WASHINGTON — Last Friday, the Rolling Stone published a half-apology to readers about their controversial rape story on the University of Virginia campus. They said they had misplaced their trust in their semi-anonymous source, named “Jackie,” by agreeing to not interview the suspected perpetrators.
The magazine’s managing editor, Will Dana, said:
“We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie’s request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story.”
It was published on their website and you can read the rest of the text here.
Now, questions arise over libel between Rolling Stone and the UVa fraternity in question, Phi Kappa Psi. Eugene Volokh, writing for the Washington Post, has a great take on libel law here. It is more possible than not that the Rolling Stone and the author of the controversial article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, are preparing to defend against a libel lawsuit.
As The Federalist noted, it is a serious issue and sadly, no one wins in this kind of journalistic fabrication.