Sexual assault | Media Matters for America

Sexual assault

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  • The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson for his abortion comments. Check out all this other stuff he said.

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After previously defending the hiring of former National Review writer Kevin Williamson as an exercise in ideological diversity, Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced on April 5 that the outlet was “parting ways” with Williamson. In particular, Goldberg noted that Williamson’s defense of his belief that those who have had abortion should be hanged “runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”

    Although some chose to write off Williamson’s comments on abortion as offhand statements, in reality, Williamson defended and expanded his belief that those who have abortions should face hanging in a 2014 edition of his podcast, “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.” In the episode, Williamson said that although he was “kind of squishy on capital punishment in general,” he was “absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide” and in particular had “a soft spot for hanging as a form of capital punishment.”

    Beyond his statements about abortion, Williamson also has a long resume when it comes to problematic articles and commentary, on a variety of topics.

    Before he was fired, Media Matters was reviewing additional episodes of Williamson’s podcast. Here are some previously unreported lowlights from other subjects Williamson discussed on “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”:

    On race

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: But at the end of the day we also have to pay attention to the actual facts of the case. And the unhappy part of that story is that a lot of the complaint is based on fiction. A lot of what we have to say about it is based on fiction. It just simply is not the case that young black men are getting gunned down, unarmed, by police officers in any sort of significant numbers. It’s just not something that really happens.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: And I don’t think that a lot of people talking about this right now really even quite understand what the basic genesis of these protests were and where they came from. I think [football player Colin] Kaepernick is a fairly unsympathetic character because he seems to be someone who doesn’t actually know very much what he’s talking about and kind of likes to play radical, maybe to make up for the fact that his sports career wasn’t all that promising there at the end.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Yeah, so the kid, as I was noting in my piece, he yells at me and calls me a “cracker” and “white devil” and whatnot. And the kid sort of looked to me like Snoop Dogg, the rapper. And, he had -- he was very thin, had that sort of pointy kind of wry face, and had some braids and everything too. So I mention in my piece, I sort of did the math, he was just under 4 feet high it looked like and Snoop Dogg is a bit over 6 feet high, that he looked like a three-fifth-scale Snoop Dogg. So apparently the fraction three-fifths now, according to Jamelle [Bouie], is inherently racist because --

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Because of the Constitution?

    WILLIAMSON: Because of the three-fifths compromise over slavery in the Constitution. In which the unit in question, I note, was not three-fifths of a Snoop Dogg.

    On gender and sexual assault

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST) But this notion that we will make it incumbent upon your boss to provide a health plan, then tell him what has to be in it, and then tell him that it’s none of his business is inherently absurd. 

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Someone just needs to tell these brave feminist warrior princesses fighting the patriarchy that it’s time to stop asking Daddy to buy you stuff.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: This makes me want to bang my head on the table, because it’s just complete B.S. So, this stat that we’re always treated to, endlessly discredited, that women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, is produced this way: Take all the earnings of all the women who have full-time jobs and all the earnings of men who have full-time jobs and compare them. Yes, and you will come up with that. But that doesn’t tell you anything about what sort of jobs they’re in, or how long they’ve been in the workforce or what kind of education they have, or anything else.

    [...]

    Now, that may be that some nefarious, sexist cabal somewhere is shunting all the women over into HR and putting the men in sales jobs, but it could also be other things, like choices that people make. Commission sales is an inherently insecure job; women are more risk-averse than men are.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: So, people make different decisions about those sorts of things. And we all know this. I mean, you walk into an elementary school and you notice the male teachers because there’s relatively few of them. You go to other sorts of positions and you’ll notice women there because they stand out because there are relatively few women in those jobs.

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Construction.

    WILLIAMSON: Construction, bouncers, things like that. Not that you would go into a strip club, but if you did go into a strip club you would notice a very pronounced division of labor between the people collecting the money at the door and the people performing on stage. They're just -- people make different sorts of decisions about things.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: A lot of the reaction against Trump, and I say this as an up-and-down-the-line anti-Trump guy, isn’t based on his policies, it’s based on the sort of people who are attracted to him and his candidacy. And that’s what was on my mind very much while watching these stupid protests and marches and riots and all of that kind of stuff. I want there to be opposition to Trump, but I want it to be intelligent, mature, patriotic, and authentically liberal opposition to him. Instead, we got a bunch of self-infantilizing people dressed in vagina hats, screaming about tampons and that sort of thing.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: So, let’s see, if the two candidates -- the two major party candidates were Bugs Bunny characters. … [Hillary Clinton is] a slightly Daffy Duck kind of character, I think in some ways. She’s got an annoying voice, she tends to blow herself up when there’s no particular reason to, things just tend not to go right for her, she’s an egomaniac. She could be sort of a Daffy Duck.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: This is something I bang on a lot about I know, and forgive me for bringing it up here again but I think it is relevant, that the idea that there is an epidemic of rape on college campuses is, first of all, demonstrably untrue. That there’s an epidemic of rape anywhere in the country is demonstrably untrue. Sexual assault have declined something like 68 percent in the last 20 years.

    On immigration

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: When I’ve -- I’ve talked about using an income criterion as a kind of cut-off for not all of our immigration problems -- programs -- but a lot of immigration programs, and a pretty high way, say $200,000 a year is more or less OK. There’s background check and other stuff, but if you’re coming in at a wage like that, you’re not being hired probably because you’re the cheapest guy for the job. You’re being hired because someone is looking for a specific set of skills. Because I simply don’t think our country is going to made better off by importing a lot of poor people. It sounds callous to say, but I think we probably have enough poor people in the United States to start with. I don’t really look out at the country and see a shortage.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: One of the other problems with the purely economic libertarian arguments about immigration is that people aren’t capital. They’re just not. They bring other stuff with them. And that stuff has to be taken into consideration, I think, as well. 

    CHARLES COOKE (CO-HOST): Well, and people care about culture.

    WILLIAMSON: Yeah, they do care about culture. And that actually matters and it should be taken into account. And people think this is chauvinistic or racist or Islamophobic or whatnot, but there’s no reason that stuff should not be taken into account because we do care about the composition of our society.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: And this is where people start to get a little nervous on grounds of things that sound like discrimination to us, and maybe it is discrimination in a way. But I think it’s useful and healthy discrimination that obviously people who are looking to immigrate here from Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia should obviously, in my view, be subject to a much, much higher level of scrutiny than people who are coming here from Switzerland or Sweden.

    KEVIN WILLIAMSON: One of the things I think that we have to be even more forthright about is that we aren’t talking here about a geographic[al] question, we are here talking about a cultural question. We are talking about people who come from Islamic backgrounds. And that’s also going to hold true for many immigrants from the United Kingdom and from other Commonwealth countries that have large immigrant populations of their own from the Middle East. So, I’m thinking that someone who immigrated from Pakistan to the U.K. 20 years ago or 25 years ago, and now the family wants to immigrate to the United States, I would treat them essentially the same way as we would people immigrating from Pakistan. And that gets you into the problem, I guess, where you don’t really get to use the geographic dodge.

  • Xenophobic German campaign #120dB says domestic abuse by Europeans is less harmful than sexual violence by migrants

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Despite claiming to advocate for victims of sexual misconduct, anti-immigrant campaign 120 decibel (#120dB) will do anything to scapegoat migrant men for sexual violence -- even downplay domestic abuse.

    In an April 2 interview with far-right activist and YouTuber Brittany Pettibone, a “German identitarian” activist named Annika argued that domestic abuse by German-born men is different from sexual violence against women by migrant men because “most women” who are victims of domestic abuse “don’t really defend themselves” and “are quiet” while abuse against women in public places by refugees is “really torturous.”

    Annika (who is often referred to by her other name, Franziska) is a spokesperson for #120dB. As documented previously by Media Matters, #120dB is a digital movement attempting to spread a xenophobic, anti-feminist message by riding the coattails of the #MeToo movement. #120dB, which has been heavily promoted by white supremacist “identitarian” group Generation Identity and its European leaders, claims sexual violence by refugee and migrant men is being ignored for fear of offending these communities and calls itself the “true #MeToo.”  

    In the interview, Annika conceded that incidents of sexual violence allegedly committed by migrants are overreported in comparison to domestic abuse because law enforcement “can't just go to a private place and do something in there, but the state can go to a public place and work against the rape there.” In doing so, she unwittingly undermined her movement’s reliance on the assumption that elites are covering up what they characterize as a wave of sexual assaults that they allege are disproportionately committed by refugees and migrants.

