Rolling Stone: We didn’t defame UVA dean
They want the case dismissed!
Here at Legal Insurrection, we devoted a lot of (virtual) ink to the Rolling Stone campus rape story debacle. Sabrina Erdely’s now-retracted article on “Jackie’s” traumatic gang rape—and its relation to the campus sexual assault problem Erdely so desperately wanted to prove exists—serves as a textbook example of how not to conduct an investigation, and may end up costing Rolling Stone more than its reputation (or at least, whatever is left of it.)
Back in May, University of Virginia associate dean of students Nicole Eramo filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Rolling Stone, its parent company Wenner Media, and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely for their portrayal of Eramo in Erdely’s story. Eramo argues that Erdely and Rolling Stone knew Jackie was unreliable, had serious doubts about the story, and yet ran with it anyway because they were desperate to fulfill their own narrative and sell magazines.
As I said in May, the benefits of attempting to salvage Eramo’s reputation via the courts must outweigh the risk that opposing counsel and the MSM could find something that causes further damage; her attorneys likely would not have filed the suit had they not performed that analysis. Still, Rolling Stone has decided to answer the complaint by claiming that UVA actually contributed to the faulty report.
In a detailed rebuttal, the magazine’s lawyers acknowledge that the Columbia report, commissioned by Rolling Stone, found that the original U-Va. story was deeply flawed. The magazine’s editors and Erdely apologized for their mistakes. But lawyers for Rolling Stone deny that the magazine libeled Eramo, noting that the account also highlighted that she is seen as an asset to the community of rape survivors on campus.
Rolling Stone’s lawyers alleged that Eramo’s assertions in the lawsuit “are not capable of being proven true or false” and therefore not subject for legal action.
The magazine’s lawyers also state that the editors and Erdely did not publish the story “with actual malice” against Eramo, meaning that they did not know then that the information was false.
In addition, the Rolling Stone lawyers say that the original article was not published “with recklessness, negligence or any other applicable degree of fault” and that the story was vetted by fact-checkers before it appeared online and in print.
The lawyers wrote in their response that “at the time of publication, they had no doubts as to the truth of the article.”
They were so sure, they went out of their way to convince themselves by altering photographs of Eramo to look like rebooted Nazi propaganda:
Of course, that isn’t Rolling Stone’s real problem—it just looks really, really bad. The problem is that they admitted they screwed up, and are now trying to hide behind their lawyers.
You can read their full answer here:
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It is clear and admitted that RS did not do their due diligence in checking the story or attempting to contact the accused. Even their head fact-checker decided to punt on checking.
RS editors had to know of Erdely’s history. She had a college story retracted outright, and had already had one for RS fall apart with a second under serious cloud. Not checking her sources was either deliberate or reckless. I cannot see how they could convince a jury otherwise.
As to Eramo, she was the dean who presented Jackie with her options before proceeding with the complaint. In the story, she does come off as discouraging her, but it is vague. In hindsight, since Jackie had made up the whole thing, Eramo was doing her a favor by sparing her further embarrassment.
Jackie only ever saw her the next year, after friends insisted she attend a survivor seminar Eramo conducted. Eramo would never have been involved if Jackie had ever faced up to the truth.
Eramo is a worthless SJW who the U shouldn’t be paying, but she shouldn’t be libeled for doing her job well.
“Rolling Stone lawyers say that the original article was not published “with recklessness, negligence or any other applicable degree of fault” and that the story was vetted by fact-checkers before it appeared online and in print.”
LOL. Oh my, how were they able to type that without laughing themselves silly?
How do you “vet” a gang rape story without verifying that the “victim’s” date and main rapist actually exists, or that he was actually a student at the university, or that he was a member of the fraternity, or that he was at the fraternity party where the rape allegedly occurred, or that there even was a party that night? And how do you “vet” the rape story without interviewing the friends that the alleged victim claims saw and helped her immediately after the rape?
We know now, no thanks to Rolling Stone’s “vetting,” that the alleged gang-rape victim’s date and main rapist was a fiction of her imagination, that the name she gave (Haven Monahan) was not the name of any person who had ever attended the university or been a member of the fraternity, and that there was no fraternity party on the night she claims to have been gang-raped at a fraternity party at that particular fraternity’s house. We also now know, again no thanks to Rolling Stone, that the alleged victim’s friends who saw her immediately after the alleged rape saw no signs of the injuries the woman claimed to have suffered in the “rape,” and that the friends themselves had many reasons to be skeptical of the woman’s claims, because the woman had changed her story repeatedly in the months following the alleged rape, and also because she was known to be a fabulist and had been lying to her friends for months before the alleged rape and fabricating texts and phone calls from a non-existent boyfriend.
The only way Rolling Stone “vetted” this story is if they define “vetting” to mean “taking the story-teller’s word for everything and not bothering to independently verify any of the facts.”
Get out your checkbook, Rolling Stone. If this argument is the best defense you’ve got, you’re screwed.
But Rolling Stone Blanche ya did, ya did!
their own autopsy of the article says it wasn’t fact checked correctly yet the lawyer here saying it was.
funny huh ??
They need to go stick to reviewing movies, music, and pop culture. Actual investigation of important stories doesn’t seem to be their thing.