It has been more than four days since Breitbart News published a detailed investigative report debunking Lena Dunham’s claim in her memoir that, as an Oberlin college student, she had been raped by a mustachioed campus Republican named Barry. Thus far, the reaction from Ms. Dunham and her numerous representatives has been total silence, despite inquiries from numerous media outlets.
The afternoon prior to publishing our report, Breitbart News reached out to Dunham and her publisher with a detailed message left for Dunham’s publicist at Random House. We left the same message for the person described as the publicist’s back-up.
As of yet, no one has responded to those inquiries.
Thursday, the Daily Mail also attempted to reach both Random House and Dunham’s representatives: “Calls to Random House, the publisher of Not That Kind of Girl, and to Dunham’s literary agent by MailOnline were not immediately returned Thursday.” As of Saturday evening, the Daily Mail reports, those calls remain unreturned.
Breitbart News can also confirm that a major entertainment publication has not heard back from the Dunham camp in reference to queries about our investigative report.
It is unusual for Dunham and her representatives to be silent in the wake of negative stories. Recently, Dunham herself publicly lashed out at National Review and Truth Revolt over two separate unflattering stories. In the case of Truth Revolt, within hours of publishing a story about Dunham’s bizarre behavior towards her younger sister, the Website (run by our own Ben Shapiro) received a cease and desist letter and threat of suit from Dunham’s high-powered attorney.
The “Barry One” story took a sharp turn Saturday night when the man Breitbart News identifies as “Barry One” opened a defense fund and released a statement through his attorney, Aaron Minc. Due to the detailed description of her alleged rapist in Dunham’s memoir, Barry One has been falsely identified as her attacker. Almost a half-dozen details point to Barry, although he clearly isn’t the man in question:
1. Barry One’s real first name is Barry.
2. Barry One attended Oberlin College during the time in question.
3. Barry One is a Republican.
4. Barry One was a prominent campus conservative.
5. Barry One worked at one of Oberlin’s libraries.
Whatever her intentions, Dunham’s memoir has pointed a finger at an innocent man who says he is now incurring legal fees in an attempt to clear his name.
Barry One’s attorney says that for more than two months, and to no avail, he has asked Dunham’s representatives to issue a statement clearing his client’s name. Thus far, they have refused.
Dunham received upwards of $3.7 million from Random House for her memoir. According to Saturday’s statement, Barry One, who has a young family, has burned through a large part of his savings due to the legal fees he’s incurred while trying to protect his name.
Barry One is considering filing a libel suit against Dunham.
In the Washington Post, legal writer Eugene Volokh lays out why he believes Barry One has a solid case:
But say I write something that on its face seems to be, and is reasonably perceived to be, a factual claim that someone did something bad to me. And say I use a first name coupled with identifying characteristics that would lead reasonable people to perceive that the person is a particular person. People do so reasonably perceive, but it turns out that my account was wrong — the incident actually involved someone with a different first name, or different identifying characteristics. Unless I made a reasonable mistake, I would be potentially liable for defamation.
And that would be the Dunham story, if the Breitbart assertions are correct, and Dunham knew (or at least should have known) that the incident didn’t involve an Oberlin conservative named Barry. To be sure, people who knew Identifiable Conservative Barry very well would realize that her story couldn’t be about him (again, assuming the Breitbart report is right), since he never had the mustache that Dunham described and never worked on the radio show that Dunham mentioned.
But people who know some details about Identifiable Conservative Barry — he was named Barry, he was conservative, he was at Oberlin at the same time Dunham was — whether because they know him personally or because they track him down using those details, would perceive him as the Barry that Dunham was talking about. And the damage to his reputation in those people’s eyes would be sufficient for a libel claim[.]
Dunham herself is in Europe, where she just collected an award for her writing and appears to be on a book tour. Since the release of our report, she has published just three tweets, none of which addresses the scandal or exonerates Barry One.
This silence from Dunham and her usually aggressive crowd of publicists, lawyers, managers, agents, and high-powered friends is uncharacteristic in these circumstances. Breitbart News and a number of other publications would like nothing more than to hear Dunham’s side of the story.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC