Rolling Stone Retracts Rape Story But Refuses To Fire Anyone For The Story

220px-Rolling_Stone_February_1_2012_coverThe Rolling Stone magazine has retracted the University of Virginia rape story that we have previously discussed. While agreeing with a Columbia Journalism School review of major flaws in reporting and editing, the publication has refused to fire anyone. The writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, will continue to write for the publication despite quotations from an editor that she was repeatedly asked to confirm the story with key witnesses who were never interviewed. The review concluded that the failure “may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations.”

Published Jann Wenner has decided that no one will be fired for the notorious story. The alleged victim, Jackie, has reportedly refused to cooperate with either the police investigation or Columbia’s investigation. The police found no evidence to support the rape charge. Her lawyer told Columbia that it is “in her best interest to remain silent at this time.”

What is striking is disconnect between the findings and the ultimate response of the newspapers. In addition to the shocking failures of Erdely to interview key witnesses, Sean Woods, the primary editor, was found as lacking in not doing enough to press Erdely to “close the gaps in her reporting.” Likewise, Will Dana, the magazine’s top editor, “might have looked more deeply into the story drafts he read, spotted the reporting gaps and insisted that they be fixed. He did not.” Notably, Woods has insisted he did push: “I did repeatedly ask, ‘Can we reach these people? Can we?’ And I was told no.” Yet, Erdely will continue to write for the magazine?

There is a lawsuit against Rolling Stone Magazine that hopefully will impose a more concrete penalty for the negligence in this controversy.

Notably, Teresa Sullivan, the president of UVA, issued a statement Sunday evening that described the magazine’s story as “irresponsible,.” Yet, the university was equally quick to condemn those referenced in the story — a response that confirmed long-standing concerns of academics over the stripping of due process rights of those accused on college campuses of such misconduct. While both the university and the magazine raised the fear that this story has reinforced the view that some people fake rape claims (which is clearly a legitimate concern), there is relatively little discussion of the rights of those implicated in the story. That may be the focus of the resulting litigation.

As discussed by the Washington Post, the wholesale failures and bias shown in this publication was truly shocking. However, the response will only magnify that shock and reinforce the view that litigation is badly needed in this case as it was in the Duke case.

Source: CNN

73 thoughts on “Rolling Stone Retracts Rape Story But Refuses To Fire Anyone For The Story”

  1. bigfatmike, Is the plastic bag made with petroleum products? Such a dumb argument.

    1. ” Is the plastic bag made with petroleum products?”

      You bet. That is why some jurisdictions are outlawing or taxing them.

      The question is can we develop a replacement that is as convenient and effective – and lets be clear about – as cheap.

      One of the difficulties with reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and feed stocks for chemical processes is that even when we do find good alternatives the alternatives are frequently more expensive.

      That won’t last for ever, of course. As reserves are used up, declining supplies will force prices to increase. The question is will the increase in price occur rapidly enough to reduce emissions before irreversible damage occurs? At this point it does not appear that market forces alone will lead to a solution to the problem of carbon emissions and global warming.

  2. Forget China, it’s Nibiru Planet X that matters. Governments globally are developing underground cities. If you think petroleum is bad for the planet, wait till you see the effect of Nibiru. Some say Nibiru’s influence has already reached the solar system and will be at full force within 2 years. Previous global “extinction events” may have been one result. Whatever the cause, governments are preparing (the recent ammo shortage was due to government purchases), not for faux rhetorical political atmospheric or climatic anomalies, but for “continuity of government” (more Royal Clintons and Bushes, right?) in the event of something big, requiring underground accommodations.

    It’s Nibiru that matters.

  3. China’s Island Construction in South China Sea No Threat, Says Foreign Minister
    Foreign Minister Wang Yi says work is lawful, necessary and in China’s ‘own yard’
    Jeremy Page
    March 8, 2015 4:24 a.m. ET
    BEIJING—China’s foreign minister defended his government’s efforts to reclaim and develop land around disputed reefs and islands in the South China Sea, saying the work was “necessary” and posed no threat to other nations.

    1. “The use of fossil fuels has done way more to help man kind than hurt it”

      No one is disputing that fossil fuels are extremely useful. The poison is in the dose. A glass of wine with dinner can be wonderful. A gallon of alcohol at a fraternity initiation can put you in the morgue. A little rain is good for the garden. Too much rain and you get flooding such as Katrina. A little carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for the plants. Place a plastic bag over your head and tape it around your neck and carbon dioxide levels will quickly rise to levels you family will deeply regret.

      We have ample evidence to support reasonable belief that we are adding enough carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to raise the temperature of earth to destructive levels. Fossil fuels are a major cause for the release of that carbon dioxide.

  4. @PaulCS

    You know, maybe we need to do something about China because, like BigFatMike says, they are likely to end up the world leader pretty soon. Sooo, I put my Squeeky Thinking Cap on, and here is my idea:

    Squeeky’s Plan To Screw Up China

    First, we send a lot of Democratic Party big wigs and organizers over there. When they get there, they can start:

    (1) Agitating for the decriminalization of drugs, particularly marijuana. Pay Chinese comedians under the table to make jokes about how cool pot use is, and how only old fogies would object to using it.

    (2) Start working for a Chinese Great Society program, where unwed Chinese mothers get a check each month from the government, and food stamps, and even a cell phone! It has to be set up where a husband in the family disqualifies the women for the money.

    (3)Produce lots of movies that trash China, and its history., The Great Wall could be recharacterized as a racist, xenophobic attempt to keep out poor citizens and “dreamers” from Mongolia;

    (4) Produce movies which make fun of military people, and idolize the anti-hero types, who will be cowards, perverts, thieves, and dopers,

    (5) Revamp divorce laws to “liberate” women, and make the men pay lots of alimony and child support;

    (6) Unionize all teachers, and start them to teaching “New Math”. Then work to get lots of raises and job security for them.

    (7) Encourage illegal immigration from North Korea, Vietnam, and surrounding countries, so that wages can be driven down, and more Chinese can avail themselves of the New Great Society program.

    (8) Encourage the music industry to start a new line of Youth Alienation songs, that encourage disrespect for elders and thuggish behavior.

    (9) Attack the new Christian churches as “un-Chinese” and work to discriminate against Chinese Christians. Instead, encourage multiculturalism and moral relativism

    This would be a good start. With any luck at all, China will be on its knees by 2040. I am sure you may have a few ideas of your own.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. @issac ” The bats, birds, and other animals including humans are far worse impacted by fossil fuels, and and other sources of energy that negatively impact the earth. ”

    What a perceptive remark. If projections for global warming are even moderately accurate then, aside from nuclear war, there is a pretty good argument that burning fossil fuel is the greatest single threat to life on earth.

    Even if you limit the consideration to humans, the disruption by rising water levels could lead to crop failure, failure of commerce and transportation, and forced migration with millions of deaths.

    Whether is it coral reefs under the sea, forests and associated wild life, or arctic habitats it is hard to imagine any other force with such comprehensive, global effects on life.

  6. “Are you talking about abiotic oil? Is there anyone in the universe that can accurately define “fossil fuel” and explain its “source””

    A rose by any other name. Whether you call it abiotic oil or fossil fuel those not in denial know that, in large part, we are talking about coal and oil. We know that burning coal and oil transfers carbon trapped in the earth to the atmosphere, largely, in the form of carbon dioxide. And we have strong evidence that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a contributor to global warming.

    It matters not at all what you call coal and oil or how the deposits formed. What matters is that we are burning it.

  7. This is all very interesting frivolous triviality. America is a bloated, sinking welfare state as the concerned and motivated entities of the world work and accomplish. The Chinese are eating up everything on the planet like Pac Man and the likes of General Motors are creating huge sums of wealth. Is it any wonder the Chinese don’t let people vote and corporations morph into global organizations while removing ties to particular countries?

    The Founders gave Americans FREEDOM not DICTATORSHIP.

    The Preamble limited government to security and infrastructure – the Founders said it and the meant it.

    You are mired in the minutiae of DICTATORSHIP, currently the HOMOSEXUOCRACY, but you will never stop the human desire for FREE ENTERPRISE – the capable and ambitious have moved around you and left you in the dust of history.

