Interestingly, they don’t specify that she’s going to re-report it *for Rolling Stone.* RS is supposedly revisiting the UVA story too but you would think at this point they’d want nothing more to do with Erdely, especially with her previous work for them and others newly under suspicion. What happens if they agree to let her “re-report” Jackie’s story for them and then her previous bombshell for the magazine begins falling apart under scrutiny?
There are only two ways an Erdely mea culpa can go. She could in theory blame the whole thing on Jackie, but she won’t. “Rape culture” true believers will destroy her for that, as will media critics who’ll note — correctly — that Jackie and RS could have been spared this ordeal if Erdely herself had simply followed rule one of journalism, “Talk to everyone involved in the story.” In fact, the editor of RS already emphasized in his statement on the matter that the failings here were the magazine’s, not Jackie’s (not even a little?), so blaming the “victim” won’t fly. That leaves Erdely with one other option: Admit error but emphasize that it happened only because she cares too darned much. Failing to talk to Jackie’s friends and the accused doesn’t mean “rape culture” isn’t real; she got caught up here in the Larger Truth, which abides even if the actual truth is … problematic, and inconvenient. Feminists will love her for that. Why, when you consider how ferocious the Patriarchy was in pushing back against Jackie’s story, Erdely’s kind of a victim too, y’know.
If you don’t believe that “Larger Truth” might fly as a defense to a horrendously irresponsible story that’s hurt lots of innocent kids at UVA, just listen to Jackie’s friend “Randall,” a.k.a. Ryan a.k.a. the alleged object of Jackie’s crush when the alleged rape occurred, straining to exculpate Erdely. With three exceptions, no one mentioned in Erdely’s story was as wronged by her as he was. And yet:
One of the friends, a 20-year-old, third-year student referred to as “Randall” in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told the AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, but he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and go to sleep.
“I couldn’t help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect,” Duffin said…
All three say Erdely has since reached out to them, and that she has told them she is re-reporting the story. Hendley told the AP Erdely apologized to her for portraying her the way she did…
“People at U.Va. want answers just as much as I do,” Duffin says. “But if anything, the takeaway from all this is that I still don’t really care if what’s presented in this article is true or not because I think it’s far more important that people focus on the issue of sexual assault as a whole.”
Everything Erdely said about him was wrong but he doesn’t care because Larger Truth. I wonder if that’s his honest opinion or a position he’s basically been forced to take to keep “rape culture” fanatics on campus off his back, now that he’s committed the grave sin of undermining Jackie’s story in WaPo. Either way, I’ll be surprised if Erdely doesn’t end her eventual apologia, wherever it ends up running, by quoting that last line of his verbatim.
As I say, only three people suffered more at Erdely’s hands than “Randall”/Ryan. One, of course, was “Drew,” the supposed ringleader of the gang rape. Two, arguably, was Jackie herself, who allegedly tried to back out of the story after talking to Erdely but was told by the reporter that it was going to run no matter what. And three, someone initially overlooked in the fallout but championed lately by reporters like Amy Davidson and Erik Wemple, was Jackie’s friend “Cindy,” one of the people who rushed to her side the night of the alleged rape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” she supposedly replied when Jackie told her about being brutally assaulted by a group of men. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?” If you believe Jackie and Erdely, in other words, Cindy is some sort of sociopathic nymphomaniac, a woman who looks at her friend who’s literally shaking from trauma and kinda sorta wishes she had been the lucky girl instead. Imagine how invested you need to be in the “rape culture” narrative, which imagines systemic callousness to campus rapes, to smear a 20-year-old kid by putting pro-rape sentiments in her mouth — and then never bothering to call her to ask if she had actually voiced them.
Exit question: Buried at the end of today’s AP story is Duffin’s account of what happened the night Jackie told the three friends — “Randall”/Ryan, “Andy,” and “Cindy” — about the alleged rape. She was shaking, said Ryan, her lip was quivering, her eyes were darting — she seemed legitimately traumatized, which is why he was gung ho to call the cops until Jackie stopped him. One interesting detail he mentions, though, is that Jackie didn’t want “Cindy” to be part of the conversation. “Cindy” was made to stand at a distance while Jackie talked to Ryan and “Andy.” How come? Did she suspect “Cindy” would doubt her? Or did Jackie, who presumably was Erdely’s source for the caricature of “Cindy” as a sociopath, have some other issue with her?