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UVA frat gang rape story covered in red flags but too good to fact check

UVA frat gang rape story covered in red flags but too good to fact check

The truth is that some people lie about this sort of thing.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119?page=5

I wish I could say it is a shock that Rolling Stone would publish the inadequately-researched UVA rape story, or that a journalist with supposedly strong investigative credentials such as Sabrina Rubin Erdely would write it. No, the bigger shock is that the WaPo decided to challenge the Rolling Stone story by fact-checking the allegations of UVA-accuser “Jackie.”

If Erdely herself had tried a little harder to corroborate Jackie’s story, she would have found more or less what the WaPo discovered—that Jackie’s rape story didn’t hold up under close scrutiny—and Erdely’s sensational Rolling Stone article would probably never have been written. But Erdely chose not to do her job, no doubt because the story was just too good to not be true.

Everyone involved in this story was primed to believe it: Erdely, the assault awareness advocates at the university to whom Jackie told the tale, and Rolling Stone. The reporter and the paper should have known better and approached it more objectively.

The assault awareness students to whom Jackie spoke, on the other hand, are in a different position: they are younger people who have been brainwashed to believe they should always trust the woman who tells the story. But a certain amount of skepticism is always warranted, unfortunately: trust, but verify. The facts have to check out, and the truth is that some people lie about this sort of thing.

For accuser Jackie, her story began to get out of hand when Erdely came to the campus seeking someone to tell her such a tale [emphasis mine]:

Jackie told the Post that she had not intended to share her story widely until the Rolling Stone writer contacted her.

“If she had not come to me I probably would not have gone public about my rape,” said Jackie…

There are many such quotes in the WaPo article that are very telling about Jackie’s state of mind. She wanted to tell her story, but was reluctant to give out too many facts or to go to authorities, because she knew her veracity would be challenged. In fact, she even asked Erdely to leave her out of the article, but Erdely insisted on keeping her in [emphasis mine]:

Jackie said she finally relented and agreed to participate on the condition that she be able to fact-check her parts in the story, which she said Erdely accepted

Jackie said numerous times that she didn’t expect that an investigation the Charlottesville Police department opened after the article’s publication to result in any charges. She said she knew there was little if any forensic evidence that could prove the allegations two years after they occurred.

“I didn’t want a trial,” Jackie said. “I can’t imagine getting up on a defense stand having them tear me apart.”

…In an in-person interview Thursday, Jackie said that Rolling Stone account of her attack was truthful but also acknowledged that some details in the article might not be accurate.

Not fake, but inaccurate.

Anyone interviewing this woman should have perceived almost immediately that she was covered in red flags. But many people didn’t want to know and didn’t want to see—and are struggling now with the revelations:

“An advocate is not supposed to be an investigator, a judge or an adjudicator,” said Renda, a 2014 graduate who works for the university as a sexual violence awareness specialist. But as details emerge that cast doubt on Jackie’s account, Renda said, “I don’t even know what I believe at this point.”

…“We teach people to believe the victims. We know there are false reports but those are extraordinarily low.”

Renda said that research shows between 2 to 8 percent of all rape allegations are fabricated or unfounded.

That research probably isn’t all that meaningful, however, since false rape allegations that were successful would not be detected and would not tend to appear in the statistics. But 8 percent is not what one ought to call “extraordinarily low,” either. It is significant, approximately one in twelve.

For advocates such as Renda this story is one that potentially threatens their deepest assumptions. How to reconcile it with “we teach people to believe the victims”? The answer is not to always “believe the victims.” The proper stance is empathy combined with a hard-nosed skepticism, and careful attention to detail. One can assume nothing.

Not believing a true accusation is devastating to the accuser, and false accusations are devastating to the accused. It is not an easy task to sort it out, but calm objectivity is an absolute necessity.

It is possible to be sympathetic and respectful while not falling into the trap of unquestioning belief.

(Featured Image: Illustration by John Ritter via Rolling Stone)

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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Comments

“For advocates such as Renda this story is one that potentially threatens their deepest assumptions.”

When your job depends on finding as many victims as possible, you will move heaven and earth to find them, real or imagined.

What’s interesting and more than a little ironic is that “Rolling Stone” is obviously the chronicle of the rock world/life-style, which has always been thumpingly misogynistic. It led inexorably to the Hip-hop and Rap forms.

Now, it’s gone all preachy. But note that the targets are “rich” white boys. Collectivist much…???

Let’s see. There is Projection Journalism, Gonzo Journalism, Feminist Journalism, Race Biased Journalism, I-Have-A-Grudge Journalism, I-Know-Better-Than-You Journalism, On-Thin-Ice Journalism, Believe-It-Or-Not Journalism…
All varieties can be found at the checkout counters of your grocery store.

“But 8 percent is not what one ought to call “extraordinarily low,” either.” and the real number will be significantly higher possibly 2 to 3 times higher …
come to think of it I can’t think of any other crime that has as many false reports (i.e. lies) … murder ? obviously not, you need a body … robbery ? possibly some as insurance scams but nowhere near 8 % …

“No,the bigger shock is that the WaPo decided to challenge the Rolling Stone story by fact-checking the allegations of UVA-accuser“Jackie.””

Not really. WaPo is probably overrun with UVAers, possibly even a Phi Kap (gasp) or two. ‘Course, the Phi Kaps may be off the hook, but the trustees, administration, and some of the faculty still stink.

What happened with Rolling Stone is now the rule, not the exception.

Journalism as we know it is dead, and it’s code of ethics is a thing of the past.
No more objective reporting of the TRUTH.
No more fairness and balance.
No more independence from power.

Today’s MSM is a tool to political agendas. They will openly lie and obfuscate to pursue their objectives.

    Exiliado in reply to Exiliado. | December 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Correction:
    — — — — — — — — — —
    Journalism as we know it is dead, and
    its
    code of ethics is a thing of the past.

    — — — — — — — — — —

      Valerie in reply to Exiliado. | December 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      With respect, I disagree. There is a journalistic code of ethics, which is alive, well, and functional. Outlets such as the Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and the Washington Post need only raise their standard of ethics to that of a local weekly newspaper.

JackRussellTerrierist | December 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I am truly shocked the RS did not bury their oopsie on p.34 beneath a coupon for a free slurpee at all participating 7-11s.

Crystal Mangum’s agenda was $. The left, especially the media and academia, piled on. This chick’s agenda was to pro-actively become a tool for the left’s assault on white males.

BUSTED AGAIN!!

Be it race or rape hoaxes, the left just keeps taking hits to their credibility.

The fraternity should sue this little bitch and the UVA president.

The rate of false reporting is not 2-8%, it’s at least 40%, and I suspect if you really looked at it closely you’d find that in places where women are actively encouraged to report, such as university campuses and the military, it’s well over 50%. Claiming false reporting is rare is just an article of religious faith, that’s held without any evidence at all..

WaPo only began looking into it after Bradley and Soave raised questions on blogs, and many commenters immediately noticed the inconsistencies and absurdities.

– –

For instance, UVA frats haven’t had fall rushes in many years, and when they did September 28 was far too early for ‘initiations.’ Any party on that date would have been brothers and dates only by U rule, yet we are not told what the other six women were doing at the time.

And the friends who care enough to find her on the street at 3 a.m. discourage her from getting medical care because it might affect their future social invitations? HUH? How does that make sense at all?

– –

WaPo also wanted to show that such a scoop couldn’t have happened right under their noses – they still have reporters in Central Virginia.

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