Washington Post Publishes Details On Journalistic Lapses By Rolling Stone In Alleged Rape Story

220px-Rolling_Stone_February_1_2012_coverScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 7.52.39 AMThe Rolling Stone Magazine and it writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely (right), are facing yet another story detailing the astonishing lapses in journalistic ethics and practices related to its article about a rape on the University of Virginia campus. Among the most starting is a statement by Erdely that a key student would not speak with her about the rape out of loyalty to his fraternity. That student says that Erdely never contacted him and that he would have been more than willing to speak to her. As for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, it confirmed that it did not host any registered social event the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012.

The story of a gang rape at the fraternity captivated the nation but soon began to fall apart as students came forward challenging the account of Erdely and the alleged victims called only “Jackie.” The Post has been in the lead on the story uncovering the shoddy journalistic practices, including an agreement with Jackie not to interview her alleged rapist.

The Post appears to have done all of the field interviews that Erdely did not and reinterviewed others. These include the three students — “Randall,” “Andy” and “Cindy” — who Jackie called to her side after the alleged rape. They all three say that the Rolling Stone’s account differed from their own accounts, even though this meeting was key to the article. The students say that Jackie had no visible blood or injuries. They encouraged her to call the police but she refused. The students were painted in the story as indifferent and uncaring to Jackie’s account, even though they say that they not only encouraged her to go to police but stayed with her during the night.

They, however, noted a myriad of discrepancies in her story and said that they were suspicious that night that the rape never occurred. They said the name she provided as that of her date did not match anyone at the university. Indeed University of Virginia officials confirmed to The Post that no one by that name has attended the school.

Even more curious were the photographs that were texted to one of Jackie’s friends showing her date that night. The pictures were actually of one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. The Post located that man who is now a junior at a university in another state and he confirmed that the photographs were of him and said “he barely knew Jackie and hasn’t been to Charlottesville for at least six years.”

Here is the amazing thing. “The friends said they were never contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors.”

Moreover, the article states that “information Jackie gave the three friends about one of her attackers, called ‘Drew’ in the magazine’s article, differ significantly from details she later told The Post, Rolling Stone and friends from sexual assault awareness groups on campus.”

According to Erdely, “Randall” refused to speak with her “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” However, Randall not only spoke to the Post but insisted “that he was never contacted by Rolling Stone and would have agreed to an interview.”

Jackie spoke of Drew, but he could not be located by her friends on campus and the picture was of a high school friend. The school investigated the name and identity and found no one who matched the description at the school. Randall showed the Post the emails forwarded to him from Jackie’s date and the Post showed them to the actual man in the picture. The Post confirmed that “his name does not match the one Jackie gave friends in 2012 and that this former high school student “never really spoke to her,” was never a University of Virginia student and has not even been in Charlottesville for over six years.

The Post also interviewed some of Jackie’s new friends who said that Jackie revealed a name of her main alleged attacker to them more recently. “That name was different from the name she gave Andy, Cindy and Randall that first night. All three said that they had never heard the second name before learning it from a reporter.”

So the Post investigated the second named man and found someone with a similar name. He was a lifeguard at the time of the attacks. However, he insisted that he had never met her in person and never taken her out on a date. He also said that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

The silence of Erdely amidst this storm is surprising for a journalist. She was interviewed before the controversy and said that she has a “finely tuned B.S. detector” that helps her get a story right.

The contrast however in the level of detail and confirmation between the Rolling Stone and the Washington Post articles could not be more striking.

There also remains potential for liability here for the magazine, for Erdely, and for “Jackie.” As shown by the Post, the article (and later new name offered by Jackie) led to the suspicion of at least two men. One was actually shown in photographs as the freshman who alleged led Jackie to a gang rape. That could constitute defamation as well as false light. As actionable claims, the magazine, author, and alleged victim could find themselves in discovery and forced to answer many of these questions. While these men are not public figures, they would still be able to show, in my view, “reckless disregard” on the part of the magazine and Erdely if the Post account is accurate, particularly in agreeing not to interview the alleged rapist and falsely reporting that key figures would not speak to the magazine.

Source: Washington Post

104 thoughts on “Washington Post Publishes Details On Journalistic Lapses By Rolling Stone In Alleged Rape Story”

  1. If the article is libelous and the Greek system was shut down because of a false rape charge, how is it not a “Jackie” problem? How does she not share some of the blame?

  2. Does anyone know what race the baby in distress was in the call Officer Wilson responded to just prior to his encounter with Michael Brown?

    I’ve heard it mentioned that he responded to a call of a baby in distress, loaded her and her mom into an ambulance, and then had his run-in with Michael Brown.

    I do not know what race the child was, but do any of the, let’s call them unreasonable critics, think he would not have responded to the call if the child was African American? I wonder what it would do to the racist narrative if he saved a black baby before meeting Michael Brown.

  3. You guys are killing me about Dylan. Don’t make me laugh so soon after dinner!

    I enjoy reading his lyrics, but not listening to his actual music. I didn’t like his voice, and in the present day, he’s unintelligible in interviews.

    But he did write interesting lyrics.

    And Van Morrison and Jimi Hendrix rocked, although Hendrix was more eloquent on the guitar than lyrics.

  4. Msjettexas – I do remember fake hype on Lott and Delay; wonder if the frat boys will go on Dancing With the Stars.

    Seriously, I was a life long democrat, but became an independent several years ago. Now, I am seeing things in a different light.

  5. @Maureen ~ Be prepared for more of these hyped-up progressive stories for at least the next 2 years and possibly 10 if a republican get elected President twice. Remember the fake hype on the Tom Delay and Trent Lott? We might as well be prepared for that, except the Dems have lowered the bar to a snakes eye. :/

  6. I was willing to wait for results of the investigation. Not necessary anymore, convinced the story is fraudulent.

  7. @rcocean ~ Totally agree. I think Jackie was exploited by Erdely and RS. I hope the fraternity sues the crap out of them and puts them out of business. I also hope the fraternity donates some of their money to a charity for abused women.

    1. Msjettexas – I totally disagree about any award money should the fraternity win any money. Any funds they get should go to them and fighting the ‘rape culture’ on university campuses. Additional funds should come from the defendants to help rape victims.

  8. Investigation? The WaPo has done it. None of “Jackie” stories are confirmed by anyone or any of the facts. In any case, the problem isn’t “Jackie” the problem is a Rolling stone article that has been shown to be libelous and false and UVA President who used a false charge of Rape to close down the Frats.

  9. Paul,
    Just because we have the right to do certain things doesn’t mean we should.
    And you technically don’t have the right to post pictures. 1st amendment only means the government can’t prohibit it.

  10. @Dust Bunny Queen ~ One of the authors I assisted is well known and lives in your state. Used to have a radio show on crime in Spokane and used to live in Sandpoint. 🙂

  11. @Dust Bunny Queen ~ That picture is Tawan Brawley, an old friend of fat Al.
    I also agree with your subsequent post of being told that there are some of us whom rush to judgement,

    I also knew that MB gentle giant was total bs. Also called a racist. Working in law enforcement allows some of us to understand the evidence quicker than the public. I know the officers I work with and I don’t care what color you are, you punch a cop or try to grab his gun, your dead. What got me is the headlines kept saying ‘unarmed teenager’. Like it was a show down at the OK Coral. Since when does a 18 year old have a legal right to own a hand gun. An 18 year means he is an adult, old enough to get married, vote and join the military. I got tired of the spin by liberal news hacks.

    Like with this story, I withheld my opinion until I started to see the facts fall apart. I can tell you from experience, if one fact falls, they all do. I’ve assisted 2 published authors on the research of their books as well as fact checking and sourcing claims. Even when they do their book tours, we prep for those too and verify because they have to be sure of the correct information when being interviewed, especially on national TV. This Erdely will never or should never have a job in the industry. She screwed her credibility.

  12. You’re right, Paul. I never understood the attraction.

    Now Van Morrison, well, that’s another story…

  13. Inga:

    “Exactly Bailers. Why can’t people wait for the investigation to be completed? And I did hear one is underway by law enforcement.”

    Sorry, I just fell off my chair laughing. Shall we revisit the thread on Michael Brown, with me fruitlessly pleading to wait for an investigation? That would be a pro pos.

    Yessiree Karen!!!!!.

    I had to laugh out loud at the absolute lack of self awareness. You and I and others also in that thread tried to be voices of reason and to wait until the evidence was heard. But….noooooo…..we get a constant rehashing of, now proven false, talking points from the usual suspects. We are also accused of racism and of course not being empathetic enough when we didn’t buy the Gentle Giant fable hook line OR sinker. When we expressed doubts about the poor ittle Trayvon martin fairy tale either.

    Now, that the narrative is falling apart on this Jackie twit…. we are suddenly the ones rushing to judgement…..which we haven’t done. We have been the ones doubting. Doubting is not blaming by the way.

    It is laughable. The short term memory loss and down the rabbit hole remembrances of their own leaps to judgement would be funny if it wasn’t so chronic.

    1. DBQ – thank you for using ‘twit.’ It is one of my favorite words. 🙂

      1. No problem. I like it too. Although a different vowel used might be more accurate. 🙂

  14. The Geneva Conventions have outlawed Dylanboarding everywhere except in Madison, Wisconsin, where elderly hippies still remember that freaking awesome concert in ’71, man.

    1. Michael Haz – Dylan was NEVER freakin awesome in ’71 or any other time. 😉 It was the ‘shrooms.

  15. “A lot of us are getting rather jaded by the failures of the media to accurately report the news.”

    We’ve become a society that allows others to do the heavy –thinking for them. Kant said:

    “Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me.”

    When we fail to teach people how to think critically, we condemn them to a life of servitude. And nothing demonstrates servitude to the administrative state better than a compliant media and those that trust them both.

  16. Make her listen to Bob Dylan music nonstop for a week. That is a fitting punishment.

    Unless that Congressional Report classifies it as torture.

  17. Bailers – since Jackie reportly did not tell this particular story to the UVa authorities there is nothing to punish her for.

    That’s correct. Jackie, and the story’s author, and UVA and Rolling Stone all need to be sued for defamation.

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