WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

CNN criticized for coverage of Steubenville rape trial verdict....

Social media erupted with condemnation of the way CNN covered the guilty verdicts returned against two Steubenville High School football players.

The rap: The network seemed to be much more concerned with the impact on the just-convicted football players, not on the victim.

Perhaps inevitable with the tears and emotions flowing from the defendants and their families...


Posted at 7:47am on March 18, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 9:15am
CNN normally goes overboard in its coverage of those few stories the network chooses to cover. This was a crime which was highly publicized. CNN's coverage was strictly for ratings. No different than the Fox coverage of the brutal murder in Arizona only because of the sexual element.

The two Ohio criminals are only getting a couple of years in jail. Not much for what they did to the victim. However, their sentence is actually a life sentence. Given our society's enjoyment of punishing persons twice, we now have two sets of laws. If you murder someone of a particular protected group, you haven't just killed them, you have committed a "hate" crime.

If it is a crime with a sexual element, you now have added the sex registry. It lasts a lifetime. Good luck getting a job. Yes, their lives are ruined.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 9:47am
Note: The commentary was by two female announcers. Not boys-will-be-boys chatter by guys. The ordeal is over for the anonymous victim. She can, if she wishes, do what she needs to do to put it behind her and get on with the rest of her life. Outrage over what happened to her was expressed throughout. The convicted defendants' ordeal, as Jim says, is just beginning. And yes, their lives are ruined.

It remains troubling that the media allow someone to accuse another of rape. The accused become public fodder, whether the accusations are true or not. The anonymous accuser remains hidden and somewhat protected from inquiry and cross-examination. Forget innocent until proven guilty.

Also involved in all this is the culture of sports worship in which jocks come to believe they can get away with anything (and often they can). And apparently in this football-crazy small town, school and local authorities were complicit in fostering this climate.

Also with all this focus on an incident in Ohio, why no mention here about India? A country which usually receives great attention here; where gang rape is a national pastime and is often condoned by authorities. This week there was another one. Not a drunk girl at a party being "taken advantage of." A brutal attack including kidnapping and physical (as well as sexual) assault. Then there's the gang rape on the bus from which the woman died. When the cops showed up they demonstrated complete indifference. From what I read, cops in India routinely refuse to accept rape complaints or pressure people not to file complaints. Prosecutors are lax and they had to change the law to go after the bus rapists. Why nothing here about any of that?

Allan Loudell
Mon, Mar 18, 2013 9:57am
I have covered India in the past on this blog... and certainly have done interviews on-the-air about the subject of sexual assaults in India.

Allan Loudell

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 9:59am
Steubenville and India are both very conservative.... Although rapes occur everywhere, they are only covered-up where people are conservative. For some reasons unexplained, to conservatives, the rape victim is always deemed to be the guilty one... and the perpetrator is assumed innocent despite as unbelievable as that could possibly be.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 10:04am
As for CNN, I believe the network was blindsided by this controversy. I think network producers/anchors pursued this story as they do all their material, without any idea of how it would appear ever occurring to anyone until after the effect....

Bottom line. Decency prevents you from covering everything about the female victim in 24/7 fashion. But one can get away with trying to push up ratings by doing the same to those males who perpetrated the incident.... I don't think CNN's folks even realized they were doing what they were doing....until it was brought to their attention....

Now hopefully everyone will be more considerate.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 11:17am
kavips: Agreed. Problem is they try to push up ratings by covering everything about the accused beforehand, whether or not they are guilty.

I wonder if the media don't think about how they might appear or don't care how they might appear. When people get stirred up, the media rush to hide behind the first amendment like gun nuts rush to hide behind the second and Mafiosi rush to hide behind the fifth. The media seem more focused on each other than on the public or any consequences.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 11:41am
Bill, not to sound pessimistic, but the media are focused on money. Which means it is focused on advertisers, which are themselves focused on numbers of reported viewers, no matter how they get there....

You know as well as me, if we were having a conversation and I said, look at that naked man behind the tree, you and everybody listening in, ... would look...

One of the best descriptions was given a decade ago... It went something like this... it used to be that newspapers and the media were owned by families. Passed down from father to son. For a newspaper owner to have face when he went out into his neighborhood, he had to stand for something. This kept balance in check. Things that were outlandish and unsubstantiated were properly ignored, recognizing they would cause the community more grief if reported, than good... Also, items like inattention to the water supply, received great coverage, because the issue was important to those owners who like everyone else, drank the water too.

