Rolling Stone published a blistering indictment of the University of Virginia claiming that a culture of rape exists there. The story was based on the unverified claims of an anonymous women Rolling Stone calls “Jackie.” This would have been quite a story if true. But there is a little problem: the story was not true. I understand why people are outraged by the fictionalized story of a culture of sex assaults at the University of Virginia. They should be. But I don’t understand why anyone is surprised. For years conservative commentators—myself among them—have been telling anyone who would listen and a lot who wouldn’t that leftwing journalists no longer print the facts or even care about what they are. Rather, they print what they would like the facts to be. In other words, leftwing journalists such as those employed by Rolling Stone aren’t even journalists any more. They are fiction writers committed to a biased narrative who are willing to unethically pass their made-up stories off as journalism.
Even the Columbia School of Journalism—not exactly a bastion of conservative thought—was forthright in condemning Rolling Stone, and it did not stop at simply condemning the author of the article at the center of the controversy, Sabrina Rubin Erdely. According to Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, “The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error…” Though accurate, the Dean is too kind. He might have added, the “culture” that needs to be investigated is not the one at the University of Virginia but the culture of biased, fictionalized reporting that seems to exist at Rolling Stone. It appears that Rolling Stone’s reporters and editors may have developed such a deep commitment to a biased narrative that they were willing to print anything that supported the narrative while ignoring anything that didn’t.
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