Students protest CNN reporter’s comments

Junior William McFarland waits along with other student protesters outside of MemAud in hopes of catching CNN reporter Candy Crowley after her speech. McFarland and other students held signs saying “Blame the Rapist” and “Consent is Sexy” on Monday night to protest Crowley’s recent comments on CNN regarding the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. (Dustin Lennert | Picture Editor)

Candy Crowley and Leon Harris speak about the presidential debate at the opening event for Communications Week in MemAud. (Michael Pronzato | For the Post)

Only a small section of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium was filled to kick off Communications Week 2013 amidst controversial remarks made just a day before a keynote speaker’s visit.

Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, visited Ohio University Monday as part of a weeklong series of events hosted by the Scripps College of Communication. But the talk grew heated regarding her recent reporting of a rape case in Steubenville that resulted in two juveniles being convicted after viewers said her coverage sympathized with the students convicted of rape.

However, the Steubenville case was not mentioned during the planned discussion between Crowley and alumnus Leon Harris of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. Discussions rather included Crowley’s career, women and minorities in the media and her most recent moderation of the 2012 presidential election, during which some alleged she favored President Barack Obama.

“Things played out very differently onstage than they do on the TV,” Crowley said.

Crowley clarified that she was not trying to take sides during the moderation but simply was trying to get the facts straight, adding she had no intent of showing bias.

When questions opened up for attendees, two audience members asked about the Steubenville case comments that have prompted criticism for both Crowley and Poppy Harlow, another CNN correspondent.

“We were covering breaking news of what had been a very emotional moment to report when the two perpetrators were found guilty, so that was what we were covering,” Crowley said. “I would just invite people to go and see the actual transcript.”

An attendee asked what Crowley could do as a national reporter to discourage sex offenders and to encourage survivors to speak out.

“Obviously through your reporting you talk a lot to rape (victims), you talk a lot to the families of rape victims,” Crowley said. “Almost anyone I ever talk to who has undergone any kind of sexual assault has felt empowered by taking on their accuser.”

Around eight people protested outside MemAud after the discussion with signs.

“We just want to make it known that we disagree with the things that she said on (her) newscast, and we just disagree with her answers, and we don’t think that they provided us with any type of justification for what CNN said,” said William McFarland, a junior studying specialized studies.

Chelsea Gruttadauria, a junior studying social work, said she was angry that a woman with so much power didn’t take a different stance on the story.

“Poppy’s reporting, she’s been there forever and, I think, done a great job covering all sides,” Crowley said. “What happened? It was emotional; I mean, that’s a fact. It was an emotional thing. Now if, by this, you’re (implying) that somehow I’m sympathetic to rapists? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Events for communications week will continue throughout the week ending on Friday. A full schedule can be found at www.tinyurl.com/commweek13.

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