Protesting Phi Kappa Psi

Tonight at 8 PM, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (CJS) will release its full report online, regarding Rolling Stone’s now-discredited article titled “A Rape on Campus.” The report will be released on and  A press conference with the deans takes place on  Monday from  noon to 1 p.m. and will stream live.

In the November 19, 2014 article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a University of Virginia student identified as “Jackie” described in graphic detail her alleged gang rape by seven men of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a party:

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn’t get it up. “Pussy!” the other men jeered. “What, she’s not hot enough for you?” Then they egged him on: “Don’t you want to be a brother?” “We all had to do it, so you do, too.” Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.

Within a couple of weeks of the story’s publication, it began to fall apart, and Rolling Stone issued an apology in an addendum to the article, citing “discrepancies”  in Jackie’s account. The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) included the article, which gained international attention, in its list of articles constituting “The Worst Journalism of 2014:”

Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely didn’t contact the alleged perpetrators of Jackie’s rape, not to mention three of her friends portrayed as unsympathetic to it. It turns out, as reported in a sterling clean-up job by The Washington Post, that Jackie’s account in the story doesn’t match her friends’ recollections of the incident. A number of other key details from the piece have since been disputed or disproved. In its initial editor’s note regarding the story — since updated — Rolling Stone deflected criticism: “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.” It deserves a DART for blaming its utter failure on someone else, and many more for all the lapses leading up to it.

Since the article has now been discredited, many have voiced concerns that campus sexual assaults that are real may not be taken seriously.

Brian Stelter of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” apparently reported today that the original article will be retracted from the Rolling Stone website, the CJR report will take its place, and that Ms. Erdely will apologize. The Wrap writes:

Rolling Stone will also pull the story from its site and put Columbia’s review in its place, Brian Stelter reported Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” The decision to take the story down is a fairly unprecedented step in the digital media era.

The reportedly 12,000-word review is expected to be a damning piece that places fault in all corners of Rolling Stone for errors made in the reporting and storytelling process for the campus rape story, published in November. Rolling Stone will also be taking responsibility for its errors, Stelter reported.

UPDATE: Here is that clip:


Creative Commons photo courtesy of Bob Mical on flickr.


A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

Key Elements of Rolling Stone’s U-Va Gang Rape Allegations in Doubt

Updated apology digs bigger hole for Rolling Stone

The last tweets from the story’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, appear to be from last November:

  1. @pamelacolloff & appreciate yr corrected tweet – cause it SHOULD be “the journalist behind the article,” not “the woman,” right?! That irks.

  2. The @washingtonpost wrote an article about me, and how my UVA article came to be: