After a judge found two teenage boys, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, from Steubenville, Ohio guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer, the focus of the story seems to be of the boys’ promising football career rather than the crime.
Much of the backlash started last night, when newscaster Candy Crowley interviewed CNN reporter Poppy Harlow, who was covering the trial.
When Crawley said she couldn’t imagine how emotional it was in the courtroom, Harlow responded:
“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 this.”
Much of the news in a number of media outlets focused on the promising football careers of the two boys, which was cut short.
NBC nightly news coverage began with reporter Ron Allen saying that the two boys convicted of rape “must now register as sex offenders,” and went on to discuss their promising athletic career.
CNN, and other media outlets spoke very little about the victim of the crime and how this entire incident affects her. They instead focused on her level of intoxication.
There were a number of news stories that simply described the victim as a “drunken” 16-year-old girl, where as the boys were described as being a part of a team that was “the pride of Steubenville.”
Following last night’s CNN report, this morning, in what is considered a major faux pas in journalism, Fox News ran tape of the Steubenville rape trial in which one of the rapists named the victim.
Out of respect to the victim, it is common journalistic practice for media outlets to not name the victims of rape.
The ultimate victim shaming comes from ordinary folks responding to the verdict on Twitter.
A Tumblr account titled “Public Shaming” has collected a number of tweets that place the blame of the rape on the victim. The tweets go as far as suggest that the teenage boys did what everyone would have done.
To that we say, no. No they didn’t.
CNN said that alcohol played a part of this story. Not quite. Alcohol abuse by teenagers is a completely different story altogether. This story was about two boys facing the consequences of their actions.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant