The Corner

So, How Much Fact-Checking Did Rolling Stone Do?

Building on Rich’s post below, the Washington Post story outlining the fraternity’s rebuttal and the Rolling Stone story’s collapse is stunning. First, it turns out there was no fraternity party on the date in question:

Officials close to the fraternity said that the statement will indicate that Phi Kappa Psi did not host a party on Sept. 28, 2012, the night that a university student named Jackie alleges she was invited to a date party, lured into an upstairs room and was then ambushed and gang-raped by seven men who were rushing the fraternity.

Next, it looks like the accused may not even be a member of Phi Kappa Psi:

The officials also said that no members of the fraternity were employed at the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Washington Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account.

And . . .

A name of an alleged attacker that Jackie provided to them for the first time this week, for example, turned out to be similar to the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

The Post was able to track down the accused, and he told them that he’d never been on a date with Jackie:

Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he did work at the Aquatic Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. He said, however, that he had never met Jackie in person and had never taken her on a date. He also confirmed that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

Even Jackie’s close friends are backing away from the account:

A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are sex assault awareness advocates at U-Va., said they believe something traumatic happened to Jackie but have come to doubt her account. They said details have changed over time, and they have not been able to verify key points of the story in recent days.

And . . . 

Alex Pinkleton, a close friend of Jackie’s who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.

None of these proves that nothing happened to Jackie, but it absolutely casts extreme doubt on her story and absolutely demonstrates that Rolling Stone’s fact-checking process was completely inadequate. Shame on Rolling Stone for running with such an explosive story without doing even the most basic journalistic due diligence. And shame on a hysterical University of Virginia administration for an act of collective punishment against fraternities and sororities based entirely on that same negligent journalism. The damage it has done, as Rich notes, cannot be entirely undone.

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