It’s not exactly a secret that CNN needs some help covering violence against women issues correctly. Remember when the Steubenville gang rape verdict was handed out and CNN was sooo worried about the poor young men whose lives had been ruined?
Well, looks like they still need some help. In a clip where hosts and reporters discuss the images that surfaced of Nigella Lawson being choked by her husband Charles Saatchi, the celebrity chef is referred to as looking both “weak” and “subservient.”
I can understand how CNN’s angle was trying to be, at least a little bit, ‘wow, what a shock that this wealthy celebrity couple might have abuse in their relationship!’ But the reporters’ are scrutinizing Lawson following the incident, rather than the guy who reportedly choked his wife four different times in front of shocked restaurant patrons.
“She’s always portrayed as a powerful woman, a woman in control. So for her to be so, sort of, subservient, I think is a rather telling story,” said reporter Neil Sean.
Added reporter Pamela Brown, “She is this powerful figure and this makes her look weak, according to some people,” explaining how Lawson has not yet made a public statement about the incident.
These sorts of editorialized words — “weak,” “subservient” — are really not helpful to Lawson. Things are hard enough for a victim of domestic violence: humiliation, guilt, helplessness, self-doubt, even fear if you are afraid of reprisal from your abuser. No one wants to be seen as a person who is being abused; that likely goes double when you’re in the public eye. It may have been well-intentioned, but why add additional scrutiny to an alleged victim during such a difficult time? How does that help anyone?
I was also bothered by host Kate Bolduan’s comment that “[there are] a lot of differing opinions about what is happening.” She does do her journalistic duty by reporting that Saatchi denied choking his wife (he at first claimed it was a “playful tiff”), but then he did receive an official warning from London police, which settles the matter that it was assault. But why is this CNN host phrasing it as as “differing opinions” on whether or not it was an assault? I mean, are we really taking seriously the word of a man who was literally photographed with his hands gripped around his wife’s neck, followed by her leaving the restaurant crying, that this was “playful”?
The media can be fairly terrible covering matters of violence against women. We expect this sort of trash, grudgingly so, from tabloid news outlets. But this is CNN, for God’s sake.
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