Is the gang-rape story at UVA credible? We’ve been covering it for a while now – perhaps a little too credulously – but a reader did raise some questions about its credibility in our second post. My old roommate and friend, Rich Bradley, had a ballsy must-read on it last week that raises one obvious question: why did the reporter not even try to talk to any of the alleged rapists? This should set off alarm bells for any editor, and yet the editor insists all due skepticism was applied, even though he never personally spoke with Jackie. I’m sorry but if you’re running a story about such a terrible accusation relying on one key source and do not personally vet that source, you’re not doing your job. Tom Maguire even dug up a comment on the NYT message board for a piece on the rape that claims first hand knowledge that some quotes in the piece were indeed made up. Erik Wemple has also weighed in:
This lapse is inexcusable: Even if the accused aren’t named in the story, Erdely herself acknowledges that “people seem to know who these people are.” If they were being cited in the story for mere drunkenness, boorish frat-boy behavior or similar collegiate misdemeanors, then there’d be no harm in failing to secure their input. The charge in this piece, however, is gang rape, and so requires every possible step to reach out and interview them, including e-mails, phone calls, certified letters, FedEx letters, UPS letters and, if all of that fails, a knock on the door. No effort short of all that qualifies as journalism.
I have to agree. That doesn’t mean the gang-rape didn’t happen; and it doesn’t mean that the university’s response was defensible. It does mean that when you’re reporting on a terribly serious and appalling crime, you talk to as many of those involved as you possibly can. I have a feeling that this story is by no means over.
Today, on the good news fronts (to me, at least): HIV is getting weaker as a virus and the number of abortions is back down to pre-Roe levels; Obama has made slow but real progress in isolating Ebola, ISIS and Putin; and Hillary Clinton is less popular than at any point since 2009. I also made the case that the Schumer critique of Obama putting healthcare reform before economic recovery disintegrates upon inspection. Plus: another awesome fall window; a weed breathalyzer makes its debut; and a comedian tells stories about his gigs on campuses.
Many of this week’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here and our new mugs here.
A reader comments on our latest transparency update:
Congrats on the slow and steady growth. I’ve been a loyal and daily reader for somewhere around a decade now and subscribed as soon as you started your new model. Here’s what will lose me faster than anything: if you go the way of so many websites that have to have a massively cluttered webpage with ads here and there, countless articles to link to. Most news sites and blogs have turned into a mess in their efforts to be all things to all people. Besides your varied content, what I love best about your website is the very simple set-up and interface. Change that and you’ll lose me.
Slow and steady is a beautiful thing, even in the Internet age.
And often especially so. See you in the morning.