    The reality is that migrants and refugees are disproportionately accused of violent crime, both in reports to law enforcement and in online news. In Germany, "foreign-looking suspects" are twice as likely to be reported for violent crime. In Sweden, that rate is 2.5 times. A January 2018 analysis by Germany newspaper Der Spiegel found that of 450 online news reports about 291 “purported sex crimes alleged to have been committed by asylum-seekers and immigrants,” the perpetrator was actually a refugee in only 95 cases, many of which occurred in refugee camps.

    In their effort to scapegoat black and brown men for violence against women, Annika and her colleague Ariane dismissed Germany’s significant issue of domestic abuse, the vast majority of which targets women. That's not a great look for a movement that advertises itself as the “voice of forgotten women.”

    Annika, who considers herself a “right-wing woman” and “anti-feminist,” has appeared in several interviews with Pettibone and her boyfriend, Austrian “identitarian” Martin Sellner. At least two of Pettibone’s videos on the subject appear to be monetized on YouTube. Pettibone and Sellner were both detained at the U.K. border and denied entry in March based on their plans to meet far-right activist Tommy Robinson and the likelihood that their extremism would “incite tensions” in the country.

    From the April 2 YouTube video:

    ANNIKA: It's different because the most rape in Europe from German people or from Swedish people, they take place at home, so in a private place. And there's no violence. The most women don’t really defend themselves. They are quiet and most times they know the rapist, so it's the husband or the father, or someone else related to them. So, they don’t really -- you just can't tell the truth afterwards because you don't have any evidence of it because you don't have blue arms [bruises] or someone heard you scream or something. But the other rapes --  from refugees -- these are really torturous. So you can see those girls are stabbed and they have blue arms and they screamed, and it's in a public place, so you have to go after them but in another way because the state can’t just go into a private place and do something in there, but the state can go to a public place and work against the rape there. So, it's both rape, but it's not the same, because there’s a huge difference [in] how the rapists are doing this.

    ARIANE: And again, there is an enormous difference between engaging into sex with someone to have a higher position into your career, you can -- you still can say no. You can say no and then don't take this path, but if you're forced on the street like we already know about those things that happened. They are so just, just, just totally new. We didn't have that before that things like this went public.

    [...]

    Like domestic violence, which is also often done by women, just to mention that.

    BRITTANY PETTIBONE (HOST): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

    ARIANE: And so many of those cases are not reported. And yeah, they happen in quiet and the state can't do much about it.

    PETTIBONE: It’s very obvious, and it’s just a case of them underreporting. A lot of people don’t know that it’s even happening, and they’d be shocked to hear of the amount of girls and the ways in which they are being raped and murdered and abused.

  • Fox & Friends didn't discuss Trump aide Rob Porter's history of reported domestic abuse but mentioned Obama 18 times

    Fox News' evening shows also virtually ignored the allegations against Porter

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Fox & Friends didn't mention that a top White House aide has abruptly resigned amid allegations of physical domestic abuse, but found time to attack former President Barack Obama by name about various pseudo-scandals at length.

    Rob Porter, a top White House aide with direct access to President Donald Trump, resigned abruptly on February 7 amid allegations of years of domestic abuse, including physical violence, from two ex-wives. After the allegations were first reported by the Daily Mail, CNN interviewed both women, who detailed years of physical and emotional abuse in their respective marriages over a ten-year period, including punching, choking, and throwing fits of rage.

    White House chief of staff John Kelly initially released a statement of support for Porter, calling him “a man of true integrity and honor” (in a new statement, he condemned the abuse); shortly after, media began reporting that Kelly had prior knowledge of the abuse allegations, which were part of why Porter was denied his FBI security clearance. Since the story broke, a third, unnamed woman who currently works in the federal government and previously dated Porter has said she suffered "repeated abuse" by him as recently as 2016. Though he has resigned, Porter denied all allegations, calling them "outrageous" and "simply false."

    From the time the story broke on Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thursday, Fox mentioned Porter’s name ten times over four shows (seven of the mentions occurred in just two reports). Fox first covered the allegations only after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was pressed on the allegations in the February 7 White House briefing. Fox’s prime-time shows did not mention Porter at all aside from a brief report on the 6 p.m. hour. Fox & Friends the following morning also didn't mention Porter.

    While Fox & Friends didn’t find time to report on the resignation of a top aide close to Trump stemming from domestic abuse allegations, the show hosts did mention former President Barack Obama by name 18 times in relation to various contrived scandals, including Uranium One and the private text messages of two FBI employees.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of "Porter" on Fox News between February 6 and February 9, 2018 and "Obama" on the February 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends. Pronouns "he," "his," and "him" were excluded. Mentions of Porter by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders during the live airing of the press briefing were also excluded.

