No Punishment at Rolling Stone for Author of Discredited UVA Article

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Apr 06, 2015 12:25 PM
No Punishment at Rolling Stone for Author of Discredited UVA Article

Last night, the long-awaited Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism investigation about Rolling Stone's now-retracted story "A Rape on Campus" was released. It's brutal.

The story "A Rape on Campus" was centered on Jackie, a UVA student who claimed she had been brutally gang raped by seven members of a fraternity. After a thorough police investigation, it was determined that the incident described by Jackie never occurred. The report detailed that the magazine made several egregious errors in the story in regards to fact checking and investigating sources. Nonetheless, nobody at the magazine is facing disciplinary action for the article, and the writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, is likely to remain on staff and continue writing.

Still, despite mounting evidence that Jackie was a manipulative liar who purposefully misled Rolling Stone and went out of her way to ensure that her story wouldn't be corroborated, others are accusing Rolling Stone of "victim blaming" and "throwing Jackie under the bus."

This, naturally, is nonsense. There would be no bus to throw anyone under had Jackie not concocted the story that she was raped by seven men and then fed said story to a national publication. Jackie is not a victim. She's the catalyst of this whole thing. Without Jackie spinning tall tales, there would be a very different version of "A Rape on Campus" published. That's it. Rolling Stone should have done basic journalism and corroborated basic facts (starting with, of course, "Did the fraternity named by Jackie actually have an event on the night of the alleged attack?"), it was equally, if not more, wrong of Jackie to lie to the reporter and libel an entire group of people as a crazed mob of gang rapists.

Still, it is unbelievable that nobody at Rolling Stone is being punished over this. People have been fired for less. Granted, the fact that people are going to have a rough time trusting anything Erdely ever publishes again could be considered as punishment enough, but some kind of disciplinary action from the magazine would be a step in the right direction to show that they truly care about journalistic ethics.

Erdely issued an apology that did not include the fraternity named in the story. This was possibly due to legal reasons.

UPDATE: Per CNN, Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity named in article as the location and perpetrators of the gang rape, is filing suit against Rolling Stone.