he blasted CNN for its clear bias.
“That CNN couldn't pull this clip out of their own archives, even after Reade mentioned it in a recent interview, seems to demonstrate that CNN just lacks hustle to investigate this story or just wants to keep the story buried,” McCall said. “Either way, this comes off as journalistic misconduct.”
Biden has made multiple appearances on CNN since Reade came forward, but anchors Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin and Jake Tapper have all ignored Reade’s during separate interviews.
McCall said that CNN is not alone as many other mainstream media outlets have been hesitant to pursue Reade’s allegations against Biden. For nearly three weeks, the mainstream media largely avoided Reade's allegation. The tides began to shift following Rich McHugh's report in Business Insider the Friday before Easter that Reade had filed a criminal complaint against Biden.
“Biden is presumed to be the Democrat nominee for president and that makes this matter newsworthy enough to be investigated, with of course all precautions for fairness and accuracy,” McCall said. “The discovery of this video clip does provide some extra evidence in the matter and it should be reported with proper context and scrutiny. But it shouldn't be summarily dismissed as irrelevant, particularly in this era.”
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.