Monday, March 18, 2013


Stray thoughts about the media story everyone's been talking about since yesterday:
CNN broke the news on Sunday of a guilty verdict in a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio by lamenting that the "promising" lives of the rapists had been ruined, but spent very little time focusing on how the 16-year-old victim would have to live with what was done to her....

CNN's Candy Crowley began her breaking news report by showing [Judge Thomas] Lipps handing down the sentence and telling CNN reporter Poppy Harlow that she "cannot imagine" how emotional the sentencing must have been.

Harlow explained that it had been "incredibly difficult" to watch "as these two young men -- who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students -- literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”

"One of the young men, Ma'lik Richmond, as that sentence came down, he collapsed," the CNN reporter recalled, adding that the convicted rapist told his attorney that "my life is over, no one is going to want me now."

At that point, CNN played video of Richmond crying and hugging his lawyer in the courtroom.

"I was sitting about three feet from Ma'lik when he gave that statement,” Harlow said. "It was very difficult to watch."
Crowley is getting the most blame for this, but I was appalled by Harlow's reaction to the emotions on display on the courtroom. She began her report by saying,
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 believe their life fell apart.
I see that she's spent much of her professional correct doing business reporting -- but what does she think? Does she think that run-of-the-mill young people who are convicted of crimes every day in this country, crimes that don't get on CNN, invariably respond the news with stony silence? Does she think "real" criminals are cold-eyed psychopaths, so the fact that these kids had human feelings means they couldn't have done anything wrong?

This tone pervaded the reporting -- Crowley went on to lament "the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially" in an exchange with a CNN legal reporter (they were discussing the fact that the two young men will now be registered sex offenders). The sympathetic tone extended to a later segment involving Harlow and anchor Fredericka Whitfield.

Kia Makarechi of the Huffington Post explains what seemed to be taking place at CNN:
CNN appears to have bet on the emotions of those it could show on camera -- for obvious reasons, the victim's identity has been protected, and the victim's family was not shown weeping in court. Networks know that people crying make for great TV.
So reporters and analysts at CNN seem to have let the watchability of a new piece of video drive their moral and factual conclusions about the entire case. Look, I understand making the commercial decision to show an emotionally jarring clip, even repeatedly -- but the clip isn't the whole story; it shouldn't dictate the judgments of CNN's on-air personalities. In this case, that's what seems to have happened.

The alternative explanation is that Harlow, Crowley, et al. absorbed all the details of the case and concluded that these guys are victims because, as football players, they're our finest citizens, so when they cry because they got caught, it's tragic. I don't know which would be worse.


Buford said...

These "reporters" are a sorry lot...My daughter was raped...and the same GOP/Tper attitude was prevalent, as my baby girl instigated it by her appearance...these are Republican cops, and they only talked to the slime...He still walks freely around my town...they just think rape is sex without foreplay...women are not chattel, or does CNN now support rape?

Victor said...

CNN has sucked, ever since the early 90's, when Wolf Blitzer joined the network.


I think not.

And it's getting suckier with each passing hour.
They need to completely clean house.

But, their one good show, Soledad O'Brians, was the one they decided to take off the air, and put the execrable Erin Burnett in her place.

And they wonder why FOX isn't the only TV News Channel I avoid like the plague?
At least with FOX, I know their "reporters" are lying incompetent buffoons, and were from Day 1 - CNN, on the other hand, was once a great news channel.

Ok, keep Coop - but let everyone else go.

Steve M. said...

My heart goes out to you and your daughter, Buford. And I'm sorry that the aftermath of rapes can be as bad as the incidents themselves

The New York Crank said...

Alas, it appears more and more that CNN is not in it for the facts, not even for the story, but just for the ratings.

Soledad O'Brian? I'm not sure why CNN feels she doesn't cut it, but she's the only reason I tune away from the next-best deal, CBS, in the morning. Christiane Amanpour? Great reporter. Too bad she's slowly vanishing from the screen. Instead we get bluser and baloney. "I always ran the numbers myself," boasted Erin Burnett in a promo.

Well, good for you, Erin, and aren't you a saint! But as a reporter you're supposed to check your facts – and the facts of the person you interview. That's part of the job.

But what do I know? I'm only an old crank.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

krahbedad said...

Much of the media was complicit in the original cover up of this horrific occurrence and it was only an internet campaign that forced charges to be brought. I see as the media being consistent for once.