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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

of course, sometimes women “journalists” just carry water for horrible media institutions

Poppy Harlow CNN

Oh, CNN. You adorable rape apologists, you.

You may have heard about the Ohio trial of two high-school football stars who were accused of raping a 16-year-old girl and disseminating photos and videos of their crimes on social media. Here’s how CNN dealt with the announcement of the verdict, from Mallory Ortberg at Gawker:

One way to report on the outcome of a rape trial is to discuss the legal ramifications of the decision or the effect the proceedings may have on the life of the victim. Another angle reporters can take is to publicly worry about the “promising future” of the convicted rapists, now less promising as a direct result of their choice to rape someone.

Reporters at CNN today chose the latter technique. General correspondent Poppy Harlow, speaking to anchor Candy Crowley, had this to say about the verdict:

“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…

It’s perfectly understandable, when reporting on a rape trial, to discuss the length and severity of the sentence; it is less understandable to discuss the end of two convicted rapists’ future athletic and academic careers as if it were somehow divorced from the laws of cause and effect. Their dreams and hopes were not crushed by an impersonal, inexorable legal system; Mays and Richmond raped a girl and have been sentenced accordingly. Had they not raped her, they would not be spending at least one year each in a juvenile detention facility.

It is unlikely that Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow are committed rape apologists; more likely they simply wanted a showy, emotional angle at the close of a messy and sensationalized trial.

Perhaps Crowley and Harlow are not “committed rape apologists.” Could be it’s just a hobby for them. Could be our mainstream corporate media thinks there’s genuine sympathetic emotion to be mined from the “tragedy” of entitled athletes who got caught and convicted of a crime that so many other entitled athletes get away with, and Crowley and Harlow were being good corporate drones.

None of these are good things to be.

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