CNN did some interesting coverage of a recent verdict in a rape trial in Steubenville, OH. It was interesting coverage not so much because of the content of the story they were covering—your typical teenage rape trial starring some jock assholes and the victim girl. It’s all very Lifetime Original Movie. Sensationalistic crap designed to keep us focused on the lurid and tabloidal rather than aiming our attention on the BIG PICTURE. Or maybe it’s designed to do little more than make money. The executives of TV networks clearly have no sense of social responsibility. They will pollute the airwaves with lies, fear and stupidity—so long as they can enrich themselves. They’ve given up any aspiration of enriching the world, if they ever even had one.
Steubenville, Ohio. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that right and I don’t even care. It sounds like the name of a place that smart people get out of fast and rarely come back to. According to Wikipedia it had a population, in 2010, of 18,659 people. I bet it’s gone down since. Not up.
A good chunk of the wikipedia entry about this small town is about a rape that happened there. This is an american town where slightly less than 18,659 people live that is now famous for its rape. Yep—in Winstonville we’re famous for our peaches. In Trentlake we’re famous for being the home of the world’s largest toothbrush. In Steubenville we’re famous for our horrific rape.
It’s really gonna hurt Steubenville’s no-doubt once-flourishing tourism industry. Come see “rapetown” doesn’t attract the kind of tourism you’d really want. Although, it did attract one form of tourism. The media made a little visit to Steubenville. They didn’t treat it like a big story—it was not bloody or cruel or bizarre enough for that. (Well, maybe cruel enough, but it was the wrong kind of cruelty. Americans want to participate in cruelty. They want to see their enemies ripped apart in the public sphere. DO YOU HATE LIBERAL COMMIE FAGGOTS? THEN WATCH BILL OREILLY. HE’S GONNA LAY INTO THOSE PIECES OF SHIT. ARE YOU TIRED OF THESE REGRESSIVE CONVERSATIVE HYPOCRITES FUCKING UP YOUR COUNTRY? THEN WATCH RACHEL MADDOW AND PRETEND YOU’VE READ NOAM CHOMSKY AND FOUND HIM OVER OR UNDERRATED—IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER WHICH.)
As I was saying, the story was cruel enough, but it was the wrong kind of cruelty. It was the kind of cruelty that might make Americans feel a little bit bad about themselves, and Americans, as a general rule, prefer to feel bad about others. So the news, which has trained itself to be cruel and heartless, covered the story in a cruel and heartless way.
CNN covered the story exclusively from the perspective of how traumatizing and awful and life-ruining it must have been for the two boys to have been convicted of rape. CNN’s anchors, including the famous Candy Crowley, were covering a rape trial from the perspective of, “Hey, let’s sympathize with the poor young rapists! And make almost no mention of their victim at all! YAY!”
I think I can explain why CNN did this. They are pure evil.
It’s not entirely their fault. Usually the people of America reward pure evil in th media. We applaud unethical exploitation after unethical exploitation. Toddlers and Tiaras? Honey Boo Boo? Pawn Stars? A “christian nation” is going to watch a show about how awesome money-lenders are? Christ would be proud, I’m sure.
It’s no wonder the media breaks down when it’s forced to confront a situation of actual emotional complexity. They don’t know where to sympathize. They’re trained to cater to the stunted emotional non-complexity of the american public. In other words, CNN is like a sociopath at a funeral. They don’t know how to grieve so they just fake it and hope no one notices.
I’m glad CNN wasn’t around for the end of World War II, they probably would have lamented Hitler’s gas bill. If they’d been around to cover Jeffrey Dahmer’s cannibalistic murder spree, maybe they’d sympathize with the indigestion Jeff had after eating all those boys.
You know who I think this story was really aimed at? Mom’s across america who are afraid that their douchebag teenage son is going to rape a girl and ruin his precious football scholarship. And then she’ll have to be the mother of “that rapist.” What will the people at church think?
Traditional media takes one small step away from moral sanity, and one giant leap away from cultural relevancy.