Anorak News | A Rape on Campus: a non-apology apology as the libel trial progresses with no sign of the real victims

A Rape on Campus: a non-apology apology as the libel trial progresses with no sign of the real victims

by | 30th, October 2016

Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann S. Wenner should not have deleted the 2014 story on ‘Jackie’s’ alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. There was no proof whatsoever Jackie had been raped. The Columbia University Journalism School called the story a “failure of journalism”.

Wenner’s been talking a libel trial brought by Nicole Eramo, a former associate dean of students at the university. She claims the magazine’s story portrayed her as the “chief villain”. She’s seeking a modest $7.5 million in damages.

“We did everything reasonable, appropriate up to the highest standards of journalism to check on this thing,” says Wenner, as quoted in the NY Times. “The one thing we didn’t do was confront Jackie’s accusers – the rapists.”

Confront? Surely ask for their version of events. As journalism goes, offering the accused a right to reply is pretty standard stuff. The paper adds. ‘Wenner said there was nothing a journalist could do “if someone is really determined to commit a fraud”.’

You could err on the side of caution. But this was an agenda-driven story.

He said that while the magazine rightly retracted “the Jackie stuff,” he disagreed with the decision to retract the entire article in the wake of a damning report on it in April 2015 by The Columbia Journalism Review. He said the bulk of the article detailed ways that the University of Virginia could improve its treatment of victims of sexual assault.

“I stand by the rest of the article: personally, professionally and on behalf of the magazine,” Mr. Wenner said.

Mr. Wenner added: “You just want to be double careful, and by and large we are. We are deeply committed to accuracy in a humanistic philosophical pursuit of the truth.”

Heads have rolled.

Mr. Wenner testified that he knew there was a problem when he came to work the first Friday in December 2014 and found his managing editor, Will Dana, distraught. The deposition also provided Mr. Wenner’s fullest account of his decision to terminate Mr. Dana and the reporter who wrote the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely. She had just begun a $300,000 writing contract. Mr. Wenner said that the quality of their work had slipped, in part because of fallout from the article.

“I cannot run the company with devastated, traumatized people,” he said.

Some irony that one traumatized woman’s alleged trauma was their undoing. Can’t work with that state of mind amongst the staffers – but can use it as a subject matter. And as for trauma, what about what of the accused?

The New York Post has more from Werner:

“I’m very, very sorry. It was never meant to ever happen this way to you,” Wenner told Nicole Eramo in taped testimony played at the
$7.85 million defamation trial.

“And believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have,” he said. “And I know what it’s like. I hope that this whole thing hadn’t happened but it is, and it’s what we live with.”

The Daily Beast provides a neat summing up of the alleged crime and notes Wenner’s apology:

He insisted that then-managing editor Will Dana’s retraction was “inaccurate… We do not retract the whole story,” and that the magazine’s biggest mistake was not corroborating Jackie’s account with her alleged attackers.

Indeed, had Erdely and her editors even attempted to do so, they would likely have arrived at a similar conclusion as Charlottesville police did after a five-month investigation: that there was no party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, the night that Jackie claimed she was brutally raped by eight men; and that they found no evidence that Jackie was assaulted at Phi Kappa Psi or any other fraternity at UVA.

And now for that apology:

“We screwed up. Bring it on. We suffered,” Wenner said, before going on to apologize to Eramo. “It was never meant to happen this way to you. And believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have. But please, my sympathies.”

And the accused men? No word.

Posted: 30th, October 2016 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink