Norah O’Donnell’s Investigative Journalism lands Protect Our Defenders a Spot at the Emmys! Hoorah!
By: Devonya Batiste — September 5, 2018
Our military is considered a symbol of justice and freedom for our nation. Yet, controversies continue to bubble to the surface, casting long shadows while military leadership ignores calls to change its ways. In the era of the #MeToo Movement, #MeTooMilitary has also gained serious traction since both are all about holding offenders accountable. Despite all of the progress we have made, there remains outdated, antiquated ideas that poison the world’s largest employer: the U.S. Military.
CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, her producer Jennifer Janisch, and their team are helping to bring the challenges our military faces to light. These issues will take center stage on September 17, 2018 at the Emmy Award Show.
Riff City Strategies and our client, Protect Our Defenders (POD), worked with CBS News on a six-month investigation to reveal the epidemic of sexual assault and the mishandling of these cases by the Air Force Academy. This shakeup not only forced the Air Force Academy to make significant changes to their sexual assault policies but now, the CBS News story has been nominated for two Emmys. We’re proud to work with POD on this investigative report.
The investigation revealed that more than a dozen current and former cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy faced retaliation after reporting being sexually assaulted. Many of these survivors came to POD for help. Protect Our Defenders is the only national organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive misogyny, sexual harassment, and retribution against victims. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the superintendent of U.S. Air Force Academy, appeared on CBS in response to the investigation, stating “I don’t think there are problems” in relation to the Academy. Col Don Christensen, the President of POD and former Chief Prosecutor for the Air Force joined CBS live on set, immediately following Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s appearance. Col Don Christensen was incensed at the way his military branch refused to protect the people willing to risk their lives for our freedom, calling out Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s lack of action.
“He [Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria] never once talked about holding offenders accountable. That is a huge failure. You have to do more. Support is great, but when you have people out there who are being hurt you need to make sure that somebody is holding those who hurt them accountable… Failing to do so denies this country women who want to serve. This is a retention issue. This is a recruiting issue. This is the ability for America to bring the fight to the enemy.”
Norah O’Donnell’s investigative reporting on this issue is as real as it gets, proven by the Emmy Nomination. For an organization like Protect Our Defenders, who’s been working on strengthening our military from the ground up, seeing this type of recognition can truly reinforce their efforts. Through having high-ranking, retired military personnel as their leadership, Protect Our Defenders knows from first-hand experience how important it is for military members to trust each other. Whether they are doing group training or looking out for one another in the field, military members’ strength in numbers always waivers when trust is repeatedly broken.
At Riff City Strategies, we are honored to have worked with Protect Our Defenders since 2011 as they continue to ensure all survivors and service members are provided a safe, respectful work environment and have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Here’s to hoping they win their Emmy for their important work in highlighting injustices in our military.