WOMEN
12/15/2014 08:57 am ET

Advocates Warn Against Impact Of Rolling Stone's UVA Rape Controversy On Campus Assault Legislation

In the wake of an amplified conversation about the number of rape allegations coming from behind the closed doors of the ivory tower, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) are working to pass a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing transparency and accountability at colleges.

But some fear that the recent controversy surrounding Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story, the truth of which has been called into question, could impact the bill’s progress in the Senate. HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani spoke with a panel of women last week about how media coverage colors the country's perception of rape.

“All of the stories that we see in the media affect the way that we see issues," said Elizabeth Plank, executive social editor at Mic. “And we already see sexual assault as an issue where we find it very hard to believe women and where we believe that false accusations are a very frequent thing against men, when men are actually more likely to be raped than falsely accused of rape.”

The numbers behind false accusations of rape are unclear, but the most commonly cited statistics put the number between 2 and 8 percent. Statistically, males are more likely to suffer sexual assault than to be false accused of it.

Emphasis on the frequency or infrequency of false accusations reflect how contentious the issue has become, and Plank pointed to another telling report on how media has covered the controversy.

According to a Media Matters analysis, the majority of cable news shows covered the Rolling Stone allegations only after the magazine issued its retraction. As the report explains, 70 percent of the shows that only covered the story after the Rolling Stone apology aired on one network in particular -- Fox News.

“So we’re more interested in these stories when women lie than actual sexual assault, which happens,” she said.

Click here to watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about the biggest women’s issues from this week.

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