Fox News Is The Latest Media Outlet To Fail The Steubenville Rape Victim
When you stop and think about the number of ways that the media has failed the Steubenville rape victim, it is truly appalling. From their lack of coverage until the internet made the story too big to ignore to their questionable focus on “poor” Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays and their promising football careers, this entire case has brought some of the worst of rape culture to light. And now, an established media outlet that should know better has released the 16-year-old rape victim’s name.
While discussing the apology of Trent Mays‘ to his victim after the judge announced his verdict, Fox News chose not to bleep the name of Mays’ 16-year-old victim, who was already received numerous threats on Twitter since yesterday’s announcement. Even though the victim is a minor, even though it is customary not to announce a victim’s name and even though most media companies have gone to great lengths to give this girl at least a modicum of privacy in the national media, Fox News apparently decided that this consideration was unnecessary.
But let’s not all simply pile on Fox News. They are not the first or only media outlet to demonstrate just how pervasive and ugly rape culture can be.
CNN has been in extremely hot water over their teary concern for the futures of the rapists who permanently scarred one of their classmates through their actions. Some viewers (and Mommyish readers) have noted that Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley did not attempt to excuse the boys’ actions. Still, by selling an image of these poor boys who were hurt by the criminal proceedings, instead of focusing on the cruel actions that they chose to commit, the venerable news station paints the rapists as victims of a system stacked against them. It shifts the blame from their horrible choices somewhere else.
And CNN was really just following up on a storyline created by ABC News, which chose to highlight Ma’Lik Richmond’s difficult upbringing and good grades and athletic promise in the week leading up to the Steubenville trial. Both of these news organizations did not have access to the victim and couldn’t share her story, so they decided to weave a tragic tale around the boys who made a choice to rape one of their peers, then to brag about it on social media.
The fact that three separate news organizations all made such awful mistakes while covering this rape case just go to show the real problems we have handling rape in our culture. It shows how rape culture grow and builds, even when the victim-blaming isn’t outright and in your face.
These media fumbles are so much more dangerous than single people spouting hatred on Twitter or in internet comment sections because they reach a huge audience and they don’t immediately sound like rape apology or victim-blaming. They are subtle, and because of that, more influential. They aren’t questioned.
But we need to stand up and talk about them. More than that, we need to demand that our news organizations and media companies do better. These mistakes and lapses in judgment cannot be accepted or brushed off. It’s the only way we can make the media storm a little more bearable for the next victim brave enough to stand up and demand justice, like that amazing 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.