Rolling Stone: Yeah, About That UVA Gang-Rape Story…

Jim Treacher | Blogger

A few months back, your dad’s second- or third-favorite music magazine published a hard-hitting, factually void exposé of a horrifying gang rape at the University of Virginia. As it turns out, there’s no evidence that the crime ever happened and some compelling evidence that it didn’t.

That didn’t stop UVA from punishing the fraternity that was falsely accused, of course, because rape hoaxes are so rare that they must be treated as the truth. If those young men don’t like it, they should’ve thought about that before they decided to be young men.

The now-even-further-disgraced Rolling Stone promised to follow up on the hoax they perpetrated, and months later, that report is almost ready. Ravi Somaiya, NYT:

Rolling Stone magazine plans to publish an external review of a widely disputed article about a gang rape at the University of Virginia “in the next couple of weeks,” its managing editor, Will Dana, said on Sunday…

Rolling Stone acknowledged that it had not sought to independently corroborate the woman’s account, and that it had doubts about the veracity of the story. Shortly afterward, it announced a review of the article would be led by Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism…

Mr. Coll said when the review was announced that the magazine had allowed him access to its staff and materials. The report will focus, he said, “on the editorial process,” but he added that it would also “have the freedom to move in any direction along the way that we believe would be germane and of public interest.”

I think Coll is saying that he’s trying to figure out why Rolling Stone published a major story about a horrific crime without any actual facts. That would be the “editorial process,” presumably. They ran a 10,000-word feature about a crime that didn’t happen, and at no point did anybody ask, “Would it hurt to check this?” The only real “editorial process” occurred outside their offices after it was published.

I’m not sure what else would be “germane and of public interest” — the RS break room’s Keurig cocaine dispenser? — but Coll has my attention. As for the author of the piece, Sabrina R. Erdely, she went into hiding once the story started to fall apart. Here’s where she was last seen:

Hope she’s doing OK in the middle of all this. I just need to know where to pre-order her inevitable novel.

Update: Charlottesville, VA police say that there’s no evidence of the assault. Plus, the alleged victim, known only as “Jackie,” has refused to cooperate with their investigation. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Update: Let the lawsuits begin.

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