Anyone watching could see this coming a mile away. Rolling Stone has apologized for its reporting without really acknowledging the train wreck that this has become. It’s not just that they used poor journalistic practices in failing to verify their piece such that a few inaccuracies managed to get through, it’s that they reported as fact an incident that may turn out to be entirely fabricated because it suited their ideological agenda.
Phi Kappa Psi should sue Rolling Stone’s, Sabrina Rubin Ederly’s, UVA’s and Jackie’s pants off. UVA should immediately issue an apology of its own and reinstate fraternity activities on campus. The college should pursue disciplinary actions against Jackie for making a false report.
In the credit where credit is due file, Anna Merlan, the feminist writer at Jezebel who called Richard Bradley an idiot for questioning the story, has apologized.
Despite the fact that I think Jacklie should face consequences for her actions, there is a part of me who feels sorry for her. She is clearly a troubled girl who got swept up in something way over her head.
Here is what I think happened. Either something happened to Jackie and she wildly embellished it, or nothing happened to her at all. Unlike the girl who was allegedly so traumatized by the events that she couldn’t tolerate going to the police, she clearly psychologically benefited from playing the victim role. Her identity is apparently widely known on campus where she is still a junior. She has spoken out publicly about her experiences. She has immersed herself into the victim community at UVA. She publicly defended one of the Deans who is now under fire and inadvertently revealed that she views the Dean as essentially her therapist. She has said she felt manipulated by Ederly who was clearly looking for a particular type of story and was more than happy to exploit Jackie’s tale.
So Jackie is a troubled girl with deep psychological problems who invents a story and then rides it to get her emotional needs met, but as is often the case with made up stories, it quickly took on a life of its own and got away from her. While she fingered a particular frat, and that is egregiously wrong, her otherwise refusal to name names was because she knew if she did her story would unravel but also possibly because she is very troubled but not so evil as to finger innocent individuals. She only recently named a name under intense pressure from her victim advocate friends (at least that’s the way I read it), and then that name did not hold up.
One local journalist who I saw on TV today who had spoken with Jackie said she was still sticking by her story at the time he spoke with her. Well if she wasn’t going to recant in toto, her only hope was to stick to her story and refuse to name names that could be verified and hope she could weather the storm.
Her unwillingness to name names should have been a huge red flag for Ederly as well as other parts of her story. If her story was true, she could have named names to Ederly on the promise that the names would not appear in print. People’s credibility is easier to judge in person than it is in writing, and I find it very hard to believe that Ederly is that gullible and naive. My suspicion is that Ederly suspected that something was amiss but was so invested in getting the story she wanted that she pressed ahead anyway. How she thought this would hold up under the intense scrutiny it was sure to bring is baffling.
I suspect that the reason that UVA administrators and Jackie’s friends reacted the way they did to her, to the degree any of their alleged non-responsiveness is true, is because they didn’t believe her story, but once this came out the UVA administrators couldn’t say that. Sailer made a good analogy in his TakiMag article. The people who heard her story, to the degree any of their reactions are portrayed accurately, acted like people listening to someone tell them that she has been abducted by aliens. “Oh really, that’s horrible. Why don’t you go lie down a little bit.”
Since I suspect that UVA’s admin had serious doubts, there is no excuse for how they acted by suspending frat activities. They should have issued a statement saying how they takes these charges very seriously and plan to conduct a thorough investigation and left it at that.
So Jackie is a troubled girl who got caught up in a lie that spiraled out of control, but Ederly is an agenda driven hack who was old enough to know better. She is more of a villain here than Jackie, IMO. Jackie needs to leave campus, go home and get some help. Ederly needs to be publicly shamed.