The campus rape documentary released back in February portrays American college campuses as hotbeds of predatory sexual assault where administrators routinely allow perpetrators to get off scot-free.
Variety’s Ella Taylor trashes “The Hunting Ground” as “shoddy journalism” and “a loaded piece of agitprop that plays fast and loose with statistics and our sympathy with victims of campus sexual assault.”
“With death-defying leaps of logic on the basis of skimpy and distorted evidence, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s film does violence to both the legitimate fight for women’s rights and the honorable cause of advocacy filmmaking,” Taylor writes.
“The Hunting Ground” bears the label “CNN Films.” CNN calls the documentary “groundbreaking.”
The film’s strength is built on an almost overwhelming deluge of personal accounts by women (and a few men) who recount suffering violent rapes and then struggling to obtain justice.
However, as scores and scores of critics have observed, it relies on several questionable facts to make its case, and sometimes misleads the viewer in a way that calls the entire film’s legitimacy and reliability into question. (RELATED: CNN’s New Rape Documentary Relies On Myths, Not Facts)
Crucial to the documentary’s strength is the claim that rape is virtually routine on college campuses, and that its frequency calls for drastic action. Within the first few minutes, the documentary touts the statistic that “16 to 20 percent” of women are raped while at college. (The stat is extremely popular among activists.)
In a bout of fairly cosmic timing, the U.S. Department of Justice published an analysis of crime data just weeks before the release of “The Hunting Ground” showing that the actual annual rate of college rape is just 0.61 percent. Even multiplied over four years, the Department of Justice figure suggests only about one in 40 collegiate women will suffer any sort of attempted or successful sexual assault.
The federal analysis, compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), relies upon years of data collected in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a national survey of tens of thousands of households that seeks to measure the frequency of American crime, both reported and unreported. (RELATED: DOJ: 0.61 Percent Of Students Are Sexually Assaulted)
In November, a group of 19 Harvard Law School professors published a stinging condemnation of “The Hunting Ground,” calling the documentary deeply flawed “propaganda.” (RELATED: Harvard Profs Denounce CNN’s Flawed Campus Rape Doc, Call It ‘Propaganda’)
In response, Dick and Ziering (the creators of “The Hunting Ground”) along with other “rape-culture” advocates menaced the Harvard professors with the possibility of a Title IX sexual harassment investigation intended to silence their criticisms. (RELATED: Professors Threatened With Investigation For Questioning Rape Documentary)
Amy Herdy — one of the 38 producers of “The Hunting Ground” — has been criticized because she sent emails advertising her intent to “ambush” — Herdy’s word — a student accused of rape during an interview.
After “The Hunting Ground” was released, Washington Examiner reporter Ashe Schow busted “Hunting Ground” crew member Edward Patrick Alva for altering Wikipedia entries for months related to the documentary and its subjects. For example, Alva edited the Wikipedia page for former Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston so it better followed the documentary’s rape-is-everywhere narrative.
Somehow, Alva managed to fail to acquire one of the 38 producer credits for the film.
“It is inexcusable for a network as respected as CNN to pretend that the film is a documentary rather than an advocacy piece,” Florida State president John Thrasher, another critic of the film, said, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Winston, a Heisman trophy winner and currently the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has been cleared of all criminal allegations of rape.
As a Florida State sophomore, he was arrested for shoplifting crab legs. He also once found himself in trouble for using a water cup for soda at a Burger King.
Other films receiving jeers from Variety include “Truth,” an homage to the fake-but-accurate news which finally destroyed Dan Rather’s career, and “Where to Invade Next,” Michael Moore’s latest movie in which he walks around fat while attacking the country that made him rich. (RELATED: Sony Warps The Truth With ‘Truth’)