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January 26 2015

Before Jackie: An Update on a Sloppily Reported Story that Changed American Law

We have already called your attention to Christina Hoff Sommers’ Daily Beast article in which Sommers catches NPR and the Center for Public Integrity blowing out of proportion that facts about a rape culture on campus.

The headline of the story is “The Media is Making College Rape Culture Worse.” Hoff Sommers by no means downplays the heinousness of the crime of rape. But she does show that a sloppily-reported “investigative series” in 2010 by NPR and CPI had far more damaging results than the more recent badly-reported (but quickly exposed) Rolling Stone story on a gang rape that didn't happen. New laws were crafted around the NPR-CPI investigation.

Indeed, the NPR-CPI investigation was a key factor in what ultimately became a federal government overhaul of campur rape policies that seeks to eliminate the civil rights of the accused. We believe in harsh punishments for anybody who has committed the crime of rape, but it is important to acknowledge that sometimes false accusations are made. Our system of justice was set up to protect the rights of both the accuser and the accused.

With this in mind, it is especially noteworthy that William Buzenberg, outgoing president of the Center for Public Integrity, listed this investigation as one of his signature achievements. In his list of achievements, he includes:

"For example, our year-long investigation into campus sexual assaults in 2009-10, has led to new U.S. Department of Education regulations and changed procedures at universities nationwide ever since."

As Hoff Sommers showed in the Daily Beast article, this apparently wildly inaccurate investigation by the CPI and NPR racially changed American law with regard to the serious accusation of rape.  The way Title IX, which is noble in intent, was changed to deal with campus rape accusations happened without a single hearing.  

“That is not as bad as crafting laws around the University of Virginia’s Jackie case--but close,” Hoff Sommers has observed.

 

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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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