Taking up this lattermost point, the lawyer Scott Greenfield observed today that Erdely has “not only failed to apologize to those she wrongfully smeared in her story, but used it as a vehicle to further promote the very cause that blinded her from truth.” He is correct. Indeed, the most notable feature of this whole saga has been the “rape apology” crowd’s spectacular unwillingness to recognize that there were two potentially bad outcomes here, not just one. It would, of course, have been terrible if Jackie’s story were true but nobody believed her. But it would also have been awful if the charges were untrue and the alleged perpetrators had been unfairly maligned. That it never crossed the minds of the howling mob that their targets may in fact be innocent — and, indeed, that Sabrina Erdely cannot bring herself to apologize to those whose lives she has damaged — is perhaps the most worrying, and illiberal, thing of all.

And so the real casualties are forgotten, and the authors of their misery will live to see another day. Were I among those who were libeled here, I could be forgiven for thinking that I were invisible; for lamenting that the apologies have been half-hearted and half-meant; for observing that the contrition has been hollow and pro-forma; and for concluding that all of these things are true because the real mourning is being done in the name of the smash-hit story that never was, and not in the interests of those who were hurt by its excesses.