I'll be brief: the video of a Steubenville, Ohio, teen joking about the alleged rape of a fellow classmate that is dominating the online and cable news world is not news. Yes, it's a sad indictment about the knee-jerk narcissism of the YouTube generation, but the clip itself offers no real insight into the alleged crime.
The video is not evidence. It is not a confession. And it is not worthy of the wall-to-wall coverage that it is receiving.
Once again, the media is airing a salacious video simply because it exists. In fact, the only thing the video proves is that some people are prone to say some really shitty things and that far too many media organizations have mistaken YouTube for a goddamn news outlet. (The same goes for Twitter and Facebook.)
Of course, this video's lack of news-worthiness may change if the teen featured in the video is ultimately outed as one of the suspects in the alleged rape, but at this time, there is no indication that he was possibly involved. Right now, he's nothing more than a taintbait peelunker spewing shitstained one-liners. He should be shunned by polite society for the rest of his life.
And that life could end up being a rather cushy one. I imagine that there is more than one lawyer out there who is salivating at the opportunity to represent the subject in the video. This video may be public, but at least one news organization has attempted to conceal the identity of the teen in the video — CNN — while others, like Salon, HuffPo, and the Atlantic, have not. It was a smart move on CNN's part. A good lawyer is going to be able to argue that the teen in question is being falsely identified as an accomplice in this crime.
The national media, barring The New York Times who broke the story on Dec. 19, are not covering the alleged rape. They are covering the release of this video. To them, the crime itself is irrelevant. And that's a tragedy that's almost as horrible as what occurred that night in Steubenville, Ohio. Almost, but not quite.
What the fuck am I saying? It's not even close. Damn 'em all to hell.
Update 01.04.13: Joey Ortega, who runs the Behind the Yellow Tape crime blog and podcast and has been following the Steubenville rape case closely, has issued a post regarding the Anonymous "leaks." Alexandria Goddard, the blogger who helped publicize this story, assists Ortega with Beyond the Yellow Tape:
My last attempt to answer the same arguments coming across our mailbox and posts.
Yes Anonymous posting a lot of “juicy” stuff that may seem like new info and getting a lot of attention however they did not post stuff that we did not know or were not told by locals, and even had some documentation for that may have backed it up if given time to complete our investigative efforts but we don’t just throw info out there for the heck of it or to shock and awe the masses as is happening now.
Posting un-worked tips and claims and personal contact info is not investigation nor reporting. It’s just gossip, rumor mongering and endangerment of potentially innocent people. You don’t do all that if you are trying hold people legally accountable and cops don’t need you to give them addresses, the only reason to do what they do is to incite the anger of the people and then point the way to where that anger can be acted upon. Its lynch mob inciting and risks making things even worse in the community not better.
Do the research, see their history of attacking communities , governments and more and the many lives they have endangered as a result of their online tantrums and antics. They are terrorists, no more no less. Don’t throw away your reason and turn you back on your long term allies and advocates just because today their antics are serving emotional frustrations and blood lusts.
I sought and still do, to help inspire dialog, accountability, and peace of mind in Steubenville. I want to see the community inspired, united and built up not incited, divided and torn apart even more. Which do you think is happening now since the presence of Anonymous?