New court documents filed in the defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone reveal that disgraced reporter Sabrina Erdely knew her story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia (UVA) was deeply flawed, but refused to change it because improving it would simply be too much work. They also reveal that Rolling Stone attempted to stem a rising tide of bad press by seeking a “sympathetic” MSNBC reporter who would let Erdeley defend herself without pushing back too much.
The revelations comes in a court filing made Friday by by attorneys representing UVA dean Nicole Eramo. Eramo is suing Rolling Stone for $25 million, claiming the magazine’s 2014 article “A Rape On Campus” defamed her by portraying her as indifferent towards the gang rape of student Jackie Coakley and unwilling to take her claims seriously.
After the article’s release, it became clear Coakley had invented her gang rape out of whole cloth, and that her story had huge flaws Erdely should have easily discovered but didn’t because she failed to perform due diligence as a reporter. (RELATED: Emails Show Exact Moment Rolling Stone Reporter Realized Jackie Was A Liar)
In the filing, Eramo’s attorney quote a deposition given by UVA activist Alex Pinkleton, who helped Erdely with the preparation of the article. Pinkleton says she spoke with Erdely December 5, the same day Rolling Stone posted an apology for factual errors in its story. According to her deposition, Pinkleton says Erdely “basically admitted … she should have completely rewritten [the story] and regrets that she didn’t.”
Why wasn’t the story re-written? Primarily, Pinkleton says, because Erdely didn’t want to put in the necessary work to put out a story she trusted. (RELATED: UVA Jackie May Have Been Caught In Another Big Lie)
“Erdely admitted to Pinkleton that she knew she should have rewritten the story but that ‘rewriting the whole story was so much work,'” the court filing says.
Friday’s court filing also includes new emails from around the story’s publication that show how Rolling Stone tried to stem the rising tide of bad press against their story. For instance, in a Dec. 5 email, communications professional Kenneth Baer said Rolling Stone should “ID the TV interviewer that will be the most sympathetic” and get Erdely an interview where she could explain herself Said interviewer, Baer said, would probably be at MSNBC.
In a reply sent back to Baer, Erdely said she needed to get out a full apology quickly, before a devastating Washington Post takedown was published, or else it would look like Rolling Stone was “shamed” into a retraction.
The new documents also reveal that Erdely has been dismissed from Rolling Stone. Until now, her exact fate had been unclear, even though she had written nothing for the magazine since the disastrous UVA article. (RELATED: Court Docs Show Rolling Stone Fired Author Of Debunked Gang Rape Article)
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