    How is it that your ilk, including the singular American failure, the SCOTUS, has been allowed to nullify the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights which provided freedom, self-reliance and free enterprise without governmental interference?

    Look out ahead. China (i.e. Pac Man) is a juggernaut that, surprise, surprise, does not provide welfare, food stamps, healthcare, school or any other aspect of the parasitic welfare state, and global corporations are creating wealth as you list your petty grievances (homosexuality, seriously?) and grow poorer and poorer in the American welfare state with each passing day.

    1. “China (i.e. Pac Man) is a juggernaut that, surprise, surprise, does not provide welfare, food stamps, healthcare, school or any other aspect of the parasitic welfare state”

      Wow! When did that transformation take place?

      The knock against the Chinese used to be that they controlled everything from cradle to grave.

      Who knew? When did they stop reading the little red book and pick up Rand?

      1. bfm – school is only provided for the students who lived in the city/town to begin with. When farmers move to the city with their children, the children are not educated. Mao was supposed to have a retirement system in place but it is not paying enough to support people.

        1. So would you attribute the economic success of China to deficiencies in their welfare state or to their mixed economy with elements of both capitalism and socialism? Or would you argue that their system hardly matters because their low standard of living allows their industry to compete in international markets regardless.

          1. bfm – as I have stated before, I think the market in China is soft and they are retrenching. They are a Communist country using Capitalism for their economic system. There is both good and bad with that system, but right now more bad than good. The school system is so-so causing “naked citizens” to send their wives, children and money to the US or Canada.

            1. @Paul C. Schulte

              I think that comes pretty close for a summary. It seems to be a mixed system with mixed results.

              But I think they will be tough competitors for now and in the future. In my opinion, today they compete primarily with their low standard of living leading to low cost for manufactured goods. But their huge population also means they have a lot of smart people. They have a demonstrated capability to identify talent in children early, and train them for a life of service. We can expect they will eventually be world leaders in all sorts of intellectual property, innovation, and services.

              Couple that with their willingness to pick and choose elements of organization and management that best suits their needs and I think you have to conclude life with Chine will not get easier. They are only going to get better.

              1. bfm – they will not be world leaders because they do not think outside the box.

  8. Excuse me. Are you talking about abiotic oil? Is there anyone in the universe that can accurately define “fossil fuel” and explain its “source” in detail – exactly how many billions of dinosaurs died and meandered 2 miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico?

  9. issac – “The bats, birds, and other animals including humans are far worse impacted by fossil fuels,..”

    Such a stupid statement.


    Rolling Stone and the Media’s Glass House

    Journalism lessons are so basic—and so easily forgotten.


    April 06, 2015

    There is nothing like a journalistic plane crash to inspire newsroom loudmouths to jump on their desks and lecture colleagues about the collapse of standards and crow that they’re such exemplars of the craft that never in a trillion years could they or their publication be snookered by a fabulist, a hoaxer, a dissembler or a liar.

    Thanks to the release of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s authorized and comprehensive report on Rolling Stone’s horribly flawed (and now officially retracted) exposé “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” this sort of posturing is clogging the Web today. I, too, would be doing a condemnation-dance on my desk to celebrate Rolling Stone’s stupidity if I wasn’t so certain that the lessons the Rolling Stone debacle teach us are fleeting. The time may soon come that the pontificators flop as miserably at the fundamentals of journalism as reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely and her Rolling Stone editors have.

    May Satan capture your soul and make it his plaything if you think you and your publication are incapable of such journalistic malpractice. Editors and producers at the highest ranks of journalism have fallen again and again during the past few decades, committing crimes against journalism that match or surpass those of Rolling Stone and Erdely. Here’s just a partial list: Janet Cooke at the Washington Post; The Hitler Diaries (various publications); Stephen Glass at the New Republic, George, and, um, Rolling Stone; Jayson Blair at the New York Times; Jack Kelley at USA Today; NBC’s “exploding pickup truck”; CNN’s Tailwind story; CBS’s “Rathergate” coverage; Mike Daisey’s Apple story on This American Life; Jonah Lehrer (fabrication in his book), and CBS again (Lara Logan on Benghazi). And as long as we’re building out a listicle, let me mention that when I worked at Slate, I edited and published a sham story by a liar.

