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Guest column/Media malpractice runs rampant on rape story

December 1, 2013

As a documentary filmmaker who specializes in media criticism and a former WTOV-TV sportscaster who once wrote a book about a year in the life of the Steubenville Big Red (and who has communicated......

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Dec-01-13 2:52 PM

Bravo to Ziegler! I could not have said it better myself.

One thing I have learned from the Steubenville Rape case is that I will never trust what the media says again. The obvious facts are there for anyone, especially experienced journalists, to see yet they choose to put a spin on the story to mislead the public. It appears to me that the media is responsible for covering up the full facts for their own financial gain. It’s shameful.

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Dec-01-13 3:18 PM

The parallels between the Steubenville "football" case and the "Penn State" scandal aren't coincidental. The media works this way. John Ziegler is only "controversial" because his beliefs are founded in this concept called truth. The truth does not matter to the media. In fact, most people don't even want to hear the truth. I understand this because I'm a teacher and coach. I hope those of you in Ohio, even Ohio State fans, have had your eyes opened. Joe Paterno, a phenomenal human being, had his reputation ruined by the laziness and ignorance of mainstream media. I'm sure many of you will no longer be so quick to judge when watching the news. Take a few minutes to watch/read some of John's work on PSU. There is a lot to be learned from all of this. Steve DeLong, PSU '96

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Dec-01-13 4:51 PM

The one thing newspapers can hold over TV news is reliability. Newspapers need to wage war on the BS tabloid TV news and call them out on their lies. TV news is destroying our society with misinformation because there's no accountability in their business.

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Dec-01-13 5:21 PM

Thanks Pamela Sue. I appreciate your comment. I hope others will comment on this column so that it will continue to be listed on the home page. you can also see a video I did further detailing this story at ****JohnZiegler****

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Dec-01-13 5:26 PM

It's discouraging when the media passes judgement before the courts. The tainted jury pools, the public opinion and the opportunity real understanding of what happened are all poisoned when journalists opt to sell scandal and outrage over facts.

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Dec-01-13 6:50 PM

What little faith I had in the media has disappeared after what happened to Penn State. I'm not sure what bothers me more -- the fact that the media gets away with what it gets away with or that people actually believe everything they see and read in the current media climate. People's lives are ruined and the media moves on; we, as listeners and watchers are interested in the sensational rather than the facts and, therefore, will not be interested when the actual facts come out. Sad commentary all the way around.

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Dec-01-13 7:48 PM

John Ziegler once again concisely shows the laziness and lack of effort on behalf of the Main Stream Media. This is another False Narrative which John easily points out in his opinion article. Having watched he wrath of the Main Stream Media False Narrative against Joe Paterno (with a huge amount of support from the Penn State Board of Trustees, unfortunately), John has been able to show just how easily the Main Stream Media is gutless when it comes to trying to stand up for The Truth. I don't know anything about this Ohio case, but in reading John's opinion, it is obvious the Main Stream Media is trying to take down a High School Football team and the community by accusing the community of having a Football Culture. As soon as I read that I knew it was FALSE. The Main Stream Media has their agenda. Suggestion to the Community: Fight this, don't roll over like Penn State did. Joe Paterno did not cover up Jerry Sandusky (Prosecutor Fina said so),neither did your coach.

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Dec-01-13 8:17 PM

Never in my life did I think the media could get away with down right LIES!! I'm so glad that you took the time to tell the truth john. This case has destroyed so many good people, not only because of the initial crime, but more so the lies told about it. It's a shame this is how Steubenville will b remembered when the crime here, happens around the world everyday. And why is that, because of the media and their attacks because of cyber bullies and internet vigilantes.. I'm glad you are telling the truth. Steubenville supports you. Thank you,

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Dec-01-13 9:23 PM

It's ashame that this piece appears under the 'Opinion' section of the website/newspaper because it is one of the only completely factual write-ups I've seen regarding the infamous "Steubenville Rape Case" on a platform like this one.

That's not to say there aren't those out there who've devoted the 16 months to attempting to get the truth out there. A lot of us have.

However, the media doesn't really seem to care about the truth or getting it right in this case. From the start they took their cues from a small group of bloggers who created this false narrative. After all, it was easier to write that this was a small town "football cover-up." That's the kind of story that sells copy.

It's clear that pushing this narrative became more important than the truth. And as a result, a lot of good people who had nothing to do with this have been hurt and the city has been beaten into submission.

