Hey, CNN…Wake up!

Via Sara Crolick
on Mar 18, 2013
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rape consent

A news story—the kind that can make your head shake in utter disbelief— broke out during the summer of 2012.

Thanks to the marvels of technology including texts messages, pictures and video, a young victim’s horrific escapades were documented and leaked onto social media sites where they went viral, leading the boys responsible right into a courtroom.

A young girl of 16 was sexually assaulted while under the influence of alcohol. Completely unconscious, the girl was subjected to digital penetration by both defendants, one defendant attempted to put his penis in her mouth, testimony was also given that she was urinated on.

That’s right, she was allegedly pissed on.

In a video taken of the victim that night, she was repeatedly referred to as “the dead girl” while she lay unconscious and male laughter roared around her. One of the defendants, as only a cocky teenaged boy could, laughed “she is so raped.”

There are pictures circulating of the girl being carried around, like a pig on a spit, hanging by her lifeless limbs.

I find it appalling that an ambulance wasn’t being called given the condition this girl was in, but to be subjected to such disgusting acts is unimaginable.

But here we are, the guilty verdict finally given and the media twists this story into some tragic tale about the rapists. The rapists.

CNN, among others, is to blame for the perpetuation of a rape culture that is blinded with ignorance.

I am so tired of the media, wielding more power than I ever will, disrespecting victims of rape with mindless banter like we saw on CNN. Not one mention of the victim. Not one single word regarding the personal hell this child must be in. Not one utterance of sympathy for the memory she has been forced to live with for the rest of her life.

Instead, we are force-fed bullshit about how horrifying it was for the rapists to get a dose of justice. We nod in disbelief as we’re told how scary it will be to face the world as a convicted sex offender. We listen to emotional accounts of how difficult it was to witness the courtroom scene. My heart breaks for you, really.

Since CNN’s mindless ramblings, disgust has exploded across the internet. Individuals react on social media platforms, news stories are  perpetually developing and online petitioning has begun to demand an apology for the coverage of the Steubenville verdict.

I imagine an apology will come, but the damage has been done, and those anchors should hang their heads in shame.

Oh. They also aired footage of the boys apologizing in court during which the victim’s name is spoken.

On national news.

Real nice, sh*tbirds.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Sara Crolick

Sara Crolick is whiskey in a teacup. She loves elephants, vegetables, vintage typewriters, Audrey Hepburn and the written word, but not necessarily in that order. She raises two inspiring boys with her mister, who is a bona fide music-maker; this works out nicely, as she happens to also love music. You can connect with her via her site, Conversations with a Human Heart, her author page on Facebook and on Twitter, too.


18 Responses to “Hey, CNN…Wake up!”

  1. This is just unreal to me. Every time I see something about it, it still feels like it must be a joke in horribly bad taste. This needs to change.

  2. tina says:

    I love the newscaster who at the end states that these boys are being convicted of rape "essentially." Not essentially, definitely!!!! They raped an innocent girl. Many people can attest to having too much to drink and doing stupid things. But typically underneath it all, there are hard wired values that are not crossed. Rape would be one of them.

  3. yogi tobye says:

    Woman anchor…. Woman OB reporter, both are responsible for the twisted angle they took from this story. Like Tina says above; "Rape essentially" WTF?

    A lot of countries have problems with rape cases actually getting in to court, but America's treatment of women has to change.

  4. Kelly hunter says:

    Yes, those poor, poor boys. Crying to their lawyers, wringing their hands and worrying about their futures. Poor poor things. Once they get to juvie maybe they’ll discover first hand what rape, essentially, feels like. Our culture is Neanderthalic about sex in general and the media’s ability
    to twist this into a story that’s sympathetic towards the Perpetrators instead of the Victim is just sad. It turns my stomach to watch that video lamenting the future of RAPISTS. If that female reporter was drunk at a party and closer to their age, maybe she’d find out how much sympathy they really deserve.

  5. Tracy says:

    The beliefs they perpetuated with their callous reporting are the same ones that raised these boys to behave in such a depraved fashion. Absolutely vile.

  6. justice says:

    This is SO disgusting. Never been a fan of talion law, but these boys deserve experiencing the same things that they did to the girl. And these two women should go through sexual harassment/rape education or something, they're ridiculous.