Eventually these companies wound up in the hands of nieces and nephews, fourth-generational descendants, who had no love for the paper itself, just the money, and sold out to investors... Now, the paper is dictated by how can we get more top line revenue. The answer is quite visible from the track records of both Murdoch and Fox News, as it is outrageous. People will look at you if you are outrageous... Even if potential viewers refuse to look at first, when they find it is the topic of all conversations, they are forced to come back and look after all to see what everyone else is discussing...

That is what is behind the demise of the American media, I'm afraid...

This controversy with CNN will even be used to push their own ratings even higher... probably by waiting to apologize at the very last minute just before the story is almost dead, then publicly apologizing so that it hits the news feeds all over again.....

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 12:01pm
Also quite offensive is use of rape trials for infotainment. People like Nancy Grace are just waiting for a juicy rape trial that can help bolster their ratings.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 12:10pm
Sad but true. What you described forms the plot of a Humphrey Bogart movie from somewhere around 1950. This has been going on for a while.

At some point, though, it becomes about more than money. Murdoch has more money than he could ever spend. It becomes about ego. Or power and influence. Or hubris. This forms the plot of Citizen Kane.

CNN used to be all-news like KYW. They added some talk shows but started Headline News. Then they put talk shows on Headline News. Fox and MSNBC are mostly talk shows, too. I read that people tune in to CNN only when something big happens. That's the only time you can count on them to be doing news. It used to be if you wanted to find out what was happening, you could go to CNN ("two, three, four times a day") and check in. If there was nothing else on, you could always watch a little CNN. You can't do that any more. I think that's their undoing.

The other thing that did them in, I think, was they became like the big-three network news operations. It used to be they were this scrappy little outfit down in Atlanta and they had a more heartland perspective. They didn't all read the New York Times to get their agenda and they didn't go to the same bars as people from other networks after work. They lived in a bubble that was closer to the real world. I miss that.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 6:26pm
This is another news story making the rounds right now, but it is along the same topic as this thread: Rape and conservatives.

But a really off-color remark made against Ashley Judd, and the announcer then looks up smirking to see if he would get a laugh. The remark is just cruel.. I had to lookup the background since I didn't know, but Ashley Judd was a victim of repeated childhood rapes, and the FOX news contributor speaking at CPAC, said.... "what's up with Ashley Judd and her concern about rape all the time? Ha,ha" which was just cruel....

Fortunately most of the conservatives in the audience appear very shocked and although they don't cry out, one can tell most were very uncomfortable with the reference...

I'm thinking perhaps because conservatives grow up in very nice Christian families, that rape is something that they never know or hear about from their sisters, and therefore they think everyone sees rape as consensual as they do.

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 7:01pm
It wasn't so long ago in Christian culture, as in Muslim cultures still, that rape was "the fate worse than death." Women killed themselves to avoid being raped then. Today, even in North America, we have so-called "honor killings" in which the victim of a rape is slain by members of her family. Even if not strictly consensual, many "religious" individuals think the woman must have "asked for it." By her dress. By her manner. By her reputation. These factors are still raised by defense lawyers at rape trials.

At the same time, we hear accounts of women who lie about having been raped for various reasons. After the fact remorse. Hell hath no furry. Blackmail. Attention.

Sometimes it seems a guy needs to carry copies of a release agreement and get his date to sign beforehand. Sort of spoils the mood but then so do condoms.

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 8:16pm
It's really sad that the hometown of Dean Martin gets dragged into the mud by the Communist News Network.

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 4:55am
And it is ironic that of all the people on this thread, Mr. Pizza would have picked that out!!! Didn't Dino sing this?

"When the moon hits your eye, ... like a big Pizza Pie.....
That's amore...."

Allan Loudell
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 6:20am
Sorry mrpizza:

It was the trangressions of these athletes; the willingness of the coach to "make this go away"; and above all the idolatry of football, that dragged Steubenville into the mud, not CNN.

Allan Loudell

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 6:10pm
Allan: Yeah, I know. It's just that Dean Martin is the first thing I think of when I hear Steubenville. I've been to that town, and by the way, the main drag is appropriately named "Dean Martin Boulevard". For me, it's a trip into a time capsule. I just wish they'd go commit their football sins somewhere less notable.

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 6:12pm
Kavips: I wasn't thinking of that song, but yeah, "That's Amore'".

Fri, Mar 22, 2013 3:13pm
I have never heard of anyone, anywhere being hit in the eye by a pizza. I do recall an episode of "I Love Lucy" where Lucy tried to toss a pizza and it ended up all over head and down all over her face. But it did not hit her eye. She stuck her fingers in the dough and made eye-holes so she could see. This has to be one of stupidest song lyrics ever.

Also, the word does not shine when I have too much wine. The world actually gets duller. Dean Martin, more than most, should be familiar with the effects of intoxication.

I associate Steubenville with china and glass. They used to give it away on game shows.

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