Here's What CNN Should've Said About the Steubenville Rape Case

CNN's unconscionable coverage of the Steubenville Rape Case verdict is pissing everyone off. Newscaster Candy Crowley, general correspondent Poppy Harlow, and legal expert Paul Callan all did their very best to focus solely on the guilty verdict's repercussions on the two rapists. There's next to no coverage of the girl who was brutally raped; instead, they talk almost exclusively of the rapists— the two teenagers who had such bright futures, and now their lives are completely ruined from this one little indiscretion. Isn't it a shame how they suffer?

Let's not forget that these boys committed truly despicable acts and to all appearances showed no remorse or regret until they were faced with real-world consequences. But still, wasn't it so sad when they broke down crying upon learning they'll spend a few years in juvie? It was so sad that CNN forgot to talk about the sixteen-year-old girl whose life will be spent dealing with the ramifications of rape. After all, she left the house with a vagina; she KNEW the consequences.

Here's what actually happened on CNN:

When Crowley said she couldn't imagine how emotional it was in the courtroom, Harlow — who was there and had been inside the courtroom — responds:

I've never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart...when that sentence came down, [Ma'lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney...He said to him, 'My life is over. No one is going to want me now.' Very serious crime here, both found guilty of raping the sixteen-year-old girl at a series of parties back in August. Alcohol fueled parties; alcohol is a huge part of this.

Then, after the verdict is read, we watch Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond speak.

Mays says "I would truly like to apologize to [the girl], her family, my family, and community. Those pictures shouldn't have been sent around, let alone taken."

"I had no intentions of doing anything like that, and I'm sorry I put you guys through it. I'm sorry," said Richmond. He was held and comforted; his back was pat.

On top of all that, Harlow makes a big deal out of Ma'lik Richmond's lawyer — this guy — telling her that today was the first day Ma'lik's dad told him he loved him — doesn't your heart just bleed for him? Because without a father's love, a boy just has to rape.

CNN legal contributor Paul Callan then enters the chat.

Crowley inquires:

You know, Paul, a sixteen-year-old now just sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, the other one just seventeen, a sixteen year old victim, they still sound like sixteen-year-olds... The thing is, what's the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?

Callan responds:

Well, you know, Candy, we've seen here a courtroom drenched in tears and tragedy.... The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law...That will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they're registered sex offenders. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet, where these things are posted, neighbors will know that they are registered sex offenders.

Jesus — this stops just short of becoming a full piece on athletes overcoming rape. Such a tragic story for the two teenagers who raped a girl in multiple locations and took pictures and video of it. So sad for them.

Here's what should've happened on CNN:

When Crowley said she couldn't imagine how emotional it was in the courtroom, Harlow — who was there and had been inside the courtroom — responds:

Incredibly difficult to watch what happened; these two young rapists that had such promising futures — star football players, very good students, rapists — literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart because they brutally raped a girl...when that sentence came down, rapist [Ma'lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney...the rapist said to him, 'My life is over. No one is going to want me now.' Very serious crime here, both found guilty of raping the sixteen-year-old girl at a series of parties back in August. Alcohol fueled parties; alcohol is a huge part of this, and I'm saying this right now to explain away rape, which is unacceptable.

Then, after the verdict is read, we watch Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond speak.

Mays says "I would truly like to apologize to [the girl], her family, my family, and community. Those pictures shouldn't have been sent around, let alone taken." Also, this.

"I had no intentions of doing anything like that, and I'm sorry I put you guys through it. I'm sorry," said Richmond.

CNN legal contributor Paul Callan then enters the chat.

Crowley inquires:

Sixteen-year-old rapists just sobbing in court, regardless of what big football player rapists they are, they still sound like sixteen-year-old rapists...what's the lasting effect, though, on two young rapists being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?

Callahan responds:

Well, you know, Candy, we've seen here a courtroom drenched in tears of a rapist and the tragedy of rape... The most severe thing with these rapists is being labeled as registered sex offenders, and how fucking sad is it that? One gets just two years in a juvenile detention facility, and the other gets JUST ONE YEAR. Isn't that insane, Candy; doesn't it just blow your damn mind? And who knows what kind of rehabilitation they'll actually get; probably next to none. They will most likely exit even more fucked up than they entered, always thinking the worst thing they did was get caught. Perhaps they'll learn to not live-tweet and record their rapes, because jail is probably even worse than juvie — and they'll probably be tried as adults next time. They won't be taught not to rape; the adults around them continue to make damn sure of that. Their lives should be made difficult by this, but they should also get support and education. In reality, they will only get the first thing, and in all the wrong ways. It's a real shitshow, and heartbreaking to say the least.

That label is now placed on them by Ohio law...That will haunt them for the rest of their lives, kind of. Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they're rapists. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet, where these things are posted, neighbors will know that they are rapists. That is the worst thing that will happen to them — can you believe how good they have it?

Now, let's spend the rest of this hour long program talking about what the real victim — you know, the sixteen-year-old girl who was violently raped by her classmates — will deal with on the difficult, never-ending road that is the life of a rape survivor. Because the rapists might have a little trouble finding an apartment to rent in the future, but she'll be dealing with the trauma of rape for the rest of her life.

That's a little better.

Let's hope we can all stay on message because this isn't over yet. Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine said yesterday that the state will convene a grand jury to investigate further charges in the case.

"This has been particularly hard for the victim and her family," DeWine said. "As I said already, any rape is a tragedy. But, it is even more of a tragedy when that victim is continually re-victimized in the social media."

He's right about the social media thing — there's already plenty of shitty things flying around — and it's true that mainstream media can do better, too.

Update: Much like Fox News, CNN failed to redact/censor the victim's name from footage of Trent Mays' courtroom apology. We've since removed the video.

Previously: Steubenville Football Players Found Guilty of Rape

[Raw Story]