COLUMN: Media coverage of rape trial minimizes real issue
Over the weekend, a photo circulated over various social media streams summarizing CNN’s coverage of a trial putting two Steubenville, Ohio, football players, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, and the victim, a 16-year-old girl, in the national spotlight.
I hadn’t known much about what was going on with this particular case, so to see such striking quotes from news anchors and pundits from CNN, a network many news watchers take stock in for its supposed “middleground” viewpoint, was quite eye-catching.
“I cannot imagine how emotional the sentencing must have been … a 16-year-old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16-year-olds. What is the lasting effect of two young men being guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?” CNN reporter Candy Crowley stated.
There were two more quotes from other CNN reporters in a similar vein.
The sympathy card for the perpetrators was played by CNN and the network has been consequently lambasted online and on other social media sources for its coverage.
Although, that’s just one perspective.
The conservative-leaning Fox News Channel called into question, like the other outlets, how much alcohol the victim had consumed prior to the alleged incident.
Terms like the “alcohol-fueled party” and coverage by Fox News of how “the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night” frame the issue in a light that, again, creates another layer of excuses for perpetrators.
Focusing on these details makes the original problem unrecognizable.
The fact of the matter is that rape is rape, no matter how intoxicated someone is or who the perpetrators were and what their community standing is.
As of now, the two boys, football stars for their small hometown’s high school team, received delinquent sentences (the equivalent to “guilty” in an adult hearing) of penetrating the victim and for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
They were sentenced to juvenile detention until they reach the age of 21.
Hopefully, the victim will recover and make the most out of her life after this traumatic incident, made even more traumatic by our national media’s misplaced mindframe before the trial, during and afterward.
Blame goes toward the boys who committed the crime and the media outlets that shamefully perpetuated their innocence.
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