CNN decided to go ahead with airing the controversial and factually questionable documentary about campus rape, The Hunting Ground.
The documentary, which revolves around sexual assault on university campuses, is accused of featuring false and defamatory allegations against Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Erica Kinsman accused Winston of rape when the two were students at Florida State University together.
The film has been the subject of mixed press recently when it was discovered that one of their crew members had been editing Wikipedia pages for months in order to change facts on the pages of people in the film to line up with the documentary’s claims.
Despite threats of legal action from Winston’s lawyers, claiming the statements and allegations featured in the documentary to be factually incorrect and damaging, CNN decided to air the film anyway, and it only makes the staff at Breitbart Tech reminisce about the last time something similar happened.
Who can forget the time that Rolling Stone magazine printed an emotional story about an alleged gang-rape that took place at a party on the University of Virginia’s campus? Media outlets from all around the world found the story to be sensational, and a lynch mob was set upon the evil UVA administrators and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Only, it turned out the story was false.
After critical readers and media outlets decided to investigate, it turned out there wasn’t a single party on the supposed night of the rape. More holes in the story started to pop up until the article was removed by Rolling Stone altogether and an apology was issued. The author of the story even reportedly cried, but not for the people she had harmed with her story, instead “bawling” that “I am going to lose my job,” according to a friend.
Rolling Stone’s decision to not only give platform to an unvetted story without any evidence, but to also start a mainstream call to action against the fraternity and university administrators, was criticised by a large variety of different news outlets. But it appears CNN has failed to take note and now seeks to walk the same righteous path of launching an attack against an individual who was cleared of wrongdoing in three separate investigations.
The trailer for The Hunting Ground even shows students carrying a mattress around a university campus; a reference to “Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz and her rape allegations and subsequent protest, whose account was also highly dubious, leaving the student she accused of being a rapist with a damaged educational experience and irreversible black mark against his name.
In a statement made by the film’s co-writer/directors, Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, Dick wrote: “We are glad CNN is presenting THE HUNTING GROUND, and providing a national platform for this urgent issue that has been ignored far too long,” seemingly ignoring the fact that a national platform is perhaps not appropriate for broadcasting allegations against an individual who has been cleared of sexual assault accusations.
The documentary is reported to use factually incorrect statements, including the claim that “1 in 4 women will be raped or sexually assaulted on campus,” launching criticism on Twitter from both viewers and prominent feminists including Christina Hoff Summers. But it appears that still a large amount of those watching enjoyed the documentary, and now feel empowered to make a difference.
One Twitter user felt so empowered, that he decided to stop supporting his school’s sports program.
Very moved by CNN's The Hunting Ground. Proud of brave students who are speaking up. Re-thinking my support of my school's sports program.
— Dave Weidlich (@revdavew) November 23, 2015
Despite those who believe and support the film, people from all over the political spectrum have joined up in their response against The Hunting Ground and the sloppy journalism that made it possible.
Journalist and Staff Editor for Reason, Robby Soave, who is known for his early coverage of the Rolling Stone controversy, described CNN’s documentary as “a work of activist propaganda disguised as a documentary about sexual assault on American college campuses.”
Charlie Nash is a British libertarian writer, memeologist, and child prodigy. When he is not writing, he can usually be found chilling at the Korova Milk Bar, mingling with the elite of society. You can follow him on Twitter here @MrNashington.