Chris Hayes Hits Back at #FireChrisHayes Online Outrage Over His Coverage of Biden Allegation


MSNBC host Chris Hayes pointedly responded to the past 48 hours of online outrage that swarmed him on social media after he offered measured but critical coverage of the sexual assault allegations facing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Hayes devoted a portion of his Friday night show to the blowback that followed his Wednesday segment with New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister, at the end of which both called out Biden’s refusal to personally address the explosive claims made by his former Senate staffer, Tara Reade. This coverage, however, was quickly deemed a betrayal by some liberal and pro-Biden advocates, who launched a #FireChrisHayes hashtag and soon got it trending — which, in turn, prompted a counter-backlash show of solidarity and support from Hayes’ fellow journalists.

Leading off, Hayes noted that Biden finally addressed the Reade allegations in person and on the record, unequivocally denying the assault during a tough, uncomprimising interview on Morning Joe. This, he reminded viewers, is precisely what he and Traister — and many others — had been urging. Hayes then turned to the anger directed back at him and grouped the responses into three categories.

“A lot of people were unhappy with the fact we covered the story, which is why you may have seen the hashtag #FireChrisHayes trending on Twitter yesterday. Needless to say, I received a lot of feedback about the segment, which basically fell into three categories,” Hayes explained.

“The first category, were people who basically said ‘I don’t believe Tara Reade, I believe Joe Biden,’ based on the verifiable facts of the story such that we have them and pointed out, as we did when we covered this, that her story has changed quite considerably,” Hayes said, before laying out several instances where Reade’s narrative has apparent contradictions or factual inconsistencies, according to three of Reade’s former Senate staff colleagues. “The people that fall into category one say the weight of those three people, those three staffers, plus Joe Biden’s long record of public life against what Tara Reade says about what happened at the time leads them to conclude she is not telling the truth.”

“The second set of responses I got was from people that fall into the ‘I don’t care’ category,” Hayes continued. “Some use the phrase ‘We’re in the midst of a national nightmare, the worst disaster in generations and we just need to get rid of Donald Trump.’ Now that is not the way I think about analyzing this particular story, but it’s an honest expression how some view the trade off and stakes here.

“And then the third category, which I got a lot of, that was the most disquieting to me,” Hayes said. “A whole lot of people pointing to various aspects of Reade’s character or her writings or her politics as a kind of proof that she’s not credible, she’s making it up. ‘Oh, she didn’t report this sooner,’ or ‘She said nice things about Joe Biden, her former boss, at one point, so how could he have assaulted her?’ or ‘She supported Bernie Sanders, so clearly this was just a political hit job,’ or ‘She said things people find strange on social media,’ much of it adding up to: you can’t trust this woman.”

“These are the things that have been used forever against women making these types of allegations,” Hayes pointed out, before lowering the boom against all the bad faith arguments being looked at Reade — and, indirectly, himself. “To me, the lesson of the MeToo movement is not that you believe every allegation. Of course not, no. The lesson is to take allegations seriously, to swiftly investigate the facts surrounding them as best as one can, while leaving aside the worst, age-old instincts to drag the women who make those claims through the mud.”

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

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