That CNN decided to paint the tears of the convicted Steubenville rapists in a sympathetic light and say how their lives were ruined — while completely ignoring the fact that the rape victim's life is the one whose life was ruined by these rapists' actions — is disgusting and helps perpetuate a shameful culture in which young people never understand the concept of consent and in which rape victims are blamed and ostracized. Changing that culture must be done brick by brick, and it can start by heaping public shame on this major cable news network and forcing them to admit that they are wrong. Publicly.
Your coverage of the Steubenville rape trial's verdict Sunday morning was a complete disgrace and a breach of journalistic ethics. To have three of your personalities blatantly portray the rapists as the victims in this situation while not so much as acknowledging the actual rape victim and what she has had to put up with since — death threats and the hostility of that entire football-crazed town — is nothing short of disgusting.
I request that you apologize on-air, several times over the course of the next week, at the start of every hour, for your shameful coverage that only served to perpetuate a culture in which young people will grow up not understanding the concept of consent and in which rape victims are blamed, ostracized and threatened. Start with Candy Crowley, Poppy Harlow and Paul Callan themselves issuing their apologies several times, then extend that to the rest of CNN's staff and Jeff Zucker himself. Admit that your coverage was extremely off base and tell us why it was off base. Use the content of this letter as a starting point if you need to.
A culture that sympathizes with rapists and encourages them while shaming rape victims can no longer be considered socially acceptable, and that change must start with you. As journalists for a major network that reaches millions of households in the United States and worldwide, it is your responsibility. Accept it.
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