Fox News host Andrea Tantaros attacked MSNBC for covering the Senate military sexual assault hearings on Tuesday instead of the concurrent House IRS hearings, saying “what they consider to be priorities” is “unbelievable.”
On the June 4 edition of The Andrea Tantaros Show, Tantaros, who is a co-host of Fox News’ The Five, said:
“Sex crimes in a military, they are a real issue. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to poo poo it and say it’s not. What baffles me though is the way they prioritize these issues. The timing and the tone of them. If these were liberal groups targeted by George W. Bush, they would not be covering sex assault in the military. … Why is MSNBC devoting so much time to this issue when, as David Axelrod points out, there are so many other issues to deal with?”
Media Matters reports that on June 4, MSNBC devoted an hour and twenty minutes to the eight-hour sexual assault hearing, and an hour and thirteen minutes to the IRS hearing. Meanwhile, on the same day, Fox News spent four hours on the IRS hearing and a scant 14 minutes on the sexual assault hearing.
Tantaros also attacked Obama for speaking about sexual assault in the military at his Naval Academy commencement speech on May 24:
“That same [Memorial Day] weekend, he talked about military rape. What a smack in the face of the men and the women have served us with dignity and gave the ultimate sacrifice. … I mean, it’s the way they prioritize these things. It’s unbelievable.”
The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in the military in 2012 alone. The Naval Academy is currently investigating allegations that members of its football team assaulted a female midshipman.
Along with Fox News’ dismissal through their lack of coverage, Tantaros’ comments undermine the scale and importance of the military’s sexual assault problem, which an Army General called “a cancer within the force” during Tuesday’s hearing. Tantaros’ failure to recognize the ongoing issue of sexual assault in the military as serious institutional failure is emblematic of many in the media’s failure to adequately address issues of sexual violence in recent months, most notably during the Steubenville trial.