Steve Sailer has been doing a lot of arm chair psychoanalysis of Sabrina Rubin Erdely. He really wants to make something out of all the references to broken glass in the now repudiated Rolling Stone UVA gang rape story. He wants to make a connection between Stephen Glass, who was senior to Rubin (her maiden name) when both worked on the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, the movie about his downfall called Shattered Glass, and all the references to glass in the article.
“So what’s the point of Erdely including all these Shattered Glass literary clues that her story is a fabrication? Did they subconsciously slip in through some Freudian process? Did she put them there consciously to indicate guilt? Self-loathing? Or was Erdely trying to top her old boss? Was she playing a game to express her contempt for her audience by dangling evidence that she was engaged in a Shattered Glass-style hoax directly in front of everyone’s noses?”
Perhaps, but I’m far from sold. There is some deep Freudian stuff going on here if she was really unconsciously trying to get discovered. If she was deliberately dropping hints to her audience because she felt she could get away with it, then that is extraordinarily reckless. My hunch is that all the shattered glass references are just coincidental, and the explanation is more mundane.
Since the Rolling Stone apology, SRE has gone completely underground. No Facebook. No Twitter. No interviews. No statements. She has apparently lawyered up. We don’t even know if she is cooperating with RS or other magazines she has worked with. This story is almost certainly not the only instance where Erdely engaged in shotty journalism and possibly even made things up.
Her articles all tend to be of a certain type, long form and about sensational stories, often with a PC ax-grinding angle. We already know that her story about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia relied very heavily on the word of a very unreliable witness, “Billy.” Her story about the alleged rape of Petty Officer Blummer appears to rely almost entirely on the word of PO Blummer. Her article about the suburban housewives shooting up heroine sounds questionable at best. As does her story about a suburban madam running a prostitution ring from her home. I haven’t looked into all of these. I don’t have the time. But I’m sure others are, and this is going to all come crashing down on her.
So in some cases we may have her taking the word of the witnesses who told her the sensational story she wanted to hear, such as “Billy,” Jackie and PO Blummer with poor journalism to verify their stories. Here the question arises of whether this was just bad journalism or deliberate attempts to hang on to a potentially false story. And in the case of the heroine housewives and the suburban madam, you have to wonder if these weren’t Stephen Glass style fabrications, or exaggerations to the point of being essentially fabrications.
My suspicion is that SRE lived in constant background fear of being discovered. Being discovered was her nightmare, but basking in the limelight of these sensationalist stories was her drug. (Of note, two of her articles are being turned into movies per Wikipedia.) This explains her disappearance and silence. So I’m not buying the secretly wanting to get caught idea. It is what she has learned to do. Up until now it has worked for her. She is like any kind of wrongdoer. The chances of getting caught in the long run are pretty high, but the chances of getting caught the next time are relatively slim, so they keep doing what they are doing hoping not to get caught.
As an interesting aside, in a video here Erdely mentions that she went to college intending to be a psychiatrist, but ended up deciding to go into journalism after she won an award.
Also, on Steve Sailer’s thread I said that if I was a moneybags magazine editor, I would consider hiring Stephen Glass to write a article exposing Erdely’ other work. Who better to spot fabrications? I’m entirely serious.