UPDATE: 12:20 PM EST
A Change.org petition has been created calling for CNN to apologize for the “sympathetic” coverage of the Steubenville rapists.
According to Change.org:
Your coverage of the Steubenville rape trial’s verdict Sunday morning was a complete disgrace and a breach of journalistic ethics. To have three of your personalities blatantly portray the rapists as the victims in this situation while not so much as acknowledging the actual rape victim and what she has had to put up with since — death threats and the hostility of that entire football-crazed town — is nothing short of disgusting.
I request that you apologize on-air, several times over the course of the next week, at the start of every hour, for your shameful coverage that only served to perpetuate a culture in which young people will grow up not understanding the concept of consent and in which rape victims are blamed, ostracized and threatened.
The petition already has 30,000 signatures.
This story is developing.
As the “rape tolerance” battle rages on in the nation, CNN decided to give a different perspective to the Steubenville rape trial by shedding some positive light on the convicted rapists.
The coverage, which focused on how the guilty verdict would affect the lives of the teenagers, was void of any mention of how the victim will cope and heal from her ordeal. Since airing on Sunday, the news outlet has come under some major criticism.
In a Sunday afternoon segment, anchor Fredricka Whitfield followed the straight news of the guilty verdict (which she described as rape occurring “after a night of heavy partying”) by showing the rapists’ parents’ weeping in court. Footage of Richmond, his mother and father offering emotional appeals to the victim’s family dominated the segment.
Whitfield threw the story to reporter Poppy Harlow, but not before reiterating that Mays and Richmond’s “family members tried their hardest to plead for some forgiveness from the victim’s family, as well as from the judge.”
As if pleading and asking for forgiveness would suffice or erase the assault.
“It was incredibly emotional, it was difficult for anyone in there to watch those boys break down,” Harlow said. “[It was] also difficult, of course, for the victim’s family.”
Still, there was no mention of the 16-year-old victim and how difficult it must have been for her.
But CNN continued:
Over the course of the segment, CNN twice aired Richmond’s father’s appeal for forgiveness in full and also included footage from an interview in which Harlow asks Richmond if it’s true that he told Ma’lik he loved him for the first time after the verdict came down. The father emotionally explained that he blames himself for the incident because he wasn’t “around” enough. “I want to stress that parents need to get involved more in their kids’ lives,” Nathaniel Richmond said.
Earlier that day, anchor Candy Crowley also expressed her deepest sympathies for the rapists, not the victim.
Crowley set up the scene, which she said was “incredibly difficult” to watch, thusly: “These two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”
“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley asked CNN’s legal analyst Paul Callan.
While CNN has not retracted any statements, sources are saying that the news outlet focused on the rapists because the victim and her family were not shown in court and have not been identified.
But with the climate of rape tolerance in our society, do you think CNN acted responsibly when focusing on the now “destroyed” lives of the rapists?