Statement Analysis®

Did Joe Biden Sexually Assault Tara Reade?

Part One: Tara Reade's Statement

Part Two: Joe Biden's Statements

Part Three: The Conclusion

Part Two: Joe Biden's Statements

On May 1, 2020, Biden addressed Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations by writing an article for the online publishing platform "Medium." Here is an excerpt from his article.

"I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago. They aren't true. This never happened. While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward, they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."

Which of the following denials do you believe is the best denial, when one is accused of a sexual assault?

1. They aren't true.
2. This never happened.
3. I didn't do it.
4. I didn't sexual assault her.

Most people would probably pick numbers three or four. This is because the denial starts off with the pronoun I. The subject is talking about himself. He is committed to his denial. Secondly, the subject is denying the act itself by saying he didn't do it. That is what we are looking for in a good denial. Did the subject deny the act? The fourth denial is slightly better because he clarifies what it is; he didn’t sexually assault her.

Biden didn't deny the act. He only said, "They aren't true" and "This never happened." This weakens his denial. We also see he used the pronoun this. The pronoun this indicates specificity. He is specifically talking about the "allegations by a former staffer." The pronoun this also indicates closeness whereas the pronoun that indicates distance. Why did he use a pronoun that show closeness to the allegations? He could have used the pronouns that or it which don't show closeness.

The other thing to notice is Biden said there were two allegations: "sexual harassment and sexual assault." That will become important as we continue to look at his denials.

On the same day, shortly after publishing his article, Joe Biden appeared on MSNBC to address Reade’s allegations. Biden was interviewed by Mika Brzezinski. Here are some excerpts of the interview.

Brzezinski: "I want to get right to the allegation made against you by Tara Reade. So, the former Senate aide accuses you of sexual assault. To our viewers, please excuse the graphic nature of this, but we want to make sure there is no question as to what we are talking about. She says in 1993, Mr. Vice President, you pinned her against a wall and reached under her clothing and penetrated her with your fingers. Would you please go on the record with the American people? Did you sexually assault Tara Reade?"

Biden: "No. It is not true. I'm saying unequivocally: It never, never happened. And it didn't. It never happened."

Biden gave a good answer when he said "No." However, he muddied it up when he said, "It is not true." It sounds like he was saying, "No, the allegations are not true." He wasn't asked about the allegations. He was asked if he sexually assaulted Tara Reade. In fairness, Biden might have answered the question by saying, "No." He then addressed the allegation which Brzezinski did mention by saying, "It is not true."

After answering the question, Biden elaborates on his denial, "It is not true. I'm saying unequivocally: It never, never happened. And it didn’t. It never happened." When we take a look at his denial, we see the pronoun I, which shows commitment, is missing. Biden used the word unequivocally which means "in a way that leave no doubt.". If he wanted to speak unequivocally, he should have said, "I didn't sexually assault her." That is the best denial.

Brzezinski: "Do you remember her? Do you remember any types of complaints she might have made?"

Biden: "I don't remember any type of complaint she may have made. It was 27 years ago. I don't remember, nor does anyone else that I'm aware of. And the fact is that I don't remember. I don't remember any complaint ever having been made.

Brzezinski makes the classic mistake of asking a compound question. Compound questions often allow the subject to get away with not answering one of the questions. The subject will sometimes only answer the last question asked of him which is what happened here. Biden didn't answer and Brzezinski didn’t follow-up on the question, "Do you remember her?"

Four times he said, "I don't remember" which is a little suspicious. However, if you have ever watched him speak, he does like to ramble.

Brzezinski: "Given the fact that you have said in the past if a woman goes under the lights and talks about something like this, we have to consider that the essence of this is real, is the essence of what she is saying real? Why do you think she’s doing this?"

Biden: "I'm not going to question her motive. I'm not going to get into that at all. I don't know why she's saying this. I don't know why after 27 years all of the sudden this gets raised. I don’t understand it..."

Again, Brzezinski asked a compound question and again, Biden didn't answer the first question; "Is the essence of what she is saying real?"

Biden again used the pronoun this which indicates specificity but it also shows closeness. Some people have commented that his second use of the word this sounds as if he is referring to something in the past Reade is now talking about. His statement does have that tone to when you also consider the word raised. The word raised means to lift something up or to increase: raise your hand, raise your voice, raise the platform, etc. Biden may be referring to something that happened in the past that Reade is now bringing up. Keep in mind, the word raised can used to bring up something new; "Dan raised a good question." Dan brought up a question that has never been asked before.

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