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ABC Makes Patently False Claim About New Title IX Rules

The new standard does not require victims to show that they can't return to school. It doesn't even require them to leave school in the first place.

DeVosLEAH MILLIS/REUTERS/NewscomABC has badly mischaracterized Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed changes to Title IX, the federal statute dealing with campus sexual misconduct.

"One of the biggest changes to the rule would be a new definition of sexual harassment," writes ABC's Anne Flaherty. "Under Obama, it was defined it as 'unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.' The new rule would define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual conduct that is 'so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a recipient's education program or activity.'"

So far, her description is correct. (For more on why such changes are good for students' due process and free speech rights, read this post.) But what comes next is totally false:

That definition would be significantly more difficult to prove because the victim would have to prove the misconduct prevents them from returning to school.

No. The new standard does not require victims to show that they can't return to school. Indeed, it doesn't require them to leave school in the first place. What this new standard says is that severe, pervasive, objectively offensive sexual harassment that negatively impacts a student's ability to attend class is a form of discrimination, because it denies the student's right to an education. Sexual conduct that satisfies the severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive threshold—the legal standard for workplace harassment—will be held to violate Title IX, even if the conduct did not literally cause the student to flee campus but merely makes the student's life unpleasant.

Unfortunately, ABC's mischaracterization of the standard is already being parroted by the Daily Kos. This is how fake news spreads.

If would be great if a civil-liberties-minded organization in good standing with the left could step up and explain why Title IX reform is necessary and long overdue. Unfortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union has opted to go another route.

Photo Credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Don't worry, they'll issue an update in a day or two. As for the news spreading for that time? Not really their problem.

  • Sevo||

    "Don't worry, they'll issue an update in a day or two. As for the news spreading for that time? Not really their problem."
    The correction will get the same wide-spread distribution as the correction to the ocean-heating 'study' will get.

  • damikesc||

    "Tonight, on ABC World News Tonight, we open with 'our bad'. In other news..."

  • JesseAz||

    At least we know what chem Jeff's arguments will be next week if this topic comes up again.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Really Robby, you've decided to jump on the "fake news" bandwagon?

    "mischaracterization" is fine, but "fake news", really?

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Robby, I don't see the quotes you mentioned in the ABC piece. But, I did find it in google cache. The paragraph has been replaced on the website with a more accurate characterization. Daily Kos has also deleted the offending tweet.

    But I'm sure that you'll leave up your "fake news" description forever. Just like your piece from two days ago has Michael Avenatti described as a wife beater, even those reports were proven false twenty minutes after they first broke.

    At least ABC promptly fixes what you call "fake news". Robby leaves it up forever.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    No correction? So ABC stealth-edits fake news when they are caught, eh?

  • soldiermedic76||

    What would you call a mischaracterization other than fake? Are you splitting hairs to defend your tribe?

  • Doug Heffernan||

    They are not my tribe. I support the new title ix rules.

    ABC made a mistake and fixed it within 10 minutes. It would have been nice if they acknowledged the edits, but at least they fixed it promptly. Unlike Robby.

  • soldiermedic76||

    A one time thing is a mistake, however, ABC has made so many "mistakes" the last couple of years that do they really deserve the benefit of the doubt? Especially when the mistakes overwhelmingly seem to cast the GOP and the administration in the worst light possible. At best, they are allowing the personal bias to color their reporting and refuse to correct the obvious bias (this shows will full ignorance on their part). At worst it is deliberate. No matter what, they no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt because they have done nothing to correct this pattern.

  • ||

    Not just ABC. NBC and NYT too.

    I think it's by design. Get it out, poison the mind so as to buy the narrative and by the time you issue a correction or retraction it's 'troot' to the masses.

    Root-toot-Troot.

    Of course, I'm only speculating. But are news offices that decimated they have no fact checkers to verify the basics?

  • JesseAz||

    First... Silent edits are bad. People don't go back and read the same article twice.

    Second.. citation on ten minutes?

  • soldiermedic76||

    Also, great tactics, put out a false statement. Get it picked up then quietly change it without offering an apology or even admitting you made a mistake. Nothing nefarious there. You are so right, nothing fake about that!

  • soldiermedic76||

    No, his wife denied that she was the one he struck, however, he was arrested and booked for domestic abuse. The LAPD stated the victim had visible injuries but they have not released the victims identity. This was NOT proven false 20 minutes later. He was arrested for domestic abuse, however the identity of his supposed victim is unknown. All we have is the wife's lawyer stating it wasn't her. Trying to state this was proven false is a large overreach.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Robby's piece from two days ago is still entitled:

    "Police Arrest Michael Avenatti for Alleged Domestic Violence Against Ex-Wife"

    Was that ever true?

  • soldiermedic76||

    We don't know. If we take the lawyers word for it, no, however, we don't have verification so we don't know the truth or not.

  • Sevo||

    Doug Heffernan|11.16.18 @ 3:43PM|#
    "Robby's piece from two days ago is still entitled:
    "Police Arrest Michael Avenatti for Alleged Domestic Violence Against Ex-Wife"
    Was that ever true?"

    According to that noted alt-right rag the NYT he was indeed arrested on those charges.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    NYT piece doesn't have anything to indicate that the charges are about domestic violence against ex-wife, unlike Robby's piece.

  • ||

    Didn't an ex-wife issue a 'he's a great guy' letter in his defense?

  • JesseAz||

    The intention of the story is to say avenettis was arrested for domestic abuse. Full stop. Being wrong about who the victim was doesn't change the charges.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Robby doesn't "full stop" in his title. The title goes on to say "against ex-wife".

    Even tmz has corrected their original story.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "But I'm sure that you'll leave up your "fake news" description forever."

    Removing the false information is not the same thing as not reporting it as true in the first place.

  • damikesc||

    But I'm sure that you'll leave up your "fake news" description forever. Just like your piece from two days ago has Michael Avenatti described as a wife beater, even those reports were proven false twenty minutes after they first broke.

    Arrested for nothing. Horrifying.

    And, well, using his criteria for Kavanaugh, his proclamation of innocence is proof of guilt.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Indeed, "fake news" is a particularly insidious expression. Many experts on authoritarian regimes note the similarities between's Drumpf's "fake news" label intended to undermine the legitimacy of the media, and Hitler's attempts to do the same. The parallels are terrifying.

    The truth is, aside from obviously biased sources like Faux News, the American media is an ideology- and agenda-free institution that occasionally makes mistakes, but most certainly does not produce "fake news."

  • JesseAz||

    Doug .. your objection was so silly a parody account is mocking it.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    It doesn't really matter. If the Robby and majority here really believe that the intention of the initial ABC piece was to spread "fake news", then everything can be labeled as fake news and we're all worse off.

    The interpretation of reporting is just a team sport now, and your team can win every time. We can all just call each other fake for the duration.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Don't you have a fake UPS company where you can barely remain employed to head to?

  • SQRLSY One||

    I feel so harassed on these comment pages that I might have to leave!!! WHO can I sue?!?!?!

    WTF, what has happened to the objective rule of law ("just the facts, ma'am") when an offense can be defined purely in the mind of the offended, anyway?

    What we have now is kangaroo court, NOT the rule of law!

  • DesigNate||

    I, for one, am shocked, shocked I say! that any media outlet would completely ,mischaracterize something that one of Trumps Cabinet members would suggest. There is absolutely no precedent for anyone in the media to change the story or lie about it.

  • Jerryskids||

    Holy shit! A "patently false claim" and a "mischaracterization" and "fake news"? Not a "mistaken" or an "accidental-but-completely-understandable not-entirely-true" or a "careless" report? It's almost as if Robbie's starting to suspect that this sort of shit doesn't happen completely by accident after the accidents keep running in one direction and one direction only.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Read the comments on the ABC story. Priceless.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Quite interesting. Or sad.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Christopher Precopia's accuser hasn't been named, even though it's been proven that she blatantly lied to police. There are consequences to giving women unchecked power to imprison men.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    The fake news article also claim that "A small group of mens' rights groups have pushed for the changes, contending that schools have gone too far and provided little due process to the accused."

    It's terribly misleading to claim that advcates for the changes are limited to mens' rights groups. They leave out civil rights groups like FIRE, groups of law professors, and Justice Ginsburg.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I guess I'll never figure out the Tittle IX standards. I majored in biology. During the lab section of Developmental Biology II, we examined freshly fertilized eggs under microscopes. This required the professor to collect gametes at the start of the class for fertilization. The frogs were happy, but I'm not sure how the sea urchins felt about those injections.

  • buybuydandavis||

    FakeNews gonna fake news

  • Rob Misek||

    It doesn't help when commenters first choose sides then argue to support their side.

    Left and right, capitalism and socialism are artificial constructs. It is unnatural for us to force all issues into one or the other camp.

    The real division is right or wrong, based on justice defined by truth.

    The rewording of IX is problematic and ABC isn't far off the mark. How else can you prove that you can't go to school other than by not going?

    Change the wording.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "The rewording of IX is problematic and ABC isn't far off the mark."

    Perhaps the rewording is problematic, but it wasn't Devos how reworded it. Devos's wording is taken verbatim from the SCOTUS decision defining harassment for Title IX purposes. The previous DCL wording was invented by the DOE.

  • Paulpemb||

    "If would be great if a civil-liberties-minded organization in good standing with the left could step up and explain why Title IX reform is necessary and long overdue"

    Organizations don't stay in 'good standing with the left' by contradicting the Party line.

  • Gozer the Gozarian||

    ABC = Another Botched Communication

  • Longtobefree||

    What's the truth got to do with advancing the socialist agenda?

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