Fox News' Andrea Tantaros gave feminist blogs a shout out on "Outnumbered" on Tuesday, so we'd be remiss not to acknowledge the host's insightful commentary about campus sexual assault investigations. According to Tantaros, scrutiny of rape on college campuses amounts to a "war on boys."
On Monday, the Charlottesville Police Department announced that it found no evidence to corroborate the account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia detailed in Rolling Stone last year, in a discredited report that has since sparked widespread discussion of campus rape culture as well as a Columbia University review of the magazine's editorial practices. The "Outnumbered" panelists weighed in on Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo's announcement, with some added disdain for the feminist writers (hi!) who cover sexual assault on college campuses.
"I want an investigation into what Rolling Stone was thinking," co-host Harris Faulkner began. "I don't know that an apology really does it. I know they have the university looking into how they do their processing for how they vet the people they talk to, but we know from our own reporting here on the couch that they let a reporter determine she just wasn't going to track any further than the website. She just wasn't going to do the complete job we learned in Journalism 101."
"The reporter admitted that when she had been visiting college campuses looking for a story, and so that plays into the narrative about campus rape, what is perpetuated on college campuses," guest host Katie Pavlich added. "Are feminist groups on college campuses wanting reporters to write things like that, and giving them stories that maybe aren't true?"
As the panelists acknowledged, Longo made clear in his announcement that law enforcement had decided to suspend its UVA investigation -- instead of closing it down entirely -- because detectives could not determine conclusively that the young woman identified as Jackie was not assaulted. But while the police chief has managed to identify a key nuance in the investigation's lack of a final resolution (specifically, that even if the Rolling Stone report cannot be corroborated, it does not preclude the possibility that "something terrible" still happened to Jackie), Tantaros chimed in by ignoring that element of reality completely.
"This is the most dangerous form of journalism," Tantaros said. "They're just looking for stories, and if they don't get them then they'll just make it up. Or they'll use hyperbolic explanations that they don't validate."
"This hurts women," she went on, "this hurts victims of sexual assault, and -- I'm going to speak slowly here so all the feminist blogs can get this one, because I'm sure they'll clip it -- there is a war happening, on boys on these college campuses."
(I would like to take this moment to thank Tantaros, because it is actually extremely helpful to have someone speak in a way that is easy to transcribe, especially when she is talking about campus sexual assault!)
Tantaros cited the recent backlash against Harvard's sexual assault policy, which a number of faculty members criticized for stripping alleged assailants of due process during university investigations. (Feminist bloggers have investigated and called out universities' opaque investigation procedures, which can, indeed, violate an accused student's rights and cause problems for everyone. There are problems with the system. The system needs to be fixed.) She also criticized the Obama administration for furthering federal inquiries into colleges' and universities' handling of rape investigations, and even managed to bring Lena Dunham into the fold.
"It is a theme in this country to go after boys in this rape culture," Tantaros said. "There are absolutely legitimate reasons for them to do this. But what happens after they assassinate their character? What happens to Lena Dunham? What happens to these fraternity boys? Absolutely nothing. And it hurts the women and the victims at the end of the day the most."
Watch the "Outnumbered" discussion of the Charlottesville investigation, via Media Matters, below: