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HC Wake-Up Call: Sen. McSally Was Raped While in the Air Force, DNC Says It Will Exclude Fox News From Moderating Debates & Facebook to Rebrand With a ‘Privacy-Focused’ Vision

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Sen. Martha McSally Says She Was Raped While in the Air Force

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), the first female Air Force fighter pilot to fly in combat, revealed during an emotional congressional hearing on military sexual assault Wednesday that she was sexually assaulted by a senior officer, and that she “felt like the system was raping me all over again” when she tried to report it to military officials.

“I also am a military sexual assault survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted,” McSally said, reading from a prepared statement. “Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways.”

McSally was in the ninth class at the Air Force Academy to allow women, and said sexual harassment and assault were prevalent. According to McSally, victims mostly suffered in silence.

“I stayed silent for many years, but later in my career, as the military grappled with the scandals, and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know I too was a survivor,” she continued. “I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair. Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.”

“But I didn’t quit,” McSally added. “I decided to stay and continue to serve and fight and lead. To be a voice from within the ranks for women — and then in the House and now the Senate.”

According to ABC News, reports of sexual assault in the military jumped nearly 10 percent, with 6,769 incidents reported. The Pentagon’s annual report for 2018 will be released later this spring. Reports of sexual assault at military academies also went up, particularly at West Point.

McSally shared in the disgust of the continued sexual misconduct in the military, and called for higher-ranking officials be part of the solution and set the tone for their officers.

“The criminal actions reported today by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an Airman,” an Air Force spokesperson said. “We are appalled and deeply sorry for what Senator McSally experienced and we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and breach of trust in our ranks.”

According to The Huffington Post, McSally served in the Air Force from 1988 to 2010, and rose to the rank of colonel. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014, where she served two terms. After narrowly losing the 2018 race for the Arizona Senate seat to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s Senate seat. She will serve until 2020, when voters will elect someone to serve out the last two years of McCain’s term.

DNC Says It Will Exclude Fox News From Moderating Its Debates

The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday it does not plan to partner with Fox News for its debates during the 2020 presidential election, citing new reports of the news network’s close ties to the Trump administration, resulting in biased coverage.

“I believe that a key pathway to victory is to continue to expand our electorate and reach all voters. That is why I have made it a priority to talk to a broad array of potential media partners, including FOX News,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez Perez said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates,” Perez said in a statement to Reuters. “Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”

The DNC’s announcement comes on the heels of a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer, which details how Fox News has promoted President Donald Trump’s agenda.

According to the New Yorker article, the ties between the president and the news network run deep. In 2017, Trump ordered then-Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn to, in what was seen as a retaliatory move, direct the Justice Department to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Just weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Fox News also reportedly killed a story on the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Trump has also hired Fox News contributors to work in his administration, including Fox’s former co-president, Bill Shine, to be his deputy chief of staff for communications.

Representatives for Fox News have said they hope the DNC reconsiders and allows some of its journalists to moderate a Democratic presidential debate.

Trump responded to the announcement, saying he may refuse to attend certain debates.

“I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!” Trump posted on Twitter.

Facebook to Rebrand With a “Privacy-Focused” Vision

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presented his new vision for the social media company Wednesday as “a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform” after years of facing scrutiny over privacy breaches and scandals.

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page.

He has promised to transform Facebook from a company that is known for taking in personal information shared by its users to one that give people the ability to communicate in a truly private fashion, with messages shielded by encryption, The Huffington Post reports.

Facebook has faced scrutiny over the past two years as the company has weathered numerous revelations of its privacy, including the sharing of personal information from as many as 87 million users with a political data-mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign.

The social media company has also faced criticism over the way Russian agents used the platform to target U.S. voters with propaganda and divisive messages during the 2016 presidential election.

Zuckerberg said the new Facebook would be built around core targets: private interactions, encryption, permanence, safety, interoperability and secure data storage, ABC News reports. And this is for all of the Facebook family of apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram.

The Facebook CEO is planning to connect the company’s Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram messaging services so users will be able to contact each other across all apps, but the apps will be encrypted so no one can see the contents of the messages except for the sender and recipients. WhatsApp already has this feature, but the other messaging apps don’t.

What to look out for…

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Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.