Shame on CNN for its Steubenville rape trial coverage

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The petition reads:
"Candy Crowley's outrageous coverage of Steubenville, which includes disgusting rape apology, has no place on a major network news operation. Suspend Crowley and discipline the staff responsible."
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Dear Friend,

When the guilty verdict came down in the Steubenville rape case and two high school football players were convicted of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl, we were shocked by CNN's coverage.

CNN news anchor and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley led a discussion about the two convicted rapists lamenting them as "young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students." When Crowley interviewed legal analyst Paul Callan about the negative effect that these rape convictions would have on the perpetrators, it was hard to tell who she thought the real victims were — focusing on the defendants as young and vulnerable boys she noted that registering as sex offenders will "haunt them for the rest of their lives."1

Tell CNN: Suspend Candy Crowley and discipline staff responsible for your dangerously flawed and apologist coverage of the Steubenville rape verdict. Click here to sign automatically.

Crowley's coverage has outraged the public but the network has yet to respond to either apologize for, or defend, its "rape apologist" approach to coverage of the verdict. While CNN was focused on the how the convicted rapists' lives would be ruined, other reporters got the story right. For example, sports writer Dan Wetzel in his column for Yahoo News reported:

Rape, experts say, is a crime of power and control more than sex. Underlying all of that is arrogance, and in Steubenville it was taken to the extreme.

Throughout this trial, the two defendants and a parade of friends who wound up mostly testifying against the defendants, expressed little understanding of rape — let alone common decency or respect for women. Despite the conviction, the defendants likely don't view themselves as rapists, at least not the classic sense of a man hiding in the shadows.

"It wasn't violent," explained teammate Evan Westlake when asked why he didn't stop the two defendants as they abused a non-moving girl that Westlake knew to be highly intoxicated. "I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone."

That was part of the arrogance.

Arrogance from the defendants. Arrogance from the friends. Arrogance within the culture.2

Candy Crowley has a history of pushing right-wing talking points on air, from suggesting that President Obama was to blame for the persistence of the myth that he is a Muslim3 to using the slur "illegals" on air when discussing immigration reform.4 For Crowley to turn a moment of justice for rape survivors into a tragic elegy for young manhood isn't just offensive, it is cause for disciplinary action from the network.

The verdict handed down in Steubenville was justice in action. Young men gang-raped a 16-year-old girl. The evidence was overwhelming. They were convicted. The real tragedy was the rape. The victim is the survivor of the egregious assault. And the tragedy is the culture of arrogance and violence that initially shielded the defendants from accountability under the law.

Tell CNN: Rape apology has no place on a major network news operation. Suspend Candy Crowley and discipline staff responsible for your coverage of the Steubenville rape verdict. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:

Thank you for standing up against this bad news coverage.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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Learn more about this campaign

1. Annie-Rose Strasser and Tara Culp-Ressler, "How The Media Took Sides In The Steubenville Rape Case." ThinkProgress, March 18, 2013.
2. Dan Wetzel, "Steubenville High School football players found guilty of raping 16-year-old girl." Yahoo News, March 17, 2013.
3. Karl Frisch, "CNN's Crowley blames Obama for persistence of Muslim myth Media Matters." MediaMatters, August 20, 2010.
4. "CNN's Candy Crowley Uses Slur "Illegals" In Interview With Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio." MediaMatters, April 22, 2012.

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