Curtis Houck reports: The “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC continued their shamefulblackout into Wednesday night of the horrifying alleged rape of a teenage girl in a Washington D.C. suburb high school bathroom by two men, including one here in the U.S. illegally.
Before breaking down how blind the media were in furthering a narrative about college fraternities and sexual assault (which can be a noble cause), the pro-illegal immigrant media were surely displeased with the Fox News Channel’s Special Report as it again offered a story on the events in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Fill-in host James Rosen noted that “the Maryland State House of Delegates has approved a bill to make Maryland a sanctuary state…just days after Maryland authorities charged two immigrants, one of them confirmed to be here illegally, in the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Rockville High School bathroom.”
Correspondent Doug McKelway provided the latest from the school and told viewers how the cowards with the school district banned TV cameras from Tuesday’s packed PTA meeting as “[t]he red-hot controversy…lit up social media.”
McKelway also noted how the school district has shifted their focus from the rape to blaming average citizens for being outraged about how such a thing could have happened.
At the same time, local and state Democrats went ahead with their desire to make Rockville and Maryland a sanctuary city and state, respectively. This was despite strong opposition from Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
This lack of seriousness by the liberal media was no issue back in fall 2014 when Rolling Stonedetailed a graphic gang rape of a young woman at a University of Virginia fraternity. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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 »
Deliberations about ‘A Rape on Campus’ spanned three days.
T. Rees Shapiro reports: A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.
The 10-member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.
The lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which appeared online in late November 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue. Opening with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape, the story caused an immediate sensation at a time of heightened awareness of campus sexual assault, going viral online and ripping through the U-Va. community.
But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny, including the narrative’s shocking allegation of a fraternity gang rape. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015, and Eramo’s lawsuit came a month later, alleging that the magazine’s portrayal of her as callous and dismissive of rape reports on campus was untrue and unfair.
University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo leaves federal court after closing arguments in her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine on Tuesday in Charlottesville. (Steve Helber/AP)
The jurors reached a verdict Friday after deliberating across three days. Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages but now, following the verdict, can argue for a different amount. The argument for damages is scheduled to begin Monday.
Regardless of potential damages, the verdict showed the jury’s willingness to slam a major media outlet for the impact of getting a story wrong. Originally hailed as a brave triumph of reporting for its raw accounts of rape and attempts at bringing accountability to a storied public university, the article led to protests of the U-Va. administration, vandalism of a campus fraternity and outrage among activists trying to prevent sexual assault. Once its flaws were exposed, the article’s deeper message of the effects of campus rape — a pervasive national problem — was lost amid the allegations of shoddy reporting. Read the rest of this entry »
MILES AHEAD is a wildly entertaining and moving exploration of one of 20th century music’s creative geniuses, Miles Davis, featuring a career defining performance by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle in the title role. Working from a script he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman, Cheadle’s bravura directorial debut is not a conventional bio-pic but rather a unique, no-holds barred portrait of a singular artist in crisis.
In the midst of a dazzling and prolific career at the forefront of modern jazz innovation, Miles Davis (Cheadle) virtually disappears from public view for a period of five years in the late 1970s. Alone and holed up in his home, he is beset by chronic pain from a deteriorating hip, his musical voice stifled and numbed by drugs and pain medications, his mind haunted by unsettling ghosts from the past.
The city of Paris was stricken by a series of terrorist attacks on Friday night. The latest reports have at least 26 30 dead and many more injured.
Among the targets, the music venue Bataclan, where police say terrorists have taken 60 100 hostages. According to the venue’s calendar, Eagles of Death Metal were performing a sold-out show at the venue this evening.
Eagles of Death Metal is the collaboration between Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. Homme did not join the band for their European tour, however.
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.
In 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 eight-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.
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.
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.)
“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.
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 »
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.
“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.”
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 »
Robby Soave writes: Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of Rolling Stone‘s much-maligned story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia, plans to formally apologize for her mistakes, according to CNN‘s Brian Stetler.
Rolling Stone‘s Worrisome Discredited Rape Account
BALTIMORE — With the account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia debunked by police, advocates for sexual assault survivors are worried a movement that gained tremendous momentum in the past year could suffer a setback.
“The average American might say, ‘If she lied, they must all be lying so we shouldn’t pay attention to the issue at all,’ and there will be an immediate chilling effect.”
— Liz Seccuro, explaining her sincere belief that Americans, after encountering one debunked rape story, will no longer care about potential rape victims and decide to permanently stop paying attention to all rape allegations
A Rolling Stone article about a student identified only as “Jackie” described an alleged rape on campus and a culture of binge-drinking and looking the other way when students filed sexual assault complaints. The story intensified the national conversation about rapes on college campuses and prompted changes at the university, but on Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said a months-long investigation turned up no evidence of a sexual assault, or any wrongdoing by the school.
“I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”
— Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, missing the ‘positive impact’ of honest, fact-based reporting, compared to the ‘negative impact’ of corrupt, dishonest, agenda-driven reporting by Rolling Stone
“One false report should not diminish the seriousness with which we take on the challenge of sexual assault on campus,” said Daniel Carter, director of 32 National Campus Safety Initiative and an advocate for sexual assault survivors for more than two decades. “I do think, unfortunately, that such a high-profile discredited story will have negative impacts on people’s willingness to believe survivors when they come forward.”
Police said Jackie refused to talk to them after the article was published in November. In the article, Jackie said she was gang-raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house two years earlier, and the school systematically mishandled sex assault complaints. Read the rest of this entry »
Apparently, feelings are more important than facts
Katherine Timpf writes: A student at Reed College in Portland claims he was banned from class discussions mainly because he questioned a rape “statistic” — even though that “statistic” has been debunked — just because other students said they were uncomfortable.
Nineteen-year-old Jeremiah True toldBuzzFeed News that his Humanities 110 professor, Pancho Savery, had warned him that his views on campus sexual assault were bothering other students — before ultimately sending True an e-mail telling him he was forbidden from participating in the “conference” portion of the class at all.
“Please know that this was a difficult decision for me to make and one that I have never made before; nevertheless, in light of the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel that I have no other choice,” the e-mail stated, according to BuzzFeed.Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. colleges foster and encourage lynch mobs and thought police in place of actual education. It’s time for serious reform.
Daniel Payne writes: For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before.
“Unsurprisingly, much of this bankrupt ideology centers on feminism, which has filled the role that eugenics once filled in American universities: a crystalline instance of peak Progressive thought animated by bigotry and pseudoscience.”
This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.
“Modern feminism drove much of the witch hunt on UVA’s campus, for instance, and it can be seen at plenty of other colleges, as well.”
Yet the Rolling Stone fiasco is on the main depressing and discouraging, if for no other reason than it has starkly highlighted the fundamental hollowness of our institutions of higher learning, saturated as they have become by the often-toxic influence of academic leftism.
A Microcosm of U.S. Colleges’ Sick Culture
Indeed, UVA provided a perfect example of the moral bankruptcy one often finds at the average American college. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article, the university suspended Greek life on campus with no due process whatsoever; a University of Virginia law school student demanded that Phi Kappa Psi be treated as a “criminal street gang” subject to asset seizure by the government; the fraternity house was vandalized; and effectively the entire university lined up against a group of young men who had been viciously slandered in a national media outlet based on the strength of one uncorroborated and unexamined accusation. “The whole [fraternity] culture,” claimed UVA English professor Alison Booth, with no irony whatsoever, “is sick.”
From its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the University of Virginia displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations.
“From coast to coast, the vanities of progressivism are having a profoundly negative effect on our institutions of higher learning.”
The University of Virginia, in other words, behaved shamefully and with no civic decorum: from its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the entire institution displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations. UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan, should be apologizing profusely to the members of Phi Kappa Psi along with the whole fraternity community. Instead, she’s forcing fraternities to adopt pointless new rules on the basis of a single allegation that even the police now dispute.
Democrats: the new stupid party of American politics
Dan Henninger writes: A constant of political life has been that there is only one “stupid party” in America—the Republican Party. Then one day you get out of bed, look out the window and what do you see? Democrats. The Democrats are turning themselves into the new stupid party of American politics.
In the liberal pundits’ telling, Republicans are the party of the yahoo heartland, the anti-abortion religious right and the anti-government tea party. The stupid party.
“Sen. Warren’s fiery ‘middle-class’ speeches are normal politics. But the activist left’s political compulsions are producing a lot of stuff that isn’t close to normal. It is craziness at the political margins, and like weeds, it is occupying the party’s public personality.”
Of course this is a caricature. Besides, none of this bad-mouthing matters unless too many average voters conclude that a weird political fringe now represents the party’s core.
“Many traditional liberals still consider themselves JFK or Clinton Democrats. But that party is gone. The party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, is going to be transformed into a Warren Democrat, the party’s future.”
Last week more than 300 former Obama staffers signed an open letter urging the famous Harvard Law School professor to run in 2016. Days earlier, two big progressive groups, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, also pressed the first-term Massachusetts senator to seek the party’s presidential nomination.
“The implicit logic of the Draft Warren movement is that after eight years of the Obama presidency, the American people want to move . . . further left.”
However intriguing that proposition, the real problem for the political pros behind Draft Warren or even the Ready for Hillary super PAC is that the Democratic left’s high-publicity wing insists on doing stupid things in public that turn off more voters than they turn on.
The most publicized media story of recent times is the discredited Rolling Stone article about an alleged fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia. For the media itself, the big story here was the magazine’s poor journalistic practices. But most people don’t care about that. What they saw until the story began to unravel was due process turned upside down—the fraternity judged guilty until proven innocent. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Erik Wemple reports: Even as Rolling Stone’s Nov. 19 story “A Rape on Campus” unraveled last week, the magazine claimed that writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely did her due diligence in investigating an alleged gang rape on Sept. 28, 2012, at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia that had victimized a then-freshman by the name of Jackie. “Dozens” of Jackie’s friends, Rolling Stone told this blog, had spoken with Erdely for the story — some off the record, some on the record.
“Dozens,” of course, means 24-plus.
“Publications can be excused for getting things wrong; that happens all the time. What’s inexcusable, however, is that in this case, Rolling Stone did nothing to stave off catastrophic error…”
As a second heavily reported story by Washington Post’s local staff has revealed, however, Erdely’s reportorial sweep didn’t net three rather critical friends. “Randall,” “Cindy” and “Andy” were identified in the Rolling Stone piece as three eager helpers who came to Jackie’s aid on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, when she allegedly experienced a traumatic situation. The three told The Post that the story reported by Rolling Stone doesn’t match what Jackie told them that night.*
“As The Post reports, the friends were “never contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors,” meaning that neither Erdely nor the magazine’s fact-checkers lifted a finger to check with the story’s most obvious source of corroboration.”
And perhaps most critically, the latest revelation from The Post casts either account into doubt, as the man that Jackie cited as her date that night appears not to have been a student at the University of Virginia.
“What’s the excuse for the failure to reach the friends? We’ve asked for an explanation on this front as well…”
It all raises a mind-boggling possibility: that Erdely made an exhaustive effort to interview peripheral sources, leaving no time for the central ones. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Rolling Stone for an inventory of the friends interviewed by Erdely, as well as other information about the reporting. That’s an extravagant request — but presumably Rolling Stone is already compiling such a file, if it’s serious about figuring out how it produced the shoddiest piece of journalism in recent memory. We haven’t heard back from the magazine. Read the rest of this entry »
Edward Kosner writes: Desperate times call forth desperate journalism. Suddenly, what we used to think of as the big-time press is being convulsed by a spasm of amateurism.
Rolling Stone, since the 1960s a paragon of hip investigative journalism and gonzo reportage, finds itself sweatily backpedaling from a single-sourced exposé of gang rape at the University of Virginia, an article that rattled the campus designed by Thomas Jefferson and went viral.
The 30-something Facebook zillionaire who bought the New Republic two years ago decided to convert the century-old journal of political and arts commentary into “a vertically integrated digital media company.” The two top editors quit as they were being pushed—and nearly all their staff and contributors followed them out the door, devastating the magazine.
