Furthering coverage of the sordid aftermath of Rolling Stone Magazine’s publication their “A Rape On Campus” article in their November 2014 issue, the ex-rock mag was found libel this week in a defamation suit. The magazine’s parent company Wenner Media and the author of the article Sabrina Rubin Erdely were as well slapped with the federal court’s finding as well.
The suit was filed by Nicole P. Eramo, a former associate dean of students at the University of Virginia, the ‘campus’ in question. Her claim was that Erdely’s article depicted her as the “chief villain” of the supposed 9,000-word factual reporting of a gang rape of college freshman-“Jackie’-on the UofA’s campus in 2012.
Subsequent police investigation brought into doubt many of Jackie’s claims while journalism outlets came down on Rolling Stone for failing to pursue due diligence. Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s head, will only admit to being at fault for the magazine retracting the article (which they did when the heat of factual reporting got too hot) but rests the blame for the whole affair at Jackie’s feet.
There is no question that reporting a rape that did not happen is criminal. If Jackie’s identity will ever be revealed and if she is brought to court for her actions, is yet to be seen. And what a story like this does to a college campus, not to mention possibly keeping women from reporting actual rapes because of it, can be just as criminal. But Rolling Stone’s loss in this case (and a sad case that it is) speaks as to the integrity of the media, an institution the American people are not so very fond of lately.
Rolling Stone’s final statement offered this bon mot:.
“In our desire to present this complicated issue from the perspective of a survivor, we overlooked reporting paths and made journalistic mistakes that we are committed to never making again. We deeply regret these missteps and sincerely apologize to anyone hurt by them, including Ms. Eramo.”