Target: CNN reporters Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow
Goal: To condemn the reporters’ sympathetic comments towards two convicted rapists.
Recently the country has turned its attention to Steubenville, Ohio where two teenage football players were found guilty of raping a heavily intoxicated 16-year-old girl and later distributing photo and video footage of the assault. The case has spurred questions over the small town’s intense football pride and possible cover-ups by coaches and other adults, and the leaked video footage and students’ text messages have ignited horror and outrage over the events of that night. When CNN host Candy Crowley broke the story of the guilty verdict, however, she did not focus on any of these important topics. Instead, she and a fellow reporter expressed sympathy for the rapists.
Crowley conversed with reporter Poppy Harlow about the verdict saying, “I cannot imagine…how emotional that must have been sitting in the court room.” They went on to discuss how the “bright futures” of the “star football players” were destroyed by the verdict. Harlow also focused on the “huge part” that alcohol played in the case. Crowley proceeds to ask about the lasting effect on the young men’s lives and laments the fact that they will now be registered sex offenders. At no point in the report does Crowley or Harlow focus on the victim’s experience. No one asks about the trauma, shame, and intimidation she experienced, the lasting effect it will have on her life, or how the case is symptomatic of a larger culture of violence against women. Instead, Crowley and Harlow act as if it was the guilty verdict, not the men’s heinous actions, that ruined their futures.
As national news reporters, Crowley and Harlow set the tone of the dialogue that surrounds these types of stories. By lending sympathy to rapists, they feed into the incredibly harmful “blame the victim” mentality. The two young men had a choice that night. The victim did not. It was their choice that led to this outcome. Sign the petition below to condemn the reporters’ sympathy towards the convicted rapists.
Dear Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow,
There has been widespread news coverage of the events surrounding the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, and rightly so. There have been questions over the small town’s football pride and involvement of coaches and other adults. The leaked video footage and text messages have ignited horror and outrage over the events of that night. The 16-year-old victim has had to live through not only the horrendous act of rape and its effects, but has also been forced to deal with shame and intimidation of neighbors and peers. Her character has been called into question, as have her motives for coming forward.
When reporting on the verdict of the case, however, neither of you focused on any of these topics. No mention was made of the victim’s response or the horrifying actions of the young men. Instead, you chose to express sympathy for the convicted rapists. You discussed how the “bright futures” of the “star football players” were destroyed and lamented the fact that they will now be labeled sex offenders. Neither of you mentioned the trauma, shame, and intimidation the victim experienced, the lasting effect it will have on her life, or how the case is symptomatic of a larger culture of violence against women. Instead, you acted as if it was the guilty verdict, not the men’s heinous actions, that ruined their futures.
Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond had a choice that night. The victim did not. The consequences of their decisions led to their rape conviction. As national news reporters, you are responsible for setting the tone of the dialogue that surrounds these types of stories. By lending sympathy to rapists, you feed into the incredibly harmful “blame the victim” mentality. We demand that you issue an apology for your ignorant and destructive comments.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: xoder via Flickr