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UD remains embarrassed by her readiness…

… to believe the original Rolling Stone article on the University of Virginia rape. She simply had a confidence in that publication that she of course no longer has.

RS has now retracted the story, following a Columbia Journalism School investigation that found the article full of elementary journalistic errors.

Margaret Soltan, April 6, 2015 12:27AM
Posted in: bad writing

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19 Responses to “UD remains embarrassed by her readiness…”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    Has a less sincere apology ever been offered?

    Erdely apologizes to “the U.V.A. community.” Not to the fraternity that she smeared as rapists, and not to Jackie’s friends whom she painted as enablers. Not gonna apologize to a buncha rich Southern boys, that’s for damn sure.

    Teresa Sullivan elides completely her own role, first fleeing the country, and then standing at the head of the lynch mob, her main concern being to protect her administrators, while throwing the frat boys under the bus.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: I agree that few people end up looking good here. I await the lawsuits.

  3. Mr Punch Says:

    The UVa story is embarrassing all around (and RS’s reaction should be embarrassing in itself) but perhaps less so than the Duke lacrosse episode. In the earlier case, every college-age man I discussed it with doubted the story from the start, whereas in the UVa instance the allegations were seen as plausible.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mr Punch: I was somewhat credulous when the Duke story came out, but much less so than with the UVa case – I think because there wasn’t any (apparently) trustworthy editorial outlet presenting the story. But although I was less credulous, I have to admit that I was inclined to believe the original Duke story as well.

    I did a mea culpa on that one too. I don’t seem to be learning very fast.

  5. Dennis Says:

    You’re much more honest than RS or the UVA. Despite the Columbia report, and despite the WP reporting about the story’s flaws, RS still says that it doesn’t need to make any changes in its editorial procedures and none of the people responsible — not the immediate editor, not the managing editor, and not even the author — will lose their jobs. Worse, it continues to describe Jackie as a “rape victim” even though they surely know by now that she made everything up, the alleged organizer, the alleged frat inductees, the frat, and the rape. The UVA president was even more credulous than you were. She punished the entire Greek system on nothing more than a tabloid article and, unlike you, she never admitted her error or apologized.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dennis: Yes – the fact that RS is making no changes among these writers and editors is strange.

  7. charlie Says:

    UD, a few years back, the nation was intrigued with a Notre Dame football player, Manti Te’o, and how he overcame the death of both his grandmother and girlfriend, within a few hours of each other. The copy was, a brave, young linebacker, son of a preacher, playing at The Holier Than Though University, overcoming his sorrow, to play such inspired football, that it propelled his underdog football team to the National Championship. The story went on for months, NBC, which carries Notre Dame home games, and ESPN, which owns most of the right hand side of the world, did achingly saccharine puff pieces on Manti’s grief, and how football made it all better.

    Problem was, there was no dead girlfriend, in fact, there was no girl, at all, never existed. Manti supposedly only met some woman, once at a Stanford football game, where she told him she was an undergrad. After that, the only communication that went on between the ghost and Mr. Idiot were furtive late night telephone conversations. It all came undone AFTER the national championship game, when Deadspin broke the real story.

    Point being, think of all the putative adults and sophisticated news agencies that were snookered by this scam. Notre Dame is probably the most zealous of all unis in protecting their brand name. When something like this breaks, which involves the school, it must do through the Sports Information Director, without exception. Journalists and news outlets contact the SID, who then decides if they’ll allow the players to be interviewed. The SID coaches the guys as to what to say, and how to say it. At some time or other, someone in that office had to have sat with Manti and asked for details, in order to burnish the story. If Manti told them the same thing Deadspin found out, and if the SID didn’t say this is the stupidest god damn thing I’ve ever heard, we can’t go with this, the public will find out we recruit morons, they should have been fired. Any sentient human being would have known the story was nonsense.

