Photo Credit: CNN
Did our eyes and ears deceive? We could have sworn that, in reporting the verdict in the much-discussed Steubenville rape case, we watched CNN focus its coverage entirely on the rapists and zero on the rape victim.
Surely -- in 2013 America -- it's not possible that a major (albeit struggling) broadcast news outlet would take that tack, instead of centering its pity around the 16-year-old victim in a case that has attracted national attention.
Alas, we heard right.
When on Sunday, Judge Thomas Lipps announced that Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond (who are 17 and 16, respectively) would be given a maximum sentence for the crime of rape of the unconscious teen girl, CNN ran this report.
Already setting up the story with her sympathy for the rapists, anchor Candy Crowley threw the coverage to CNN's Poppy Harlow, in Ohio for the report. Harlow said it had been "emotional" and "difficult" for her to watch as "two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students" watched their lives unravel on the spot.
Back in the studio, Crowley spoke with CNN legal contributor Paul Callan to discuss the possible lasting effects on the two young men after guilty verdicts. "The most severe things with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives," Callan said.
The above summary accounted for six full minutes of coverage regarding a case that has utterly captivated the nation -- and in six full minutes, CNN found no reason to discuss any potential effects on the victim.
How about an expert to speculate on the possibility of her enduring mental and physical scarring? How about a gesture toward how "emotional" and "difficult" it must be for Crowley, Harlow and Callan to consider her life's unraveling?
It's well known that broadcast news is hardly focused on unbiased news reporting in the age of the graphics-cluttered, scrolling-text-filled, entertainment-news hybrid model. But it seems pretty darn scandalous that, when news reporters choose favorites, they side with those people proven guilty of rape. It reeks of pre-civil-rights rhetoric. And the word "disgusting" comes to mind (as do some choice others not fit for print).
In the case of CNN's shameful reporting of the Steubenville rape verdict, we only wish our eyes deceived.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.