On Michael Savage’s radio show Savage Nation on Thursday, Fox News host and former Florida congressman Allen West blamed women being allowed in combat roles in the military for the ongoing controversy over sexual assault in the force, and alleged that “an assault against the United States military” is underway.
Savage and West criticized Senators’ efforts to question whether the chain of command could adequately handle sexual assault cases, and Savage mocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as sounding “like a college chick at a dorm” for asking those questions. West cited the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the end of “some very strict regulations as far as interaction between males and females” as part of the “assault” on the military. In January, West called the Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on women in combat as a “foray into an inequality trip” and a “social experiment.”
West and Savage continued to doubt the epidemic of sexual assault in the military:
SAVAGE: … Am I mistaken in assuming the following: When you say sexual assault, according to the new liberal interpretation of such a phrase, does that not include, “Hey honey, let’s go for a beer?” Could she turn him in and say that was a sexual assault because it was an unwanted advance?
WEST: Well she could. I mean that’s the –
SAVAGE: Alright, so amongst the 23,000 — amongst the 23,000 so-called cases that the Commander-in-Chief Obama talked about last, two weeks ago, at a commencement address, how many of them are fraudulent claims? We don’t know, do we?
WEST: No we don’t. And furthermore, Dr. Savage, we don’t know how many of them are female against male, you know, sexual assaults, or same-sex sexual assaults. So we don’t have those numbers either.
Details of the survey and analysis estimating 26,000 cases of “unwanted sexual contact” as occurring last year are openly available from the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, along with data from previous reports in 2006 and 2010. Of the 26,000 cases estimated in 2012, 26 percent were of “completed sexual intercourse, anal or oral sex”, 31 percent were attempted cases, and 32% were of unwanted sexual touching. 6.1 percent of active duty women reported being sexually assaulted, as did 1.2 percent of active duty men.
West and Savage’s dismissal of sexual assault claims, despite extensive data supporting them from the military, is reflective of the same kind of rape culture that discourages victims from reporting their assaults in the first place. Only 34% of female victims and 24% of male victims reported to either military or civilian authorities.
West’s fellow Fox News host Andrea Tantaros also recently dismissed the ongoing attempt to resolve the military sexual assault epidemic, attacking MSNBC for covering the Senate hearings on the topic. Fox has given startlingly low coverage to the issue of military sexual assault: on June 4, when the Senate hearing occurred, Fox spent 14 minutes reporting on it as opposed to 4 hours on the House hearing on the IRS.
Kumar Ramanathan is an intern at ThinkProgress.