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Cover Girl or Bad Girl: How the Media Blew the Rihanna Story

By Andy Wright, AlterNet. Posted March 24, 2009.

The media frenzy that followed Rihanna's assault was predictably crass and damaging to domestic violence victims.

When news broke that 19-year-old R&B artist Chris Brown had been arrested by Los Angeles police Feb. 8 for allegedly attacking a woman in his car, the saga that unfolded was as predictable as a track on Billboard's Top 10.

As speculated, the woman was revealed to be his pop-star girlfriend, Rihanna. On Feb. 19, a photograph of the star's face covered in bruises was leaked and posted on gossip site and then reproduced across the Web. And the media frenzy that followed was predictably crass.

When Jane Velez-Mitchell writes on, "Unfortunately, despite her incredible looks and talent, I think she is now the poster child for battered woman's syndrome," she neatly sums up one of the most maddening angles that much of the coverage adopted: Who would expect the poster child of battered women's syndrome to have such "incredible looks?" Domestic abuse, Velez-Mitchell intimates, is one of those hardships visited upon the less shiny.

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