Journalistic failure: Rolling Stone retracts gang rape story, journalists face no discipline

A scathing independent review published Sunday night has led Rolling Stone Magazine to fully retract their sensational story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virgina.

By Alex Thomas

(INTELLIHUB) — Almost immediately after Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely published her shocking report about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virgina frat party questions were being asked.

As university wide protests were being set up by feminist student organizations, the drumbeat of questions became too loud to ignore. Did the author contact the alleged perpetrators? Did the victim go to the police? How much evidence actually existed besides the startling account given by the victim identified only as Jackie?

These questions eventually revealed striking holes in the narrative written by Erdely, who had apparently relied almost entirely on Jackies word alone.

The outpouring of questions from the media, including from traditionally leftist news organizations, eventually led Rolling Stone to hire the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to conduct an independent report of the entire story.

That report, released Sunday night, completely destroyed the article, calling it “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

That failure encompassed the full spectrum of Journalism 101, including lapses by both editors in failing to push the author on gaps in her story and the author herself relying solely on her belief that campus rape is a widespread issue and that Jackie was being truthful.

More from the report:

As at other once-robust print magazines and newspapers, Rolling Stone’s editorial staff has shrunk in recent years as print advertising revenue has fallen and shifted online. The magazine’s full-time editorial ranks, not including art or photo staff, have contracted by about 25 percent since 2008. Yet Rolling Stone continues to invest in professional fact-checkers and to fund time-consuming investigations like Erdely’s.

The magazine’s records and interviews with participants show that the failure of “A Rape on Campus” was not due to a lack of resources. The problem was methodology, compounded by an environment where several journalists with decades of collective experience failed to surface and debate problems about their reporting or to heed the questions they did receive from a fact-checking colleague.

Adding even more damage to the credibility of the Rolling Stone article, Charlottesville, Va police have said that they have exhausted all leads in the case and have concluded that there is no basis to support the account told in the Rolling Stone.

For her part the author of this now disgraced piece of shoddy journalism issued her own statement which further exposed her overall mindset when it comes to accusations of rape and the harm of false allegations. Apologizing to just about everybody else, Erdely purposefully left out the fraternity brothers who almost had their entire lives ruined by her bias and journalistic malpractice.

“The past few months, since my Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” was first called into question, have been among the most painful of my life. Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience. I want to offer my deepest apologies: to Rolling Stone’s readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues,to theU.V.A. community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.

“Over my 20 years of working as an investigative journalist — including at Rolling Stone, a magazine I grew up loving and am honored to work for — I have often dealt with sensitive topics and sources. In writing each of these stories I must weigh my compassion against my journalistic duty to find the truth. However, in the case of Jackie and her account of her traumatic rape, I did not go far enough to verify her story. I allowed my concern for Jackie’s well-being, my fear of re-traumatizing her, and my confidence in her credibility to take the place of more questioning and more facts. These are mistakes I will not make again.

“Reporting on rape has unique challenges, but the journalist still has the responsibility to get it right. I hope that my mistakes in reporting this story do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard.”

Despite widespread condemnation of her article that included a smack down report from a highly influential journalism school Erdely apparently didn’t find it important enough to apologize to the people who could have ended up being actual victims in this story.

With that being said, perhaps its no surprise that Rolling Stone has decided to not punish Erdely or anyone else involved in this journalism disaster.

Although this case is clearly unique in that it was actually exposed as a fraud, it is sadly part of a larger problem within the mainstream media and extremist feminist circles.

There is a profoundly scary push to immediately believe all allegations of rape regardless of the actual evidence. It becomes even more striking when you read certain responses from the left that include the belief that although the Rolling Stone article wasn’t actually the truth, it was still a good thing because it opened up a wider conversation on campus rape nationwide. This ends justify the means system of thought could have severe repercussions in the future for our system of innocent until proven guilty.

About the Author:

Alex Thomas is a reporter who has worked in the alternative media for over three years. His work has been featured on numerous news outlets including Infowars and RT. Alex is an exclusive weapon of Intellihub.

Read more articles by this author here.

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