As I predicted, Kelly showed none of the tenacious questioning of the accuser’s story she so successfully leveraged in the Duke lacrosse case. In that case, she was clearly fed talking points from the defendants. In this one, she was clearly working on behalf of the accuser. And her own ambitions to get back into right-wing media.
Kelly never bothered to ask, much less explore, many of the disturbing contradictions in Reade’s story that have stymied reporters. Instead, we got a melodramatic and, I must say, compelling recitation of Reade's accusation. Throughout, Kelly did her utmost to make Reade sympathetic and credible and only pretended to ask tough questions.
For example, early on, Reade hinted at a spotty work history. Kelly neatly summarized Reade’s resumé for her, with details provided by someone unnamed. On Thursday, high-profile attorney Douglas Wigdor announced that he is representing Reade.
KELLY: And is that what you were doing up until recently?
READE: Correct. Off and on, yes.
Reade’s job history does nothing to prove or disprove her allegations against Biden. But if she has trouble holding jobs or has been fired multiple times, it does raise questions about whether or not she was really let go from Biden’s office out of retaliation. Especially when her account of the sexual assault seem so incredible.
But there was no follow up from Kelly. She moved on to a softball, asking the age of Reade's daughter.
Starting at 6:32 Kelly led Reade through the lewd details of the alleged sexual assault. But Reade’s story is already known so Kelly could have used her time to explore what we don't know. For example, why did Reade suddenly reveal that she never accused Biden of sexual harassment or assault in her complaint against him until shortly after he asked the Senate and the National Archives to dig it up?
All that said, Reade’s pain seems real. Yet, there are a lot of dubious aspects that Kelly either missed or avoided.
KELLY: Were you wearing underwear?
KELLY: I don’t mean to get too graphic … but are you saying that they were crotchless? When you say that it was lingerie, like, can I just be clear on – did he push the underwear to the side or was that not an issue?
READE: That was not an issue … because they were just lingerie panties, like, and I was going to meet my boyfriend later so, yeah.
What light this sheds on the matter I don’t know since, crotchless or not, underwear can be pushed aside. A more relevant question would have been whether or not Reade was wearing pantyhose, which can’t be pushed aside. Pantyhose would have required more time and, presumably, a struggle to get past. Reade alleges the assault happened in a public hallway, during business hours.
Reade told Kelly in the interview she was wearing business attire which may well have included pantyhose for a job in the Senate in 1993. However, there was wide variation in dress codes. My point here is that while fixating on the meaningless, but social media-friendly details of Reade’s attire, Kelly skipped over a potentially far more telling one.
Kelly went on to ask, “How could people believe” that a U.S. senator assaulted Reade in the middle of the day in a Senate office building. Which is a fake way of looking like a serious questioner. Kelly could have asked, “Weren’t there people milling about?” or “Where exactly were you?” and shown a diagram showing whether it was possible to avoid being seen at that location.
Instead, that was really an opportunity for Reade to provide more emotion. She said, “I’ve had to live with it … it shattered my life” and “In that moment, I knew how angry he was and I remember thinking, like, taking it on myself, like, thinking I put him in a bad position, like maybe he thought I wanted to be with him?”
Later, Reade said she went home, “curled up in a fetal position, practically” and talked to her mother, apparently at great length. “It took her a while to get it out of me because I kept – I was embarrassed about the underwear I was wearing,” Reade said. She also said her mother was “begging me to go to the police.”
Then why did her mother tell Larry King that there was nothing for her daughter to do except go to the press? And what happened to the date with the boyfriend? Kelly didn’t ask.
Instead, Kelly asked more questions that did nothing to shed light on what really happened. As for the complaint, Kelly seemed not at all interested in why Reade never alleged harassment or assault, only why she didn’t have a copy of it. Nor did Kelly ask why Reade backed out of interviews with Chris Wallace and Don Lemon, citing security concerns, but she felt comfortable enough to talk to Kelly. Even the questions about Reade’s praise for Putin were designed to help Reade make herself look good: “Let’s talk about some of the backlash you got … including being accused of being a Russian agent.”
But Kelly made sure to prompt Reade to badmouth Democrats who do not find her credible. Rather than note why women such as Nancy Pelosi and Kirsten Gillibrand don’t believe Reade, Kelly asked, “How did that feel?” and “What do you want to say to people like that?”
I’m not arguing here that the assault never happened, though I’m deeply skeptical. I am saying that there are many important questions to be asked about Reade’s allegations and Kelly skated over all of them.