The Steubenville verdicts and CNN’s appalling coverage

I find myself truly disturbed by CNN’s coverage of the verdicts in the now infamous Steubenville rape story. Two teens, both good students and on the high school football team, were found guilty of raping a girl who was too intoxicated to have been able to give consent. Not only did they rape her, they dragged her comatose body from party to party and took photos of her naked, further humiliating her through texts and photos sent around among their friends. When the judge delivered the guilty verdicts, the CNN commentators – Candy Crawley, Poppy Harlow and Paul Callan – joined in a Greek chorus lamenting the sad fate of “these promising young men” and how their lives are now forever changed, how the boys would be dogged by having to serve time in a juvenile detention centre and by being labelled juvenile sex offenders. Only at the very end of their comments — almost as an afterthought – did the CNN commentators mention the victim, how her life has been forever changed. Why are we supposed to feel sorry for the perps? They made their choices. Given how they raped and humiliated the victim, can we really believe that these boys are “promising young men”? Would you want your daughter to date either of them? The CNN coverage was outrageous and offensive. And now two teenage girls have been arrested for making threats against the victim through social media. I hold CNN partly responsible – because the commentators tacitly blamed the victim for these boys’ “sad” fates. I can think of no other crime in which it is the victim who is held responsible, who is vilified and blamed for ruining the lives of “fine” men and boys. Little wonder so few women and girls ever take their assailants to court.

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