It takes journalistic integrity to stand against this tide & just

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Dec-01-13 9:25 PM

You are welcome, Mr. Zeigler, but you are the one that deserves the thanks for standing up for the truth for Steubenville and Joe Paterno. I was one of the people that did not believe all of the hype about Paterno, but at the time I did not understand that it was the media that was spinning the falsehoods. It took what happened to good and honest people in my hometown of Steubenville for me to realize that the media has an agenda all its own. It is not about reporting the news anymore; it is about making it for the almighty dollar.

The worst part of this is what happened to Steubenville did not start with main street media. It was because of a blogger, who thinks she is a journalist, thought that reading tweets told her the whole story of a rape. Her misinterpretation and personal grudge created a snowball effect of lies and mistruths that perpetuated the madness that ran rampant. She led everyone to believe that corruption played a role. MSM jumped on it and here we are today sti

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Dec-01-13 9:28 PM


still having our towns reputation destroyed.

It disgusts me to think of how many past stories I judged and believed because of what I heard in the media. Never again.

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Dec-01-13 9:30 PM


tell the truth.

Thanks for actually looking at the facts and giving it to us straight, John. There was a time when such a practice was a given in the news business.

I know one thing... I'll never trust the national media again. They've forever destroyed any faith that I may have ever had in them getting a story right without bias.

As for Steubenville... Let's not allow the mainstream media machine to define us. I know it can be daunting, but standing up and voicing the truth is the only weapon we have against this rising tide.

The truth is on our side... And I still like to think that matters.

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Dec-01-13 10:08 PM

Finally we have an honest emissary of truth breaking down the irresponsible way the media has reported the story of a teenage party where drunken teenagers behaved badly. There were many valuable lessons to be learned from this incident (underage drinking, promiscuity, social networking) but almost none of them was ever mentioned in any form of media. Instead, a narrative fabricated by a blogger with an agenda was picked up and run with by nearly all sources of news. A story having nothing to do with football or Steubenville High School (since it occurred before the school year began and involved students from many surrounding schools) became a football coach conspiracy designed to protect the guilty. (cont 1/2)

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Dec-01-13 10:08 PM

(cont 2/2) As the residents of Steubenville stood shell-shocked, our city and programs were dragged through the mud generally while many totally innocent people were specifically targeted as guilty of protecting perpetrators. This is still going on as four more people are being persecuted to justify a lengthy and expensive Grand Jury investigation. Anyone daring to speak out in defense of the accused innocents was labeled a “rape apologist,” effectively silencing the voices which were trying to dispel pure lies. The media failed miserably in this story. As an educator, I’d be giving nearly all a failing grade for not doing their homework. It takes diligence to write a story. Get the facts and don’t base your story on uninformed bloggers.

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Dec-01-13 11:45 PM

John Ziegler's ability to recognize explanations that don't make sense, investigate, synthesize, then express what is incorrect about another interpretation (while proposing a more plausible story) is remarkable. And intriguing to follow. Steubenville is fortunate to have caught his fearless attention!

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Dec-02-13 9:33 AM

Yes, the facts are there for the world to see, it's a shame an "experienced" journalist can't see that. Maybe Mr. Zeigler's blinded by his friendship with Reno, of course that's just conjecture but who knows. What is apparent is that Mr. Zeigler isn't taking into account that a rape allegation was made in April by a young 14 year-old girl. While maybe not to the authorities but the teens on Twitter were sure talking about it at the very least in April. It is not the duty of a school employee to determine the validity of a rape allegation, it is their duty to report the information to the proper authorities. How would you feel if it were your child who didn't want to come to you yet school employees knew but said nothing to help? As a parent would you want your child attending a school with another student who was accused of rape yet faced no repercussions whatsoever? What disgusts me is this shifting blame game being played by so many "journalists".

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Dec-02-13 9:47 AM

This case has everything to do with football for several reasons. First the Head coach's violent reaction to the Time's reporter, his decision to not discipline anyone in the beginning, and then his decision to testify on behalf of two obvious rapists. Due to the arrogance and hateful ignorance of those teens their twitter posts left little to question about what happened. The police showed up at the field to confiscate phones, those students should have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation right away. Who cares if they didn't get to play football? Getting to the bottom of everyone's role in this heinous rape is far more important than playing football besides football is supposed to be a privilege that's earned. Coach Hubbard publicly called a young rape victim a liar. The initial alcohol-fueled party was held at yet another coach's home. This argument that they're not "real" coaches because they were assistant coaches is invalid. You get it now, Mr. Zei

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Dec-02-13 9:53 AM


How do you come to the conclusion that this has nothing to do with football or the school? Are you unaware that 4 present school employees and 2 former school employees have been indicted? How could it have nothing to do with the school? This shifting blame game is getting old. It's high time you all look in the mirror and start pointing the finger at the parents and the coach who were around these teens and the teens themselves. They are to blame. If found guilty all of those indicted need to spend time in jail and NEVER be allowed to work around children again. A minor's safety would have been the most important thing but looking at these charges it seems it wasn't. If found guilty, those indicted can't be trusted to so the right thing when it comes to minors. This mentality that the city is a victim is nonsense. You can't live in denial forever.

