Steve Harvey believes the media is being “unfair” to Nate Parker.
While speaking to Parker on his talk show Wednesday, Harvey expressed disagreement over journalists’ coverage of the filmmaker’s resurfaced rape case.
Atlanta Black Star reported Parker and his The Birth of a Nation movie co-writer Jean Celestin faced a rape trial against a white female college student in 1999. All three attended Penn State, and a jury acquitted Parker in 2001. Meanwhile, Celestin was convicted before an appeal overturned the decision. Then, the accuser committed suicide in 2012.
Parker refused to take Harvey through what occurred the night of the alleged rape. Instead, he questioned the motivations of reporters covering the story.
“What are these journalists trying to do?” he asked. “Do they care about anyone involved? Do they care about what we’ve been talking about?’ I think it’s been a tragedy on so many levels.”
Harvey also took issue with the way news outlets treated the case. He believes the media shouldn’t conclude that the 1999 rape trial led to the victim’s suicide 13 years later. Harvey added news outlets shouldn’t then deem Parker responsible for the woman’s actions either.
“It’s not right,” the talk show host said. “I find that to be just a bit unfair. If you are a Black man in this country and you are accused of raping a white woman, your chances of walking out of that courtroom are slim to none.”
Harvey’s remarks shed light on the historical attitude toward Black men’s interactions with white women. According to ABS, slave codes caused Black men accused of rape or the attempted rape of white women to be punished by death. And during Jim Crow, rape was defined as occurring between a Black man and a white woman. When a white woman complained of rape or an assault rumor flew, lynchings and race riots ensued.