Where they were right: Once it was determined that the boys' actions were, in fact, rape, the story should have been about the victim. It is not the business of journalists to sympathize with convicted criminals over facing the consequences of their actions, no matter how clean-cut they otherwise appear, any more than it would have been their place to analyze the girl's behavior and experiences, talk about what she faces, or otherwise speculate on the topic. Rape is rape, even if the perpetrator's appearance is as persuasive as that of Dorian Gray, even if the perpetrator is popular, even if the perpetrator has likeable characteristics, and even if the perpetrator is a teen. None of these things excuse ignoring another person's inability to refuse or resist one's actions. Coverage sympathizing with the convicted Steubenville rapists was unprofessional and wrong. Period.
Where they were wrong: Having done something terrible and stupid does not make an individual a monster, not a human, not deserving of basic human consideration even when he has failed to show basic human consideration for another person, and even though conviction and punishment are justified. It makes him a criminal person, who must face the consequences for his actions, not someone whose humanity should be forever dismissed. While his humanity should not be the focus of journalistic discussion, neither should the desire to rescind it. There is a world of reasons why taking that attitude is a mistake, not the least of which is that it denies the individual's responsibility for his actions; Monsters cannot help what they do. People can. That distinction, when the concept of "monster" is applied to criminal actions, kills the possibility of reform, and makes it so that society is forever damaged by the creation of yet another perpetually unpayable debt. No matter how rightfully averse we are to the crime, no matter how justified we are in condemning the actions and the attitude that led to them, it is not the business of society to take a similar attitude in response... unless we wish to cease being a civilization, and become a mob.
Also relevant is the fact that the very basis of the feminist "Teach men not to rape" campaign is that incidents like this happen because the rapist doesn't know any better - if that campaign is based on genuine belief, then it is incredibly hypocritical of feminists to turn around and say "but in this instance, despite expressions of confusion and denial by the accused, the act was deliberate, harm was intended, and they're monsters!" This is not to say that rape is not wrong, not horrible, or not deserving of condemnation and penalty; just that allowing oneself to fall into such a pattern of hatred following its discovery that one goes back on one's own promulgations... is duplicitous, and renders previous declamation rather hollow. Criticizing CNN's reporters for journalistic professionalism was right; dumping vitriol upon the names of the convicts after the ruling was hypocritical in light of other feminist advocacy on the topic.
And so is their (lack of) response to this, in light of their response to Steubenville. If it is right to define rapists as nonpeople, then why aren't the same feminists coming out of the woodwork to condemn this article expressing sympathy for a woman, legally permitted to own a gun, own a house, join the military, vote for president, travel outside the country by herself, be responsible for a child... who had sex with someone who isn't even old enough to be trusted with a driver's permit, or to hold a job other than a paper route? Why does the change.org petition to halt prosecution of an accused rapist just because the perpetrator is a woman who is gay have nearly as many signatures as were offered on the petition to demand that CNN apologize for showing sympathy to rapists who were straight boys? Why did so many people decide characteristics with which they identify or sympathize were reason to socially exonerate an accused rapist?
Is it because they consider (NSFW) this to be a good rape?
Dear Feminist America,
Stop advocating against victims of lesbian rape. Stop treating women and girls whose right or ability to refuse sexual contact has been contravened or ignored by other women as if they have not been assaulted, abused, used, and betrayed by their rapists. Stop treating female perpetration of rape like it is nothing. Stop treating RAPE as though gender makes a difference in its severity, its impact on the victim, its meaning to the perpetrator, or its seriousness as a crime.
Dear Feminist America, stop perpetuating rape culture, you massive cult of hypocrisy.