Rape

Blame Rolling Stone, Not the White House Advisor Who Introduced Jackie

Magazine should take the blame, not Emily Renda.

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UVA
Wikimedia Commons

Some media reports are making a big deal out of the fact that Emily Renda—a member of President Obama's White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault —was the person who set up the initial, ill-fated meeting between Rolling Stone contributor Sabrina Rubin Erdely and false accuser Jackie.

IJ Review originally* chose the headline, "A Revealing New Fact Just Uncovered in Rolling Stone's Gang Rape Article on the U. of Virginia," and wrote:

Rolling Stone magazine has confirmed that a former University of Virginia sexual assault victim with ties to the Obama administration was responsible for connecting author Sabrina Rubin Erdely with the "Jackie," the student who later became the subject of the magazine's now-retracted story about gang rape.

That fact may or may not be revealing, but it certainly isn't "new." Indeed, it was already widely known. The Columbia Journalism Review's major investigation of what went wrong with the UVA story notes—in its very first sentence, no less—that Renda introduced Erdely to Jackie. That report was published on April 5. The details of Renda's involvement were known to many reporters who had closely examined the story even before then.

Those who wish to ascribe significance to Renda's involvement can point to the fact that she is casually linked with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of OCR and architect of the Title IX inquisition, attended the same White House meetings as Renda. But while federal intervention into the campus rape crisis has certainly ginned up hysteria and led many in the media to uncritically report distortions, it would be improper to hold up this specific connection between the White House, Renda, and Rolling Stone as evidence of some conspiracy.

The more interesting aspect of Renda's involvement is that Rolling Stone's lawyers are now citing her as evidence that UVA had faith in Jackie's story. Renda was a recent graduate and employee of UVA, and the fact that she recommended Jackie to Erdely amounts to a tacit endorsement, Rolling Stone's lawyers have claimed in response to Nicole Eramo's lawsuit.

Eramo is a university employee as well—her suit contends the magazine recklessly, unfairly maligned her. In that sense, I can see why Rolling Stone would want to play up Renda's role in the ordeal.

And yet, this argument is fundamentally weak. It wasn't Renda's job to fact-check Jackie's story, it was Erdely's. Even the most cursory verification effort would have exposed the lie; all Rolling Stone had to do was press Jackie harder for the names of her assailants. (Erdely eventually did this—after the story was already published—and indeed produced a name that revealed Jackie as a fabulist.)

Perhaps Renda can be accused of gullibility—for listening to such an incredible story, and believing it—but that's all. And even that accusation is weak, since Jackie is known to have changed the details in subsequent retellings. The version she told Renda might have been more plausible than the one she eventually told Erdely.

Rolling Stone has every right to lay some of the blame for this debacle on Jackie. The rest belongs to the magazine's writers and editors—not Renda.

*IJ Review corrected its headline after I pointed this out. 

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  1. why can’t we blame Rolling Stone, Renda, and the Obama Administration for fostering a rape hoax culture?

    1. While the rape culture is more than likely a hoax we can’t quite say for sure that the actors discussing this are using this false narrative as a platform to further their political ends.

      1. Signed wide eyed optimists everywhere.

    2. Because doing so will dissuade real rape hoaxers, er somehting.

      1. Just like prosecuting insurance fraud will discourage people with legitimate claims from filing a claim.

        1. analogy…too…powerful *head explodes*

  2. Oh, there’s plenty of blame to go around; no need to short any of the participants. They ALL get to wear this steaming pile of crap.

    1. If they can link Palin and Trump to mass shootings why shouldn’t Obama get some dirt flung his way for all this crap? I mean, he does set the tone for this hysteria.

      Rational my ass.

      Plenty of people believed William Stoughton back in the day.

      1. Someone has to be better than the bad actors. When fighting brutal dictators we cannot allow ourselves to become brutal dictators. The same is true of political fights.

        Maybe that’s why whomever I’m for loses… but with class.

        1. See, also, “unilateral disarmament”.

      2. I prefer to maintain a bit of detached superiority.

        If people want to fling shit, that’s their business, but stupid bullshit is stupid bullshit and it only makes things worse. Trying to tie Palin to Gabby Gifford didn’t hurt her and this wouldn’t hurt Obama. All it does is rile up a bunch of stupid assholes.

  3. “President Obama’s White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault ”

    That’s a thing that actually exists in real life???

    1. Why wouldn’t it? Is there any issue that the Obama Administration doesn’t think needs a solution dictated from the White House?

      1. What? The President just said he doesn’t like to get involved when there might be pending legal matters associated with it. Listen to the President Hugh. He went to Harvard.

        1. He didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.

      2. +1 Rape Czar
        Make it a cabinet-level position

        1. STEVE SMITH ALREADY SUBMIT APPLICATION. TWICE.

          1. STEVE SMITH HAVE LONG LIST OF REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

            1. And he’s got a letter of condemnation from the Deputy Mayor.

    2. When 1 in 5 college women get raped, why should such a task force NOT be a thing?

      1. That statistic is bullsh*t. First, it is 1 in 5 get sexually assaulted (not raped), included unwanted kissing. Second, the statistic is estimated from survey responses, with some fudge factors.

        Think about it, if 1 in 5 women got raped at college, who the hell would attend?

        1. Yeah, but “1 in 5 women get their butts pinched at some point in college” just doesn’t have the same spark.

      2. That’s a lot of raping. It takes a task force to get it done.

        1. If government is in charge sure, private industry could call up Steve Smith for a fraction of the cost.

      3. A sociologist asked women things like, did you have drunken sex and then come to regret it the next day? They would answer yes and she would add another tally to the “Was raped” column No shit it’s 1 in 5 on that standard.

    3. Oh, dear. There are so very many things that exist in this administration that would make you either LOL or WTF.

      1. Spencer bids 7 clubs

        1. What are we playing?

    4. For more than a year apparently.

  4. Does anyone who does not work for or represent Rolling Stone blame anyone but Rolling Stone for their shoddy brand of journalism?

  5. This is all well and good for you, but Robby, how can I, as a layperson without access to a journalistic website, provoke a twitter firestorm and bring Social Justice Hate down on myself?

    I’ve been trying to provoke them, so far unsuccessfully. I’m trying to line up some juicy lawsuits when one of them inevitably goes too far.

    1. If I email Robby, maybe he’ll like me too.

      1. I sent him dick pics. He can verify this.

        1. But does he know about shrinkage?

          1. I didn’t say I sent him a picture of my dick.

            So far as he’s concerned, I’m a 7 foot tall black guy.

            1. Or a giant lizard.

        2. was that what you’re using for your presidential run? is that like announcing?

  6. The Obama Administration actively pushes false statistics about rape, employs campus activists who engage in shady activities in order to push their preferred political narrative, and has actually attempted to manipulate colleges into implementing idiotic sexual assault policies based on false claims of ubiquitous rape.

    This type of thing is absolutely linked to Obama administration policy and their support of rape hysteria. If the president were spreading fear that all the gays will give you AIDS if they come near you and then there were anti-gay laws implemented due to this hysteria, I don’t think you could argue they aren’t partially at fault.

    1. Pretty much this.

      WTF, Robby, is somebody on the federal payroll doing setting up journalistic hit jobs, anyway?

      Damn right these scum should be called out. This travesty has their fucking fingerprints on it, so they should answer some questions, no?

    2. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

      A lot of this hysteria is being pushed by the Dept. of Ed.’s idiotic interpretation of Title IX. Who Renda worked for. I think it’s pretty clear what was going on here: Renda introduced “Jackie” to Ederly in order to gin up more campus rape hysteria in order to justify what the OCR has been doing.

      The only question I have is was Ederly just a useful idiot who got played, or did she know, or at least suspect, that Jackie’s story was bullshit but didn’t care because it reinforced the narrative?

      1. I lean toward useful idiot. Only because to knowingly publish such a bogus story would be akin to journalistic suicide. Unless Erdely is sane enough to know the story was bullshit, but deranged enough not to understand the consequences for publishing it.

        1. Except that she’s done the same thing in the past, with the Philadelphia Archdiocese story and the Petty Officer Blumer story. It was just a timing coincidence that the UVA story came out right when it would be put under a microscope.

      2. That’s kind of my line of thought… did Renda tell Erdley that the OCR believed Jackie’s story and that’s why Erdley believed Jackie uncritically? Were there hints that the Obama Administration backed Jackie’s story? Were there hints that a job at the OCR would open up for Erdley if she got the story published?

        None of those have to be actually true… Renda could have made it all up on the spot when introducing Jackie to Erdley to gin up Jackie’s credibility or to persuade Erdley to be less than thorough when checking out the facts of Jackie’s story and Erdley realized she got played after it got published and she started doing the fact checking to try to do damage control.

  7. Somebody REALLY need to take the Rolling Stone’s managing editors aside and explain to them the meaning of the proverb “When you find yourself at the bottom of a very deep hole, stop digging”

    1. I’m not going to take their shovel away from them.

    2. No, dig up stupid.

    3. “Somebody REALLY need to take the Rolling Stone’s managing editors aside and explain to them the meaning of the proverb “When you find yourself at the bottom of a very deep hole, stop digging””

      Shhh. “When your enemy is in the process of destroying himself, stay out of his way.”

    4. I suggest you watch Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel for what to do when you find yourself in a very deep hole.

  8. Publications get tips and introductions of all kinds pretty much every day. As an ex-reporter and ex-editor at newspapers, I’m appalled at the idea that Rolling Stone or anyone else would try to shift the blame to a source. Sources ALWAYS have an agenda. Reporters and editors know that. The job of the reporters and editors is to sift through all of what they’re told and find the truth, not to blindly accept what someone with an agenda says. You can’t shift blame by pointing a finger to the person with the agenda or pretend that the person with the agenda had any control over the writing and editing of the story. This is a diversion from the one central face, which is that Rolling Stone violated very simple principles of basic journalism. Nobody else other than the writers and editors of Rolling Stone is responsible for what appears in print in that publication. Certainly not random sources with known agendas.

    1. David, you and Robby are (were) journalists. It’s understandable that you emphasize the things related to your field. However, the campus rape hysteria is not limited to just bad reporting practices. Unfortunately, it’s a much wider phenomenon, of which President Obama’s White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault is very much a part.

    2. This is a diversion from the one central face, which is that Rolling Stone violated very simple principles of basic journalism.

      Journalists with principles?

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      Good one.

      *wipes tear of laughter from eye*

      1. The question is, Robbie, why did RS violate these principles?

        And that leads you back to the Narrative and the Agenda being pushed, very hard, by this administration.

        Renda isn’t an innocent bystander, and she is a big reason why RS did what they did.

      2. Journalists with principles?

        It’s not about journalistic ethics, it’s about harassing women!

    3. “Sources ALWAYS have an agenda. Reporters and editors know that. The job of the reporters and editors is to sift through all of what they’re told and find the truth, not to blindly accept what someone with an agenda says.”
      Ha! What are you going to tell us next, that you used to be a police man and that witnesses sometimes lie and their job is to sift through the evidence to find the truth instead of blindly believe what the victim tells them? What retrograde century to you hail from?

  9. Not to say anything but anyone who works for something creepily called ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault’ is not exactly expected to think straight or critically but to toe the narrative.

    The sort of person who takes such a job wants to believe and her or his or its boss demands you believe.

    1. The sort of person who takes such a job wants to believe…

      I wonder if Emily Renda has an X-Files style “I Want to Believe” poster on her office wall, except instead of a UFO it has a picture of STEVE SMITH on a college campus?

  10. Renda is guilty of nothing more than being a credulous spectator. RS and Erdely, however, are guilty of blind faith to a figure of authority in addition to being credulous participants.

    1. No, Renda is an activist with an agenda, and her activism at least helped this travesty begin.

      It should also be noticed that Renda has given conflicting accounts of her own rape. Her story(s) aren’t as outrageous as Coakley’s, but raise similar questions: she was violently raped and strangled, but never went to the police?

      1. This is the first I am hearing of Renda being a rape victim.

        Immediately when I read that I thought her story is a lie too. The fucking lies and bullshit never end with these people.

        1. Renda – “…invited me to hang out in his room, where he forced me down and raped me. It’s not unusual ? practically commonplace. ”

          Unadulterated horseshit.

  11. “Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of OCR and architect of the Title IX inquisition, attended the same White House meetings as Renda. But while federal intervention into the campus rape crisis has certainly ginned up hysteria and led many in the media to uncritically report distortions, it would be improper to hold up this specific connection between the White House, Renda, and Rolling Stone as evidence of some conspiracy.”

    So there isn’t any blame to go around–even if there wasn’t a conspiracy?

    What, it has to be a criminal conspiracy to violate someone’s rights in order to be criticized?

    For the hundredth time, does anybody understand what Robby is saying?

    1. Something, something, COCKTAIL PARTIEZ?

    2. How is it that a group of people meeting to advance a common agenda shouldn’t be held up as evidence of a conspiracy?

      Isn’t that pretty much 80% of what a conspiracy is?

      1. I think the other 20% is when at least one person out of the group goes out and does something–which is apparently what happened.

        In addition to that–even if there wasn’t a conspiracy–why can’t we criticize the White House?

        What great libertarian thinker wrote that we can’t criticize the White House unless there was a criminal conspiracy?

  12. Emily Renda?a member of President Obama’s White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

    I’m outraged that there is a white house task force like that.

    WTF??

    1. You should only criticize Rolling Stone–because there wasn’t a criminal conspiracy and Robby says so, I guess?

  13. Outrage, in search of a bloody shirt: a love story.

  14. Where’s the White House Task Force on Averting National Bankruptcy?

    Yeah, I know.
    I’ll be over here, holding my breat5h.

    1. It’s in the office next to the White House Task Force on Cut Spending, You Fuckheads.

  15. The White House Advisor should not be blamed for Rolling Stones ‘journalism’. That’s not the same as saying their isn’t a story there. The Advisor’s role in introducing Jackie to Rolling Stones provides a great jumping off point to discuss the climate of lies and punishment of the innocent that the advisor has made her job to promote. These people are government officials who have dedicated their lives to burying the truth and seeing some young men run off campus for the crime of hurting a woman’s feelings or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is a newsworthy story, and the Rolling Stone connection is a great starting point for helping readers see the end results of the actions the rest of the story covers.

  16. What does the TweetSphere say about all this?

    1. Donald Trump is an asshole?

    2. Two chicks at the same time.

      1. go on…

    3. John McCain isn’t a hero, but Caitlyn Jenner deserves an award for being courageous?

      1. Curious, if I get my belly button surgically turned into an outie, do I too get a trophy? Come to think of it, what is it a trophy of? Probably not something I want on my mantle place, right?

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  18. “…it would be improper to hold up this specific connection between the White House, Renda, and Rolling Stone as evidence of some conspiracy.”

    Agreed. There probably is no conspiracy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pointing out that everything Obumbles and his minions touch turns to shit.

    1. Let’s take a gander at the definition of conspiracy:

      any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

      Well, yeah, we unquestionably have that. That’s a weak definition, though.

      an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.

      I would say we have a good shot at that one. I don’t think its wildly wrong to say Renda and Erdely formulated and put into action a plan to gin up media and public support for their “Rape Culture” agenda, which was also being pursued by Renda on other fronts.

      1. I stopped reading details of this story a while back. I didn’t realize that they had met and discussed this beyond Renda pointing Jackie out to Erdely after Erdely asked for a story. Ok, you are correct. It does look a hell of a lot like a conspiracy.

        This is exactly like every single other thing this white house does.

  19. it would be improper to hold up this specific connection between the White House, Renda, and Rolling Stone as evidence of some conspiracy.

    Jesus this is pathetic. It isn’t a conspiracy, it’s how politics works. One party creates fake “studies”. Another party “raises awareness” by constantly giving speeches and trying to place media material. The media activist finds the angle with the most heartstrings. The government activist points to the media and claims we need legislation to stem the crisis.

    What do you think activism is? Are we really to believe the creator of the one in five study didn’t do so to push a political agenda? Absurd. To say it’s not a conspiracy is to completely miss the point. The parts function in conjunction with each other regardless of any conspiracy because they all share the same goals and beliefs.

    1. It isn’t a conspiracy, it’s how politics works.

      Its both at the same time.

  20. It’s not the first time the media has been used to create an artificial issue for the White House. I remember the stories of a massive influx of American guns in the hands of Mexican cartels. I guess we should excuse the President’s people for that one too.

  21. Why don’t the victims (the frats and any identifiable person accused of rape) sue for libel, and have a court force RS to tell us all the name of “Jackie”?

    1. Its a strategic decision, and one that I understand.

      They realize that there are a lot of people too weak-minded to just admit that Jackie is a stone-cold liar. They don’t want to alienate those people by appearing to “go after” Jackie, when (a) she doesn’t have any money for them to take, (b) she could generate sympathy for the other side, and (c) their other defendants are amply loathesome.

    2. Phi Psi is considering legal action. The only identifiable person accused of rape was Haven Monahan, who’s not suing because he doesn’t actually exist. Jackie’s name is Jackie Coakley (no apparent relation to Martha).

  22. Their refusal to go after Jackie may not help them much anyway. After all one can make the same argument in any case: that going after RS will make rape victims afraid to tell their stories to magazines, thereby inhibiting the ability to raise awareness of the rape epidemic, causing trillions of women to get needlessly raped. No matter what they do, they’re still going to get painted as evil, unless they do nothing and just take it.

    1. The refusal to go after Jackie makes a lot of sense: Rolling Stone probably has much, much deeper pockets than Jackie.

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