News and Commentary

NBC Smears AG Barr, Book About Campus Sexual Assault
U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr testified on the Justice Department's investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

In an attempt to smear Attorney General William Barr, NBC News framed a story about Barr’s support for due process (which shouldn’t be controversial) as him supporting rapists.

It’s a typical tactic by the media these days. Ever since the Obama administration issued guidelines in 2011 warning schools that they needed to find more male students responsible for sexual assault, due process has gone out the window. In 2017, professor K.C. Johnson and scholar Stuart Taylor wrote a book about the issue. At the time, I wrote a review for RealClear Books — and my previous work on the subject was also referenced multiple times in the book.

The book details how colleges and universities ignore exculpatory evidence and hinder students’ due process rights in order to obtain findings of responsibility to avoid federal investigations that threaten the schools’ federal funding. Johnson and Taylor, using court documents, describe multiple instances where male students have been found responsible even though the evidence suggested they were innocent.

NBC reported that Barr “strongly endorsed a 2017 book accusing colleges and universities of unfairly punishing male students accused of rape.” That is not accurate, as the book accuses schools of unfairly punishing male students dubiously accused of rape. The book does not decry students who are likely guilty receiving too harsh a punishment, as NBC claimed.

“President Obama’s Education Department — promulgating regulations beyond its statutory authority, invoking erroneous data, and fanning the false narrative of a ‘rape culture’ on college campuses — has created a regime of kangaroo justice,” Barr wrote in the blurb.

This is an accurate statement. The Obama administration used false data purporting to show that 20% of women are sexually assaulted in college (surveys that use an overly broad definition of sexual assault in order to get such a high number) to justify eviscerating due process rights in campus tribunals. This same statistic has been used to claim there is a “rape culture” on college campuses, with activists and politicians insisting that drunken hookups are now sexual assault. Further, as I previously stated, the lack of due process and the ignoring of exculpatory evidence create a kangaroo court. Franz Kafka would be appalled.

NBC also distorted a recent story about Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh. NBC wrote: “The New York Times published an excerpt of a new book detailing asexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh while a student at Yale that he had previously denied. The book also includes information about a new allegation.”

This leaves out important details — like how the book does not contain corroborating evidence for the previous claim and the new allegation was denied by the alleged victim.

The most egregious case in the book from Johnson and Stuart involves a male Amherst College student who blacked out, received oral sex from his girlfriend’s roommate, and was accused of sexual assault nearly two years later. In the time between the act and the accusation, the female accuser lost her friendship with the man’s girlfriend and became friends with feminist campus activists. Even though Amherst has a policy explaining that a person could be in a black-out state without appearing to be inebriated and determined the male student was likely blacked out, it still found him responsible and expelled him. After the student hired an attorney, he learned that the woman had lied about what happened after the alleged encounter. She claimed she was distraught and called a friend over. That “friend” was actually another male student with whom she had been flirting previously in the night. She sent text messages to her friend explaining that she had done something “so fu**ig [sic] stupid” with her roommate’s boyfriend and that “it’s pretty [obvious] I wasn’t an innocent bystander.”

She proceeded to text this friend about the man she invited over after the encounter — about how he wasn’t making a move on her. This male student signed an affidavit saying she was not at all distraught that night.

When the male student brought these messages to Amherst, school administrators refused to allow him back in, claiming the process worked. The school eventually settled with the student.

Naturally, NBC didn’t include anything from the actual book in its report.