On Sunday night, Rolling Stone magazine published a report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism detailing the many failures of its University of Virginia rape story.
In conjunction with that report, the writer who brought us Jackie’s tale, Sabrina Erdely, issued an apology for her slipshod work. But in her statement Erdely apologized to everyone but those she hurt the most, the members of Phi Kappa Psi whose lives she so seriously impacted.
Erdely noted that the last few months have been “the most painful of my life.” She continued, saying, “Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience.”
“I want to offer my deepest apologies,” the writer added, “to Rolling Stone’s readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues, to the U.V.A. community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”
But notice what group is missing in that apology? Erdely does not mention the one group that was most negatively affected by her story; the members of Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity whose members she accused of rape.
By contrast, the statement by the University of Virginia’s president was exactly on point about the effect of Erdely’s article.
UV President Teresa A. Sullivan said that the story “did nothing to combat sexual violence, and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue.”
“Irresponsible journalism unjustly damaged the reputations of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia,” Sullivan said. “Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org