It seems that one major plank in the Republican platform of late has been that Joe Biden and the Democrats won’t keep us safe. Supposedly, the calls to divert funding away from police and demilitarize police are proof that those radical socialists want to let criminals run wild.
We know, of course, that this is horse puckey. But one recent development should have proven not just beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond ALL doubt, that it is horse puckey. Namely, the resurfacing of Tara Reade.
After several months of silence, Reade resurfaced just a few days before the Democratic National Convention, when she sat down with right-wing “media watchdog” NewsBusters. Reade wailed that the media isn’t adequately covering her claims that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 while she worked in his Washington office. She also claimed she’d gotten the cold shoulder from Biden’s then newly-minted running mate, Kamala Harris.
Um, Tara? There’s a reason why the media isn’t listening to you. Your claims were extensively vetted over the spring, and were found to be non-credible. Specifically, they were blown apart in rapid succession within a matter of one weekin late May.
On May 19, while reporting on how often Reade’s claims had shifted, CNN detonated a bombshell–Reade had been lying about her academic credentials. She had long claimed to have a bachelor’s degree from Antioch University Seattle, but school officials told CNN that she never actually graduated.
That disclosure set off alarm bells in Monterey County, California, where Reade had frequently testified as an expert witness on domestic violence. By the night of May 21, the Monterey County Weekly revealed that Reade–then known as Alexandra McCabe–testified in some 20 cases in the last decade.
One of those cases involved Victoria Ramirez and Jennifer Vasquez, who were tried and convicted for trying to burn down the home of Ramirez’ cheating boyfriend. On the stand, Reade explained why the boyfriend initially claimed to have seen two women running from the scene, only to tell police that he’d actually seen two men. She claimed it was part of the nature of intimate partner violence. On the strength of her testimony, Ramirez and Vasquez were sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder.
This led defense attorneys to call for a review of any and all cases in which Reade may have lied about her credentials under oath. Antioch Seattle officials subsequently confirmed to The New York Times that Reade never earned a degree. While it was clear that Reade’s actions met the real-world definition of perjury, the Monterey County DA had launched an investigation of its own to determine if Reade’s actions met the legal one. As I write this, that investigation is still underway.
The implications are nothing short of seismic. Like all expert witnesses, Reade was asked under oath about her credentials. Now that we know that those credentials are bogus, it’s possible that all of her testimony could be ruled inadmissible. And that makes it very likely that convictions could be thrown out. While exaggerating your credentials can be grounds for throwing out a verdict even if it doesn’t meet the legal bar for perjury, the sheer number of cases in which she testified makes it hard to believe she didn’t know she was lying–especially in a murder trial where the defendant was facing life in prison.
Local defense attorney William Pernik told the Monterey County Weekly back in May that expert witnesses like Reade are called in for cases that are more difficult to prove than normal, making the prospect of a wrongful conviction “astronomically higher.” Pernik added that if Reade lied about her credentials, she deceived prosecutors, jurors, and the court–all on Monterey County’s dime.
Given the sheer volume of cases in which Reade testified, it’s very likely that innocent people were wrongfully convicted due to her testimony. And under current precedent, it’s also likely that if Reade’s testimony is ruled inadmissible, manifestly guilty people could have their convictions tossed out as well. Even if the evidence against those defendants is overwhelming, basic decency demands no less. After all, this is behavior that simply cannot be tolerated in a criminal trial if we care about the integrity of the criminal justice system.
For obvious reasons, it’s an outrage that Reade may have sent innocent people to prison. But the thought that manifestly guilty people could potentially go free is an outrage as well. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the victims in those cases. There is really no doubt that their assailants are guilty–and because of Reade’s lies, they may have to go through the emotional toll of a new trial. Did Reade even think about that when she saw fit to lie about her credentials? Obviously not.
On paper, this was enough by itself to destroy Reade’s credibility. After all, we’re talking about a woman who has not only been exposed for lying about her credentials, but did so under oath. But this revelation came just days after PBS Newshour reporting that the hidden place where Reade claims the assault occurred literally did not exist. Quite the opposite, actually–that area is actually located in a very high-traffic zone. So in order to believe Reade, you would have to believe a Senator would be willing to commit a brazen sexual assault a mere three years after Anita Hill. If you believe that, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.
Incredibly, there were still some people demanding that she get a platform even after this broke. If it is even remotely possible to blow up a presidential campaign on the word of an exposed embellisher and perjurer, we should despair for our democracy.
And now it seems the folks at NewsBusters saw fit to use Reade as a way to bludgeon Biden. And they did so with literally no mention of Reade being caught lying about her credentials–and doing so under oath. Even if Brent Bozell and friends weren’t aware of this, they would have been had they done the Google.
By giving Reade a platform, NewsBusters has forfeited any right to whine about Democrats not caring about the rights of victims. After all, this woman’s lies could potentially put manifestly guilty people back on the streets. In so doing, she has deprived their victims of the presumption that their assailants have been put away and will stay away.
There’s another bit of irony here. For years, the right has claimed that by opposing Bill Clinton’s impeachment, we were okay with a president perjuring himself–forgetting that Clinton’s statements were not relevant to the original case. And yet, they see fit to give a platform to a woman whose statements, at the very least, meet the real-world definition of perjury? As has been often the case all too often in the Trump era, the hypocrisy burns.
During the Democratic National Convention, NewsBusters’ parent organization, the Media Research Center, ran virtual billboards with the message, “Believe in America, not the media.” Well, by granting Reade a platform, Bozell and friends appear to be saying that they believe in an America where allegations of sexual assault must be chased down even when they are clearly non-credible. That is every bit as insidious as sweeping sexual assault under the rug. Who wants to live in that kind of America?
If there is any justice, this will be the last platform Reade should get. At the very least, Reade ought to spent the rest of her life coughing up a lot of money. Not only should she be forced to reimburse Monterey County and defense attorneys for the money both will spend ferreting out her lies, but she should be forced to pay restitution to anyone who was wrongfully convicted because of her lies. And the fact she saw fit to willfully lie under oath in a murder trial is reason enough by itself to put her in jail for as long as legally possible.
The fact that Reade is still demanding a platform in the face of all of this proves that she is morally bankrupt. Likewise, the fact that NewsBusters saw fit to give a platform to such a woman proves it is as morally bankrupt as she is.