Press: In defense of Joe Biden

I know this will not be popular. It will piss a lot of people off. In fact, it may disqualify me as a progressive. But I rise today in defense of Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE. I think he’s getting a raw deal – from his accuser, the media and his potential 2020 opponents.

First, let me be clear about two things. First, I don’t support Joe Biden for president in 2020. Yes, I proudly supported Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Sanders to join youth climate strikers in Iowa Saagar Enjeti unpacks why Kamala Harris's campaign didn't work MORE (I-Vt.) over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Report: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz's questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats MORE in the 2016 Democratic primary, but at this point, I’m not supporting anybody yet for 2020. I don’t care if Biden runs or not. And, even if he does, he may not win the Democratic nomination. Second, I believe everything Lucy Flores says. I believe Biden did what she says he did, and I believe what he did was wrong.


But I still think Biden’s getting a raw deal, for — what, exactly? That’s part of the problem. Unlike Harvey Weinstein, Charlie RoseCharles Peete RoseBloomberg allies acknowledge his past 'disrespectful and wrong' comments about women Saagar Enjeti rips ABC for alleged Epstein coverup CBS defends decision to bring back 'Bull' after allegations against star MORE, Bill O’Reilly or Matt LauerMatthew (Matt) Todd Lauer2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum 2020 Democrats seek investigation into 'toxic culture' at NBC ahead of debate CBS employee fired for allegedly leaking Robach hot mic clip denies she leaked the tape MORE, Biden’s not being accused of sexual assault, exposing himself or forcing himself on women. Unlike Roger Ailes or Les Moonves, he’s not accused of making sexual favors the price for job promotion. Nor, unlike Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE, is he accused of grabbing women by their genitals, sticking his tongue in their mouth and then bragging about it.

Far from it. His accuser, Nevada Democratic activist and former lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores, is very careful to clear Biden of any suggestion of sexual harassment or assault. Instead, she accuses him of making her “uncomfortable” by allegedly placing his hands not on her breast or genitals, but on her shoulders, while standing behind her,  and planting a kiss, not on her lips or face but on the back of her head, while they were backstage at a 2014 campaign rally, surrounded by dozens of other people.

Nonetheless, Flores told CNN, Biden’s action alone is “disqualifying” for a presidential candidate — suggesting that Biden should not run for president in 2020 because, were he the nominee, Democrats would have difficulty distinguishing his behavior from Donald Trump’s. Oh, please. Flores may have a hard time making that distinction, but nobody else does. Everybody knows one’s a serial sexual predator and one’s not.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe the first rule of the “Me Too” movement should be: Believe the woman. That’s my rule. Again, I believe Lucy Flores. I believe Joe Biden did what she claims he did, I believe it made her uncomfortable, and I believe no man or woman should have to experience being made uncomfortable by anybody else. No man should touch any woman unless invited to, even if, as I truly believe is the case with Joe Biden, it was an innocent gesture that speaks more to his old-school, uber-friendly, hug-everybody personality than any sexual gesture — behavior that may have been acceptable at one time, but is clearly not today.


But is this really the new test of the “Me Too” Movement? For any movement to survive, its followers must not only be devotedly passionate, but also realistic, willing to distinguish levels of guilt and not condemn everyone with the same broad brush. Otherwise, it risks overreaching and rendering itself meaningless and ineffective.

Surely, even the most ardent feminist must agree: Joe Biden owes Lucy Flores an apology. But in no way should what happened at a campaign rally disqualify him from running for president. Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”