  7. Lesley says:

    The other disgusting part of this story is that so many people photographed this horror and did NOTHING to stop it! What kind of society raises its children to not only turn a blind eye to such violence, but to share it with the world of social media like it's part of the latest collection of cute cat pictures. If everything surrounding this crime from its perpetration to its media coverage is a snapshot of the morals of today's society, I would say that our future has never been less bright.

  8. AnnB says:

    The problem here is alcohol and lack of parental supervision. These kids (16 years old) were at 'multiple' parties, that means at multiple locations they were free to drink unfettered. I allow my kids to experiment with alcohol before they're legal, because I want them to realize the effects alcohol has on your judgement BEFORE they are out on their own. These parents just gave their kids the keys to the alcohol and turned their backs.

  9. Natalie Baginski says:

    Is this a joke? Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with having compassion for a rapist, in the sense that, any rapist or abuser of any kind is someone who has suffered. No doubt. No loved, supported young man would rape a woman. I would think no young many with a mom even remotely adedequate would rape a woman. So sure, it's unfortunate these two boys screwed up their lives up. But I cannot BELIEVE there was an entire segment on this story dedicated to the suffering of these boys while no one said anything about this poor young girl. Did someone at CNN not tap into the fact, for even a second, that maybe the story was leaving a little something out? The blond listening to the details of the case at the hearing? Nothing? Those poor boys. How embarrassing for them to get caught. It's almost as bad as being raped while someone records it on a phone and then posts it on the internet. I'm grossed out. Mamas and daddies take good care of your sons and daughters because this is the crap that happens when your kids have no guidance. The human brain isn't fully formed until about 24 years of age, so until then, it's up to you.

  10. SaraCrolick says:

    Well put, Natalie. And I agree with you—there should be space in all of our hearts to have compassion for abusers, but this coverage infuriated me. Thanks so much for reading!

  11. Rasham says:

    Dear Sara,

    Thanks for writing this article. It is truly a shame that ignorance and negativity continues to affect our youth, as the girl in this story.
    That aside, this letter is for you, and for everyone who feels such strong and intense emotions of anger and rage at those involved in this crime, media included.

    I read much hate, anger and frustration in your words; understandable. What I also see is how others respond with the same negative emotions of hate, anger, intolerance, and frustration in the comments. I see how when I read your words I too begin to feel the negative emotions of hate, anger, intolerance, and frustration. I believe your volition is pure; I don't believe you intend to strengthen the cycle of negativity and ignorance by writing; I think you intended to cure it.

    However, it is true that when we respond to hate with hate, only hate is strengthened. When we respond to ignorance with more ignorance, only ignorance is strengthened. Martin Luther King knew this when he said, " Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that".

    What he means is that though we may feel negative emotions when confronted with the intensity of the news of such events, we mustn't allow ourselves to react with hate, anger, intolerance, and fear, for there is thus no hope of bringing about positive change. It is easy to point fingers, to blame, to condemn, to criminalize and lock away. But to do so is to spread intolerance, hate, anger, and fear. When we react in this way, we only perpetuate the issue. This is what Gandhi was hinting at when he said "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

    Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Christ all carry the same message of love and compassion. They urge us to practice forgiveness in our daily lives, especially towards those who have committed seemingly unforgivable acts. By doing so, we cease to contribute to the misery that spawns criminal and immoral acts. We may even begin to see the perpetrators of criminal and immoral acts as the true victims of this cycle of misery. When this happens, we hold the power to make real change. By understanding the root cause of criminal and immoral acts, we are less likely to react to such acts by spreading hate, anger, intolerance, and fear. We no longer generate hate towards criminals, or feel anger at their deeds. Instead we feel sympathetic compassion and are able to practice forgiveness. Through practice, we may even achieve the ability to channel the love and understanding needed to cure the propensity to rape, lie, cheat, steal, and kill, manifestations in action of ignorance, hate, anger, and fear.

    I feel it is the responsibility of us all to not react to ignorance with more ignorance, to not react to hate with more hate, thereby spreading these societal diseases and perpetuating the misery that surrounds us. This is what the media does, and it is highly successful at it. The media keeps us in a constant state of fear, pitting us against our fellows by capitalizing on the 'evil' of society. It builds a wall of judgement that keeps us isolated from each other, hating each other, afraid of each other, intolerant of each other. It encourages us to react with negativity, thereby perpetuating its purpose of generating negativity, even if our reaction is in retaliation of the media itself. Like a bully who thrives on power and control, the more one engages the bully (either in retaliation or support), the stronger he becomes.

