Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, appeared to admit Monday that the publication was pressured by former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign after editing a story about sexual assault allegations against him.
The NYT’s Sunday article, titled “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden,” told the story of allegations made by the former Biden staffer. Reade has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993 while he was the senator for Delaware.
The article originally contained a sentence that was quietly edited out following publication.
“No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of our reporting, nor did any former Biden staff corroborate Reade’s allegation. We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable,” the NYT first reported.
The second half of the sentence was later edited out and the paragraph was changed.
“No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden,” the NYT article now reads.
There was no note included about the change.
NYT’s media reporter Ben Smith interviewed Baquet about the article Monday. Smith’s article about the interview is titled “The Times Took 19 Days to Report an Accusation Against Biden. Here’s Why.”
One of Smith’s questions was about the much-noticed edit made to the piece, and Baquet appeared to admit that the NYT was swayed by the Biden campaign to remove it.
“Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct,” Baquet said. “And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.”
“The Biden campaign didn’t like it so we deleted the sentence” is basically what Dean Baquet, Editor of the New York Times, is saying here pic.twitter.com/L92ZXLyuIA
— Nando (@nandorvila) April 13, 2020
Baquet continued on to say that the edit wasn’t explained because “we didn’t think it was a factual mistake.”
“I thought it was an awkward phrasing issue that could be read different ways and that it wasn’t something factual we were correcting. So I didn’t think that was necessary,” according to Baquet. (RELATED: Second Woman Accuses Biden Of Inappropriate Touching)
Smith also asked if perhaps he was “reluctant to promote a story that would hurt Joe Biden and get Donald Trump re-elected?”
“I can’t make that calculation,” Baquet answered. “I won’t. I won’t let my head or my heart go there. I think once you start making those kinds of calculations, you are not a journalist anymore. You’re some sort of political actor.”