Rape Culture and the Steubenville Trial

Friday, March 22, 2013


Last Sunday saw a guilty verdict in the case of two high-school football stars, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, who were accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. For six hours, the severely intoxicated victim was dragged from party to party by a number of her peers, a humiliating journey photographed and joked about by the accused and others on sites such as Instagram and Twitter. The ensuing coverage of the verdict revealed a culture still deeply conflicted about rape. Bob talks to Slate's Amanda Marcotte about rape culture and the media. 


Amanda Marcotte

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [11]

Ted from Davis, CA

I'm presuming Bob G was taking the role of devil's advocate in referring to the newspaper's decision as "advocacy journalism". At least I'm hoping. The teens' social media behavior is something out of Lord of the Flies and must be confronted.
A separate issue: Bob's description fell into the same hole that other media have: Referring to the alleged rapists as "football stars" and "young men" while referring to the rape victim as a "girl". I've no pity for the alleged rapists: They know that the age of consent is 18.

Mar. 26 2013 07:52 PM
Mark Lough from mid-state Michigan

Rape by Twitter. Rape by the Media

Mar. 26 2013 09:23 AM
John Longville from San Bernardino, CA

I was astounded at Bob Garfield's characterization of the Steubenville newspaper's coverage of local teens' twitter comments about the trial as "advocacy journalism" because the paper chose not to hide the identities of these young rape supporters, some of whom publicly threatened the life of the rape victim in the case. Bob, you need to examine your own attitudes toward these disturbed individuals, who identified themselves voluntarily because they saw nothing wrong with what they did.

As the paper's representative noted, their coverage would not have caused the positive impact it has had if they had chosen to participate in a cover-up of this extraordinary cruelty and ignorance, keeping these young bullies' identities secret from their own parents and others who now have an opportunity to intercede in their lives before they grow into dangerous adults.

This was the most surprising bad call I have ever heard on your excellent program. Some introspection seems necessary here. Perhaps even some on-air discussion of your lapse.

Mar. 24 2013 06:56 PM

Stacy Harris' argument against anonymous participation (such as it is) would thereby invalidate the existing work of "Anonymous", the group that "broke" the Steubenville story.
I suggest the real point is that on breaking the story, Anonymous missed the larger story of rape culture, which is the taxpayer-funded hour-by-hour rape of non-white men in our federal and state prisons. The US Justice Department has finally acknowledged the numbers, which are horrifying. When will the media report the real story?
Steubenville isn't the half of it, it's not even the 1/216,000 of it.
Bob, why don't you cover how the NYRB got the Justice Dep't to release the data, and hos the media subsequently ignored the news?

Mar. 24 2013 02:43 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville

I am alarmed that, in the reporting of reaction shared via social media, there is no distinction between opinion offered anonymously and appropriately-attributed points-of-view.

I give little if any credence to the former (and don't necessarily believe it should be reported, published or aired) as the behavior is cowardly. A signature provides accountability.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report

Mar. 24 2013 02:33 PM

Paul Heckbert,
Let us know when "Anonymous" reveals the actual rape culture in this country.
The US is the only country on record with higher male-on-male rape, thanks to our prison-industrial complex.
The sheer number of daily, hourly prison rapes is orders of magnitude worse than Steubenville. And the victimes are usually non-white.
But it's not as "sexy" a news story as Steubenville, so only The New York Review of Books has touched it.
And there's no gratifying "outrage" because we the taxpayers fund prison rape in federal prisons, and we the shareholders fund prison rape in corporate for-profit prisons.
Do you even care, Paul? Does Anonymous even care?

Mar. 24 2013 02:33 PM
Paul Heckbert from Pittsburgh, PA

I enjoyed the story but I was disappointed that it did not mention the role of Anonymous in the case, and the other revelations and allegations that were revealed in the Steubenville Files (http://localleaks.me/localleaks/steubenvillefiles/index.html), e.g. about the practices of the "Rape Crew" at Steubenville High School, the administration of date rape drugs to "Jane Doe", and mishandling of evidence and protection of the boys by the sheriff.

Mar. 24 2013 12:39 PM
Stephen from PA

Excellent story. Although, I agree that he reporters probably were just commenting on what was in front of them aka the young men who did flush their lives down the line. Not that their problems hold a candle to what they did to that young woman and then posted on Instagram, etc.

Mar. 24 2013 11:57 AM
Flipper from Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Immediately after this story aired, a WNYC bumper announced: On the Media is sponsored by Reputation.com!

Bob, please. EVERY media outlet "advocates" for their point of view.

Mar. 24 2013 10:27 AM
Seamus Riley

Twice in the interview Marcotte cited "male entitlement and football worship" as causes contributing to the crime when I don't think the case showed this at all as much as alcohol abuse and perhaps a lack of respect for sex and for other peoples' right to dignity among teens. I thought this show was about exposing how the media unfairly shapes public opinion and Bob let Marcotte soap-box unchallenged.

Mar. 24 2013 07:04 AM

Talk about media misrepresentation! The majority of rape in these United States is, as has finally been acknowledged by our Justice Department, male on male rape in our overstuffed prisons.

On The Media thinks it's critical of the media, but it's as complicit as the rest of the media in this misrepresentation. Because there's no subliminal "fun" in talking about the real thing, which is orders of magnitude worse than Steubenville.

Bob Garfield should ask Marcotte back for a re-do when she actually gets the Justice Dep't stats.

Mar. 23 2013 04:34 PM

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