Van Jones Asks Rich Lowry: 'Can I Kiss You Here Against Your Will?'

On Sunday morning, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos discussed Rolling Stone's retracted article surrounding an alleged sexual assault and gang rape at the University of Virginia. While the panelists all agreed that Rolling Stone should take a hit for publishing a false story, the discussion got heated over statistics regarding sexual assaults on college campuses.

The segment began with Rich Lowry of National Review accusing Rolling Stone of having “an agenda to portray UVA as this bastion of white male privilege where basically rapists rule the social life. And the damage will never be undone. And I think if there’s any justice in the world, Rolling Stone would have to give up covering music and become the alumni magazine of the University of Virginia.”

Following Lowry’s condemnation of the magazine, CNN’s Van Jones argued that "regardless of this one story, George, the statistics are there and they're shocking. It's literally one out of five.” The liberal CNN contributor’s comments that “one out of five” women are victims of sexual assault set off a firestorm among the panelists:

LOWRY: No it’s not. That's a bogus statistic. That’s completely bogus. 

JONES: Let me finish. First of all, it's not bogus. 

LOWRY: It is bogus. 

JONES: And one of the things I think is really unfortunate is that when you do have young women who are courageous enough to step forward, and they then point to other young women you get this sort of attack. And I think this mistake on the part of Rolling Stone actually emboldens people who want to attack young women’s credibility when they come forward. 

LOWRY: That statistic is based on a survey that includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault. That is not a real number.

The segment concluded with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) joining the debate to further attack Lowry for daring to challenge Van Jones' argument about sexual assaults: 

LORETTA SANCHEZ: That is a sexual assault. 

LOWRY: It’s an advocacy number. 

JONES: Can I kiss you? Can I kiss you here against your will? 

LOWRY: Let’s talk about this later Van.  That’s not a crime that the police are going to be involved in and prosecute. 

JONES: That's an assault. That is an assault. 

SANCHEZ: That is a sexual assault. If I go like this at you that's a sexual assault. If you put your lips on me that’s a sexual assault. 

LOWRY: Van wants to kiss me. She wants to hit me. 

See relevant transcript below. 

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos

December 7, 2014

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we’ve only got a couple minutes left. I want to move on to one other subject. It’s king of remarkable. We saw Rolling Stone’s big expose, they said, explosive story about sexual assault, gang rape at the University of Virginia. That was the original story right there. This weekend, the story appeared to collapse.

Rolling Stone apologizing, their editor tweeting out, “the fact that there is a story that appears in Rolling Stone in which I don't have complete confidence is deeply unsettling to me. We made the judgment-the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. And this case our judgment was wrong.” Rich Lowry, based on a woman who said she was assaulted at UVA. The story did not appear to add up. Washington Post did a lengthy expose. And you were one of the first reporters to call out Rolling Stone on this. 

RICH LOWRY: Well, when something is so explosive, you have to be certain it's right. And Rolling Stone didn't do basic fact-checking here. I believe because they had an agenda to portray UVA as this bastion of white male privilege where basically rapists rule the social life. And the damage will never be undone. And I think if there’s any justice in the world, Rolling Stone would have to give up covering music and become the alumni magazine of the University of Virginia. 

MATTHEW DOWD: George, my biggest fear out of this is, the biggest damage to me that's has been done in this, is that women who finally have the courage to stand up and say this happened to me. And no woman, if you think about the history, no woman has ever gained fame or fortune by falsely accusing a man of rape or sexual assault. No woman has ever gained from it. It takes courage. And my fear is people are going to now doubt what everybody says. I believe there was still sexual assault, whether it followed the facts of the case. But that's my bigger fear. 

LORETTA SANCHEZ: For me, the bigger issue, and the issue that sort of gets buried in this is should a university be handling the investigation of the sexual assault? 

LOWRY: Absolutely right. 

SANCHEZ: I mean, if it was a murder, would the university handle it? It's like we're saying that sexual assault is not a crime. I mean, this is the biggest issue that we’ve have in the military where we have hammered home that sexual assault is a crime and so—

VAN JONES: And regardless of this one story, George, the statistics are there and they're shocking. It's literally one out of five. 

LOWRY: No it’s not. That's a bogus statistic. That’s completely bogus. 

JONES: Let me finish. First of all, it's not bogus. 

LOWRY: It is bogus. 

JONES: And frankly one of the things I think is really unfortunate is that when you do have young women who are courageous enough to step forward, and they then point to other young women you get this sort of attack. And I think this mistake on the part of Rolling Stone actually emboldens people who want to attack young women’s credibility when they come forward. 

LOWRY: That statistic is based on a survey that includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault. That is not a real number.

SANCHEZ: That is a sexual assault. 

LOWRY: It’s an advocacy number. 

JONES: Can I kiss you? Can I kiss you here against your will? 

LOWRY: Let’s talk about this later Van.  That’s not a crime that the police are going to be involved in and prosecute. 

JONES: That's an assault. That is an assault. 

SANCHEZ: That is a sexual assault. If I go like this at you that's a sexual assault. If you put your lips on me that’s a sexual assault. 

LOWRY: Van wants to kiss me. She wants to hit me. 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:  We're going to have to stop it right there. That is going to have to be the last word. You guys take this outside. 

Sexuality ABC This Week George Stephanopoulos Rich Lowry Van Jones Loretta Sanchez Matthew Dowd

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