    If we are to stop this dangerous cycle of spreading misery onto others, if we are to truly heal our society with what extraordinary power we do have, we mustn't be tempted to generate any negativity. We mustn't react with any trace of anger, hate, intolerance, or fear. We must learn to generate only positivity, compassion, forgiveness, and love. We must learn to forgive those boys; may they find the unconditional love they so desperately need, and yet have never received. May this unconditional love encourage and inspire them towards a life of positive action.

  12. Rasham says:

    As for the girl, there is a lesson in this for her as well. We all must face our fears in life, we all must meet our greatest challenge; this is how we grow. Some of us choose our battles, and yet for some our battles are chosen for us; this does not matter, for every challenge is merely an opportunity in disguise. Most people, if guided in the right way, develop wisdom as a consequence of passing experience, becoming empowered and emboldened in the process. Wisdom teaches us to be grateful for our challenges, for our pains, for our sufferings.

    Leonard Cohen wrote "…there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".

    Mother Teresa said "pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, and suffering are but the kiss of God – a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you". Truly, our pain and sufferings are our greatest teachers in life. Therefore, may we be encouraged to embrace them, and not fear them, so that we may grow from them, and not be hindered by them. This message of positivity we should offer to the girl, in support of her journey through this period of darkness, that it inspires her and others towards positive action.

    There is a quote by Siddhartha the Buddha: "in separateness lies the world's great misery, in compassion lies the world's true strength". Therefore, let us strive to everyday strengthen our ability to respond with forgiveness and sympathetic compassion, dissolving hate, anger, intolerance and fear in love. Our world has never needed it more.


  13. SaraCrolick says:

    Hello Rasham,

    Thank you for the beautiful response. I appreciate the time and energy you put into such an articulate letter, I appreciate it even more as it was written for me.

    I think you'll be happy to know that I whole-heartedly agree with your position and try to live a life that embodies much of the same sentiment. You have chosen some lovely passages that serve to remind us of how large our hearts can be. Your heart comes through in your response, Rasham, and again, I thank you.

    The report that I watched via CNN yesterday, made me angry. There is no denying that, nor would I care to. In fact, I would hope that others share my disgust in the way the newscast was handled. I don't wish negative emotions on others, but it is only through our emotions that we are compelled to act.

    I feel there is no shame in experiencing anger, so long as we can understand it; so long as we can identify it, and decide how the emotion is meant to serve us. This was not written as a reaction to the boys, who are young, immature, and have lacked enough guidance in their journeys thus far. Their behavior was deplorable and inexcusable, that is the reason for the trial, that is the reason for the verdict, and that is the reason for the sentencing. As was addressed in a previous comment, there is space for compassion even when looking in the face of an abuser (or in this case, abusers). My heart goes out to the families of these boys, I have sons myself, and simply could not imagine.

    All that being said, the verdict and sentencing of the boys was meant to deal with the boys' actions. I did not write this response to express fear, hate, or anger toward the boys. While I disclosed some of the details of the horrific event, the purpose of the disclosure was merely to leave no question in anyone's mind: these boys are guilty of a sexual assault and physical abuse that can not and should not go unmentioned.

    What we witnessed with the CNN newscast was irresponsible. As a result of their report, their actions have been marginalized because of their age, their "promise" as students and athletes, and their emotional outbursts when faced with the reality of their decisions. Millions of viewers witnessed these three newscasters act in a manner that was apologetic and sympathetic while the plight of the young girl was not even acknowledged. The girl wasn't mentioned because it wasn't a good enough story. The girl isn't a good enough story because rape is common. That angers me. That angers me deeply. As Ghandi so eloquently put it, "to forgive and accept injustice is cowardice." I cannot accept this.

    I have no way of knowing whether or not you have been touched by sexual violence in your life, but I speak from experience when I tell you that the victim rarely (if ever) receives the support and understanding that they deserve. That's where CNN went wrong. They missed the mark, it was wrong of them, I make no apology for my position on that. They have made the next rape easier. They have made the next victim more likely to hesitate when deciding whether or not to come forward.

    My hope is that through the backlash of CNN's coverage, powerful media sources will reconsider their coverage tactics. My hope is that by people reacting in horror and shock to the careless language of these newscasters, awareness will be brought to the reality of our rape culture.

    Again, thank you (thank you so much) for your incredible response. I am deeply grateful for your words and hope you know I mean no disrespect with my article, nor my response to you.