Not long ago, Newsweek resurrected itself in print after a near-death experience. Its very first cover story claimed to identify the mysterious Asian creator of bitcoin, the brave new digital currency—only to have the putative inventor surface to insist persuasively that the magazine had the right name, but the wrong man. And the vastly experienced author of a new 500-page biography of Bill Cosby managed to blow the lead: to leave out detailed accusations by more than a dozen women that the beloved comedian had drugged and raped or otherwise sexually molested them.
Inevitably in any journalistic trend story, there is an element of coincidence in the cascade of these sorry episodes. And, even in the best-run publications, mistakes are as inescapable in journalism as they are in any sustained human activity. But there is an unseen common denominator to all these fiascoes that helps explain why they happened, illuminating both the existential dangers that serious journalism now faces and its fraught future.
“Here was a story made to go viral—doing journalistic due diligence on it might blunt its sharp edges and sap its appeal. As it happened, the Rolling Stone piece was undone by old-school reporting by the Washington Post, which has the resources to do its job…”
Quite simply, print editors and their writers, and especially the publications’ proprietors, are being unhinged by the challenge of making a splash in a new world increasingly dominated by the values of digital journalism. Traditional long-form journalism—painstakingly reported, carefully written, rewritten and edited, scrupulously fact-checked—finds itself fighting a losing battle for readers and advertisers. Quick hits, snarky posts and click-bait in the new, ever-expanding cosmos of websites promoted by even quicker teasers on Twitter and Facebook have broadened the audience but shrunk its attention span, sometimes to 140 characters (shorter than this sentence).
Whether they realize it or not, and most do, print journalists feel the pressure to make their material ever more compelling, to make it stand out amid the digital chatter. The easiest way to do that is to come up with stories so sensational that even the Twitterverse has to take notice. Read the rest of this entry »
Too many reporters have “Jackies” — politicians and causes they trust uncritically no matter what.
Mollie Hemingway writes: George Packer argues in The New Yorker that journalism’s big crisis is just a business crisis. In the very first paragraph, noting the collapse of Rolling Stone’s story about a violent gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, he makes the absurd claim it “has no larger significance for journalism beyond itself.” Later he digs in:
There’s no ongoing wave of plagiarism, fabrication, and inaccuracy; like earlier scandals (The New Republic’s Ruth Shalit and Stephen Glass; the Times’ Jayson Blair; CBS News’s Lara Logan; Alastair Reid, formerly of this magazine), Rolling Stone’s problems don’t reveal an across-the-board collapse of standards. Such journalistic sins remain the exceptions, with an ancient ancestry; they’re just easier to uncover in the Internet age.
It’s absolutely true that we don’t have a wave of outright fabrication-out-of-whole-cloth. But what we have is much worse. We have a tsunami of inaccuracy that is generally tolerated, embraced and even celebrated so long as it serves the right political and cultural goals.
“The media’s tsunami of inaccuracy is generally tolerated, embraced and even celebrated so long as it serves the right political and cultural goals.”
Yes, the latest shocking revelations about Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone’s journalism are stunning. They really, really messed up. Even more than we previously realized. They should receive every bit of oppobrium coming their way. But they should not be the scapegoat for a problem that is riddled throughout journalism. Waving it away in denial, as Packer tries to do, only announces one’s cluelessness.
Stephen Glass was a journalist at The New Republicwho made up stories, or significant parts of them. Three dozen of the 41 stories he wrote for The New Republic were said to be fabricated in part or in whole, along with articles for George and Rolling Stone.
Where have I heard this story since?
I knew Stephen Glass was full of it in 1997 after I read his absolutely incredible story about all the sex and crazy partying done by young Republicans at a conservative gathering called CPAC. Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Posthas an update on Rolling Stone‘s UVA story that strongly implies, without outright saying so, that the gang rape at the center of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article might be fabricated. Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro spoke at length with the three friends who met up with Jackie, the student who says she was raped, on the night in question. In the Rolling Stone story this scene was crucial. Erdely described Jackie as standing mute in her bloody dress, the Phi Kappa Psi house where the alleged rape happened looming in the background, as her friends callously debated whether they should take her to the hospital and risk ruining their social reputations. This set up the larger theme of a university culture and social scene indifferent even to the most brutalized victims of rape.
“Jackie’s friends could never find this junior in the UVA database nor on social media. She provided her friends with a picture of him, but the Post has since learned that the guy in the picture is a high school classmate of Jackie’s who does not go to the University of Virginia and was in another state…”
Earlier, those friends told the Post that Jackie told them she’d been forced to have oral sex—a much different story than what Jackie told Rolling Stone. This new Post article adds some details that make the entire account seem more suspicious. Jackie had told her friends—referred to by the pseudonyms “Cindy,” “Andy,” and “Randall” in the original story and in the Post’s follow-ups—that she had a date on Sept. 28, 2012, with a handsome junior in her chemistry class. (In the version she told to Rolling Stone, that date was with someone she’d met at her lifeguarding job.) But in the Post story, the friends imply that this junior might not exist and may have been invented by Jackie to make Randall jealous.
“Jackie has now given her friends two different names for the man she was with that night. Neither of them was in fact with her, ever dated her, or even knew her all that well. She appears to have invented a suitor, complete with fake text messages and a fake photo, which suggests a capacity for somewhat elaborate deception.”
When the friends first heard about this junior, they were intrigued and asked Jackie for his number. They started exchanging text messages with him, and he described Jackie as a “super smart hot” freshman. He complained, though, that she liked a “nerd 1st yr”— meaning Randall—who is “smart and funny and worth it.” Jackie’s friends could never find this junior in the UVA database nor on social media. She provided her friends with a picture of him, but the Post has since learned that the guy in the picture is a high school classmate of Jackie’s who does not go to the University of Virginia and was in another state participating in an athletic tournament on the night of the alleged rape. (More recently, Jackie gave her friends the name of a different guy. The Post also contacted him, and he said he’d never met Jackie.)
The original three-paragraph note was published Friday and came in the wake of a storm of criticism over Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s story about an unidentified student named “Jackie.” The note concluded with a paragraph that said “discrepancies” in Jackie’s story had appeared and that the magazine “misplaced” its trust in her.
But Saturday, much of that language was suddenly missing, despite the post’s continued publication date of Dec. 5 and without mention of an update or correction. The new concluding paragraph acknowledged that the magazine made mistakes, then said “these mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.”
The original version of the note was signed by Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s managing editor. By Saturday, Dana’s signature had disappeared and the note had grown from a total of three paragraphs to four. Read the rest of this entry »
Not long after I posted this, NRO‘s Tim Cavanaugh posted this excellent analysis. In fact, the post-disaster analysis that’s been accumulating is even better than the initial disaster, its richness and flavor improving as it marinates, some of it is even injection-basted. I’m starting a list of links. Watch this space for updates.
Rolling Stone deserves all the suffering it can possibly enjoy.
Friday, December 5th, 2014, may be recorded as the worst single day for Left Wing Media in more than a decade, as two of its most iconic institutions self-destructed, independently, but simultaneously, on the same day, in the same news cycle. The New Republic, and Rolling Stone Magazine, for very different reasons, suffered major setbacks. The more important of the two — The New Republic — is getting less media attention than it deserves. Which is understandable, of the two, its problems are more complex, less visible, and not as controversial. The majority of The New Republic‘s staff resigned, en masse. If almost no one noticed, it’s perhaps because the New Republic isn’t as relevant as it once was. Unfortunate, because of its long history, NR is a first-rate political journal that’s enjoyed the attention and respect of its admirers and critics alike. But mainly because the epic, high-profile disaster at Rolling Stone was sucking up all the oxygen.
And let’s fact it: Rolling Stone deserves all the suffering it can possibly enjoy.
Providing both the matches, and the gas, Rolling Stone willingly made itself into a bonfire for its opponents and critics. A preexisting record of journalistic mismanagement set the stage for disaster. Years of lurid, sensational, sloppy journalism had already established it as a bad actor in media. Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s bogus, discredited rape reportage — though a spectacular failure in itself — isn’t even the problem. It’s a emblematic of larger problem, not just with Rolling Stone, but with Left-Wing advocacy journalism and progressive-activist media culture in general. One of deception, invention, and opportunism.
As the Rolling Stone scandal unfolds, one question that bothers me — that I haven’t seen explored much yet — is, where were the lawyers and editors, before the story went to press? For purely financial reasons, institutions like Rolling Stone have to weight costs and risks, especially when dealing with controversial material that could expose them not only peer scrutiny, but to litigation. That’s what the suits are for. Think about it, if the writer and editor won’t do due diligence with sources, and investigate more than one side of a story, they can be sure their critics will. Writers and editors might be willing to go out on a limb to advance an activist agenda or pump up sales, but every publication has its legal advisors and bean-counters to protect the publication’s reputation, or at least avoid inviting lawsuits. Where were they? What happened?
In the coming days, answers to this question may be revealed. In the meantime, the following is a sampling of commentary from Jonah and Kevin (both of whom are familiar to our readers, and are promoted so frequently here that I take the liberty of referring to them by their first names) at National Review Online. Stay tuned for more.
Rolling Stone should be held accountable for its false accusations against UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter.
“…So I am having a hard time getting my head around something. All week people have been calling me a “rape apologist” and “pro-rape.” I’m being constantly informed that I don’t understand “rape culture.” These often hysterical accusations tend to come from people who seem to understand rape culture the same way some people understand the geopolitics of Westeros or Middle Earth: They’ve studied it, they know every detail about it, they just seem to have forgotten it doesn’t exist.
Now, hold on. I certainly believe rape happens. And I definitely believe we have cultural problems that lead to date rape and other drunken barbarisms and sober atrocities. But the term “rape culture” suggests that there is a large and obvious belief system that condones and enables rape as an end in itself in America. This simply strikes me as an elaborate political lie intended to strengthen the hand of activists. There’s definitely lots that is wrong with our culture, particularly youth culture and specifically campus culture. Sybaritic, crapulent, hedonistic, decadent, bacchanalian: choose your adjectives.
What is most remarkable about our problems is that they seem to take people by surprise. For instance, it would be commonsense to our grandmothers that some drunk men will do bad things, particularly in a moral vacuum, and that women should take that into account. I constantly hear that instead of lecturing women about their behavior we should teach men not to rape. I totally, completely, 100 percent agree that we should teach men not to rape. The problem is we do that. A lot. Maybe we should do it more. We also teach people not to murder — another heinous crime. But murders happen too. That’s why we advise our kids to steer clear of certain neighborhoods at certain times and avoid certain behaviors. I’m not “pro-murder” if I tell my kid not to walk through the park at night and flash money around any more than I am pro-rape if I give her similar advice…” (read more here)
The Left believes that lies can serve a greater truth.
“The Left is committed to the notion that American colleges are hotbeds of sexual violence, racial bigotry, hatred of homosexuals, etc., because they are committed to the notion that the largely white and male upper echelons of American society — mostly products of those colleges — are secretly but unalterably committed to white supremacy, homophobia, and to using the threat of sexual violence to keep women in their place.
The evidence suggests otherwise: Far from being an epidemic, sexual assault today happens at a rate about one-third that of 20 years ago, and rape seems to happen less often on college campuses than it does elsewhere. That should not be entirely surprising: Rape, like other crimes, tends to disproportionately affect people who are poor and non-white. As expected, the evidence points to sexual assault’s being more common in poor rural areas, Indian reservations, poor urban areas, etc. It is also more common where people tend to be relatively isolated, with Alaska having the nation’s highest rate of sexual assault.Read the rest of this entry »
Meghan Keneally reports: A stunning report about how rape is handled at UVA that sparked national outcry and prompted the university to suspend all fraternity activities for the year is now being called into question.
“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”
Rolling Stone magazine today began distancing themselves from the shocking story published last month about a student that the publication identified as “Jackie,” who said that she was the victim of a gang rape by seven men at a fraternity party.
“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” the magazine’s managing editor, Will Dana, wrote in a letter published on the magazine’s website.
whoa. Key elements of Rolling Stone’s article on U of Virginia’s gang rape story now in doubt http://t.co/6iaqNHNM4z
Dana said the author of the lengthy feature, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not talk to any of the students involved in the alleged rape before publishing the story out of respect for Jackie.
“We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”
Rolling Stone magazine has retracted the reporting behind its controversial story, “A Rape on Campus,” published last month. In an editor’s note added to the top of the story online, Managing Editor Will Dana wrote that “there now appear to be discrepancies” in the primary source’s account and “we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”
Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled “A Rape on Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university’s failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school’s troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.
Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone’s editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie’s credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie’s account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn’t confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence. Read the rest of this entry »
Fortunately, there’s some good news too: you don’t need to believe a word because, just like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s reports, this document is much more a political one than a scientific one.
“Taking action on climate is one of the most important goals in the president’s second term,” John Podesta, counselor to the president and his point man on climate policy, told me a few weeks ago. “He feels a profound and urgent obligation to get as much done as he can before he leaves office.”
Of course he does but in order to achieve these intrusive, radical, economically-damaging changes – America still being, more or less, a democracy – Obama first needs to make a persuasive case that they are actually necessary. Otherwise, there might be quite a lot of resistance, say, from the coal-producing states (over his ongoing war on fossil fuels); from taxpayers (over all the money being diverted into renewable energy scams like Solyndra); from country dwellers (sick of having their views ruined, their sleep disturbed and their avian wildlife sliced and diced by wind turbines); from the unions (concerned at all the US jobs will be lost if and when the Keystone XL pipeline is nixed); from energy users (over prices raised artificially high by the drive for heavily subsidised renewables); from farmers (subject to increasingly intrusive environmental regulations on how they may and may not use their land); and so on. Read the rest of this entry »
Note: Hollywood’s — Rolling Stone’s — liberal ignorance is on display, as well as Julia’s exposed ass and side-boob. Julia’s cheeky “Constitution” tattoo? Good thing it’s not a real one! That John Hancock signature? Isn’t on the Constitution. It’s on the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution. It’s only one of the most famous documents in the history of western civilization, so, you know, no big deal.
Great work, Rolling Stone. Bravo! They deserve all the hazing they’re getting.
To the young and idealistic, this time is always different.
Jonah Goldberg writes: ‘In America,” Oscar Wilde quipped, “the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.” And they often do it in the pages of Rolling Stone.
Last week, the magazine posted a mini-manifesto titled “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” After confirming that it wasn’t a parody, conservative critics launched a brutal assault on its author, Jesse A. Myerson.
Myerson’s essay captures nearly everything the unconverted despise about left-wing youth culture, starting with the assumption that being authentically young requires being theatrically left-wing.
John Hawyard writes: One of the most disturbing things about Barack Obama’s reign of lawless executive power is that it has people fantasizing about outright totalitarian dictatorship, and not in a faculty-lounge-B.S. kind of way. We’ve always had to put up with the likes of Thomas Friedman at the New York Times rhapsodizing about the joys of Chinese authoritarianism – provided a duly accredited Democrat gets to be America’s temporary dictator, of course – but now we’ve got Jesse Myerson at Rolling Stone daydreaming about hard-core communism as the solution to America’s ills.
He’s not fooling around, either. He wants the government to guarantee a job and income for every single person, and seize all private property to overthrow capitalism, although he would generously allow the Glorious Peoples’ Republic of America to rent the land back to private individuals… as long as everyone is clear that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the ultimate landlord:
Ever noticed how much landlords blow? They don’t really do anything to earn their money. They just claim ownership of buildings and charge people who actually work for a living the majority of our incomes for the privilege of staying in boxes that these owners often didn’t build and rarely if ever improve. In a few years, my landlord will probably sell my building to another landlord and make off with the appreciated value of the land s/he also claims to own – which won’t even get taxed, as long as s/he ploughs it right back into more real estate.