    As to NBC and ESPN, basic journalistic fare would have been to get tape of the dead woman’s family, friends, attending doctors and nurses. After all, the initial story went that the woman attended Stanford, played volleyball, had friends. Any producer would have sent their field crews out to get any of that. If the most basic of reportage had occurred, the story would have collapsed within a couple hours. What ESPN and NBC wants us to believe is that they failed to maintain the most basic of standards, failed to do what some small timey local affiliate would have done for any story. Go ahead and believe that the two of the biggest news agencies didn’t know the truth, but anyone who actually has worked as a journalist will know that’s garbage.

    Don’t beat yourself up, UD, the MSM is at fault, not you. RS has the reputation of doing high quality journalistic fare, and most of America will believe what NBC/ESPN tells them, simply because of their cred. The truth is, they don’t want to spend the money or use the resources to do actual journalism, rather, the issue is how cheaply and quickly can we get stories made.

  8. Alan Allport Says:

    Erdely was/is a freelance journalist, wasn’t/isn’t she? I can understand Rolling Stone declining to hire her services in the future, but I don’t quite understand the strident demands for her to be fired when she was never hired in the first place.

  9. Dennis Says:

    Alan Allport: what is significant is that, even after her incredibly shoddy reporting, RS has said it will continue to work with her. In other words, this was a disaster from bottom to top, but nobody will suffer any consequences for their journalistic malpractice. “Move on, nothing to see here.” Just imagine, however, how RS would have reacted if one of its freelancers had falsely accused, say, a black fraternity or black members of a football team. Heads would have rolled, many of them.

  10. Alan Allport Says:

    “RS has said it will continue to work with her.”

    Ah, I see – thanks. I wonder if they really will, though.

    (BTW, I don’t think the ‘just imagine’ game is really worth playing. No-one actually knows what would have happened in such a hypothetical situation. I would say the Rolling Stone story as it stands is bad enough without inventing a bunch of what-ifs to pile it on).

  11. Dennis Says:

    Fair enough, Alan Allport, but playing a very reasonable “what if” game reveals the hypocrisy that compounds the journalistic malpractice. Some victims are clearly more equal than others. But maybe the malpractice charge suffices for now.

  12. Colin Says:

    I wonder at what point these false stories – UVA, Duke Lacrosse, Michael Brown, Tawana Brawley – become less bad luck or coincidence and more of a pattern. It is an article of faith that posh white boys rape women, especially poor black ones and that white cops shoot down unarmed black kids with their hands up. We are told this is endemic, and perhaps it is. But why do so many of the exemplars so lovingly seized upon by the Left turn out to be false? Especially so obviously, so grotesquely, so predictably so? Are American liberals just really unlucky?

  13. Derek Says:

    Colin —
    Any luck finding Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate?

    You cited four examples, one from 1987, one from 2006, and two more recent. How is your PhD work in cherry-picking studies going?


  14. Steve Says:

    UD, I appreciate the mea culpa given our exchange in December. I would encourage you to read this article on why this was not simple journalistic error. I would be interested in your thoughts.


  15. Colin Says:

    Sharpton is hardly ancient history, is he? And you neatly avoided the point: two of my examples led to major riots, the other two led the national news and were widely instanced as examples of pervasive racism or white (or posh) sexual violence. UD wondered why she was so quick to believe the UVA story, and (more reluctantly) willing to believe Duke Lacrosse. I suggest confirmation bias is at work: it is axiomatic to many that events such as those alleged at Duke or UVA are commonplace. When a juicy example hits the headlines, it is easy to believe it. But why are so many of these cases not only false, but so obviously false? I ask again, if this kind of thing is pervasive, why are liberals so often unlucky in their examples? Perhaps the answer is that while these sorts of things do happen (unsurprising in a country as vast as the US) they are actually very rare and authentic examples commensurably difficult to find. It’s that or really rotten luck.

  16. charlie Says:

    Colin, the left media is jumping on examples of bad police procedure? Hmm, mind explaining this?


