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Petition Demands CNN Apologize For "Disgusting" Steubenville Rape Coverage

A flurry of online backlash erupted this weekend over how CNN covered the Steubenville rape trial.

Posted on March 18, 2013, at 11:10 a.m. ET

CNN came under fire for sympathetic statements it made regarding the two men convicted of raping a young woman in Steubenville, Ohio, summed up in this macro, which has almost 3,000 shares on Facebook:

A petition was launched demanding CNN apologize, and it's already two-thirds of the way to its goal:

From the petition page:

While reporting on the verdict and sentencing of the two Steubenville rapists, the CNN news personalities told us repeatedly how difficult it was to watch these boy's lives being destroyed. How their crime will haunt them.

These criminals destroyed their own lives, when they decided to repeatedly rape an incapacitated girl. When they decided to film and share their horrific crime.

Not once did CNN mention the person whose life was most destroyed by their crime, who will also be haunted for life by their crime... their victim. The young girl who they violated and raped.

Not once while they discussed the pain and humiliation these vicious and cruel criminals now face, did they acknowledge that her life was also destroyed, by them. That she would have to carry around the pain, humiliation, self doubt and self loathing, the stigma of rape, for the rest of her life. Not once did the CNN pundits mention the pain and humiliation these criminals repeatedly inflicted on their victim.

Not once.

The media, and it's personalities have a huge rule to play in shaping public opinion and public perception. With that role comes an equall responsibility to ensure they use that role for the good of society.

CNN's coverage of that story failed to meet that responsibility. Failed miserably. The on air personalities did nothing more than promulgate rape culture in America. A culture that leads to someone being raped or sexually assaulted every two minutes.

Every Two Minutes.

CNN, We are sure the 97% of rapists who will never spend a day in jail appreciated your sympathetic coverage of these two criminals.

The rest of us did not. We demand an on air apology for your disgustingly biased coverage. Further, we demand that you use your position as a premier news network to focus on changing rape culture in America. Devote an hour long, prime time segment to rape, it's victims, what can be done to prevent it, and how to change the culture that gives rise to this violent crime.

Here's the CNN clip:

View this video on YouTube

From the video's description:

CNN broke the news on Sunday of a guilty verdict in a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio by lamenting that the "promising" lives of the rapists had been ruined, but spent very little time focusing on how the 16-year-old victim would have to live with what was done to her.

Many have also pointed out CNN's angle is eerily similar to this clip from The Onion's Sportsdome on Comedy Central from last year:

View this video on YouTube

From the video's description:

I was a staff writer on the Onion's show "SportsDome" which aired on Comedy Central in 2011. This is one of the stories we did--full credit to David Iscoe ( for the idea and script. It could have been produced by the CNN team covering the Steubenville rape verdict.

CNN wasn't alone in sympathizing with the two convicted rapists. The blog Public Shaming has collected some of the more shocking apologist tweets:

One of the top posts on Reddit over the weekend was this version of the Captain Hindsight meme:

Monday morning, comedian Jim Norton started tweeting at both CNN anchors, Candy Crowly and Poppy Harlow, over their sympathetic Steubenville coverage.

And as Tumblr user totalzero pointed out:

BuzzFeed has reached out to CNN and is currently awaiting a statement.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post included a CNN video mentioning the name of the victim. That video has been removed.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.