  • Fox and CBS' Sunday political shows ignored reports of former RNC finance chair Steve Wynn's sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK

    The Sunday shows on Fox Broadcasting Co. and CBS failed to mention new allegations of sexual misconduct against casino mogul and former finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Steve Wynn.

    On January 26, The Wall Street Journal reported on allegations of sexual misconduct by Wynn from dozens of his employees and others at Wynn Resorts spanning decades. According to the Journal, people who have worked at for Wynn “described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts.” In one case, Wynn paid a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who “told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex.”

    Wynn, who President Donald Trump has called “a great friend,” has “donated millions to Republicans” and became the RNC’s finance chair after the 2016 election. He has also donated far smaller amounts to some Democrats in the past. Wynn resigned from his position at the RNC following these reports.

    Despite the serious nature of the allegations and the growing attention to sexual misconduct issues in the workplace brought by the #MeToo campaign, the January 28 editions of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation ignored the reports altogether.

  • Over 100 women spoke out about Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse this week. Cable news barely covered it.

    MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN spent less than 20 minutes combined this week covering Nassar’s abuse

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    This week, dozens of women have shared their stories of being sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor. Cable news channels barely covered it.

    In recent months, Nassar has pleaded guilty to numerous counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, as well as several federal child pornography charges. As part of his criminal sentencing, more than 100 women are expected to share their stories in court of being abused by Nassar throughout this week, marking “the first and possibly only time they will have the opportunity to speak to him directly.”

    In addition to the women sharing their stories in the courtroom, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles wrote a public statement about her experience with Nassar, saying, “I am not afraid to tell my story anymore.” Biles concluded, “We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of us. We need to make sure something like this never happens again.” On Tuesday, it was revealed that Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney could have faced a $100,000 fine for speaking about her experience with Nassar due to a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Following an outcry of support, including model Chrissy Teigen offering to pay the fine for her, the NDA was waived and Maroney was able to give her statement, which was read in court.

    Despite this story being one of the largest-scale sexual abuse stories in recent history -- and despite its coming at a time when the #metoo movement is flourishing in some other industries -- it’s getting scant media attention from cable news. According to a Media Matters analysis, the three major cable news channels -- CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- have devoted just 19 minutes and 47 seconds of coverage to the events surrounding Nassar’s sentencing and the women’s statements. CNN spent 11 minutes and 49 seconds on the topic. MSNBC spent 4 minutes and 9 seconds covering the topic, and Fox News spent just 3 minutes and 49 seconds.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN’s nearly 12 minutes of coverage far surpassed both MSNBC and Fox News; however, before Friday, CNN had only spent 3 minutes and 58 seconds on the topic. The network’s coverage picked up on the last day of Nassar’s sentencing with CNN’s morning show New Day hosting Jamie Dantzscher, a survivor of Nassar’s abuse.

    Women are finally getting the opportunity to tell their stories publicly. In this case, these women shared how Nassar’s abuse changed their lives. Some of the women spoke of the self-doubt and depression they faced, and family members recounted how their loved ones took their own lives after Nassar’s abuse. It’s imperative that cable news starts doing a better job of lifting up their voices.

  • Fox anchor calls a seemingly forced kiss a "hot pursuit," even after a host points out that it was unwanted

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During the January 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, a teaser aired for an upcoming report on a Los Angeles police chase that ended with the male perpetrator forcibly kissing his female companion. Co-host Steve Doocy exclaimed, "Wait, that's a kiss? What?" and fellow co-host Ainsley Earhardt pointed out that "she doesn't look like she wants to be kissing him" as the on-screen chyron labeled the apparently nonconsensual act "a passionate arrest":

    Nonetheless, Fox's Jillian Mele started her report on the story by calling the police chase a "hot pursuit" and saying, "Police breaking up the passion by tasing the man and tackling the woman":

    JILLIAN MELE (HEADLINES ANCHOR): OK, so we're giving the phrase "hot pursuit" a whole new meaning, I tell you. A couple getting in one last kiss after leading police on a two-hour chase. The woman is accused of stealing a U-Haul truck, then leading officers on a pursuit through Los Angeles, but a blown tire ended the whole thing. Police breaking up the passion by tasing the man and tackling the woman. Both were arrested and treated for drugs.