The last time I paid any attention to Lena Dunham, she was explaining why she wasn’t really comparing herself to a sexual predator when she compared herself to a sexual predator. Now her claim to have been the prey in another act of sexual assault is being fact-checked. This is bad news for people who don’t think facts matter in such accusations.
In her bestselling memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham devotes a chapter to leveling a rape accusation against a “mustachioed campus Republican” she calls “Barry,” back when she was a 19-year-old student at Oberlin. It’s the sort of thing that’s too good to check if you’re a member of the mainstream media or a Lena Dunham fan (pardon the redundancy). But Breitbart’s John Nolte did the work, and Dunham’s apologists aren’t going to like it.
After a month-long investigation that included more than a dozen interviews, a trip to the Oberlin campus, and hours spent poring through the Oberlin College archives, her description of the campus remains the only detail Breitbart News was able to verify in Dunham’s story of being raped by a campus Republican named Barry.
On top of the name Barry, which Dunham does not identify as a pseudonym (more on the importance of this below), Dunham drops close to a dozen specific clues about the identity of the man she alleges raped her as a 19-year-old student. Some of the details are personality traits like his being a “poor loser” at poker. Other details are quite specific. For instance, Dunham informs us her rapist sported a flamboyant mustache, worked at the campus library, and even names the radio talk show he hosted.
To be sure we get the point, on three occasions Dunham tells her readers that her attacker is a Republican or a conservative, and a prominent one at that — no less than the “campus’s resident conservative.”
For weeks, and to no avail, using phone and email and online searches, Breitbart News was able to verify just one of these details. Like everyone else interested, we immediately found that there indeed was a prominent Republican named Barry who attended Oberlin at the time in question.
Whatever her motives, Dunham is pointing her powerful finger at this man. But as you will read in the details below, the facts do not point back at him. Not even close. This man is by all accounts (including his own) innocent.
Read the whole thing. Perhaps most remarkable is Nolte’s conversation with WOBC station manager Sophie Hess, who refuses to tell Nolte whether “Barry’s” radio show, which was called Real Talk with Jimbo according to Dunham, ever even existed. And why not?
“Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant,” Ms. Hess proclaimed. “It’s just not important if they are telling the truth. If this person had wanted criminal justice they would have pursued it.”
Instead, she waited 10 years and put it in a book for which she was paid millions. With enough specific details that there’s a specific individual out there being blamed for it. Except none of those details check out.
And that’s… irrelevant?
So I asked:
Hi, @LenaDunham. Why did you lie about being raped by a college Republican at Oberlin named Barry? What did your victim do to deserve that?
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) December 5, 2014
I’ll let you know if she responds. There must be some explanation.
Between this and the UVA case, it’s been a bad week for rape allegations with no factual basis. Rape is a serious crime, and rapists should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But that doesn’t mean an accusation is its own proof. And no matter how many feminists protest, asking for facts isn’t “rape denial.”
Dunham dismissed that previous set of pesky facts by claiming she was just kidding about being a sexual predator. That’s what happened here too, probably. She meant “rape” ironically, you guys.
P.S. Here’s a Friday-afternoon document drop if ever there was one: Rolling Stone now blames “Jackie” for their own sloppy reporting on the UVA gang-rape story.