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April 06, 2015

Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity to Sue Rolling Stone for Defamation


Now, you probably heard the following interesting facts:

1, Rolling Stone is not changing its policies. They say their policies are just fine.

2. Rolling Stone is not firing any reporters, editors, or fact checkers. They say their personnel is also just fine.

Eric Wemple points out that the way to change a magazine is to change either its policies or personnel. Rolling Stone is choosing to do neither. They're just saying they won't make the same mistake again.

And a third interesting fact:

3. Jann Wenner is now doing what the left and feminists demand he not do, which is suggesting that Jackie is actually somewhat at fault for telling Huge Lies.

The left and feminists are quite insistent that you can't blame a woman for telling Huge Lies about rape, because rape is so traumatic. In fact, it's so traumatic, that even when there is no rape at all, women still tell Huge Lies about it, and that's okay, because Shut Up Hater.

So: Rolling Stone won't blame its policies, won't blame its personnel, and is even calling down the wrath of the left for noting that maybe Jackie bears some blame for All of the Lies.

This woman from ProPublica explains all these strange moves very simply:

Yes, I do believe that's it, I do believe that explains everything. Rolling Stone isn't to blame, heaven forfend -- it's that damnable wretch Jackie! It's all on her!

Now of course a Huge Liar is responsible for her Huge Lies, but that doesn't let Rolling Stone off the hook -- fact-checking is supposed to keep Huge Lies from appearing in news accounts.

It should be also that Rollling Stone deliberately told Huge Lies itself -- deliberately, not inadvertently.

Specifically, Rolling Stone took deliberate steps in how it reported this story to conceal from the reader the fact that there wasn't a single claim made in the story that didn't come from Jackie's mouth.

They deliberately wrote passes to suggest that other parties had been contacted -- when in fact it was just Jackie claiming things that they said.

And Rolling Stone knew they were doing this.

On Sept. 11, Erdely traveled to Charlottesville and met Jackie in person for the first time, at a restaurant near the UVA campus. With her digital recorder running, the reporter again asked about speaking to Ryan. "I did talk to Ryan," Jackie disclosed. She said she had bumped into him and had asked if he would be interested in talking to Rolling Stone. Jackie went on to quote Ryan's incredulous reaction: "No! ... I'm in a fraternity here, Jackie, I don't want the Greek system to go down, and it seems like that's what you want to happen...I don't want to be a part of whatever little shit show you're running."


If Erdely had reached Ryan Duffin -- his true name -- he would have said that he had never told Jackie that he would not participate in Rolling Stone's "shit show," Duffin said in an interview for this report. The entire conversation with Ryan that Jackie described to Erdely "never happened," he said. Jackie had never tried to contact him about cooperating with Rolling Stone. He hadn't seen Jackie or communicated with her since the previous April, he said.

Rolling Stone reported this "shit show" line from "Randall" as if Erdely had gotten the quote from "Randall's" mouth, when in fact she hadn't -- all she had was Jackie's claim that Randall said this.

Yet they attributed it to Randall speaking, not Jackie.

One fact checker had a problem with this -- but the writer and editors decided they would mislead readers anyway:

The checker did try to improve the story's reporting and attribution of quotations concerning the three friends. She marked on a draft that Ryan -- "Randall" under pseudonym -- had not been interviewed, and that his "shit show" quote had originated with Jackie. "Put this on Jackie?" the checker wrote. "Any way we can confirm with him?" She said she talked about this problem of clarity with Woods and Erdely. "I pushed.... They came to the conclusion that they were comfortable" with not making it clear to readers that they had never contacted Ryan.

She did not raise her concerns with her boss, Coco McPherson, who heads the checking department. "I have instructed members of my staff to come to me when they have problems or are concerned or feel that they need some muscle," McPherson said. "That did not happen." Asked if there was anything she should have been notified about, McPherson answered: "The obvious answers are the three friends. These decisions not to reach out to these people were made by editors above my pay grade."

That's the sort of problem Rolling Stone is facing-- they weren't merely just taken in by Jackie's lies, they cooked up their own lies about Jackie's story, deliberately misleading readers into believing that facts had been checked out and other parties had been interviewed.

In fact, almost everything came from Jackie, a very weak posture for such a splashy and lurid allegation which would expose then to doubt and close questioning.

Apparently not wishing to have any critics point out the truth -- that this almost all comes from Jackie, with not a single person backing her up (even as to weakly corroborating evidence) -- Rolling Stone lied to the public by writing in such a way as to strongly suggest that all sorts of people were backing up Jackie's story.

That's going to be a problem for them at trial -- and they cannot claim that Jackie made them do this.

The Important Thing Isn't The Truth, The Important Thing Is The Narrative.

This seems to mostly be about alcohol-related incidents on Rutgers' own campus, including a student dying of alcohol poisoning, so this isn't necessarily Rolling Stone fallout.

Regarding the theory that Rolling Stone isn't changing anything to protect against such ameliorative steps being used against them at trial -- this guy reminds me that most jurisdictions forbid the introduction of subsequent remedial actions to establish culpability in torts. The idea being, as a matter of public policy, courts don't want to discourage anyone from taking pains to prevent future harms, so the won't permit the introduction of such pains as evidence.

That sounds pretty much right to me, now that he reminds me.

On the other hand, you don't need to introduce such later ameliorative steps at trial if news of such steps is flooded out into the news media in a huge national story.

That is to say, while a court may forbid the introduction of evidence about this into a trial, that hardly stops jurors from knowing about it, given that this is a huge story and something big and splashy like the firings of the editor and the blacklisting of Erdely would be known to the jurors, who would then be free to take it as admitting guilt.

Masturbatin' Pete Weighs In. And when a guy calling himself Masturbatin' Pete tells you about joint defense strategy, you better listen good my friend.

Had RS fired anyone, those firings would be inadmissible in court because they were "subsequent remedial measures," which generally cannot be introduced into evidence. However, that information would be hard to keep from the jury's knowledge.

There's a better reason not to fire anyone when you're facing a lawsuit: you need everyone in your corner. If RS fired the reporter and editors, what incentive do they have to protect RS? Keeping them on the payroll is a way of buying their silence.

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posted by Ace at 02:44 PM

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