Sunday, April 05, 2015

Will It Be A "Non-Apology" Apology?

You know those non-apologies that go something like, "I apologize if you were offended by what I said", making you the central person (after all, you were offended) and the offending person somewhat of an ancillary character in the story?  It'll be interesting to see what we get here in a few moments:
Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of Rolling Stone's much-maligned story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia, plans to formally apologize for her mistakes, according to CNN's Brian Stetler.

Erdely stopped responding to questions and interview requests at the beginning of December, as reporters began to call into question the details of the story. (Richard Bradley and I were the first to do so.) Since then, the story has completely collapsed and was essentially confirmed as false by The Washington Post and the Charlottesville police department...

As The Daily Caller notes, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism will also release its report on what went wrong tonight at 8 p.m. EDT. A press conference will be held tomorrow.
No one at Rolling Stone or UVA has yet been fired for this blood libel.

UpdateThe apology is better than I expected, but still no heads have rolled:
Rolling Stone magazine on Sunday night apologized and officially retracted its discredited article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, and an independent review said the article may cast doubt on future rape accusations.

The review, undertaken at Rolling Stone's request, presented a broad indictment of the magazine's handling of a story that had horrified readers, unleashed widespread protests and sparked a national discussion about sexual assaults on college campuses.

The report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on the editorial process called the article a "story of journalistic failure that was avoidable."
Here's a slightly more "liberal" view of the findings:
An institutional failure at Rolling Stone resulted in a deeply flawed article about a purported gang rape at the University of Virginia, according to an outside review by Columbia Journalism School professors.

The review, published Sunday night, says the failures were sweeping and "may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations."

At the same time the review came out, Rolling Stone officially retracted the story and said sorry. But the publisher, Jann Wenner, has decided not to fire anyone on staff. He believes the missteps were unintentional, not purposefully deceitful.

One thing is clear: All of this could have been avoided if the writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had made more phone calls.
CNN could have been a little more succinct in its narrative had it replaced the entire article with "nothing to see here, move right along."  There was a horrific crime committed, and it wasn't by fraternity brothers at UVA.  That might explain the following sentences:
The fraternity is considering suing Rolling Stone; a spokesman said the frat may have more to say on Monday.
The specter of legal action may explain why Columbia says "Erdely and the editors involved declined to answer questions about the specifics of the legal review" of the story, "citing instructions from the magazine's outside counsel."
I'd love to see the fraternity own Rolling Stone--in the literal sense, not the colloquial one--after a lawsuit.

1 comment:

maxutils said...

It wasn't a bad apology, but.. the one institution which she named, the fraternity, was not named in the apology. Where I really have a problem is with comments by Jan Wenner and Sean Woods, the article's editor. Wenner: "(Erdely) was willing to go too far in an effort to try and protect a victim of apparently a horrible crime." Woods: "Ultimately, we were too deferential to our rape victim."

You see the problem, right? There is no evidence that a crime was ac tally committed … yet, in their apologies for being incompetent journalists who failed to use basic fact -checking procedures bit the Editor-in - Chief and the Editor maintain that there WAS victim. Still. There was no rape victim to be deferential to; Wenner should have said "an apparent victim" and "an alleged crime," if anything.