Mindful Journalism is Essential in Election Controversies


Sexual assault allegations against frontrunner Biden have not received extensive media attention. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Just recently, it was made unequivocally clear that the Democratic nominee to contest President Donald Trump will be former Vice President Joe Biden. While the flames of politics have not ceased to burn, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly overshadowed the election in the minds of many Americans. The virus has irrefutably affected our way of life in the U.S., and it has recently been named the nation’s leading cause of death, outranking heart disease and cancer.

From the turmoil of the economy to leaving the anticipated and high-stakes 2020 presidential election in limbo, COVID-19 has already indelibly written its name in history. The pandemic has created much uncertainty in the presidential election, but important questions still remain about the presumptive Democratic nominee.

After a slew of former candidates dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, including Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, as well as a recent endorsement from former President Barack Obama, it became apparent that the Democratic Party had found its beacon of unity in its coveted mission to defeat Trump in the upcoming election.

However, what had set this in stone was the end of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Sanders would come to endorse Biden’s candidacy for president, thus demonstrating holistic party solidarity around Biden. Although it may seem as if Biden is riding high upon the blue wave of momentum he has managed to muster throughout several primaries, Super Tuesday and a myriad of endorsements from former candidates, one factor holds the potential to unleash a massive paradigm shift for the Biden campaign: allegations of sexual assault.

Alexandra Tara Reade, who worked in Biden’s Senate office in 1993, alleges that Biden had engaged in sexual contact with her against her will. Such accusations are enough to eviscerate any campaign or reputation, be it presidential or otherwise. However, as the polls of Super Tuesday and recent primaries indicate, these allegations were not enough to so much as detour his momentum heading into the election. 

However, with the nature of all things political being left in a state of uncertainty, such can and likely will change. Being accused of sexual assault is never something to be glossed over. With social movements like #MeToo, which are committed to eliminating sexual transgressions against women, Biden’s days as a strong presidential candidate could very well be numbered. 

This is contingent upon the coverage the media allots to such searing allegations. As it currently stands, mainstream outlets have not devoted much coverage regarding Reade’s allegations towards Biden. Such is not fair journalism in the respect that, with the 2020 presidential election looming, it seems as if the media is covering Biden from a selective standpoint.

For indeed, America is treated with statistics that momentarily show Biden’s good standing as a candidate, but journalistic reporting must delve beyond such numbers. Integrity is a pivotal aspect that should epitomize anyone’s campaign endeavors, and such deserves to be covered extensively by the media, especially when the fate of America’s potential next leader is being determined.

For in this respect, journalism is failing to be cognizant of the reality that America’s political leaders need to be individuals of scrupulousness, not just figures that rely upon data and statistics which project onto a society that they are qualified to lead the nation. It seems as if such selective covering is rooted in something so ugly, it focuses primarily on party lines and pays little to no credence to something as severe as sexual assault allegations.

What this indicates is that the media is willing to silence a possible survivor’s story just to achieve a political end. Sexual assault should never be something that is to be debated on the grounds of politics, as it is a social issue that transcends the realm of party lines and reflects America’s ethical code socially and politically.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic is taking the spotlight away from the election at the moment, it is imperative that these accusations are not lost in the shuffle of the media. Journalism should not be what elects our possibly next Democratic president, integrity should.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.