CNN’s Brian Stelter condemned Fox News for covering the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old Maryland high school student by at least one illegal immigrant.
He said coverage of rape is normally reserved for the local news and suggested Fox News is only covering this one because of the ongoing debate about illegal immigration.
“Rapes and assaults and murders are local news stories on a daily basis,” Mr. Stelter said Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “But when do they break through to become national news, and when do they not? This week the health care bill in talks in the House dominated cable news coverage all over the place, but Fox News also focused heavily on another story, and sometimes tying it to the president’s immigration agenda.”
Jose O. Montano, 17, and Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, are accused of gang raping a 14-year-old classmate at Rockville High School earlier this month.
After the girl rebuffed Mr. Montano’s sexual advances in the hallway, he allegedly forced her into an empty boy’s restroom stall, began undressing her and took turns raping her with Mr. Sanchez-Milian, according to court documents.
Mr. Sanchez-Milian was detained attempting to cross the border in August. A minor at the time, he was given a court date and released, after which he made his way to Montgomery County, Maryland, to live with his father.
Officials have declined to comment on Mr. Montano’s immigration status, citing his age.
Fox News has been one of the only major networks to devote coverage to the story, according to the Media Research Center. The blackout continued even after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the incident in front of dozens of reporters.
“Despite the room being packed with reporters from every national news network, ABC, NBC and CBS refused to report the story yet again Tuesday night or Wednesday morning,” Kristine Marsh wrote last week on NewsBusters. “While even Univision reported on the story last night, the CNN and MSNBC followed the network’s lead and also ignored the story.”
Instead of covering the Maryland rape, Mr. Stelter said Fox News should cover the story of an alleged white supremacist who is accused of killing a black man in New York.
“But this story received almost no coverage on Fox or CNN or anywhere else for that matter,” he said on his show Sunday. “Another example of a crime, but not a crime that fit the political agenda of those pro-Trump hosts on Fox.”
Although they’ve ignored the Maryland rape, the major networks were quick to cover the alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia in 2014 that turned out to be a hoax.
Mr. Stelter covered that story on his show.
He criticized Rolling Stone’s reporting, but also wondered why reporters were questioning the veracity of the story more than how to deconstruct rape culture.
“So many people are questioning that reporting instead of questioning a culture that’s permitted Jackie’s story to happen in the first place,” he said at the time.