And in a comment that is bound stir up further controversy for a magazine that has had a festering PR problem since the article was published, Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner appeared to absolve his staff and blame Jackie in an interview published Sunday by The New York Times.
Wenner “acknowledged the piece’s flaws but said that it represented an isolated and unusual episode and that Ms. Erdely would continue to write for the magazine,” the Times reported. “The problems with the article started with its source, Mr. Wenner said. He described her as ‘a really expert fabulist storyteller’ who managed to manipulate the magazine’s journalism process. When asked to clarify, he said that he was not trying to blame Jackie, ‘but obviously there is something here that is untruthful, and something sits at her doorstep.’”
Dana told The Post that although Rolling Stone’s procedures were essentially sound — and “failed in this one instance” — the magazine will be implementing suggestions the report makes.
He added, though, that he expects that Erdely will continue to write for the magazine. “Sabrina’s done great work for us over the years and we expect that to continue,” he said in his e-mail.
I am not one to call for other reporters’ heads when mistakes are made, as I have made mistakes before and had my head called for. But there are mistakes and then there are MISTAKES. A poorly chosen tweet or, in my case, a poorly conceived and unfunny parody, is one thing. Totally misreporting allegations of a gang rape in a hugely high-profile magazine story is another. One is poor judgement, often in the world of Twitter expressed (and regretted) in a millisecond. What Erdely did is journalistic malpractice, failing to do the basic blocking and tackling of reporting because, frankly, the story she had was just too good to check.
Rolling Stone published a story that will live in journalistic infamy. Its response is to do absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening again.
This story suffered from critical flaws and failings in its reporting, editing, and fact checking. When the magazine realized there were serious flaws, it published a hastily written editor’s note that blamed the victim and accepted little if any responsibility. Rolling Stone then took the wise decision of asking an impartial third party to report on what happened. But it did not make all of its related internal communications available for that report, and at least one aspect caused the magazine’s legal representation to decline to participate fully. Now that the results of a damning independent report have been published, the magazine has decided to continue working with the writer, to not fire anyone, and that it does not need to significantly alter any of its editorial procedures.
This is accountability laundering: Rolling Stone handed things over to a third party and did nothing on its own to make things right, or to take the hard but necessary decisions that their failures demand.
Jann Wenner isn't firing anyone for the UVA story. When I worked for him, he fired a guy for having a messy desk. #priorities
— Guy Nicolucci (@Nicolucci1899) April 6, 2015
Rolling Stone’s claim that their mistakes all came out of concern for a young rape victim are irresponsible: in the midst of an all-out backlash against so-called PC culture and anti-rape activism, they shirked their real responsibility both to Jackie and to all the victims of sexual assault, and it will have a resounding impact on those working to end sexual violence.
Rolling Stone created a mess for the men and women trying to end sexual violence on campus and off, and it should be the magazine’s job to clean it up. They’ve chosen instead to wash their hands of any wrongdoing – all because of their deep respect for rape victims.
To many, the Columbia Journalism School report on Rolling Stone’s account of an alleged University of Virginia rape case will seem to be a story about media addicted to seeking sensationalism over accuracy. But the whole sordid affair has been about something much larger: the idea that the pursuit of justice can be separated from facts; that metaphorical truth can be more important than literal truth. …
The gravitational pull of “story-over-facts” has a way of making the frame of mind seem like wisdom. In the UVA case, Ryan Duffin, an undergraduate friend of Jackie’s, has internalized the story-over-facts gospel: “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because whether this one incident is true, there’s still a huge problem with sexual assault in the United States.” And there is, especially on college campuses. But that is not the lesson we should learn from the UVA case, which has simply shown the fine line between enlightenment and medievalism when it comes to seeking justice, and how it pollutes journalistic culture—and therefore enlightened conversation—in today’s America.
Back in December, a source told the New York Observer that Wenner refused to accept the resignation of a managing editor for his role in publishing the story. But it’s not like Wenner, one of the magazine’s founders, doesn’t have the stomach to fire people. “Jann at this point has fired more people than most owners will ever hire,” the source added.
And according to a long archive of reports surrounding Wenner, he’s fired Rolling Stone staffers for committing egregious acts that shook the public’s trust in the magazine as an institution[.]
Steven DeLuca’s two-year tenure as publisher of Rolling Stone ended yesterday after what magazine executives described a flare-up with Jann Wenner, the magazine’s founder.
Mr. DeLuca “will exit his position at Wenner Media effective today,” a company statement said, noting that his two-year contract was up. “Wenner Media and DeLuca have mutually decided not to renew his agreement.”
The precipitating event in Mr. DeLuca’s departure, according to people who know both him and Mr. Wenner, was a dispute over the magazine’s coming celebration of its 1,000th issue in May. Neither Mr. Wenner nor Mr. DeLuca was available for comment.
The abject failure of accountability in journalism that led to Rolling Stone’s ‘A Rape on Campus’ article has done untold damage to the University of Virginia and our Commonwealth as a whole. More importantly, this false account has been an unnecessary and dangerous distraction from real efforts to combat sexual violence on our college campuses. My administration will not allow this shameful episode to stop the momentum we have built working with administrators, law enforcement, students and advocates to keep our campuses safe.
Rolling Stone founder and editor Jann Wenner recently killed a negative review of the new Hootie and the Blowfish album, according to a source at the magazine. After that, he found another writer who would come up with a more palatable take on the band that sells million upon millions of albums.
Something is going on here, and you don’t know what it is do you, Mr. Wenner? It’s called siding with this entertainment conglomerates against the journalists.
Jim DeRogatis is the critic who harpooned Hootie and the Blowfish in this squelched review. When asked if he thought Mr. Wenner was a big Hootie fan, Mr. DeRogatis replied, “No, I think he’s just a fan of bands which sell eight and a half million million copies.”
The fault apparently is neither with the writer, nor the editors, nor the process. Wenner told the Times that the erroneous article “represented an isolated and unusual episode and that Ms. Erdely would continue to write for the magazine.” Furthermore, “Mr. Wenner said Will Dana, the magazine’s managing editor, and the editor of the article, Sean Woods, would keep their jobs.” …
Our profession means pointing fingers, asking questions and demanding transparency of government leaders, corporate titans and figures of influence and consequence throughout our society.
How dare we do any less when it comes to ourselves? As the Coll report shows, this debacle is not merely the fault of a rogue fabulist. That’s too easy, and so is making the article go away with no consequences attached.
Think about what Wenner is saying here, however: The story’s author was so corrupt as to steamroll her editor with bogus reporting, and the editor was too weak to resist. And yet Woods is keeping his job; Erdely will continue writing for the magazine as well.
Deep in the Columbia report, there’s some detail about how Erdely and Woods interacted as they pursued Jackie’s story. The two have differing memories of how they approached confirmation of the events of Sept. 28, 2012, the night that Jackie was allegedly gang-raped. After the trauma, Jackie told Erdely, she encountered three friends who essentially steered her from contacting the police. Yet Erdely never interviewed those friends, who are identified in the story via pseudonyms. In a statement to Columbia, Erdely professed that she wished someone would have “pushed me harder” to interview them. Woods counters that he did press this particular case. “I did repeatedly ask, ‘Can we reach these people? Can we?’ And I was told no.” Woods eventually dropped the matter because “I felt we had enough,” says the report.
Managing Editor Will Dana told Columbia he didn’t remember talking with Woods or Erdely about this key reportorial deficit. Yet again, Dana’s job is secure. Rolling Stone is a publication sinking in institutional denial.
Note: Allahpundit is taking a couple of days off, but will be back mid-week.