    In no way, of course, should this list excuse the Rolling Stone story, any more than a list of bank robberies should exonerate the guy who knocked off a branch office of the Industrial State Bank yesterday. But the arrogance feeding the outrage against Rolling Stone and Erdely is not that different from the arrogance of reporters and editors who violate the basic rules of journalism — make things up, embrace confirmation bias, ignore exculpatory evidence, over-rely on single sources, over-rely on anonymous and pseudonymous sources, neglect to pursue potentially exculpatory leads — to get the story. As Steve Coll, one of the authors of the Columbia University report, told the Columbia Journalism Review, Rolling Stone has all the resources to report a superb story on college gang rape, it just didn’t bother to implement them. “It’s Reporting 101. It’s not a question of whether your news organization has several layers of editing or you have fact-checkers or you have all the time you need,” Coll added.

    As thorough as the Columbia J-school study of the Rolling Stone piece is, there’s not a surplus of criticism in it that wouldn’t have occurred to any intelligent, close reader. Everybody at Rolling Stone, including the author, knew better than to do what they did. Within days of “A Rape on Campus” publication, Worth magazine editor Richard Bradley was unpeeling its most dubious layers on his personal blog with less effort than you’d skin a banana. “One must be most critical about stories that play into existing biases,” Bradley wrote. “And this story nourishes a lot of them.”

    The official post-mortems of rotten stories—as inevitable and necessary as they are—nourish another set of existing biases. (If you have a spare weekend, I invite you to read the 234-page independent report on Rathergate.) Typically, a few culpable parties are fired, retired or otherwise chased off in the wake of a post-mortem, but such purges are mostly symbolic and only punctuate the interval between transgressions. Wherever work is done—in the laboratory, in the halls of justice, in restaurant kitchens, on the operating table, in newsrooms—some people will always violate the social contract or cut corners. The press can commission as many pages of forensic reports as they wish, but they’ll never reform the incorrigible and the lazy. (It goes without saying that the same goes for other waywarding professions.)

    “The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust,” wrote Samuel Butler. Only the sentimental believe in teachable moments. For the rest of us there is only disaster recovery.


    If you can top that Butler quotation, send it via email to My Twitter feed is a rapidly evolving special report on the state of journalism. My email alerts and my RSS feed are being collected and analyzed by Columbia.

    Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

  11. Wrigley Field has been desecrated by some sort of televangelist nitwits. Go on-line and look at the dumb huge video screen which the owner built in the outfield. This is as out of place as the Rolling Stones at Vatican Easter Sunrise Service.

  12. Why wait to work out design flaws? A single solar thermal project was estimated to consume 500 million gallons of water a year . . . in a drought state. Dry cooling technology uses less water, but it costs up to 5 times as much in an already expensive system. Yes, solar is expensive. Researchers are working on ways to bring that cost down and make dry cooling more efficient on hot days.

    If people like Issac had their way, they would have installed a lot of evaporative cooled solar thermal plants in CA, because they’re “green”, and then we would be in crisis because of the drought, only to find out that if we had waited to build them with different cooling technology, they would have used less water and cost less to run.

    That is called “beta testing.”

    Some people think it’s unreasonable to work out the flaws in green energy production design. But I call it being responsible and not wasting money or effort on flawed designs that would just have to be replaced. Get it right.

  13. Solar Thermal Plants use massive amounts of water. In NV, 2 solar plants used 20% of all of the water in the area. This contributes to water wars, because most of the states that enjoy the most sunshine – CA, NV, NM AZ, also have scarce freshwater sources.

    This conflict between green energy and water conservation has been a hot topic in CA lately, where Gov Brown decreed that residents must curtail water usage by 25%, also installing meters and sometimes capping private wells, all while there are talks to build solar thermal plants.

    Oh, but it’s green, so it must be OK. Who cares about the water, right? Shouldn’t the only driving factor in our energy decisions be the carbon output?

    1. Karen S – the states you mention all share the Colorado River water. Which is an ongoing battle.

  14. Isaac:

    “You represent perfectly the antithesis of ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try , try again.’ The bats, birds, and other animals including humans are far worse impacted by fossil fuels, and and other sources of energy that negatively impact the earth.”

    That’s a ridiculous argument. Fix the technology so it doesn’t kill hundreds of thousands of birds every year before you carpet the planet with more wind farms. You are making excuses for expanding technology that is in its beta phase rather than simply getting it right first. Expand too early and you’ll end up adding on aftermarket fixes like radar and ultrasonic repellants. I also suggest that you go stand near a wind farm. They are so annoyingly loud. So in addition to the hundreds of thousands of birds they kill every year, they impact wildlife in all directions, as well. These should not be unsolvable problems so bloody fix it before perpetuating faulty designs.

    “Political mudslinging is just that. If you want to have a ‘mud off’ between the Republicans and the Democrats you can pick one first. It doesn’t really matter.” Personally, I would never say, “It doesn’t really matter” if a politician engages in wrongdoing, regardless of party. I spoke up when a Republican retaliated against a newspaper that criticized him, and I spoke up when Harry Reid admitted to lying about Mitt Romney to defraud the election process. Yes, it does matter to willfully lie to get someone elected. When the population becomes so jaded that it doesn’t really matter when politicians lie to them, like that Obamacare will save middle class families $2500 a year, then we will just get more politicians who lie to us. It is our fault because we allow it.

    I said a lot of people have had egg on their faces regarding Rolling Stone, Zimmerman, and Michael Brown, it’s true. You are grasping at straws if you blame the prosecutor rather than the evidence as why Zimmerman got off. If you smash someone’s head into the pavement because he was watching you, that man might be armed. I don’t think Zimmerman is very nice. He should have stayed in the car. He has issues. But watching where someone went does not justify someone smashing his head into the pavement. My point is that there is a trend of people jumping to conclusions and in some cases, feeding into the violent mob mentality, only to discover later that they were completely wrong.

  15. Bronson Koenig, starting guard for the Wisconsin basketball team, was only the 2nd American Indian to play in an NCAA championship game. Dee Ketchum in 1958 played for Kansas. Great season for my team. Some tough calls, but college sports has lots of politics, from who gets in, to the seeds, to the calls. Pro sports, for all it’s flaws, is more of a meritocracy. But, no excuses, Duke won, congrats to them.

  16. Nick Nick Nick

    Karen started it. She brought Zimmerman into it. Don’t you read Karen any more? Are you Karen?

  17. I’m sure there must be multiple offers from academia for the false accuser to become some sort of professor of women’s studies.

  18. Aridog – I only watched the network for the Middle Eastern Soaps. It’s been years since I’ve watched one, but they’re quite good. They tend to be short, with moving plots. Except I never saw one with a happy ending. If two people loved one another dearly, one was doomed to die every single time.

  19. I don’t think that being duped by a source such as Jackie is a firing offense.

    But Erdely and her editors did more than that. They wrote and edited the article to make it seem that they had spoken with individuals and verified facts when they did not. An example of this is Drew himself. Drew does not exist. Yet, reading the article the reader would assume that the pseudonym refered to an actual person that Erdely located and interviewed.

    In addition, when the story began to come apart, Erdely made evasive remarks, defending the article, that obscured that she made little attempt to identify and discuss the accusations with the fraternity members or with Jackie’s friends.

    And some of the story was just made up whole cloth. On CNN is a woman who says she was quoted by Erdely in the story attacking the UVA administrations handling of sexual assault cases. On the contrary, on national TV the woman, an assault victim herself, has high praise for UVA support for rape victims.

    This is not just the case of an ethical reporter being duped by a source. And it is not just the case of a reporter being tripped up by uncharacteristic sloppy work in a complicated and emotional case.

    Erdely and her editor/protectors ought to go.

    But who ever when to RS for the news anyway?

    1. bfm – as I said many hours ago and days ago when this broke Rolling Stone is not now, nor has it ever been a source of factual news. They do have good reviews, or at least they used to.

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