Apparently CNN is denying any slant toward the rapists in its coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial, and the reporter involved is offended anyone would think she supports rapists.
Fair enough—I seriously doubt she does support rapists, and I doubt that she thinks rape is a good thing. But it doesn’t change the fact that within a minute of appearing on camera, she talks about how emotional it was to watch two boys believe they were watching their lives crumble before their eyes. Let’s go to the video tape.
(Start at 1:15)
I’m sure it was a very emotional moment, and there is some journalistic value in describing the defendants' reactions. But, as I pointed out before, this crosses that line. It makes her appear to be much more concerned with the impact of a rape on the men who committed it than on the young woman who was raped.
And indeed, she highlights the pat, almost rote apology from Trent Mays (who apologized for taking and sending nude pictures of the young woman, not for raping her). CNN also showed Ma'Lik Richardson breaking down in the courtroom. Perhaps he is truly sorry. But being sorry doesn’t change the fact that he raped someone.
Finally, by emphasizing that the parties where Mays and Richardson raped the young woman were fueled by alcohol, she brings in one of the oldest ways to blame the victim—if she hadn’t been drinking none of this would have happened. In fact, alcohol is used both to blame the victim and excuse the behavior of the rapists—they were drunk, as well. It’s a pretty tidy example of the double standard: She’s less sympathetic because she was drunk, but the rapists are more sympathetic because they were out of control and did something they might not have done while sober.
But it doesn’t wash. What happened was rape. Full stop.
CNN would be wise to actually read the Change.Org petition, understand what they did wrong, and work toward being more supportive of victims and less supportive of rapists.