On a day when the victim in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case might have and should have received some measure of justice, CNN took to the air to report the breaking news of the guilty verdicts in a report that was suffused with sympathy for the convicted football players and offered no concern for what the young woman has been through. CNN anchor Candy Crowley and reporter Poppy Harlow just couldn't imagine how "incredibly emotional" and "incredibly difficult" it was to hear the verdicts "as these two young men who had "such promising futures, star football players, literally watched as their lives fell apart." Crowley was concerned that after all they were just sobbing 16 year-olds, and legal commentator Paul Callan noted that when a verdict came down there was "always that moment of just -- lives being destroyed." Crowley inquired what lasting effect the verdict would have on the perpetrators -- not on the young victim.
CNN's reporting has outraged many in Ohio and elsewhere who have been following the case. Both a new Facebook group, "Boycott CNN," and a Change.org petition calling on CNN to "apologize for your disgusting comments," have been started. The petition calls on CNN to use its media presence and power to change the rape culture by doing such things as running an hour-long show on rape, its victims, and how to prevent it.
The young woman in question has endured enough without having well-educated, well-paid, national media figures and opinion makers ignore the promise that her life held and the damage that she has suffered. She was raped twice, humiliated as photos of her that night were widely circulated, and she has had to endure the knowledge that everyone in her world was talking about what happened to her. She was told by one of the perpetrators "don't hurt my career," and here comes CNN to bemoan the verdicts with the implication that she has done just that.
Crowley, Harlow and Callan need to think about the young victim and the physical, mental, and emotional trauma she has been through. They need to question the place of football in our society. They need to stop blaming the victim. Until I hear that apology, I will be one of those who will not be watching CNN.