Education

Rolling Stone Reporter Cried Over False Gang-Rape Article, But For Selfish Reasons

For Sabrina Rubin Erdely, it’s all about her.

The disgraced author of a retracted Rolling Stone article about a gang-rape at the University of Virginia reportedly sobbed to one of her sources in the weeks after the story fell apart. But Erdely wasn’t upset because her 9,000-word piece, “A Rape on Campus,” had falsely accused a UVA fraternity of a gruesome gang-rape of a female student.

Instead, Erdely was worried about her career.

“She started bawling and said, ‘I am going to lose my job,'” Alex Pinkelton, a source of Erdely’s, told Vanity Fair in a new tick-tock about the fallout from the article.

Pinkleton was friends at UVA with a student named Jackie, whose story of a vicious gang attack in Sept. 2012 served as the centerpiece of Erdely’s article.

Jackie told Erdely that as a freshman at UVA, she was gang-raped by seven members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity during a pledge ritual at a house party. She also claimed that her friends and school administrators failed to help her.

The article drew national attention and stirred widespread outrage after it was published on Nov. 19. UVA students vandalized the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house, forcing members to move out. University president Teresa Sullivan suspended all Greek life activity as the school investigated the article’s claims.

But by early December, Jackie’s friends were telling reporters that her story didn’t add up. They also questioned Erdely’s reporting methods.

According to the Vanity Fair piece, on Dec. 4, Jackie’s friends, including Pinkleton, met with Jackie to tell her that The Washington Post’s T. Rees Shapiro was set to publish a bombshell article which would obliterate her story.

Jackie was defiant, and told Pinkleton and the others who met with her that they were “shitty friends.”

Erdely, who was re-investigating parts of the story, had been in touch with Jackie, and then contacted Pinkleton.

“I need to hear from you if her story was true,” Erdely said, the student recalled.

“And I just said, ‘I don’t think you should have written the article,'” Pinkleton told Vanity Fair. The article continues:

The following morning, December 5, Pinkleton said, she received another call from Erdely. “‘I’m writing the retraction right now. I just need to hear one more time what you think,'” Pinkleton told me. “She started bawling and said, ‘I am going to lose my job.'”

Erdely never did lose her job, even after Rolling Stone retracted the article. She kept the job even after the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism published a report that detailed her and magazine editors’ numerous failures in allowing the shoddy story to go to print. (RELATED: Where In The World Is Disgraced Rolling Stone Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely?)

The Columbia report faulted Erdely for failing at the basics of journalism. She published the story without even knowing the real name of a fraternity member Jackie claimed coordinated her gang-rape. She also gave the leaders of Phi Kappa Psi no detailed information about Jackie’s allegation. When they were unable to deny that the incident occurred, Erdely portrayed it as an indication of guilt.

Erdely also failed to contact three friends of Jackie’s who she claimed met with her shortly after her alleged rape. Jackie portrayed those friends as callous and uncaring, and Erdely took her word for it. The friends later came forward and cast further doubt on Erdely and Jackie, telling The Post that their friend’s story had changed dramatically over time.

The debacle has put Rolling Stone in a bad spot, however. A UVA dean, Nicole Eramo, is suing Rolling Stone for nearly $8 million for her negative portrayal in the piece. Erdely accused Eramo of failing to help Jackie after she told her about the gang-rape. But as an investigation by local police proved, Eramo sought to help Jackie, but the fabulist refused to go forward with a criminal case against her alleged attackers. Three former Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members are also suing the magazine. (RELATED: Three Members Of Falsely Accused Fraternity Sue Rolling Stone After Fabricated Article)

Erdely has not appeared in print or in the media eye since her article fell apart. She has not returned numerous requests for comment from The Daily Caller since December.

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