Rolling Stone Admits Critical Errors in Gang Rape Story
The magazine's managing editor reveals a critical fact-checking oversight that calls its entire story into question
Rolling Stone has virtually retracted its gang rape story that rocked the University of Virginia and its chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and revealed a critical fact-checking oversight at the magazine.
Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana published a letter to readers on Friday explaining staff chose to not fact-check important details of reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely's story because of its "sensitive nature," which calls the entire story into question. He apologized to "anyone who was affected."
Specifically, Dana said staff chose to honor the request of Jackie, the story's subject, "not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her," a decision the magazine now regrets.
The fraternity issued a statement on Friday refuting several key claims in the magazine's story, including the date and location of the alleged attack and any association with members of its University of Virginia chapter.
In the course of its reporting, Jackie never gave the staff reason to question her credibility, Dana said, but "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."
Dana's letter never overtly says the reporter's story is patently false or that the gang rape described in the article was fabricated.
Dana tweeted about the magazine's decisions on Friday.
1/I can’t explain the discrepancies between Jackie’s account and the counter statements made by Phi Psi.— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014
2/The fact that there is a story that appears in Rolling Stone in which I don’t have complete confidence is deeply unsettling to me.— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014
3/We made a judgment – the kind of judgement reporters and editors make every day. And in this case, our judgement was wrong.— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014
4/ We should have either not made this agreement with Jackie…— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014
5/…or worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story.— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014
6/ That failure is on us – not on her.— Will Dana (@wdana) December 5, 2014