Rape

Rolling Stone Fires Back Against UVA Dean's Lawsuit, Claims It Had 'No Doubts' About Story

Pitiful excuses.

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UVA

Rolling Stone responded to University of Virginia Associate Dean Nicole Eramo's defamation lawsuit against the magazine, asserting that editors had "no doubts" about the validity of the now-retracted UVA rape story at the time of publication.

The story portrayed Eramo and the UVA administration as unhelpful and indifferent to the plight of Jackie, who claimed to be the victim of a horrific gang rape. The magazine even altered Eramo's likeness to make it more sinister and used it as an image in the story. But Jackie fabricated her tale—something that would have been obvious to Rolling Stone's editors had they tried even halfheartedly to vet her story. The author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not press Jackie to name her attackers (even for internal fact-checking purposes), and the editors let that slide.

As such, Rolling Stone's defense seems fairly suspect to me. From The Washington Post:

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 at the time 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."

But by Rolling Stone's own admission, the fact-checkers did not do an adequate job. And it wasn't because their normal fact-checking process was unequal to the task of uncovering Jackie's lies, but rather, because they didn't abide by their usual standards of verification. This screams "applicable degree of fault" to me.

And while it seems true that no one at Rolling Stone doubted the story at time of publication, Erdely began having doubts soon after. The Columbia University School of Journalism's report on the debacle suggests that these doubts emerged from Erdely's own conscience—she knew all along she should have demanded that Jackie give her a name.

Whether these mistakes entitle Eramo to $7.5 million damages remains to be seen. But I'm certainly not persuaded by Rolling Stone's excuses thus far.

For the most thorough explanation of the case against Rolling Stone, read WaPost's Eugene Volokh.

Read my award-winning analysis of the UVA story here.

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  1. [Rolling Stone] had “no doubts” about the validity of the now-retracted UVA rape story

    “We really are this stupid and incompetent! Come at me, bro!!”

    1. Yeah, their defense really doesn’t say anything good about Rolling Stone’s editorial staff.

      1. The defense isn’t about the editorial staff. The defense is about “If you admit you knew something about the story smelled, the case is lost and you can kiss the $7.5m goodbye.”

  2. Somebody gave Rico Suave an award? This world gets weirder every damn day.

  3. Soon to be known as the Gawker defense.

    1. How awesome would it be to see two of the smuggest and most vapid left-wing rags brought down at the same time by their own stupidity and hubris?

      1. Much schadenfreude will be had

        1. …and then we dance !

        2. And many salty ham tears will be shed.

          “Mmm, the tears of unfathomable sadness! Yummy, you guys!”

      2. Gawker currently is contending with two different lawsuits and will probably get a third from Geithner if it turns out this was a hoax.

        The guy who was Gawker’s source is a crazy Russian conspiracy theorist who writes online about his theories regarding the Book of Revelation.

        It’s possible the whole story is fake, in which case Gawker is going to get hammered.

        1. It’s possible the whole story is fake, in which case Gawker is going to get hammered.

          Don’t worry. The journalists’ union will come to their rescue, pitching in union dues to save them!

          1. Now that would be a story!

  4. “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.”

    I mean, what *is* truth, if you know what I mean?

    I mean, I could say that the Rolling Stone lawyers run a chicken-prostitution ring, and when called on it I could protest that this is a mere expression of opinion whose objective truth is unverifiable.

    1. I mean, technically it’s impossible to prove a negative. So the objective truth remains unverifiable until such time as the positive is proven.

      1. I think the attorneys are trying to get around a big problem they appear to have–whatever “fact-checking” process actually occurred, it seems likely that the magazine was operating in reckless disregard for the truth. It certainly looks like it from the outside. So if reckless disregard is sitting there, looking you in the face, the only thing you can do is attack the “truth” part. Should be a very philosophical defense, seeking the epistemology of rape.

      2. It is quite possible to prove a negative.

        It is not dark outside right now, where i am. I can look out the window and prove it. There are no even prime numbers greater than 2. I can easily prove that.

        I think what you want to say is that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of something as a matter of fact.

        1. Actually, Zebulon, your claims about the dark aren’t proof of anything. I don’t even know that you exist.

          1. Not to mention conceding he exists. How can Zeb prove aliens haven’t put a chip in his head that makes him perceive dark as light?

          2. That’s why I threw a mathematical example in there too.

            As a math person, I don’t really like using “proof” to talk about vulgar things like matters of fact, anyway. science doesn’t prove anything and court trials certainly don’t.

