On Friday it was reported here at Victory Girls and around the world that Rolling Stone magazine issued a retraction of sorts on the “A Rape on Campus” story written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Why was it only sort of a retraction? When you take a closer look, readers will realize that Rolling Stone made it clear in their statement that neither the magazine nor Erdely are to blame for the story being wrong. Perhaps they are hoping the story will go away.
Well guess what, this story and their role in it isn’t going away. Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely have served up two epic failures with one stroke of the pen. The first failure is their disregard for one of the all important tenants of good factual journalism. TRUST BUT VERIFY. Instead Erdely and Rolling Stone decided to run a sensational rather than fact-based story. However, due to in-depth reporting by T. Rees Shapiro and Erik Wemple of the Washington Post and others, it is becoming clear that the facts of the case are nearly if not completely different from the account written in Rolling Stone. Erik Wemple writes:
“For the sake of Rolling Stone’s reputation, Sabrina Rubin Erdely had better be the country’s greatest judge of character.”
Sabrina had an agenda and the veracity of Jackie’s account didn’t matter. Differences in Jackie’s story includes identifying the wrong man, changing certain circumstances of her story, not reporting the attack because friends might lose party privileges at the fraternity, and having advocates start doubting all she described. Furthermore, Shapiro writes:
Jackie’s story empowered many women to speak publicly about attacks on them, but it also immediately raised questions about the decisions Jackie made that evening — not going to a hospital or reporting the alleged crime to police or the school — while some expressed doubt about her story altogether.
The above are questions ANY journalist worth his or her salt should’ve asked before determining if this was a story worth pursuing. If Jackie had suffered the injuries she described, why isn’t there a medical report? Why didn’t she report this to the campus or the local police? Why didn’t her friends or the campus advocates report this to the university? Why didn’t Erdely ask those questions? Why didn’t Rolling Stone ask Erdely about it? I can tell you why. Because Sabrina didn’t care to truly examine Jackie’s character or veracity, and Rolling Stone decided that sensational garbage was better than the facts.