CNN's coverage of the Steubenville rape trial verdict was met with an onslaught of criticism this week after network reporters stressed the impact the decision will have on the rapists, not on the victim. According to sources who spoke exclusively with The Wrap, the criticism is taking its toll on reporter Poppy Harlow.
Steubenville High School football players Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old West Virginia girl in August. The case garnered national attention because of the way social media exchanges and text messages provided evidence for the case. On Sunday, the verdict was handed down during Candy Crowley's CNN show. She tossed to reporter Poppy Harlow who had been covering the trial live from Steubenville.
"These two young men who had such promising futures -- star football players, very good students -- literally watched as they believed their life fell apart," Harlow said. Crowley asked a CNN legal analyst, “What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?”
The coverage sparked an online petition on Change.org, which has now received more than 230,000 signatures, demanding that CNN apologize. Harlow's report from outside the courtroom has been used as the primary example of what critics characterized as CNN's slanted coverage. The Wrap reported:
Meanwhile two insiders at CNN exclusively told TheWrap that the controversy had hit reporter Poppy Harlow, covering the events in Steubenville, particularly hard.
'Poppy is taking this extremely personally as a woman,' said one executive. 'She’s outraged that someone would think she’d do such a thing' as slant her coverage toward rapists. 'It’s gotten so out of control.'