By Jueseppi B.
Yesterday the verdict in the Steubenville rape case was handed down. The judge declared that both defendants, high school football players Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, were guilty on all three charges, including rape. Then Attorney General Mike DeWine requested that a grand jury be convened to decide whether further crimes had been committed.
This was the beginning of justice being served, and that was a huge relief for everyone watching the case closely.
And then we turned on CNN. The coverage of the verdict was shocking. The entire CNN panel, including Candy Crowley, reporter Poppy Harlow and legal analyst Paul Callan focused on what a tragedy this was for the boys and what a shame it was that their lives had been ruined–as if the rape was some sort of unfortunate accident and they hadn’t committed a very serious, very invasive and very life-altering for the survivor, crime.
This is a part of rape culture. Our society focuses on the lives of the boys instead of focusing on the lifetime of anguish the survivor, a 16-year-old girl, will suffer because of what these boys did. CNN didn’t focus on what this meant for Jane Doe–only sad reflections on the “destroyed” lives of these boys–boys who were caught on tape raping a girl.
CNN grieves that guilty verdict ruined ‘promising’ lives of Steubenville rapists
Published on Mar 17, 2013
CNN broke the news on Sunday of a guilty verdict in a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio by lamenting that the “promising” lives of the rapists had been ruined, but spent very little time focusing on how the 16-year-old victim would have to live with what was done to her.
Outrage over CNN’s coverage is growing, and it is time to add our voices to the chorus demanding an apology from CNN. Can you sign the petition telling CNN “Shame on you!” and demanding an apology?
In our society, rape survivors are constantly shamed and viewed with suspicion, despite the enormous courage it takes to come forward. They are repeatedly called “sluts,” degraded and demeaned when they speak out. In the Steubenville case, Jane Doe was repeatedly called a “drunk” and a “slut,” even by adults. This kind of behavior is what scares so many survivors from coming forward.
So it’s especially disturbing to see a major, respected news network focusing on the “destroyed” lives of the attackers instead of the harm they did to the survivor, her courage in coming forward, or the fact that justice was served for a crime where justice is too often elusive. Here’s an excerpt from Raw Story about CNN’s coverage:
Harlow explained that it had been “incredibly difficult” to watch “as these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”
“One of the young men, Ma’lik Richmond, as that sentence came down, he collapsed,” the CNN reporter recalled, adding that the convicted rapist told his attorney that “my life is over, no one is going to want me now.”
At that point, CNN played video of Richmond crying and hugging his lawyer in the courtroom.
“I was sitting about three feet from Ma’lik when he gave that statement,” Harlow said. “It was very difficult to watch.”
Candy then asked CNN legal contributor Paul Callan what the verdict meant for “a 16 year old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds.”
“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.
“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked.
This is unacceptable, and CNN needs to know it. Can you sign the petition?
Thanks for speaking out,
Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Malinda, and Karin, the UltraViolet team
1. The Steubenville Verdict Is in, and These Boys Are Guilty, The Atlantic Wire, March 17, 2013
2. CNN grieves that guilty verdict ruined ‘promising’ lives of Steubenville rapists, Raw Story, March 17, 2013
3. CNN Reporter Labeled ‘Rape Apologist’ After Steubenville Comments, Mashable, March 18, 2013
4. Ohio Rape Accuser Texts: ‘I Wasn’t Being a Slut’, New York Magazine, March 15, 2013
4.2. Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City, New York Times, December 16, 2012
5. CNN grieves that guilty verdict ruined ‘promising’ lives of Steubenville rapists, Raw Story, March 17, 2013