....are there any "witnesses"? Or: does Christina Cauterucci realize her argument is being undercut by the editors at Slate? Or is it just a bait 'n' switch to get you to read her article? What is it about Slate and legal matters, anyway?
The Witness Who Saw Nothing
Reporting on sexual assault too often relies on testimony from people who weren’t there.
Over the past few days, multiple new reports have corroborated Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her when she worked in his Senate office in the 1990s.
The Business Insider piece also quotes several people who confidently refute Reade’s claims.
It does no service to the truth to quote people who say their failure to witness abuse is evidence of the absence of abuse, unless the alleged victim claims those specific people witnessed her abuse. Writers might want to show they did due diligence in their reporting, but sources that don’t offer new information go unmentioned in final drafts all the time. (There’s also a big difference between quoting someone who solely speaks to her own experience and someone who makes a broad assumption of innocence based on that limited perspective.) An allegation of a sexual violation that involves two people doesn’t demand clueless character witnesses. Only an exhaustive search through Biden’s Senate papers, which the University of Delaware will not release until two years after Biden exits public life, could help prove or disprove the existence of the sexual harassment complaint Reade said she filed—not the testimonies of a self-selecting group of people who agree to say on the record that they never saw it.