Rolling Stone magazine perpetrated a hoax against the University of Virginia, doing “journalism” about an alleged gang rape that evidently never happened. The source of the dramatic tale Rolling Stone published last November, “A Rape on Campus,” was a UVA student named Jackie who has been proven to be a liar. Her freshman year at UVA, Jackie invented a make-believe boyfriend she called “Haven Monahan” as part of an unsuccessful attempt to inspire the jealousy of her friend Ryan Duffin, on whom she had a romantic crush. This deceptive scheme apparently led to Jackie’s subsequent claim that she was gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a date with this non-existent boyfriend on the night of Sept. 28, 2012.
We didn’t learn the truth behind Jackie’s lies, however, until after Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s sensational article in Rolling Stone described in lurid detail how Jackie was allegedly raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house her freshman year. One of the first journalists to raise questions about the article, Richard Bradley wrote, “Something about this story doesn’t feel right,” and cited the obvious problems that any veteran editor would have noticed about the story. To believe the Rolling Stone story, Bradley argued, “requires a lot of leaps of faith. It requires you to indulge your pre-existing biases.” Yet these biases — a willingness to believe the worst about fraternity members, and about men in general — were precisely what led Erdely and her editors to publish the 9,000-word article that, they believed, would expose once and for all the reality of what feminists have claimed is a “rape epidemic” on college campuses.
Rolling Stone’s story was a lie and there is no such “epidemic.”
A lengthy examination of Erdely’s article by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has exposed the inexcusable lapses in editorial judgment that resulted in Rolling Stone’s gross libel of UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter. It is a near-certainty that the fraternity will sue for defamation, and it is difficult to imagine how Rolling Stone could successfully defend itself against such a suit. The magazine’s founder, Jann Wenner, told the New York Times that his staff was taken in by ”a really expert fabulist storyteller.” Yet as the Columbia review makes clear, Erdely and her editors did not take the most basic steps needed to verify (or debunk) Jackie’s tale.
Rolling Stone was grossly negligent, but this has been true of the entire profession of mainstream journalism in dealing with the claims made by feminists about the “rape epidemic” on America’s college and university campuses. These claims are as fictional as Jackie’s imaginary boyfriend “Haven Monahan.”
According to the Department of Justice, the incidence of sexual assault in the United States has declined significantly in the past two decades, down 64 percent from 1995 to 2010 and remaining stable at that lower rate. Feminists and their political allies, including both President Obama and Vice President Biden, have repeatedly claimed that 1-in-5 female college students are victims of sexual assault. However, according to DOJ statistics, “the actual rate is 6.1 per 1,000 students, or 0.61 percent (instead of 1-in-5, the real number is 0.03-in-5).” And, in fact, female college students are less likely to be raped than are females of the same age who don’t attend college. Feminists have fomented a fictitious crisis because, as Wendy McElroy has explained, “Political careers, administrative jobs, government grants, book and lecture contracts are just some of vast financial benefits that rest upon continuing the ‘rape culture’ crusade on campus.”
We therefore know that (a) Jackie is a liar, (b) feminist claims of a campus “rape epidemic” are false, and (c) Rolling Stone was willing to publish a libelous article based on Jackie’s lies in order to “prove” that there is what the Associated Press called “a hidden culture of sexual violence” at one of our nation’s leading public universities.
Lies, lies, all lies, a baseless fiction from start to finish.
What has actually been exposed is an “epidemic” that few members of the media are willing to acknowledge, namely the pervasive liberal bias that has crippled and discredited the profession of journalism in America, turning reporters and editors into political hacks who are willing to publish fiction if this is what is necessary to advance the agenda of the Democratic Party. It is certainly no secret that claims of a Republican “war on women” helped Barack Obama win re-election in 2012, nor is it a secret that Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.
What better way to exploit the political “gender gap” than to claim that college girls are being raped en masse, and then to suggest that the solution to this problem could be summarized in two words: “VOTE DEMOCRAT!”
This is clearly the narrative the Rolling Stone article was intended to confirm: “Rich frat boys are raping your daughters and those evil sexist Republicans are part of the problem, so let’s elect Hillary Clinton and finally put a stop to this Republican Rape Machine!”
Neither the editors at Rolling Stone nor any other major media journalists are willing to admit the crude partisan motives behind the “rape epidemic” narrative that feminists have been promoting in recent years. Feminists have exploited rape as an issue to intimidate their critics into silence. “Shut up, because rape,” as I said of the totalitarian message behind the so-called “SlutWalk” movement.
To understand how this intimidation tactic works, look no further than what happened after Pulitzer-winning columnist George F. Will questioned the “1-in-5” college rape statistic. He was immediately branded a “rape apologist,” and feminist demonstrators protested Will’s subsequent appearance for a speech at Ohio’s Miami University. George Will was right and his critics were wrong, but no “mainstream” journalist will say so. Why? Because the simple fact is that truth no longer matters to the mainstream media.
All that matters to them — the supreme goal of the journalistic establishment — is to elect Democrats and then help Democrats enact their liberal policy agenda. Because conservatives are systematically excluded from most major news organizations, most reporters and editors are not consciously aware that they are engaged in the dissemination of political propaganda.
Most journalists don’t notice liberal bias for the same reason fish don’t notice water. It’s everywhere all around them, and they couldn’t imagine existing without it.
What percentage of the news reporting staff at NBC, ABC, CBS or CNN voted for Mitt Romney in 2012? What percentage of the editors at the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Associated Press have ever voted for any Republican? For most members of the modern media, the news business has ceased to be a business and is no longer about news. Instead, journalism has become a sort of missionary field for political zealots engaged in an evangelical crusade for what Ann Coulter called “The Church of Liberalism.” Young liberals become journalists for the same reason others go to work for UNICEF or the Peace Corps, because they want to “make a difference.” Liberal journalists conceive of their careers as a sacred calling, to assist the forces of “progress” in creating a world of “social justice.” This religious zeal justifies the journalistic faithful in their decisions to ignore facts that contradict the Democrat Gospel, and to tell mythical parables about miracles accomplished by the Saints of the Church of Liberalism.
Their continuing crusades to Make a Difference require liberal journalists to attribute all evil in the world to the Forces of Darkness — racists, homophobes, Big Business, and especially the Republican Party. And so it was very easy for Sabrina Rubin Erdely to believe that University of Virginia fraternity brothers (elite white males) were capable of inflicting ghastly sexual violence on poor victimized Jackie. Unfortunately for Erdely and her editors at Rolling Stone, Jackie is a liar, her story was false, and all of them are now quite likely to be named as defendants when Phi Kappa Psi files a lawsuit for defamation.
When Rush Limbaugh discusses this Make a Difference mentality among liberals, he points out the ugly truth: “Hitler made a difference.” That is to say, an ambition to decisively influence world history doesn’t always lead to good results and has frequently caused catastrophes and atrocities. From the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror to the Ukrainian terror-famine of the 1930s, to the “Great Leap Forward” of Mao’s China to the “Killing Fields” of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, history is littered with examples of how idealists who want to Make a Difference can become fanatics who kill innocent people in the name of “progress” and “social justice.” Always, these radical death-cults rely on propaganda to demonize their opponents and incite their supporters to hatred of their enemies.
Do people think Rush Limbaugh is merely joking when he uses the word “feminazis” to describe the fanatical activists whose advocacy of abortion as “a woman’s right to choose” has produced in the past four decades a latter-day holocaust in the United States? Is there any lie that feminists won’t tell to advance their agenda or to silence their critics? If Rolling Stone really wanted to expose a “hidden culture” on our university campuses they might start investigating the academic scandal of Women’s Studies programs, where young people are indoctrinated with radical theories about the “social construction” of the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix. Telling the truth about the deliberate dishonesty and lunatic ideology of radical feminism, however, would not help elect Democrats, so no one can expect mainstream journalists to report about the bizarre ideas professors are teaching young women in the name of “equality” and “progress.”
Liberals tell lies every day in America, but seldom do they get caught the way that Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone got caught with the rape hoax they tried to perpetrate against Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Virginia. In promoting this lie, Rolling Stone quite unintentionally exposed a crime that has been going on for decades in America, liberalism’s gang rape of professional journalism.
They have Made a Difference. Not in a good way.