Modern society loves an expert. Diversifying your portfolio? Call an expert. Purchasing a home entertainment system? Consult an expert. Addressing a PR scandal? Definitely get an expert in there, especially when it comes to hot button issues like domestic violence.

What’s really in an expert? They vouch for factual information, usually have numerous credentials, and are meant to provide an objective point of view on a specific situation related to the broader issue. An expert is not called on to listen, to relate to emotions, specificity, or to read the texture of situations that exist beneath simple facts. And more often than not, an expert is a man.

After the video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer surfaced, people were angry at him, at the NFL, and at any associated institutions that didn’t react promptly and appropriately. When CBS announced their decision to alter its programming before the inaugural broadcast of "Thursday Night Football" just three days after TMZ released the footage, they gave us…experts.

What we were supposed to get was a pre-produced special that included Rihanna singing the chorus to “Run This Town.” It’s a great look for the singer to reach an audience of millions, cash what we’re sure was going to be a sizable check and bring some womanly flavor to a male-dominated broadcast. What we got was James Brown, a celebrated sportscaster and the host of CBS’ NFL Today making a heartfelt plea to all men in the NFL to address and rectify the ongoing issue of violence against women that haunts the league. It’s a topic he’s broached before, which makes him an appropriate expert.

The message Rihanna sent with her tweet was infinitely more powerful than any hour-long special CBS could put together, regardless of how many expert opinions they presented. 

It’s important to note the pregame show also featured segments from a handful of women, including CBS’ Norah O’Donnell, who interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about knowing Rice had hit Palmer before the video leaked, and the NFL Network columnist Judy Battista, whose conflicted interest in preserving the NFL’s good image didn’t outweigh her supposed stature as an expert on the subject of domestic violence.

So we’ve got our experts. On paper it looked great. CBS does away with their pop culture pre-show to prove to the public that it takes domestic violence seriously. They enlisted a team of people who really know what they’re talking about to answer an angry viewership’s onslaught of questions. They looked at the facts and made broad statements about domestic violence and the NFL. Most importantly—they conjured a somber tone uninterrupted by Rihanna’s voice.

Supporting women is the bottom line when it comes to domestic violence, right? Especially women that have experienced domestic violence, right?

Err—maybe not. Apparently CBS pulled “Run This Town” because of its “tone.” But the song is about women being on top, so the tonal issue can’t be about the lyrics. Of course, CBS recalls Rihanna pressing charges after Chris Brown attacked her in 2009, as does anyone who paid an ounce of attention to pop culture in the last five years. So the tonal issue is really one that Rihanna is indelibly colored with: It’s that victim-of-abuse tone that makes people uncomfortable.

No one said it better than Rihanna herself. “Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this,” she tweeted on Tuesday morning. Replacing Rihanna’s song with experts primed to inundate viewers with well-manicured facts and figures created a portrait of a TV station that cares about women. In reality, though, they withheld an accolade, a check, and a few million views from a woman who was in Janay Palmer’s shoes five short years ago.

Rihanna is right. The whole situation is sad. Janay Palmer is probably trying to dig herself out of the darkness that’s surrounding her and her family right now, and this is an example of a way Rihanna is still feeling the effects of her attack. Both cases demonstrate that the experience of domestic abuse goes well beyond the physical attack. It’s that once you’re hit, you’re labeled a victim forever. People feel badly for you, mince their words around you, and question your strength. Our culture doesn’t celebrate victims (who are often also survivors), we hide them from view under the guise of protection.

The message Rihanna sent with her tweet was infinitely more powerful than any hour-long special CBS could put together, regardless of how many expert opinions they presented. They included women experts, but both of them had a conflict of interest. At the end of the day, why was Rihanna punished for this? This isn’t about punishing perpetrators, this is about not punishing victims. This is about showing women that we, as a society, value them enough to do away with the bullshit.

Maybe the first step is for the NFL to write Janay Palmer a fat check. Maybe instead of curtaining Rihanna’s performance until the cloud of domestic violence cleared, CBS could have paid her in full, used the song, and high-fived her for another successful notch on her belt as an artist.

Dealing with domestic violence is a question of figuring out how to best reinstate the power a woman loses—physically, emotionally, and publicly—when she is transformed into a victim unwillingly. The NFL may not have an answer to its domestic violence issue. CBS may not have an answer to the public’s dismay. But both institutions definitely have money. Money is power. If that’s all they have for now, start there.  

Dana Droppo is a Complex writer. She tweets here