A video that has recently come to light from 1993 appears to show the mother of Tara Reade, who has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual assault, calling Larry King Live to discuss problems her daughter experienced while working for “a prominent senator.”* The Intercept was first to report on the video, and the conservative Media Research Center later quickly published the relevant clip. Reade then confirmed that it was her mother’s voice on the call. “I’ve been crying because I haven’t heard my mom’s voice in a few years. So it’s been a little emotional,” Reade told CNN. “I miss her. I miss her voice.” Reade’s mother died in 2016.
The clip is from an Aug. 11, 1993, program titled “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” Near the end of the program, a woman from San Luis Obispo, California, called in with a question. “Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington?” the caller asked. “My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.” The panel on King’s show was profoundly unhelpful and never answered the woman’s question.
Reade had talked about the call in several interviews but could not remember the date. And her recollection was a bit off too. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help? I was mortified,” Reade told the Intercept. That seems to not have been quite accurate, considering the call doesn’t ever mention sexual assault or harassment. But some biographical details do seem to check out. Reade worked for Biden’s Senate office until August 1993, and her mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County at the time.
In March, Reade accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993 on Capitol Hill when she was 29. Biden’s campaign has vehemently denied the allegations. “What is clear about this claim: It is untrue,” Kate Bedingfield, a deputy Biden campaign manager, said in a statement. “This absolutely did not happen.” Last year, Reade had said Biden touched her neck and shoulders but later expanded that to say that Biden pinned her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and pushed his fingers inside her. Reade said she told her mother about what happened. Reade’s mother tried to push her daughter to call the police, but she never did. A friend of Reade’s has confirmed she told her about the alleged assault at the time. “Another friend and a brother of Ms. Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden,” the New York Times reported earlier this month.
Although Biden’s campaign has not commented on the video, several high-profile allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders are bringing it up publicly. “The video of Tara Reade’s late mother calling into Larry King to blow the whistle about Tara’s sexual assault is being met with relative silence from a cadre of progressives right now and I want you all to know that I see you,” tweeted Winnie Wong, a former senior adviser to Sanders. “We all do.” Shaun King, a Sanders supporter, also tweeted about the clip, claiming “a lot of prominent Democrats” have said they think the clip is “damaging for Joe Biden.”
Ryan Grim, who wrote the Intercept piece, pointed out on Twitter that the way in which the conservative Media Research Center posted the Larry King video shortly after his story went up “means they were sitting on it, waiting, and this was coming out whether The Intercept broke it or not.”
Correction, April 27, 2020: This post originally misidentified the TV show as The Larry King Show, which was the name of King’s radio show. King’s CNN TV show was called Larry King Live.