Monday, October 31, 2016

Rolling Stone publisher suggested magazine's mistake in automatically believing rape accuser was unavoidable

Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner's defense of his magazine's decision to believe a rape accuser--and run with the infamous story about an alleged brutal gang rape at a UVA fraternity--was downright chilling:
Wenner admitted the magazine’s biggest mistake was not reaching out to Jackie’s alleged rapists.

“We did want to respect her wishes as the victim of a horrible rape . . . looking back with 20/20 hindsight, we should have demanded the identity of her [attackers],” he said.

Even so, Wenner suggested the error was unavoidable. “We were the victim of one of these rare, once-in-a-lifetime things that nobody in journalism can protect themselves from,” he insisted.
(Source)

Read it again: Wenner absolves his magazine of blame because poor little innocent Rolling Stone followed a practice that "nobody in journalism" could "protect themselves from"--it believed the accuser. Wenner even referred to the accuser--better known as "Jackie"--as "the victim of a horrible rape." Wenner made sure to add: “We are deeply committed to factual accuracy.” And: “We did everything reasonable, appropriate, up to the highest standards.” (Source)

It was poor little, defenseless Rolling Stone--with its circulation of of a million-and-a-half readers--that was the victim here, not the the young men of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, who were unjustly demonized as overseers of a rape pit, or the university official who was made out to be a rape enabler.
 
Of course, Wenner's defense of the magazine's decision to run with the story contradicts the conclusion of Columbia University's School of Journalism, which Wenner brought in to investigate the magazine's failures--that investigation concluded that it was "journalistic failure that was avoidable." (Source)

But why are we surprised when the publisher of a major magazine testifies under oath that it was "reasonable" and in accordance with "the highest standards" of journalism to believe the accuser without bothering to concede even the possibility that there might be another side to the story?  In fact, Wenner's logic is the product of a culture that has allowed gender extremists on campus and in the media to dominate the public discourse on sexual assault. The purveyors of this culture unflinchingly demonize college men and reduce them to vile caricature, insist that college campuses are rape pits, claim with a straight face that women don't lie about rape, and preach that due process for men accused of rape on campus is a luxury college women can't afford. In short, they buy into something that even RAINN, the preeminent anti-rape organization in America, denounced: the "rape culture" meme.

The real lessons from the Rolling Stone disaster are that it is never right to rush to judgment and treat an accusation as tantamount to a conviction even where the accuser "seems" credible--and that it is both journalistic malpractice and morally grotesque to refuse to concede even the possibility that there might be another side to the story. It underscores the critical need for due process in "he said, she said" scenarios involving sex claims -- something feminists are happy to dispense with on college campuses. And, it affirms what Prof. Alan Dershowitz once wrote about rape accusations: ". . . don’t assume anything until all the evidence is in. The story is almost never what it appears to be on first impression." The "rape culture" lie needs to stop, and the extremists need to be exposed for what they are.