White House counselor Kellyanne Conway did not say victims of sexual assault are to blame for their attacks. But you’d think otherwise from the way certain sloppy and unscrupulous reporters have covered her remarks.
The White House aide appeared Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union" to address the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. During Conway's appearance, she said that she, too, is the victim of sexual abuse.
“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape. That – I'm a victim of sexual assault,” she said. “I don't expect Judge Kavanaugh or [CNN’s] Jake Tapper or [Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.] or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct.”
She added in reference to the anti-Kavanaugh protesters who cornered Flake last week, “This is all partisan politics. All women can't — you know, I want those women who — who were sexually assaulted the other day who were confronting Jeff Flake, God bless them. But go blame the perpetrator. That is who is responsible for a sexual assault, the people who commit them.”
Now, take what Conway said and compare it to how certain corners of the news media reported it.
First, there’s Mic senior political reporter Emily Cahn, who tweeted this weekend: “Kellyanne Conway says she’s a victim of sexual assault, and then in the same breath says victims are to blame for their assaults? No, Kellyanne, victims are not to blame. Assaulters are.”
Kellyanne Conway says she’s a victim of sexual assault, and then in the same breath says victims are to blame for their assaults? No, Kellyanne, victims are not to blame. Assaulters are. pic.twitter.com/UJMiTS5rXm— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) September 30, 2018
Her note included screengrabs from two Daily Beast tweets. The first read, “Breaking: Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’m a victim of sexual assault.’” The second tweet read, “She went on to say that ‘you have to be responsible for your own conduct’ and slammed calls for an FBI probe into assault allegations against Kavanaugh.”
Had Cahn bothered to read the reports she highlighted, she would've seen her that her statement, which has been retweeted more than 500 times, is flat-out wrong. This is almost as bad as the time a Washington Post reporter alleged Conway compared Kavanaugh to accused serial rapist Harvey Weinstein (she didn’t).
Cahn’s Mic colleague Alex Berg said in a similar note, ‘Kellyanne Conway tells Jake Tapper that she is a victim of sexual assault, follows it up by saying ‘you have to be responsible for your own conduct.’ Such a victim-blaming mentality. Shows how much you can internalize shame and self-blame.”
Kellyanne Conway tells Jake Tapper that she is a victim of sexual assault, follows it up by saying "you have to be responsible for your own conduct." Such a victim-blaming mentality. Shows how much you can internalize shame and self-blame.— Alex Berg (@itsalexberg) September 30, 2018
BuzzFeed News tweeted separately that, “Kellyanne Conway said she is a survivor of sexual assault, but that she doesn't expect ‘anybody to be held responsible for that.’”
The story accompanying the BuzzFeed tweet is no more honest in its coverage of what Conway said. The entire story fails to note that Conway’s ultimate point was the actual perpetrators of sexual assault are solely responsible for the attacks, not the victims or various newsmen and senators. The BuzzFeed report doesn't even include the parts where Conway said “go blame the perpetrator. That is who is responsible for a sexual assault, the people who commit them." But you better believe the story includes the part where Conway said, "You have to be responsible for your own conduct."
It's just a real mystery that Conway's entire point didn’t make it into the story; a huge mystery.