The Washington Post was lambasted on social media after running a bizarrely tortured headline that took great pains to avoid direct mention of sexual assault allegations dogging Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee.
“Developments in allegations against Biden amplify efforts to question his behavior,” read the Post’s cryptic headline, appended to a story that ran on Monday about accusations from a former Senate staffer for Biden, Tara Reade, who recently said her ex-boss sexually assaulted her in 1993. Biden has yet to address the allegation on the campaign trail.
The Post’s barely-intelligible headline was soon seized upon by netizens, who tore into the Beltway ‘newspaper of record’ for its blatant and “embarrassing” attempt to defuse a potentially harmful story for the former VP.
“Must have taken six re-writes to get this headline before [the] Biden campaign finally gave it the [thumbs-up],” one user said. “‘Developments’ – without saying what those were; ‘Allegations’ – without saying what those were; ‘Behavior’ – without saying what the behavior was. Amazing – embarrassing, but amazing.”
Some even suggested the paper should win a “Noble” Prize for its efforts, playing off of a recent typo from the US president (or “sarcasm,” as Trump would have it).
Apparently realizing its original headline was so euphemistic as to be nearly incomprehensible, the Post opted for a slightly different version, in which “Trump allies” are highlighting “new claims regarding allegations against Biden.”
Several users offered alternative headlines for the Post’s editors to consider, explaining the story in plain English, though as one critic joked, the ideas will still have to get the green light from “Biden’s lawyers” before the paper will publish.
With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declaring the end of his campaign, Biden has emerged as the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in 2020. However, a near-endless series of gaffes and ongoing allegations of sexual harassment and assault continue to hang over the former VP’s head. Reade first accused Biden of inappropriate touching last year, but in March intensified her allegation to outright sexual assault. Though Biden’s campaign has yet to weigh in on the claim, a number of friends and relatives of Reade’s have since vouched for her story.