University of Virginia Administrator Awarded $3 Million in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Fraudulent ‘Gang-Rape’ Defamation Case 

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Eramo sued the magazine for $7.5 million, claiming it cast her as a villain who sought to discourage the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting her alleged assault to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie’s rape claims.

Alanna Durkin Richer reports: Jurors awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3 million Monday for her portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about the school’s handling of a brutal gang rape a fraternity house.

“The story roiled the University of Virginia campus, prompted calls for Eramo’s resignation and sparked a national conversation about sexual assault at elite institutions. Jackie’s story quick fell apart after reporters from other outlets started asking questions and determined that Rolling Stone never spoke to the woman’s alleged attackers — or even verified their existence — before going to print.”

The 10-member jury’s decision came after they concluded Friday that the magazine, its publisher and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely were responsible for defamation, with actual malice, of former associate dean of students Nicole Eramo in the 2014 story “A Rape on Campus.”

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“Jurors found that the magazine and its publisher, Wenner Media, acted with actual malice because they republished the article on Dec. 5 with an editor’s note after they knew about the problems with Jackie’s story. The jury also found that Erdely acted with actual malice on six claims: two statements in the article and four statements to media outlets after the story was published.”

Eramo sued the magazine for $7.5 million, claiming it cast her as a villain who sought to discourage the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting her alleged assault to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie’s rape claims.

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“Rolling Stone also faces a $25 million lawsuit from Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where Jackie claimed her assault took place. That case is schedule to go to trial late next year.”

Jurors heard testimony Monday about the extent to which the story has damaged Eramo’s life and reputation before they began deliberating to decide how much to award her in damages.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

Eramo told jurors that after the story’s publication, she had trouble sleeping, feared for her safety and struggled with how to explain what was happening to her then-7-year-old son. One day, she crawled under her desk and contemplated suicide as she felt her world come crashing down around her, she said. Her husband testified that she told him: “I don’t know that I can live anymore.” Read the rest of this entry »


Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s Managing Editor During University of Virginia Rape Hoax Catastrophe, Suddenly Unemployed

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The magazine commissioned an analysis of the article by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and its report in April cited failures at every stage of the reporting process. After the report was made public, Rolling Stone retracted the article.

The magazine has since been the target of lawsuits from an assistant dean at the university and by three members of the fraternity at the center of the article, who filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday.

(read more)

The New York Times


Jonah Goldberg: Why Aren’t Heads Rolling at Rolling Stone?

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Ignoring the most basic rules of journalism

Jonah Goldberg writes: Rolling Stone screwed up.

jonah-GIn most media scandals, it’s unfair to paint with such a broad brush. When Stephen Glass concocted his fables at The New Republic, he went to antiheroic lengths to conceal his deceptions from his colleagues. Janet Cooke, who famously won a Pulitzer for her Washington Post series about an Janneight-year-old heroin addict, “Jimmy’s World,” lied to her editors.

“The field of journalistic ethics can get ridiculously Talmudic. But it’s all based on a very simple rule: Tell the truth.”

That’s not the case with Rolling Stone’s publication of “A Rape on Campus,” the story of the brutal gang rape of a student named “Jackie” at the University of Virginia that turned out to be false. Its failure was a group effort, from editor-in-chief Jann Wenner on down.

[Also See – Campus Rape and the ‘Emergency’: It’s Always An Excuse for Authoritarianism]

The best thing you can say about this fiasco is that there was little deliberate lying involved. According to an exhaustive report by the Columbia Journalism School, the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and her editors didn’t purposefully publish falsehoods.

[Read the full text of Jonah Goldberg‘s column here, at National Review]

Of course, this is faint praise. The field of journalistic ethics can get ridiculously Talmudic. But it’s all based on a very simple rule: Tell the truth. If the truth is unclear, tell what you know and give both sides (or as many credible sides to a story as might exist) an opportunity to make their case. (For opinion journalists, like yours truly, the rule is even easier: Don’t say anything you don’t believe.)

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“At every stage, editors and reporters knew what they should do: Talk to the accused rapists, confirm the identities and testimony of alleged witnesses, give the University of Virginia and the leadership of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the rape allegedly occurred, a fair opportunity to rebut the charges, nail down corroborating details…”

Rolling Stone ignored this basic rule. At every stage, editors and reporters knew what they should do: Talk to the accused rapists, confirm the identities and testimony of alleged witnesses, give the University of Virginia and the leadership of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the rape allegedly occurred, a fair opportunity to rebut the charges, nail down corroborating details, etc.

