A Rolling Stone Gathers No Gloss

sabrina-rubin-erdelyMeet Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Sabrina is a liberal “journalist” – but I repeat myself – for Rolling Stone magazine who received acclaim for her hard-hitting expose’ about an alleged University of Virginia campus rape.

Unfortunately for Erdely, the rape was a hoax, and despite the holes in the alleged victim’s story, Erdely published the story anyway. Yesterday, Erdely was awarded not a Pulitzer Prize, but instead a defamation verdict.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.

Well, it’s not like the plaintiff is going to receive life-changing money or anything. Oh wait…

The jurors reached a verdict Friday after deliberating across three days. Eramo has asked for $7.5 million in damages, but can now argue for a different sum following the verdict.

If there is any justice, Eramo will sue for more money and put Rolling Stone out of business.

The jury ruled that Erdely acted with actual malice when she published two statements about Eramo, the first being that Eramo discouraged Jackie from reporting her allegations and a reference to Eramo’s “nonreaction” when Jackie first told her about the alleged assault. The jury’s finding means that they concluded Erdely knew the statements about Eramo were false — or had reason to doubt them and failed to investigate further— but published them anyway.

It’s interesting how often the media goes crazy over an alleged campus rape involving a fraternity, only to see the story completely fall apart. See also: Duke Lacrosse. Of course every alleged rape victim should be given the benefit of the doubt, but when the story begins to crack, a responsible journalist should investigate further. Erdely refused to do that, and now she’s paying the price.

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