Fox News Ignores New Report On College Sexual Assault

Fox News devoted no airtime to a report issued by the White House on protecting college students from sexual assault, while CNN dedicated fewer than 2 minutes of coverage. The networks' coverage paled in comparison to that of MSNBC.

White House Issues Report On Protecting College Students From Sexual Assault

White House Report Outlined Administration's Strategy To Protect Students From Sexual Assault. On April 28, the White House released a 20-page report detailing their strategy to combat sexual assault on college campuses, which at least one in five women experience. This report and an accompanying website,, are the products of the Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which President Obama formed in January:

The Administration is committed to putting an end to this violence. That's why the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on January 22, 2014, with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to combat sexual assault on their campuses.

Today, the Task Force is announcing a series of actions to: (1) identify the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) help prevent campus sexual assault, (3) help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improve, and make more transparent, the federal government's enforcement efforts.  We will continue to pursue additional executive or legislative actions in the future.

These steps build on the Administration's previous work to combat sexual assault.  The Task Force formulated its recommendations after a 90-day review period during which it heard from thousands of people from across the country -- via 27 online and in-person listening sessions and written comments from a wide variety of stakeholders. [FACT SHEET: Not Alone - Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, 4/29/14]

Vice President Biden: “Colleges And Universities Need To Face The Facts About Sexual Assault.” In an April 28 statement that coincided with the release of the report, Vice President Biden emphasized the importance of giving “victims the support they need” and bringing “perpetrators to justice”:

Reacting to a series of highly publicized rapes on college campuses, the White House on Monday released guidelines that increase the pressure on universities to more aggressively combat sexual assaults on campus.

The recommendations urge colleges, among other measures, to conduct anonymous surveys about sexual assault cases, adopt anti-assault policies that have been considered successful at other universities and to better ensure that the reports of such crimes remain confidential. The guidelines are contained in a report by a White House task force that President Obama formed early this year, and the administration is likely to ask Congress to pass measures that would enforce the recommendations and levy penalties for failing to do so. The government will also open a website,, to track enforcement and provide victims with information.

Many advocates for such a crackdown may see the proposals as an inadequate response to a crisis, but the White House is hamstrung about what it can do without congressional action and has just begun its own attack on the issue.

“Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn't exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.” [New York Times4/29/14]

Analysis: Fox News Ignores White House Report On College Sexual Assault

Fox News Devoted No Airtime To White House Report On April 29. According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News devoted 0 minutes, 0 seconds to covering the White House report on college sexual assault. CNN and MSNBC spent 1 minute and 38 seconds and 9 minutes and 57 seconds on the report and the issue of college sexual assault, respectively.

sexual assault chart

Sexual Violence On College Campuses Affects At Least One In Five Undergraduate Women

National Center For Injury Prevention And Control: 19% Of Undergraduate Women Experienced Sexual Assault While In College. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 19 percent of undergraduate women experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college, and 37.4 percent of female rape victims were first raped between ages 18-24. [National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Sexual Violence: Facts at a Glance, 2012]

Campus Sexual Assault Study: Women At Universities Are At Considerable Risk For Experiencing Sexual Assault. A 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that college women are “at elevated risk for sexual assault,” particularly sexual assault involving alcohol or drug consumption:

One subpopulation that is often believed to be at elevated risk for sexual assault is college students. Although methodological variation renders comparisons difficult to make, some previous studies suggest that university women are at greater risk than women of a comparable age in the general population (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000; DeKeseredy & Kelly, 1993; Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987). This pattern is likely due to the close daily interaction between men and women in a range of social situations experienced in university settings (Fisher, Sloan, Cullen, & Lu, 1988), as well as frequent exposure to alcohol and other drugs.

The risk of sexual assault related to alcohol and/or other drug consumption is particularly high among university women. [The Campus Sexual Assault Study, December 2007]

National Institute Of Justice: More Than 95 Percent Of Rapes On College Campuses Go Unreported. The National Institute of Justice reports that fewer than 5 percent of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials. This is far below the rate of the general population, where about 40 percent of sexual attacks are reported to police. [Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, accessed 4/30/14]


Media Matters searched internal TV archives and closed captioning for the terms “sexual,” “rape,” “assault,” “college,” “students,” “university,” “campus” and “White House report” between 4:00 am and 11:00 pm on April 29 on all Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC shows.

Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded.