Erik Wemple, the Washington Post fact checker, identified “Jackie,” the woman who made up a violent gang rape attack by members of a University of Virginia fraternity, as the top victim of the false Rolling Stone story.
After Wemple effectively examines the complete failure of journalistic standards that led Rolling Stone to publish the fake story, he compiles an “inventory” of the victims in the story near the end of his critique.
The list contains who you’d expect — the falsely accused fraternity, the university, the three friends of the woman who made up the story and were portrayed as more interested in their social standing than a friend who’d been violently gang raped. But the top victim, according to Wemple, was “Jackie,” the woman who made it all up.
Now let’s inventory the victims of Rolling Stone’s admittedly non-fabricated journalism:
A young woman who was leading a quiet life before Erdely and the magazine found her. She later went in and out of contact with Rolling Stone and, according to the piece, is “worried about what might happen to her once this article comes out.” Yet Erdely & Co. steamrolled ahead nonetheless. “We should have been much tougher” in reporting the facts, said Woods, “and in not doing that, we maybe did her a disservice.” Not maybe.
Second on Wemple’s list was the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, which saw its members come under protest and investigation based on the lies Rolling Stone published as fact.