            1. I heard something the other day watching some show about Archimedes, and they asked whether infinity was merely a human construct, without reality.

              1. You can ask the same thing about all of mathematics. It’s either a very interesting or a very pointless question. Or both.

                First someone has to figure out exactly what reality is.

                1. It’s both, just like reality is.

                  The answer to your question, of course, is that reality is mathematics.

                  1. I think that’s about as good an answer as you are likely to find. Some people make it a lot more complicated.

  5. Fine, you’re not guilty of attempted murder be you are guilty of reckless endangerment. Happy? Now fork over the cash, jerks.

    1. Yeah, well, the actual malice standard doesn’t require that they know the defamatory information was false. They just have to have had a reckless disregard for whether it was false.

      1. Which the lawyers get, but I bet the facts don’t support.

        1. This might be their version of the Chewbacca Defense.

          1. + Look at the monkey

  6. Rolling Stone Fires Back Against UVA Dean’s Lawsuit, Claims It Had ‘No Doubts’ About Story

    Rolling Stone is withdrawing its consent to the lawsuit.

    1. Consent or no consent, Rolling Stone is going to get it good and hard.

      1. “Pull its muthafuckin leg.”

  7. “…asserting that editors had “no doubts” about the validity of the now-retracted UVA rape story at the time of publication….”

    ‘Our editors are too stupid to do what you claim!’
    Great defense!

    1. Late to the party again…

    2. It actually could be. They’ll argue that the dean was “public figure,” and if they win on that, the standard will be “actual malice,” which will require the dean to show they knew it was wrong when they published it.

      1. Its an interesting question whether the Dean was a public figure:

        “a personage of great public interest or familiarity like a government official, politician, celebrity, business leader, movie star, or sports hero. ”

        I kinda doubt it, especially since the libel or slander itself can’t be why you are a public figure.

      2. And, the standard for public figures is “actual malice OR reckless disregard.”

        Rolling Stone doesn’t have to have known it was false. They just have to have not given a shit whether it was true or not.

  8. Fun fact: the statue in the picture, The Aviator, has a prominent gonadal region that generations of U.Va. students have rubbed for luck, and now its ballsack is super shiny.

    Something something RAPE KULTUR

    1. There’s one at Johns Hopkins where a man and a topless woman sit back to back. Each year, “someone” polishes her boobs as if the man were reaching around on a regular basis.

      http://monumentcity.net/2009/03/

  9. Read my award-winning analysis of the UVA story here.

    Don’t believe your own hype, Robbie.

    1. His hair whispers secrets to him in the night.

      1. Robby’s hair speaks to all of us, waving seductively without the slightest breeze. Calling us, beckoning us, even to our destruction.

  10. What’s the rundown on the Gawker story. Any good links?

      1. Is it a false story or are they just getting blowback because they outed him? I can’t really makes heads or tails from the article.

        1. Nobody knows if it’s false or not. Except for the “I’ll go to President Obama” part. That’s almost assuredly false.

          Part of it is that it’s unnecessary, part of it is that they’re outing someone (while calling out other media outlets for outing people), part of it is that they’re aiding and abetting in blackmail, and part of it is the way their writers have been responding to it.

        2. Not just because they outed him, also because they apparently wrote a single-sourced story that preserved the anonymity of a blackmailing escort “for professional reasons.” You know, in case he’s planning another shakedown.

          1. A black mailing escort with crazy ideas about Russia and the Rapture.

            A really legit source.

            1. Look, Irish, did you go to Columbia?

          2. ” preserved the anonymity of a blackmailing escort “

            Not really. He was identified within a few hours from his dick-pic in the story that the source had used in another public setting. Whoops.

            additionally, it appears that with the tidal wave of negative opinion, Gawker has suddenly decided “Morals, Ethics, Stuff”, and taken the story down. along the way Denton tries a lot of huffing and puffing about how this Conde Nast exec was like, totes one of the most powerful people in the Corporate Media Universe, therefore colluding with his blackmailer was like totally part of their ethical mission as a member of the Free Press and Truth to Power and God Bless America.

            I have to say, however – sentences like this almost make it all worth it =

            “I can’t defend yesterday’s story as I can our coverage of Bill O’Reilly, Hillary Clinton or Hulk Hogan.”

  11. Read my award-winning analysis of the UVA story here.

    A major award, with FRA-GI-LE written on the outside of the crate?

    1. +1 Soap Poisoning !

    2. “It must be from Italy!”

  12. 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 at the time that the information was false.

    I question whether the Associate Dean of the University of Virginia counts as a “public figure” such that the “actual malice” standard would apply.

    Who wins more in their lawsuit: David Geithner vs. Gawker, or Nicole Eramo vs. Rolling Stone? I’m guessing Geithner.

  13. Jezebel’s commenters are revolting, and not in the way they’re usually revolting. Check out the comments here, on how they’re reacting to a story from a writer who publicly defended the Geithner story on her twitter account.

    1. You said it, they stink on ice.

    2. Meh. those people are still disgusting. they lap up the slop that gawker feeds them, and maybe once a year they all pretend to be morally aghast at the lack of ethical conduct of the organiz….. HEY LOOK OVER THERE!! HYPERPROGVENTILATE EN MASSE

  14. Awarding winning story, sure…but that’s not the same as journalism degree from Columbia.
    Hah ! Pwnd !

  15. 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.

    Look, we just published a completely false article accusing a bunch of students of violently raping someone, her callous friends more concerned about popularity (one of which asked why she didn’t “have fun with it,” “it” being the violent rape on shards of broken glass), and an indifferent at best university administration, all without any proof other than the accuser’s word. In no way were we reckless or negligent. None whatsoever.

    On second thought, that’s not going to work. Haven made us do it. /RS

  16. Not that it should be that way here. But if this were the UK, Rolling Stone would be paying out to a whole lot of people over this.

  17. asserting that editors had “no doubts” about the validity of the now-retracted UVA rape story at the time of publication.

    Impossible. Halfway through the article I started re-reading to make notes on all the reasons it couldn’t possibly be true. These guys are asking us to believe everyone involved is tied for being the biggest idiot in the history of the world.

  18. “”no doubts” about the validity of the now-retracted UVA rape story”

    So he did kiss a girl?

  19. 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.

    Did you know that in order to be a Rolling Stone lawyer you first have to pass a test in front of senior management that requires to to ass-fuck a Doberman and then feltch the pooch clean. Granted, this is assertion not capable of being proven true or false.

  20. After recalling my conversations with leftists during the GWB years and comparing them to my conversations with leftists during the Obama years, I have concluded that the whole “war on women” and “sexism” focus of the media these days is a big “LOOK, A SQUIRREL!” distraction from the constitutional abuses of Obama.

    If GWB was still in office, the left would have been talking about how GWB bombed 160+ Pakistani kids, murdered US citizens without due process, spied on all US citizens, etc. But because Obama did it, all they can talk about is f***ing sexism, and stoking more gender wars between men and women.

    1. If you widened the distractions to include “campus rape”, “the confederate flag”, and “amy schumer’s jokes about mexicans”, “environmental hysteria”, etc.

      …and included ‘moribund economy’, ‘healthcare fiasco’, and ‘foreign policy clusterfuck’ to the list of things being distracted from

      you’d be firing on all cylinders.

      Its basically “policy criticism when opposition is in power”, “culture-war when TEAM BLUE is in power”

  21. Obama could literally walk out in a pimp suit, smack some hoes, do a drive by on the press, stomp a baby’s head and donate the remains to science, and the lemmings would try to vote him in again for an illegal 3rd term.

  22. they didn’t abide by their usual standards of verification. This screams “applicable degree of fault” to me.

    Violating your own policies is pretty much per se negligence, and can easily be “knowing and intentional” and/or “reckless”.

    You pretty much start out from a position of extreme weakness.

    Good luck with that, Rolling Stone.

  23. Lies, all the way down.

  24. Oh Please. The administrators at UVA are supposed to be adults. They purport to be educated and responsible. When I read the UVA story it was immediately clear that the accuser had not undergone proper vetting nor had the story been appropriately researched. But nevertheless, UVA decided it was true because they are so cowardly and politically correct they could not bring themselves to utilize good judgement to determine its veracity. Even AFTER the story was exposed as a hoax, these idiot administrators at UVA contimued to punish the fraternities for something they had not done. They have embarrassed our Commonwealth with their gross incompetence and ineptitude willingly buying into a hoax because it fit the leftist narrative they wish to pursue. They all need to be fired. It is their fault, not the fault of the moron fake journalists at Rolling Stone. Hey Wenner, you are over 30. We don’t trust you and some of us never did even back in the day.

    1. Best comment of the bunch.

  25. Sometimes man you jsut have to hittem up.

    http://www.Private-VPN.tk

  26. The Dean “sleaze bag” Eramo had no problem trashing and penalizing the fraternities and their members simply because they were white males. I don’t think RS editied the bitches picture to make her look more “sinister”, but to try and make the stupid cunt look intelligent.

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