By Sarah L. Rasmusson
WEnews staff writer
Saturday, April 29, 2000
The recent coverage of a woman general's sexual harassment complaint typify the problem: Women in the military make news in sex scandals, but are often ignored as leaders, experts and commentators.
The recent news coverage of Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, the first female three-star general in the Army, is typical of what type of media coverage women in the military receive, according to a recent study.
Kennedy was most recently in the news on March 30 after she made public an allegation of sexual harassment against one of her peers. Within days, her reputation was on the line as well and just as quickly restored--all on the nation's front pages.
A recent computerized search indicated that Kennedy's charges and the counter-charges were repeated in nearly 300 major news stories around the world.
In contrast, during the two years before the allegation, Kennedy's name was mentioned 323 times by major news outlets, usually in the context of a possible political career and often as part of a list of other notablewomen.
It is this imbalance in news coverage-lots of stories about sexual harassment, fraternization and adultery--that gives the public a distortedperception of exactly how many women are in the military, what kind of jobs they do and what the critical issues are, says a recent report issued by Women, Men & Media.
"Military Women in the TV News Spotlight," examined a decade of majornetwork coverage of military news and it found that women were prominentin those stories that discussed sexual issues but not otherwise.
The study, conducted by Andrew Tyndall and Aleksandra Scepanovi, stated thatduring the past 10 years women were 14 percent of all enlisted troops butaccount for twice that many sound bites in network news broadcasts.
Of the top five military news stories of the decade, three were the Tailhookgroup rape, the Aberdeen rape scandal and the d