The most unbelievable dialogue comes later. Sometime after 3 a.m., Jackie leaves the still-raging party, “her face beaten, dress spattered with blood,” without anyone seeing her. Distraught, she calls three friends, Andy, Randall, and Cindy (not their real names) for help. They arrive in “minutes.” One of the male friends says they have to take her to the hospital. Cindy replies, “Is that such a good idea?” adding, “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years.”…

Really? Neither boy put Jackie’s medical needs above their pledge prospects? What a convenient conversation for an exposé of rape culture — it reads like a script written for a feminist avant-garde theater troupe. Similarly, when Jackie reports what happened to school authorities — again, a brutal, premeditated gang rape by nearly half the pledge class of a prominent fraternity — the dean is described as responding with all of the emotion you’d expect if Jackie requested to change majors. Meanwhile, it was all kept hush-hush until Erdely reported it.

Erdely admits she set out to find a sexual-assault story at an elite school like UVA. She looked at lots of other colleges first, but “none of those schools felt quite right” in the words of a Washington Post profile of Erdely. But UVA, which Erdely describes in Rolling Stone as a school without a thriving “radical feminist culture seeking to upend the patriarchy,” was just right. As Worth magazine editor Richard Bradley noted last week, the whole thing seems like an adventure in confirmation bias.