Think about how stupid that is. The value of the land has nothing to do with my idle, remote landlord; it reflects the nearby parks and subways and shops, which I have access to thanks to the community and the public. So why don’t the community and the public derive the value and put it toward uses that benefit everyone? Because capitalism, is why.
And the wise and loving State will fix all of that because it really cares about the people, man. Politicians are completely devoid of greed or ambition, and their brilliant plans always work perfectly. Just ask the doctor who spent two hours on hold with the ObamaCare commissars on Friday waiting for approval to perform surgery.
The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office says journalist Michael Hastings, who won fame writing the Rolling Stone article that ended General Stanley McChrystal’s career, had drugs including amphetamines and marijuana in his system when he was killed in a fiery car crash in June.
However, a toxicology report states the amphetamines, likely meth, were “unlikely to have an intoxicative effect at the time of the accident,” and that Hastings likely ingested the marijuana hours earlier.
Hasting’s cause of death was massive blunt force trauma, and the coroner determined he likely lost consciousness upon impact and died within seconds.
Abe’s predictable leftist sympathies, bummed-out personality, grievance-nursing temperament, and lack of any discernible talent make him extraordinarily well-suited for lasting success in the Obama era.
If you’ve ever listened to Mad Men’sAbe Drexler spin out one of his tiresome anti-Capitalist-Pig rap sessions, you’ll know his only purpose in life is to be a walking cliche of 1960’s radicalism.
A few highlights from a recent episode:
Here’s Abe passionately defending the criminal youths who mugged him.
“Those kids have no other recourse in this system!”
Here’s Abe romanticizing violent revolution and expressing his contempt for law enforcement.
Abe: “This is a f#&!@king police state! And we’re gonna have to fight, okay? They did it in Prague, they did it in Paris, and believe it or not, we’re gonna have to do it here, too!”
Peggy: “But that doesn’t mean protecting criminals”
Abe: “It’s fascinating, the attitudes I’m encountering! But why would you side with the cops?”
Abe’s revolutionary sentiments and unrealized destructive urges point clearly to his true direction in life. Left-Wing Radical, welfare recipient, possible drug addict, failed writer, violent Weather Underground member and Bill Ayers associate, Viet Nam War protestor, and eventually, bomb-making terrorist, fugitive from justice, Federal prisoner, University professor, book author, ghost-writer, informal White House policy advisor, and celebrated cultural icon.
Any one of Abe’s speeches are just minor variations on one theme: “Stick it to the Man”. Even if Peggy–the loyal, patient, ghetto-apartment-building-owning-girlfriend— is “The Man”.
Peggy, the Madison Avenue advertising copywriter who’s been supporting Abe’s sorry ass, while he writes a column for an underground newspaper. Abe glamorizes his heroic role, as the tolerant and enlightened minority advocate in their crime-plagued ghetto neighborhood. When attacked and beaten by neighborhood youths, Abe spouts guilty-white-liberal excuses for the disadvantaged and downtrodden, nobly defending the gang who just smashed their apartment window. Making Peggy’s domestic life a hellish nightmare.
As it turns out, Peggy sticks it to Abe, when trying to defend herself from a perceived late-night threat from neighborhood gangs, in their dark apartment, only to get spooked and injure Abe, accidentally knifing him in the belly with an improvised home-defense weapon (what appears to be a kitchen knife duct-taped to a broomstick) giving Abe an opportunity to see her–literally–as the enemy. And in the ambulance, on the way to the emergency room, he tells her. Revealing his bottled-up resentments, accusing Peggy of symbolizing everything he detests in our unjust society, Abe breaks up with her. All we can say is…lucky her.
Now that he’s exiting Peggy’s life, as she prepares to sell off the apartment building, and dissolve their unholy union, where will Abe Drexler end up? And further down the road, long after the 1960s Mad-Men era is over, what becomes of a radical dude like Abe? What does his future look like?
Abe’s predictable leftist sympathies, pro-revolution tendencies, bummed-out personality, grievance-nursing temperament, and lack of any discernible talent, make him extraordinarily well-suited for lasting success in the Obama era.