Mainstream media outlets battle for most disgusting coverage of Steubenville rapists
On March 17, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.
The defence attorneys for this pair of rapists—I can call them that now because they were found guilty in a court of law—tried to argue that, despite the fact that the 16-year-old victim didn't even know the extent of the assault until she read about it on social media the next day, the teen was a willing participant in the evening's events.
They attempted to argue that silence was consent. They repeatedly emphasized she had been drinking that night. They claimed that the victim was a willing participant in a photograph depicting the passed-out girl being dragged around. They tried to argue that texts, tweets, and a video bragging about the evening's events didn't prove a crime had been committed.
Despite the preponderance of evidence against the rapists, I still held my breath to find out if they would be found guilty.
What I couldn't have predicted was how quickly so many members of the mainstream media turned into a bunch of rape apologists.
CNN basically called the verdict a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, lamenting the verdict, which they saw as ruining the boys' lives.
Here's what CNN's Poppy Harlow had to say about the convicted rapists:
"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."
CNN correspondent Candy Crowley gnashed her teeth, stating, “Those poor boys’ lives are ruined.”
"What's the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?" asks Candy Crowley.
("What's the lasting effect of being raped by your peers?" was not a question that came up.)
In a later interview, legal expert Paul Callan said, "The most severe thing with these young men is being labelled registered sex offenders, that label is now placed on them by Ohio law...that will haunt them for the rest of their lives."
Not to be outdone, both Fox News and MSNBC broadcasted the name of the victim on air. When the "news" network aired a clip of Trent Mays apologizing to the teenager he raped, Fox neglected to censor the victim's name. (The clip has since been censored.)
“I would truly like to apologize to [redacted], her family, my family, and the community,” Mays said. “No picture [of the rape] should have been sent around, let alone even taken.”
(I can't even get into the fact that this isn't a fucking apology for raping the girl. It's an apology for getting caught.)
Then again, I probably should have seen all this coming.
The two rapists were always treated like gold by the media, which repeatedly referred to them as football stars with bright, shiny futures. In December 2012, the New York Times quoted volunteer football coach Nate Hubbard, who said he thought the victim had made the whole thing up. ABC ran a glowing profile of Richmond just four days before the verdict.
Now that Richmond and Mays been found guilty, can we stop talking about the poor little rapists and start addressing the reasons these men thought raping a peer was acceptable behaviour?
Can we talk about the students who stood by watching this teen get raped and didn't try to stop it because they "didn't know exactly what rape was"?
Can we start tearing down the hero worship of high-school football players?
Can we stop blaming victims of rape for getting raped?