Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Double-standard: Males who allege they were victims of sexual coercion named by news outlets

This is a tale about a double-standard in an area teeming with them. 

Two men, now 20 and 21, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in DeKalb County, Goergia Court against prominent black Bishop Eddie Long alleging sexual coercion. 

The Associated Press isn't naming the accusers: "The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual impropriety."  See here

And isn't that consistent with the policy of virtually every U.S. news outlet of not naming alleged victims of sex crimes?  Of course it is.

We've written much about anonymity policies in connection with purported sex crimes -- about the double-standard of naming the accused but not his accuser, and about calling accusers "victims."  This post isn't about any of that. This post is about a double-standard within a double-standard.

In the Eddie Long case, while the AP adheres to its policy of not naming the accusers because of the nature of the alleged crimes, other news outlets seem to have been blinded by the gender of the accusers and have forgotten the policy.

The New York Daily News, for instance, doesn't name the accusers, but not because of the nature of the alleged crimes. It doesn't name them "because they were minors at the time of the alleged incidents." See here

Excuse me? If these accusers had been adult males at the time of the alleged incidents, the Daily News would name them?

Hmm.  But wait. It gets worse.  Other major news outlets are naming them, and without explanation. Some examples:

CNN named them: See here.  This, despite its alleged policy: "CNN does not identify alleged sexual assault victims." See here.

ABC named them: See here. This, despite its alleged policy: "ABC News does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault . . .. "

The Atlanta Journal Constitution named them: See here. This, despite its alleged policy:  "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not identify victims of sexual assault." See here.

None of these news outlets explain why they named the young men.  Did they have permission?  Did they name them because some other news outlets named them? (The latter doesn't happen when the "victim" is female.)

Did these news outlets name Ben Roethlisberger's two accusers?  The identity of the first accuser was largely withheld by news outlets everywhere even though the only claims filed were civil, not criminal.  The identity of the second accuser was almost universally withheld even after the district attorney opted not to bring criminal charges.

So what's the deal?

I don't know for certain, but my guess is that if these accusers were female, no major news outlet would name them.  Or if they had named them, they would have gone to great lengths to "explain" why they are naming them. (Something like this: "The Rollings News Institute generally does not name the victims of sexual assault, but in this case the victims gave their consent, so we very reluctantly -- yes, apologetically -- mention the victims' names quickly, and only in passing, even though we harbor enormous liberal guilt about naming the victims.") 

Just a wild guess.