After two months of requests made through his attorney, the man Breitbart News identified as “Barry One” in an investigative report published last week has, at least, been exonerated by Lena Dunham’s publisher, Random House. The publishing giant didn’t apologize. Nor did Lena Dunham. Regrets were expressed over “the confusion.”
In a statement released Monday to The Wrap that raises many more questions than it answers, Random House finally admits: “The name ‘Barry’ referenced in the book is a pseudonym. Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion.”
“As indicated on the copyright page of Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, some names and identifying details in the book have been changed. The name ‘Barry’ referenced in the book is a pseudonym,” the publisher told TheWrap exclusively. “Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion that has led attorney Aaron Minc to post on GoFundMe on behalf of his client, whose first name is Barry.”
“We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date,” the company continued. “Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.”
While, after months of being placed under suspicion, this might afford Barry One and his family some relief, the statement doesn’t come close to explaining how and why this was allowed to happen:
1. Lena Dunham has yet to detail what in her rape story is true and what is not true.
2. Was Lena Dunham’s alleged attacker indeed the “campus’s resident conservative”? Was, in fact, her rapist a conservative? A Republican? A prominent Republican on campus? Did he work in a library? Was he mustachioed? Did he wear purple cowboy boots? Did he host a radio show? Did he graduate in December of 2005? How many of these descriptors are true and how many made up?
3. Why on page 3 of her memoir did Dunham inform her readers that she was using a pseudonym for an old boyfriend, but not tell her readers the same when she discussed her rapist named Barry? With the early notification of the use of a pseudonym, the reader is left with the impression that a precedent is being set – that Dunham will identify when she is and is not using a pseudonym.
4. Why does Dunham open the chapter about the rape with the words, “I’m an unreliable narrator” and then go on to write, “[I]n another essay in this book I describe a sexual encounter with a mustachioed campus Republican as the upsetting but educational choice of a girl who was new to sex when, in fact, it didn’t feel like a choice at all.”
By admitting to the fact that she had been an unreliable narrator when discussing Barry (though not by name) earlier, the reader is left with the unmistakable impression that she is now going to tell the full truth. It is within this context that Dunham reveals her rapist’s name and most of the other details about Barry.
In a lengthy article explaining why Barry One has a solid libel case against Dunham, Washington Post legal writer Eugene Volokh points out that Dunham’s use of the words “in fact” matters.
5. We know for a fact that nearly six weeks ago, Dunham herself was aware of the agony her memoir caused Barry One. And yet, rather than exonerate an innocent man she knew was twisting in the wind, she attacked the National Review author who told Barry’s story.
6. How did Lena Dunham choose the name Barry? Moreover, no less than five descriptors in Dunham’s memoir led who-knows-how-many people to believe Barry One was her rapist: 1) Barry One attended Oberlin at the same time Dunham did. 2) Barry One shares the same first name — a very uncommon name. 3) Barry One was a campus Republican. 4) Barry One was a prominent campus Republican. 5) Barry One worked at one of the Oberlin campus libraries.
The details anyone could easily Google led right to Barry One.
7. How did everything above get past the fact-checkers and legal department at Random House?
8. Will Dunham herself apologize to Barry One? Random House might have published the memoir, but it was Dunham who, for whatever reason, pointed her powerful finger at an innocent man.
9. A rapist, according to Lena Dunham, is still on the loose. On top of what she claims this man did to her, she also claims this same man physically hurt two other women. Will Lena Dunham now come forward and name her true rapist? Will she now cooperate with authorities who are standing by to help? Everyone understands it can take years for a sexual assault victim to come to terms with what happened to her. But now that she has, and now that we know her attacker is almost certain to hurt another woman (if he hasn’t already), it’s time to get this man in the criminal justice system.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC