OR, “Cavalier? You Make the Call.”
From whence comes this newfound concern for the propriety of modern-day “journalism”? The propensity for the Media, be it Main Stream or Hip Stream, to demagogue, propagandize, demonize and trash everything traditional American, including traditional Americans (patriotic white male Christian working or middle class) at the expense of truth, due diligence and the integrity of the journalistic process and its practice, is legend.
Could it be that it’s a distraction? Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Four months after Rolling Stone first retracted elements of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s story “A Rape on Campus,” about a University of Virginia student identified only as “Jackie” who claimed she had been gang-raped at a fraternity party, the Columbia School of Journalism has released its exhaustive external review that attempts to answer the question: “What Went Wrong?”
Scour the Mediaite article for one mention of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and her role in the demonization, slander, humiliation and denial of due process accorded the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in this New Age witch hunt and you won’t find it. Nor will you find it in hardly any of the other outlets. All you will hear is about the failures of Rolling Stone to follow basic journalism protocols and ethics.
As a reminder, the suspension of Phi Kappa Psi and the other actions taken by the University of Virginia administration, primarily in the person of Teresa Sullivan, were based solely on what was contained in that infamous Rolling Stone article.
The University of Virginia is suspending all fraternities and associated parties until January 9 following a Rolling Stone magazine article that described a student’s account of being gang raped and her frustration at trying to bring her alleged attackers to accountability.
“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to re-examine our responsibility to this community,” school President Teresa A. Sullivan wrote in a statement to the university community. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities.”
If you bother to read the scathing Columbia Journalism School report (and who made Columbia ‘god’ anyway?) you will see items having to do with failure to verify sources, failure to interview witnesses, failure to ask questions, failure to follow up and the like.
Why is not the same scrutiny being applied to Teresa Sullivan? Rolling Stone magazine doesn’t have any power over Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, no matter how much they slandered them. Teresa Sullivan? The buck’s supposed to stop there. Why does she get to skate in all of this? And in fact the University of Virginia as a whole, it being a public institution in the Commonwealth.
Here is the position of that model of integrity himself, Virginia governor Terry McCauliffe, on the subject of this fiasco:
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe slammed Rolling Stone magazine Monday for the “abject failure of accountability in journalism” that led to a debunked story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house.
The Democrat said in a statement that the article “has done untold damage to the University of Virginia and our Commonwealth as a whole.”
“This false account has been an unnecessary and dangerous distraction from real efforts to combat sexual violence on our college campuses,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “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.”
An “unnecessary and dangerous distraction”, huh Governor? What about the distraction you are participating in by diverting attention to Rolling Stone magazine and by refusing to countenance the fact that a cognizant official at one of your state institutions illegally, immorally, with prejudice and malice and callous disregard for the civil rights of students falling within her purview, did suspend all professional judgement, ethics and standard operating procedures and predicate her actions based on a periodical and the rantings contained therein?
And guess who was more than happy to have the light shined on an East Village periodical and away from herself? Why Her Excellency, and officially:
Statement from President Sullivan:
“Rolling Stone’s story, ‘A Rape on Campus,’ did nothing to combat sexual violence, and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue. Irresponsible journalism unjustly damaged the reputations of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate. The story portrayed University staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims of sexual assault. Such false depictions reinforce the reluctance sexual assault victims already feel about reporting their experience, lest they be doubted or ignored.
That is the real scandal here. Rolling Stone is nothing but a popular iconic rag, and has been since it’s founding back in the day. It’s ranting and raving should no more be the basis for official or quasi official action by a cognizant authority than another pop icon, counter-culture and drug-influenced rag – High Times. But lest we forget, this is not the first time that Rolling Stone has been at the center of a “scandal” that caused an entity to be unjustly punished. Does anyone remember General Stanley McChrystal?
So yes, Columbia School of Journalism – you’re all that…..all of a sudden. But if you want to do us a favor, you might prevail upon your colleagues at the Columbia School of Law to do a bit of investigating their own fine selves.
And after they’ve finished with Teresa Sullivan, they can proceed to some bigger fish that are sorely in need of frying. Most prominently some of their prominent alumni.