CNN has receive a ton of criticism over how it handled the breaking news that a couple of young men had been found guilty of raping a drunk young woman.
CNN rape trial coverage: Lawyer for victim also emotional
Many said it was too deferential to the convicted, not focused enough on the victim's plight.
For starters, this must be put into context.
That particular story on that particular day was about the two boys who had been convicted. That's why it is called breaking news - because it was happening just then, meaning that is precisely what CNN should have been focusing on. The network had spent a considerable amount of air time leading up to and during the trial on a variety of angles - including the plight and story of the victim. But when the verdict is handed down - in that particular moment - it is about those who are about to spend time in the justice system for their crimes. There's simply no getting around that. Besides that, there should be no getting around it, particularly when all involved are young people who each made horrible mistakes.
I'll say again what I've said a thousand times. No one has the right to rape a woman or young girl, no matter how many mistakes and bad decisions she made. Period. There are no excuses for it.
It also must be said that part of the lesson from the trial is that young women must really be careful before putting themselves in a situation in which they have no control. Drugs and alcohol are usually prime suspects in most rapes and have often been ingested by the perpetrator and the victim. Again, there are no excuses for a man or boy taking advantage of a woman in such a state, but we must also tell our girls to be smart, to not leave their own protection up to the whims of testosterone-and-alcohol impaired young men.
There's another reason I had no problem with CNN's coverage. What happens to those young men is a part of the story, an important part. And the impact their actions have on their immediate family members also matter and should not be discounted or overlooked. In this society, we have seemed to have settled on this notion that only the victim's side of the story should be told in full, that if we tell the perpetrator's full story, that is somehow beyond the pale and should not be tolerated. The people who are criticizing CNN's breaking news coverage seem to be operating on that short-sighted notion. Such a thing - ignoring or berating the plight of the perpetrators and their families - has led to longer, deeper cycles of violence, because they do not receive the help and guidance they need to avoid such actions in the future.
If we are only about retribution, that won't change - and we are only guaranteeing that there will be more victims to cry with later.
That doesn't advance the cause of the victim - or society at large.