Only a few days after CNN expressed sympathy for two young men accused and later found guilty of raping a fellow student, a national petition has gotten over 200,000 signatures. The company as a whole has not issued a statement regarding its comments, but one reporter has issued her own statement saying she was "outraged" at all the criticism.
There are two separate petitions on Change.org calling for the news channel to issue an apology both on and off-air to the young woman and public for its "disgusting coverage of the Steubenville rapists." At last count, both had over 250,000 signatures, with the hope of reaching 300,000.
It's "incredibly difficult to watch as these two young men who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students literally watched as they believed their life fell apart," reporter Poppy Harlow said on-camera.
Her comments, along with those of other reporters, drew the ire of many who saw the station as sympathizing with the rapists rather than the victim. The two young men were each sentenced to one year in juvenile detention; one was sentenced to an additional year for taking pictures of the young victim while she was nude.
The case already divided the town of Steubenville, and many across the nation, but the media's portrayal added fuel to the fire. Fox News, CNN, and CBS all revealed the name of the young victim, who then immediately received death threats from other young women. Police arrested the girls in order to set an example for anyone else considering a threat against her.
"These criminals destroyed their own lives," the petition reads in part, "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."
At least one person at CNN has responded to the public's cry for an apology, though it's perhaps not the response most would hope for.
"Poppy [Harlow] is taking this extremely personally as a woman," one executive told The Wrap. "She's outraged that someone would think she'd do such a thing. It's gotten so out of control."
Harlow has apparently been forgiven by the victim's family since the girl's mother issued a statement to her personally.
Watch the video that has people in an outrage here: