Dori didn’t think anything could be more shocking than the actual crime committed in the Steubenville rape trial until he watched the sympathetic CNN coverage. It was almost as if they were trying to make the convicted sex offenders look as sympathetic as possible.
The real network coverage almost perfectly mirrored an Onion video produced for Comedy Central in 2011 (above). In the video, The Onion tells the story of an athlete traumatized by a rape he committed.
“The way I look at it,” says the fictional college basketball player,” I was brought here to go to class and play basketball. So that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not about who I raped.”
Dori and Jake were shocked by how similar the fictional story and the real coverage were.
“Last week Good Morning America or somebody had the defendants at the time, and now they’re guilty, on talking about what led up to this and they were saying they weren’t guilty,” said producer Jake.
Even CNN’s coverage of the end of the trial focused almost entirely on Ma’lik and Trent, whose “promising futures” had been harmed. As if they were the only ones affected by the situation.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy,” said Poppy Harlow. “It was incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened 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”
“It was very difficult to watch,” Harlow continued. “Ma’lik has been living with guardians. His father, a former alcoholic, got into a lot of trouble with the law, been in prison before – and his father stood up and he told the court ‘I feel responsible for this, I feel like I wasn’t there for my son.'”
Harlow went on to talk about how Ma’lik’s father had never told him that he loved him, that he told Ma’lik he loved him for the first time during the sentencing.
And while so many others were decrying what they saw as a light sentence – at least one year in juvenile detention for Ma’lik and at least two for Trent – CNN went on and on about how the conviction and sentencing would affect the rapists.
“The most severe thing with these young man is being labeled as registered sex offenders,” said one CNN legal analyst.
Now there’s even an online petition circulating demanding that CNN apologize for their coverage.
“I’m glad CNN is really focusing on how hard it was for the two rapists in this story,” said Dori. “I’m glad CNN was really on top of creating a really sympathetic line of talk for the two rapists.”