    The Mollen Commission found a repeated pattern of criminal New York City police corruption. Evidence was more that available, for quite some time. If the left media was so intent on busting LEO’s, there would have been no need for the Mollen Comission.

    Further: gjs.appstate.edu/…/rampart-corruption-scandal

    Rampart Division of the LAPD was found to have engaged in long term criminal activity, including bank robbery, drug dealing, murder and falsifying reports.

    Point was, all of this was well known to the folks who lived in either jurisdiction. Any enterprising reporter, be they left or right, could have easily done a story regarding police corruption, by doing nothing more than covering their beat. They didn’t. They failed to do their jobs. I could cite more, but I would think you get the point.’

    MSM is controlled by only a few individual corps, hardly any of them left, by any description. I find it strange that you focused on Al Sharpton. Why not meditate on Rupert Murdoch, you know, the guy who runs a media empire, elements of which were busted in England for hacking phones, bribing cops and judges, all in the effort of getting their ‘news.’ Guy still allowed to own major media outlets, and he’s hardly left.

  17. Colin Says:

    So far as I know, Murdoch has never set out to inspire a race riot. I also understand his tax affairs are in order. And as the editor of the News of the World was acquitted, it is a bit of a reach to blame Murdoch for what his underling’s underlings did, in common, as it happens, with every other UK tabloid.

    And police corruption? Sure. I have no trouble with the notion – I’m a libertarian, and distrust anybody with power. But that’s rather changing the subject from liberal credulity regarding either pervasive white-on-black violence or a supposed campus rape culture. And again, it completely sidesteps my point. I think Derek’s resort to ad hominem attacks and Charlie’s deployment of a red herring, both in lieu of substantive argument, rather neatly makes my point.

  18. charlie Says:

    Colin, that is bullshit regarding Murdoch. This hardly hits his underling’s, his son had to resign his position because he was involved with the corruption. News of The World had to disband, due to the fact that they weren’t doing journalism, they were involved in crimes. Point being, which you seemed to have missed, the guy who owns a media empire is hardly liberal. Or maybe you should start out by defining what you think is liberal.

    Hardly changing the subject, you again, simply missed the point. YOU claimed some kind of liberal credulity, I pointed out there is no such thing, due to the fact that the MSM isn’t owned by liberals. Instead of you attempting to create a straw man, why not attempt to answer my points, that if the MSM was doing anything that you claimed regarding white on black violence, then they would have jumped all over both LAPD and NYPD, but they didn’t. Just so you know, most the police violence was at those pesky minority people. I’m very familiar with Ramparts Division, it covers the Pico-Union District of Los Angeles, one of the poorest part of Los Angeles County. These are only a couple of examples of absolute white on black violence, in that, the LAPD and NYPD management is overwhelmingly white, and yet, the MSM refused to cover any of these stories.

    BTW, where is your proof that the MSM wanted to start a race riot? You have proof that during the news budget meetings, senior editors said that was what they wanted?

  19. Derek Says:

    Colin —
    I see the defense in the Cherry Picking PhD Studies is not going so well.

    Again — four examples over the course of almost three decades. You raise Sharpton’s very existence today as if it somehow represents an ongoing continuum of Tawana Brawley at every given moment.

    And I’m not sure exactly how my comments are ad hominem but your preceding mine are not. You indict all liberals in one fell swoop, on a charge that is demonstrably false. I accused you of cherry picking, which is demonstrably true. No ad hominem. In fact, I’m adhering to the same standards you are, without the cherry picking, that is.

    I assume the PhD in cherry picking studies carried with it coursework in double standards?

    Or are only you allowed to use sarcasm as a means of argument?

    I do recall lots of people, conservatives in fact, believing something about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And yellowcake from Africa. But I guess that doesn’t count. They, after all, did not lead to race riots. Only to war.

    So yeah, only liberals believe in demonstrably false assertions they receive in the media.


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