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  • George Will Doubles Down On Offensive Sexual Assault Column

    Blog ››› ››› CHANCE SEALES

    George Will

    UPDATE: Washington Post's Erik Wemple reports that the three editors for the Post syndication group who reviewed Will's column were all male. Wemple writes this is "indeed important," adding, "Women are the predominant victims of rape and sexual assault; therefore, they may have some insight on the editing of a column on sexual assault."

    Original post

    George Will doubled down on his claim that sexual assault victims have a "coveted status" on college campuses, refusing to apologize for a recent column that sparked significant backlash.  

    Will has been under fire from women's rights organizations following the column he wrote earlier this month about "the supposed campus epidemic of rape," in which he claimed efforts to combat the problem "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges." Four U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, and Robert P. Casey, Jr., wrote a letter condemning the column, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dropped their syndication of his work.

    In a June 20 C-SPAN interview, Will doubled down on his conclusion, refusing to backtrack:

    C-SPAN:  You wouldn't take back any of the words you used?

    WILL:  No, no. 

    Will also repeated his claim that universities, the Democratic U.S. senators, and the Department of Education had overstated the epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses, dismissing the evidence that shows 1 in 5 women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault, and insisted the definition of assault was too wide and therefore trivialized the true problem.

    Will also claimed that he takes "sexual assault somewhat more seriously" than the senators working to help the victims, a claim he previously made in a response letter to them.

    The Washington Post stood by Will's column, telling Media Matters that the column was "well within the bounds of legitimate debate."

  • The Chicago Tribune Turned Down George Will's "Misguided And Insensitive" Rape Column

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The Chicago Tribune declined to run George Will's controversial column on sexual assault, labeling it "misguided and insensitive."

    Will has been under fire following a column he wrote earlier this month about "the supposed campus epidemic of rape" and how some schools' efforts to curb the problem "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges." The column sparked outrage and calls for his removal from the Washington Post by prominent women's rights groups, including the National Organization for Women and UltraViolet. Several U.S. senators have also criticized Will.

    On June 18, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced it was dropping Will's column from the paper following his "offensive and inaccurate" piece.

    The Tribune, one of the largest papers in the country, told Media Matters that the paper turned Will's column down after reading it.

    In comments to Media Matters, Bruce Dold, editorial page editor of the Tribune, explained why his paper, which runs Will on occasion, passed on the June 7 column.

    "I thought the column was misguided and insensitive," Dold told Media Matters Thursday. "We didn't publish it. Marcia Lythcott, the Op-Ed editor, made that decision and it was the right call."

    The paper has no plans to abandon Will permanently, however. 

    "That doesn't mean we pulled Will for that week, though. We don't anchor syndicated columnists," Dold explained. "We run George Will on occasion. I checked our archives and it looks like we've run him four times in the past year. We will continue to consider him on a column by column basis, as we do with other syndicated columnists we buy."

  • Backlash Against George Will's Offensive Rape Column Grows As Paper Drops Him

    Blog ››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the largest newspapers in the Midwest, has dropped George Will's syndicated column, calling the conservative pundit's recent commentary on sexual assault "offensive and inaccurate" and apologizing for its publication.

    In a June 7 column, Will disputed evidence that 1 in 5 women on U.S college campuses experience sexual assault, and claimed that efforts to fight what he called "the supposed campus epidemic of rape" have made victimhood a "coveted status." The Post-Dispatch called Will's comments "offensive and inaccurate," and in a June 18 editorial, it announced it would no longer publish Will's syndicated column:

    The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.

    As Media Matters has reported, Will's column has drawn significant criticism from women's rights activists, writers, and several U.S. senators. Women's rights group UltraViolet launched a petition drive calling for Will's ouster from the Washington Post. National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill agreed, saying "The Washington Post needs to take a break from his column, they need to dump him," adding that columns like Will's are "actively harmful for the victims of sexual assault."

    As the backlash against Will's claims began to heat up, the Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt defended Will in a statement to Media Matters, saying his comments were "well within the bounds of legitimate debate":

    George Will's column was well within the bounds of legitimate debate. I welcomed his contribution, as I welcome the discussion it sparked and the responses, some of which we will be publishing on our pages and website. This is what a good opinion site should do. Rather than urge me to silence a viewpoint they disagree with, I would urge others also to join the debate, and to do so without mischaracterizing the original column.

    The Post-Dispatch noted that the move to drop Will's column had "been under consideration for several months," but Will's column on sexual assault "made the decision easier." This isn't surprising, given that Will's contributions to public debate have a problematic history of denying facts. According to Discover Magazine, Will has helped to "muddle our collective scientific literacy" by grossly distorting climate data -- a trend that the Los Angeles Times has similarly dubbed "mystifying." Will has also misrepresented the effects of the Voting Rights Act to claim that it has given "a few government-approved minorities ... an entitlement to public offices" and has come under fire for claiming that President Obama owed his success in the 2012 presidential election to his race.

  • Right-Wing Media Ignore Fact That Civilian Courts Are Better Than Military Commissions At Prosecuting Terrorists

    ››› ››› MICHELLE LEUNG

    Right-wing media are criticizing the Obama administration for bringing Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged leader of the Benghazi attacks, to trial in a U.S. criminal court. But federal civilian courts have proven significantly more successful at convicting terrorists than military commissions, give terrorists tougher sentences, deprive terror suspects of the "honor" of being considered enemy combatants, and do not prevent the gathering of intelligence.

  • Senators Criticize George Will for Trivializing Sexual Assault

    Blog ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

    will

    Four senators have written a letter condemning Washington Post columnist George Will's recent column, which dismissed the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and asserted that the 1 in 5 women who experience sexual assault in college have a "coveted status."

    On June 8, Will penned a syndicated op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Post, wherein he dismissed "the supposed campus epidemic of rape, aka 'sexual assault,'" and asserted that the definition of sexual assault is unnecessarily broad because it includes forms of harassment beyond rape. Will went on to dispute the veracity of the statistic that 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault in college on the grounds that victimhood "is a coveted status that confers privilege," encouraging victims to "proliferate."

    Will's column was roundly condemned for its stigmatization of sexual assault victims, shoddy math, and dismissal of the pervasiveness of sexual assault and the trauma its victims face, and prompted calls for Will's resignation.

    On June 12, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, and Robert P. Casey, Jr. wrote a letter to Will, censuring his column's trivialization of "the scourge of sexual assault," and requesting that Will listen to students who have experienced sexual assault firsthand:

    letter

  • Wash. Post's George Will: Sexual Assault Victim Is Now A "Coveted Status"

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist George Will derided efforts on college campuses to combat the sexual assault epidemic as a ploy to "make victimhood a coveted status that confers privilege." 

    In a June 7 syndicated op-ed which appeared in The Washington Post and the New York Post, Will dismissed "the supposed campus epidemic of rape, aka 'sexual assault,'" arguing that the definition of sexual assault was too broad because it could include "nonconsensual touching" and disputing the evidence that shows 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault on campuses in the U.S., implying that individuals were pretending to be victims because colleges have made victimhood a "coveted status" (emphasis added): 

    Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. 

    They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous ("micro-aggressions," often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.

    [...]

    Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of "sexual assault" victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today's prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

    The administration's crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12% of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12% reporting rate is correct, the 20% assault rate is preposterous. 

    [...]

    Education Department lawyers disregard pesky arithmetic and elementary due process. Threatening to withdraw federal funding, the department mandates adoption of a minimal "preponderance of the evidence" standard when adjudicating sexual assault charges between males and the female "survivors" -- note the language of prejudgment.Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape. Then comes costly litigation against institutions that have denied due process to males they accuse of what society considers serious felonies.

    Will also criticized colleges and universities for attempting "to create victim-free campuses -- by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimization."

    Despite Will's dismissal of the statistics, a report on sexual violence by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that "in a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college." Moreover, the dangerous stigmatization of sexual assault victims has kept many from reporting these crimes -- particularly because victims who do report can become the targets of vicious attacks. According to the FBI, people falsely report sexual assault only 3 percent of the time

  • Glenn Beck's The Blaze Mocks Sexual Assault With "RAPE!" Skits

    Blog ››› ››› EMILY ARROWOOD

    Glenn Beck's The BlazeTV acted out sexual propositions and labeled each skit "RAPE!" in an attempt to mock the prevalence of reported sexual assault.

    In response to reports that the 22-year-old who went on a deadly shooting spree in Santa Barbara was inspired by a hatred towards women who had refused his sexual advances, The Glenn Beck Program attempted to debunk the statistic that one in five women have reported experiencing a sexual assault. The May 27 edition of Beck's program dismissed the number -- cited by the Obama administration during the announcement of a new initiative to protect college students from sexual violence -- as a "completely untrue statistic."

    As evidence, Beck presented a pre-recorded segment by The Blaze's Stu Burguiere, which featured skit performances of sexual assault scenarios in which network radio host Jeff Fisher propositioned another man in a blonde wig and skirt.

    The skits purported to reenact questions from two studies on sexual assault -- the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Report and 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey -- ostensibly to show how the number of sexual assault victims is "massively" inflated:

  • National Review Online Claims Women Are Just "Being Taught To Believe They Were Raped"

    Blog ››› ››› MICHELLE LEUNG

    After a week of victim-blaming and dismissing campus sexual assault statistics, the National Review Online has doubled down on dismissing sexual violence on college campuses.

    In a May 19 piece, National Review Online contributor A.J. Delgado claimed that women are being "brainwash[ed] into believing they were raped." Delgado cited a personal anecdote to make her point, arguing that, for a friend, "convincing herself she had been raped was a way of saving her dignity and avoiding the hurtful reality" of  "regrettable sex." Delgado concluded by stating that "for every legitimate, actual rape claim there may be another that was not: a girl who cried rape."

    From National Review Online (emphasis added):

    Prominent scholars and activists now even define rape as including any sexual activity in which the woman is not sober, claiming that consent is never truly given if one has had a few drinks.

    Admittedly, I am no scientist, but I am fairly certain that a statistically significant amount of sex -- including very enjoyable sex -- happens under the influence of alcohol. But by the liberal definition of my generation, I have been raped. Multiple times.

    [...]

    Are women themselves being taught to believe they were raped (the aforementioned "only sober consent is true consent!" notion)? Yes. And that, ironically enough, makes these women victims of liberal culture, too.

    [...]

    Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and Amy ultimately decided against filing a report. (In case you're wondering, a week later she was still hunting down Steve -- the "rape" a far cry from her mind.) But how many Amys go through with it? And how many Steves have their reputations ruined, perhaps even their lives, with a false accusation? While it's easy to imagine Steve as a smirking, smug jerk, he was actually a hard-working guy from a poor family, at the university on a scholarship. Amy's accusation would have easily ruined his life.

    For good reason, it is hard to forget Amy -- a reminder that, to the extent some in our society remain skeptical of rape claims, women themselves bear a share of the blame. After all, for every legitimate, actual rape claimm there may be another that was not: a girl who cried rape.

    Previously:

    NRO's Week Of Denialist, Victim-Blaming Sexual Assault Coverage

    Fox News Ignores New Report On College Sexual Assault

    Conservative Media Jump On Sexual Assault Truther Bandwagon, Cry Foul On White House Report

    WSJ Editor: Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims Are Just As Guilty As Their Attackers