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Dec-02-13 2:19 PM

FINALLY, A real person see's the hype of a media frenzy! What other lessons did we learn? At least know where your kids are when they are out ALL NIGHT! Victim or CONVICTED does not mean that you are all clean in this fiasco, where were the convicted and victims parents? History of all should lead everyone to the TRUTH here! The victim all though a SAD story is not all CLEAN in this and we know the convicted is NOT. Its a SAD story that brings all this history of Steubenville's past of favortism, nepotism and just straight out backroom politics! Steubenville is rich in history,but has a very dark past as all small towns and most large cities share in! I feel ithis is a sad way to expose some of Steubenville's short comings, but it is what it is and the town has a civil divide between the Catholics and everyone else! We won't even go to the longterm racism against anyone who is different......

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Dec-02-13 3:40 PM

@Rsimpson43952 And I think it’s high time you read the probable cause testimony, the Ziegler article, and find out what a Grand Jury indictment is based on. The threshold of evidence is extremely low and no defense is presented at all. Not to mention that those who were indicted are presumed innocent at this point.

You seem to know of so many guilty parties, I think the BCI should be notified that you have critical information to the investigation. Were you interviewed? Because lots of people were, for many months. DeWine claims the G.J. is done.

I agree regarding the parents being accountable. But the parents weren’t all Steubenville parents. There were inebriated students from many school districts. With all due respect, you don’t seem to be very well-informed about this case.

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Dec-02-13 3:43 PM

If Sara Ganum deserves a Pulitzer Prize for her “journalism” efforts in the Penn State “scandal”, John Zeigler deserves much, much more.

John Z, thank you for opening up my eyes to how incompetent the media profession has become. I feel bad for the folks in Steubenville who are being subjected to the media’s lazy game of ratings over truth.

Go Big Red and Penn State Forever 409.

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Dec-02-13 10:43 PM

@rsimpson As mathfan pointed out, it doesn’t sound like you have reviewed the facts of the indictments. Did you even read the article you’re commenting on? The two school officials were indicted based on alleged crimes that have nothing to do with the “rape case.” Anyone who has done a cursory review of them can see the dates do not match. You can’t cover something up which hasn’t happened.

Here’s the problem… people like you (and the mainstream media) decided on the narrative you liked first instead of allowing the criminal justice system to play itself out, wait for the facts to reveal themselves and then deciding what happened here. If you had gone about things in this manner instead of blindly buying into the hype, you’d realize this never had anything to do with football and there was never any cover-up. The mere fact that no conspiracy charges were filed after the most extensive and expensive rape investigation in state history tells you all you need to know on that front.

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Dec-03-13 1:29 AM

RSimpson43952 You don't really believe the BS story in the New York Times about what happened when Reno was accosted on school grounds and tried to walk away from a reporter who baited him without having gotten an interview do you?!

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Dec-03-13 10:52 AM

@Mathfan How typical of a response from your kind. I know nothing more than anyone else would know had they taken the time to actually read the October probable cause testimony in it's entirety, social media posts, and keep up with the extensive media coverage of the actual trial. What I've learned about this case is what has been released to the public. I've followed this case from the very beginning over a year ago. With all due respect, it is you who doesn't seem that well-informed about the case. You're attacking me for simply using common sense, reasoning skills, and utilizing my first amendment right to voice my opinion yet excuse the behavior of cruel heinous teens and absentee parents and educators. Unfortunately, it seems you're not able to look at this case equitably. If you have something specific to name that I've gotten wrong please point it out but you won't be able to. I see you've yet to answer any of the questions I've asked. I won't hold my breath.

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Dec-03-13 11:04 AM

@RedBlackAttack You seem to forget about the younger 14 year old girl who was allegedly raped in April which coincides with the dates on the indictments. How can you intelligently debate a topic when you're purposefully ignoring relevant information? This article is a prime example of lazy journalism. There is another article in this paper by an actual journalist pointing out the obvious that the grand jury was investigating the April rape allegation as well although that fact was well known long before the conclusion of the grand jury. You would have known this had you followed the case extensively and actually paid attention to the interviews with law enforcement. I'll ask you since "mathfan" chose not to answer; How can this have nothing to do with the school? 4 present school employees and 2 former school employees have been indicted! I'll be waiting for your answer......

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