Less than two years ago, the Women’s March led the charge against then-Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh with its “Believe Survivors” protests, but the feminist group took an entirely different tone Friday with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.
The Women’s March issued an upbeat statement shortly after the former vice president appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to deny former Senate staffer Tara Reade’s allegation of sexual assault.
“We are glad to see @JoeBiden take a step in addressing this issue head-on,” tweeted the Women’s March. “This is what is necessary to create a culture where survivors can come forward without fear of reprisal. We’ve come a long way on this, but still have a long way to go.”
The left-wing feminist group also released a statement saying it was important to treat sexual assault survivors with respect and “take their allegations seriously” without mentioning Ms. Reade by name.
The Women’s March did address the 2020 election, saying that Mr. Biden’s appearance would help the Democratic Party’s chances.
“To those concerned about what this means for the election: By addressing these allegations, we are improving our chances of winning in 2020,” tweeted the group. “As we saw in 2018, when women are respected and empowered, we turn out in force.”
Some commenters were confused. “We are? Not sure what you got out of this statement that made you ‘glad,’ ” said one.
Others accused the Women’s March of selling out by refusing to condemn Mr. Biden as the group did with then-Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s 2018 Supreme Court nominee. Justice Kavanaugh now sits on the high court.
“It’s true that when women are respected and empowered we turn out in force and that is how we will win this year,” said another comment. “However, in this current situation, women are not being respected nor empowered. In fact, Dem leaders are siding with a sexual predator over a survivor.”
A former Biden Senate staffer, Ms. Reade has accused Mr. Biden of pinning her against a wall and penetrating her with his fingers in 1993, an episode that has drawn comparisons to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Brett Kavanaugh attacked her while they were in high school.
The Women’s March sided with Ms. Ford, occupying Senate offices for weeks to protest the Kavanaugh nomination and leading a mass protest on Oct. 4, 2018, called “#Cancel Kavanaugh: Believe Survivors” in Washington, D.C.
“We are outraged that we are talking about putting victims on trial and talking about Dr. Ford and the way in which she was treated at that hearing,” Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour told CNN in September 2018.
The discrepancy did not go unnoticed. “Like shame on you for promoting this man!” said one tweet, while another said, “I never expected much from you all but now my expectations are even lower. Thank you.”
Ms. Reade went public with her allegation publicly on March 25, and while the Biden campaign denied the accusation, Mr. Biden himself had not spoken out until Friday.
“This never happened,” Mr. Biden told MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski.
Ms. Reade’s brother and two friends have told news outlets that she confided in them at the time about an upsetting incident involving the Delaware Democrat.
In August 1993, a woman called then-CNN host Larry King’s talk show to talk about her daughter’s problem with a prominent senator. Ms. Reade has identified the woman as her now-deceased mother.
Others have pointed out that Ms. Reade was an outspoken supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, Mr. Biden’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and had retweeted praise about Mr. Biden as recently as 2017.