  14. Rasham says:

    Dear Sara,

    Thank you for your reply. I understand more fully the motivations behind your article. The message you wish to convey is pure and true, as you have illustrated in your response to my letter.
    Undoubtedly your original article carries vibrations of anger. It is these vibrations that are harmful, for the anger seeps into and spreads onto others like the fire from which it is born. To assume it will inspire positive change is naive; anger is anger breeds more anger.
    The statement that 'it is only through our emotions that we are compelled to act' is limiting. Although I agree that emotions drive some actions, actions inspired by emotional states are not always 'right'. It is the goal of the wise person to take action void of emotion, called 'right action'. Right action is aligned with the principles of higher truth – it is selfless, understanding, compassionate, and full of love. Right action is not spawned by emotion; it is born of wisdom. Wisdom happens when our minds are concentrated to the point we don't react or respond with or from an emotional state.
    I believe that, as writers, if we are to be agents of real change, we must not compromise our integrity in order to gain followers, or write in a way so as to convince others to join our cause, however wholesome our volition may be. It is our integrity that sets us apart from CNN and other popular news media sources. Without integrity, like CNN, we are guilty of using anger and fear to sell stories. We are using the same tactics we mean to overcome in order to popularize an opinion. This is not wisdom; this is ego.
    Sara, if I seem harsh, I apologize. I am merely on a mission myself, still learning how to, as a writer, appeal to others while upholding and embodying higher principles. Thank you for your time, contributions, and again for sharing your thoughts.

    Wishing you well,


  15. Guest says:

    Give me an effing break. These two individuals knew right from wrong. It's no one's fault but themselves. Whether alcohol is was involved is not the point. This is beyond disgusting and ridiculous. All the boys involved are at fault, as are all those who did absolutely nothing to help this girl.

  16. mark ledbetter says:


    Wonderful set of responses. I've been debating inside myself the last couple of days whether I should say something about the three or so articles up on Ele now that deal with this court case. All three, in your underplayed phrase, have "vibrations of anger." I'm glad I didn't say anything because you said it so much better.

    Personally, not living in America, I hadn't heard of this case until a couple of days ago. The details of what the boys did to the girl are sickening Despite that, the presentation of a bit of compassion and understanding by the newscasters in the clip imbedded in this article were, I think, worthwhile. Are depictions of compassion all that's happening? Nothing but compassion for the perpetrators while ignoring the victim? If so, that's a problem, but I have certainly gotten quite a bit of the sickening details the last couple of days while this is the first I've seen that recognizes a bit the humanity of the perpetrators.

    Just to take it to a larger level, these kind of terrible things are happening daily throughout the world and throughout history, and very very often on a much huger scale. And most people react with the vibrations of anger that help keep it going.

    Compassionate justice is called for.

  17. Rasham says:


    Thanks for reading my comments, and doubly for your response. I've just browsed the other articles you've mentioned and am not surprised to find intolerance amongst these pages of Elephant Journal.

    You are right – fear is manifesting in actions all around the world, past and present. It is sponsored largely in part by our collective reactions to events such as this one. Our justice system reflects this collective intolerance: we focus on the redeeming qualities of the victim and turn the criminal into a monster.
    But in this case, CNN shared the story of the monster, and the masses rebelled. We are afraid to see 'criminals' as anything but monsters. If we do, then what of our system? It begins to appear messy, complicated, unfair, and unjust. And then the question comes; how can I forgive? Gandhi wrote, "the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong". We have much work to do if we are to "be the change we wish to see in the world". Truly, the details of this case do not matter. What matters is our measure of tolerance, compassion and love in response to such events. We cannot hope to evolve to embody these higher principles if not for our ability to forgive. For this, ending the pattern of reacting with anger, hate, intolerance, and fear is the first step.

    I suppose what is most disappointing is that Elephant Journal advertises as being 'mindful', 'independent'; 'your guide…to anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet'. They state their mission: > elephant is dedicated to bringing together those working (and playing) to create an enlightened society.

    I am happy you wrote; thank you for sharing your sentiments.



  18. mark ledbetter says:


    Again, your words are needed here at this time and no one else seems to be doing it, so thank you.

    However, I want to put in a plug for Ele. It basically offers a platform for anyone. If the approach is sometimes not perfect, it's not actually Ele's fault. They offer what they are given in hopes that we can all sort things out together. You, me, Sara, anyone can present their view. And Sara, here, certainly has a valid viewpoint.

    I take it you are a writer? You are certainly a person with some good ideas. Write something about this or any issue you think is important, and Ele will probably put it up.