November 7, 2016

Rolling Stone’s Terrible Defamation

The rock magazine lost a major lawsuit over a false rape story.

Rolling Stone should stick to reviewing music. The iconic magazine lost a huge defamation lawsuit Friday stemming from its fabricated story in November 2014 about a supposed gang rape by a fraternity at the University of Virginia. Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely recounted the story of the college student known only as “Jackie” without corroborating her account. Police determined that key elements of Jackie’s story were false. There were serious lapses at all levels of reporting and editing at Rolling Stone, and the magazine eventually retracted the story. Former UVA dean Nicole Eramo sued, alleging the magazine’s careless and agenda-driven “reporting,” which cast her as the villain and face of an indifferent administration, had destroyed her entire career of helping victims of sexual assault. A jury agreed, and awarded $3 million in damages. (The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has also filed suit.) That defamation suits are notoriously difficult to win illustrates just how far off the rails Rolling Stone went.

Campus sexual assault has been a major theme for the Left — not entirely without reason — and Jackie’s story evidently proved too good to do even basic fact-checking. But it was all a lie, and lies are what make it harder for actual victims, not the fact that Rolling Stone is being held accountable. Anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. That doesn’t change because the alleged crime was sexual assault on a college campus, and it doesn’t change because some “hip” leftists at a rock and roll rag have a story to tell. Reckless and deceitful reporting should have consequences, making this is a welcome turn of events.


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