“And, at almost every turn, they collectively went another way, caving to Jackie’s refusal to help confirm her story.”

And, at almost every turn, they collectively went another way, caving to Jackie’s refusal to help confirm her story.

[Also see – Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s OTHER Possibly Fake Rape Story]

The Columbia report, requested by Rolling Stone and written pro bono by the journalism school’s dean, Steve Coll, and colleagues, has a single major failing. It’s dispositive on the who, what, when, where, and how the system broke down, but it’s remarkably weak on the question of “why?” Read the rest of this entry »


Rolling Stone Fired Editor After Negative Review Of Hootie & the Blowfish Album

RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Rolling Stone is pledging to review its editorial practices but won’t fire anyone after a leading journalism school issued a blistering critique of how it reported and edited a discredited article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

“The move came Monday, after the weekly New York Observer ran a story saying that Rolling Stone founder-editor Jann Wenner had killed DeRogatis’ negative review of the new Hootie & the Blowfish album and replaced it with a more positive one.” 

Reports are now beginning to surface across social media of former employees getting fired from Rolling Stone, with one senior editor reportedly getting let go following a negative review of a Hootie & The Blowfish album.

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“The Observer story included quotes from DeRogatis implying that Wenner routinely pulls copy that he disagrees with and suggesting that Wenner’s motive for the Hootie change was not to alienate the massively popular band.”

— The Los Angeles Times in 1996

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said in the Sunday report that the magazine’s shortcomings “encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”

Two of the report’s authors, dean Steve Coll and academic dean Sheila Coronel, were scheduled to discuss their investigation at a news conference Monday in New York.

“As far as why they fired me, you have to ask them. What they told me is that I’m a bad apple and don’t know anything about music.”

— DeRogatis, to The L.A. Times

The analysis was accompanied by a statement from Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana apologizing for the failures and retracting the November 2014 story. Some University of Virginia students said none of that will erase the article’s repercussions.

Maggie Rossberg, a second-year nursing student from Crozet, Virginia, said her chief concern is the effect the journalistic lapses will have on rape victims. “This is probably going to discourage other sexual assault survivors from coming forward,” Rossberg said.

The Columbia review was undertaken at Rolling Stone’s request and posted on both organizations’ websites. It presented a broad indictment of the magazine’s handling of a story that had horrified readers, unleashed protests at the university’s Charlottesville campus and sparked a national discussion about sexual assaults on college campuses.

“I think the real casualty of the report is the University of Virginia’s trust in journalism. I don’t think any University of Virginia student going through this will ever read an article the same way.”

— Abraham Axler of New York City, president of the university’s Student Council

It came two weeks after the Charlottesville police department said it had found no evidence to back the claims of the victim, identified in the story only as “Jackie,” who said she was raped by seven men at a fraternity house. Read the rest of this entry »


SPIKED: Rolling Stone‘s Rape Hoax Speaks to a New Hysteria on U.S. College Campuses

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The Unravelling of the Rolling Stone Article is Not an Isolated Event

Sean Collins reports: For years now, academics and activists, backed by university administrators and government officials, have promoted the idea that there is a rape epidemic on US campuses, enabled by a ‘rape culture’ that pervades social life. This notion has created a frenzied and highly emotional atmosphere in colleges, with accusations flying and campus tribunals handing down sentences for what are essentially criminal acts. The stunning news that Rolling Stone now disowns its story that claimed a female student was gang-raped at a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity shows that the drive to root out ‘rape culture’ is spinning out of control.

“We’re living through a full-blown panic, akin to the daycare sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s and early 1990s, with bad consequences for both women and men.”

The Rolling Stone article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described in graphic terms how a young woman, ‘Jackie’, was lured by her date to a room in a fraternity, where she was allegedly raped by seven men, as part of a premeditated initiation ceremony. The terrible details included: smashing Jackie through a plate-glass table, cutting her badly; the men laughing in response to her cries, and saying things like ‘grab its motherfucking leg’; the men calling each other names like Armpit and Blanket. Appearing after a three-hour ordeal, three friends discourage Jackie from reporting this to the police or the university, or from going to a hospital, because they fear they will be banned from future parties at this fraternity. Read the rest of this entry »