Jake Tapper interviewed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on CNN’s “The Lead” today about her legislation to put sexual assault cases in the military under civilian control. What struck us about the interview, is how Tapper seemed to get stuck on the whole “women disagreeing with women” concept.
Of the 4 questions Tapper asked the Senator, three were along the lines of, “But if you’re right, then why do other women disagree with you?’
Question 1) “But there is this independent panel, as you know, chaired by a woman with a mostly female composition that did not find evidence it would increase reporting. So is there evidence you have that taking it out of the chain of command will protect the victim, increase reporting or increase punishments?”
Question 2) “As you know, your chief rival, probably, I think that’s fair to say, in this is fellow Democratic woman, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. She disagrees with you. She has competing legislation. Why is she wrong?”
Question 3) “I believe you have 55 public supporters in the Senate for your legislation. But is it complicated at all for your cause, the fact that your chief rival in this is a — is a fellow Democratic woman senator?”
It seems to us that the answers to the questions Tapper was asking had very little to do with whether anyone involved is a woman. Either there is evidence to support Sen. Gillibrand’s claim or not. Either Sen. McCaskill is wrong or she isn’t. And with the support of 55 Senators (A.K.A. a majority), clearly the issue complicating Sen. Gillibrand’s efforts to pass her legislation is the 60 vote threshold to avert a filibuster, or perhaps rigid partisanship, or perhaps the difficulty lawmakers have with opposing the recommendations of military leadership -not the opposition of another woman.
Given that Tapper’s other question was about the effect “House of Cards” has had on the military rape debate, we have to say that we weren’t too impressed with his preparation for this interview. Gillibrand managed to get her talking points in there, but Tapper didn’t put her feet to the fire, nor did he demonstrate a great understanding of the issue. And that’s unfortunate, given his demonstrated and passionate interest in military affairs in general. We frankly would have expected more.