Covering the same case as the New York Times was covering as discussed in Shaker mmy's guest post, CNN's Brooke Baldwin interviewed the author of a big piece in the Houston Chronicle, Cindy Horswell. And it's basically a clusterfuck of fail.
I see via CNN's transcript that after the point at which this video clip ends, Horswell continued on-air: "It will all have to come out fully. I know she's got a Web site where she sounds fairly confused. It's basically her Facebook page where she knows a lot of people are looking at her now like she's caused problems. And she's feeling a lot of conflicting feelings." Wow.
Where to begin? Horswell refers to the videotaped gang rape, which was evidently one of several different assaults across different days, as the "main event"—which is a technically accurate term given its synonymity with "primary incident," but an extremely poor choice of words, given that "main event" is generally used to describe some sort of entertainment experience. Baldwin then refers to the ringleader of the perpetrators exhorting other men to "partake," rather than, say, participate. Then there is the victim-blaming—the uncritical reporting of the defense attorney's nonsense, the noting that the child "was balking and there were threats made," even after Baldwin notes that 11-year-olds cannot consent.
And, perhaps worst of all, the observation about how this gang rape is really tearing up the basketball team: "It's disturbing the whole basketball team, and I think they lost on Wednesday. Needless to say they've lost a couple of players. … I think the basketball team is ranked third in the state. And so at least two of the people played on the team and were starters, and now they're not on there anymore." Boo fucking hoo.
Welcome to the rape culture, where we're supposed to feel sorry for basketball players who lost a game because they're distraught that two of their go-to guys were tempted into gang-raping an 11-year-old seductress.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR:I want you to begin, for people who aren't familiar with it, begin with this alleged gang rape. I know it happened last November. So how did police learn about it?
CINDY HORSWELL, SENIOR WRITER, HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Well, the young girl was in school, and these videos— Onlookers of this event— We know it was at least on one day, and it might have been other days also things happened, but on the one main event apparently videotaped and photographed things with their cell phones. And so it was getting, becoming a very popular—went viral basically around the school, and someone reported it to the school authorities that they had seen this; they were very upset because they knew the young girl and recognized her. And so school officials—
BALDWIN: Hang on. Let me back you up. This whole thing started according to your article from this 19-year-old young man who sort of lured this 11-year-old into a mobile home, an abandoned mobile home, allegedly. And then from there he then called in other young men to partake. Yes?
HORSWELL: Right. It started out—he asked her to go riding around with him, and three other young men, I think it was. And they first went to another person's house, and it kind of started actually at this one house, and then when a relative of that person came home, they scrambled out the back window and they ended up in that mobile home, and it continued on there.
BALDWIN: Now, so far, 18 young men have been arrested. According to you, they range in age from middle school all the way up to 27 years of age. How are police tracking them down—all through these videos that were allegedly shot?
HORSWELL: I believe so—and interviews, and it's been a long investigation. But I think it's 17 total so far. But it's been very— Because people are wondering who's involved, who's not. It's disturbing the whole basketball team, and I think they lost on Wednesday. Needless to say they've lost a couple of players. Some of these people are adults. Some of these people had criminal records.
BALDWIN: Because you're saying some of these young men were on this Cleveland High School star basketball team. Is that what you got from investigators?
HORSWELL: Right, right. I think the basketball team is ranked third in the state. And so at least two of the people played on the team and were starters, and now they're not on there anymore, I don't believe, because they haven't returned to school.
BALDWIN: CNN has not been able to confirm that, but, again, that is confirmation from you, according to investigators. But I want to get to this 11-year-old. I know you spoke with her mother, exclusively. How is she doing?
HORSWELL: Um, her mother is saddened because she's prevented from being with her daughter, as is her brothers and sisters and father.
BALDWIN: Why is that?
HORSWELL: You know, um, Children's Protective Services will not discuss the case because there's a gag order, but they've had some hearings. The parents tell me that she's been put in foster care as a safe house because, as these names come out, as this trial goes on, that it's going to become, you know, dangerous for— Actually them, too; they should move from the area, they believe, because there could be, there have been people calling the house and just saying, you know, like, "Where is she?" And they don't believe the mother that she's not there. Then they cuss and get upset. And they're worried it could become worse than that, and so they just kind of don't want any more pressure on her or the family.
BALDWIN: Understandable. Understandable. I know you spoke with an attorney representing three of these young men. What did he say? What is his defense?
HORSWELL: Well, he believes that, you know, you can't— He's not trying to say anything that hap—whatever happened—that anything would be good for an 11-year-old, but he said the little girl is not, you know— It wasn't like she was completely innocent in this case; it wasn't like she was kidnapped or something, and whether he was indicating that she might have been a willing participant.
BALDWIN: At age 11, as you point out, an 11-year-old cannot legally give consent!
HORSWELL: Right. And I do believe at some point a police affidavit says she was not—that she was balking and there were threats made.
[This is where the videotape ends, but I see via CNN's transcript that Horswell continued: "It will all have to come out fully. I know she's got a Web site where she sounds fairly confused. It's basically her Facebook page where she knows a lot of people are looking at her now like she's caused problems. And she's feeling a lot of conflicting feelings."]