The Accused: Rolling Stone’s Apology Has a Glaring Omission

The Wilderness |  Issue 46  |  4 . 11. 15  |  


In poring over mountains of information provided by the Columbia School of Journalism’s report on Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely’s now completely debunked gang rape story at the University of Virginia, I was personally trying to pin point the exact moment Rolling Stone stopped being a music magazine and more importantly, why.

I’m pretty sure it’s when they put N’Sync on the cover and called them the biggest band in the world. But it was around this time as well that somehow the satanic offspring of the Hilton and Kardashian families began gaining notoriety at a soul sucking pace for almost unexplained reasons. At some point, pop media culture stopped caring about artists who played instruments or wrote their own songs and became preoccupied with the cult of celebrity surrounding them. One hit wonder pop stars used to go away. Now they are on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc… Forever.

Modern day pop stars will never fade. In the past, we would hear a song, get sick of a song and move on. If it was revealed a pop star was lip syncing or ripping other artists, they went the way of the dodo as well. Today, because of the saturation of personality, that doesn’t happen. Katy Perry can get caught lip syncing or actually not playing an instrument and her career doesn’t suffer for it. She and other lab creations can just tweet the controversy away. 

We will grow up with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber and as that happens we are inundated by not only their latest crappy synthetic abomination to our ears, but who they are dating, their eating habits, arrests, fights and political beliefs. The need for attention is almost ravenous as witnessed with every single “FOLLOW ME” tweet, whether it’s aimed at Beyonce Knowles or Barack Obama. Movie and music information television like E! moved away from standard news format to tabloid reporting of the latest deli meat Lady Gaga was wearing as a hat. Perez Hilton was getting clicks and they wanted in.


Most of this leads to a harmless culture of late term teenagers who will eventually grow out of twerking in their bedrooms and obsessing about the constant pursuit of attention and fame. But the few that can’t grow out of this phase apparently go on to become narrative journalists. Narrative journalists believe themselves to be no different than pop stars increasing and solidifying their brands. Journalists like Sabrina Erdely aren’t selling their writing ability any more than Katy Perry is selling her music or singing ability. They are selling their beliefs, their social media status, their instagram pictures and selfies that show off their unfettered access to people, politicians and locations that you, their reader and their fan will never see. They don’t stand in the middle of a riot, in say Ferguson, to give information. They do it to look cool. They believe themselves to be Wayne Gayle with their tie around their head screaming along with Mickey and Mallory. They want to be that person.

Keeping all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Rolling Stone will not be punishing any of their staff members in light of having to apologize for unsourced defamation (if not complete fabulism) concerning their University of Virginia campus rape story. It should come as even less a shock, that narrative pop star journalist Sabrina Erdely won’t be terminated or suspended either. 

As far as Rolling Stone is concerned, Erdely did her job and did it flawlessly. She’s a star.

There’s only one problem. When Miley Cyrus rides a giant hot dog or piece of construction equipment and slaps her special spots, the only thing that really hurts is our eyes. When a narrative journalist sets out on a crusade to justify the meaning of their rigid ideology, facts be damned,  lives are ruined.

In the case of Rolling Stone’s retracted campus rape story, it’s seven of them. All men. All still waiting for their apology from Erdely and Rolling Stone.


Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely took it upon themselves to issue an apology to everyone except the actual victims. Seven young fraternity members who were the victims of a young woman’s alleged intentions to get back a guy and a journalist obsessed with selling a story she had already story boarded in her mind. She already had her premise, evidence and conclusion already written. She just needed a vessel to mortar it all together. As far as the University of Virginia’s student council is concerned, it worked

At what point will Rolling Stone, Sabrina Erdely and Jackie Coakley pay the same price the seven men they accused are paying?

The same accountability Erdely demanded of seven young men (all accused of a vicious rape), Their fraternity – Phi Kappa Psi, Jackie Coakley’s friends and UVA Administration in the wake of her pulp fiction rape culture expose doesn’t apply to Rolling Stone or their employees. It doesn’t apply because in a progressive narrative driven world, accountability doesn’t exist. This isn’t exactly an revelation but even I was taken aback at the ferocity at which Erdely and her bogus opus were defended by activists in media, so eager to have their team win, they forgot to exhale and express some relief that a vicious gang rape didn’t actually happen. 

Erdely is being defended by her colleagues like a pop star is defended by their rabid fans on Twitter.

This is not a rape culture problem, there is a media accountability problem. Just as Lena Dunham’s troublesome recanting of her sexual assault, institutional media have staked out a position of defense. Not because the facts of the story back her up, but because the narrative confirms their bias and they are just really big fans of her show. A writer at Rolling Stone can be fired for a negative review about Hootie and the Blowfish but not for orchestrating a rape hoax. Shortly after her original piece hit, Erdely took to promoting it like an album.

Fearless storytellers at Mashable, the Washington Post, The New Republic (famous for fabulist and former classmate of Erdely, Stephen Glass), The Guardian and Talking Points Memo have all dug in to defend Erdely.  They all still view Jackie as a victim because a narrative of rape culture is far too important to advance over the damage false rape accusations can do to a person. None of them are talking about the seven accused fraternity members accused of gang raping Jackie Coakley.

This was the goal of Rolling Stone memory holing Erdely’s original story. So people would forget the words actually featured in the header of the story: 

rolling stone_ header
Rolling Stone rushed to unequivocally condemn seven innocent young men of rape.  Where is the rush in the media to exonerate them?

It’s because they want you to forget the actual story and details surrounding Coakley’s fabrication. Just as defenders of Michael Brown want you to forget he grabbed an employee of a mini store by the throat as well as a police officer’s gun. What matters is there were protests. Media fawning, outrage and action (The fraternity was briefly suspended before Erdely’s piece was independently fact checked). What matters is that the imaginary patriarchy was shouted down, just as imaginary hands were raised up. Not facts.

The left are collective experts at propping up false idols. It’s really what they do best and they are getting better and better at getting results. 

Besides obviously protecting themselves legally, Rolling Stone is hedging that any damage done to their reputation will be minimal as opposed to the public promotion of a fictional fraternity rape culture. The more stories that come out of racist chants and explicit dating manuals from other fraternities completely unrelated will somehow reflect that Erdely was right about Phi Kappa Psi all along. Somewhere down the line there’ll be a high-profile case of sexual assault where progressive left and feminist movements will point to and say this justifies Sabrina Erdely’s smearing of an entire fraternity chapter, just as they have done between Ferguson and the recent shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.

They are betting on the public distaste for college brotherhood culture to overwhelm any demands of public accountability. It’s fashionable to stereotype all bro-culture as ping pong bouncing, overly sexualized neanderthals. But without proof, that doesn’t make them rapists. No matter what Zerlina Maxwell says. Rollings Stone will fall back on blaming a young girl who fell into the trap of the attention seeking culture they created. They want it’s readers to believe their fact checkers and editors can dig up the most intimate details of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Bono, Michael Stipe, Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan or Jimmy Page, yet were somehow magically tricked by a young college girl from Virginia.


They are also hoping people ignore Sabrina Erdely’s emerging problems concerning a prior rape story, which
Leon Wolf at Red State broke down in one of the most important pieces of actual journalism done this year. By all appearances, an activist under the guise of a journalist traveled to campus searching out a desperate soul willing to tell her a gruesome tale that her colleagues would devour. Erdely weaponized her pen and with it, inspired her get-along-gang of radicalized feminists in media to shout down any questioning of her reporting by claiming any opponants of her debunked narrative deny all rape.

 Sound familiar?

In less than a week, Rolling Stone’s apology has been all but been vanquished to a blurb at the bottom of their homepage. They’ve gone back to pretending they’re a music tabloid concentrating on what the hell it is Iggy Azalea is actually trying to say. This is the facade they’ve tried to hide behind. They will continue featuring Barack Obama posed as Superman instead of musicians who actually write their own words. Rolling Stone will preach to it’s dwindling masses about global warming and the evils of the NRA while giving their covers to oil billionaire Al Gore or  Lady Gaga holding machine guns.

Progressive media will continue to prop up political stunts like walking around with a mattress and push debunked campus rape statistics. Celebrities will continue trying to one-up each other’s rape tale on the Howard Stern show. Sabrina Erdely will continue to collect a paycheck. But it needs to be stated somewhere very loudly that the primary victims of this travesty concocted at UVA by Rolling Stone and Jackie Coakley’s are the seven men of Phi Kappa Psi.

In the end, the only predator on the campus of UVA at that time was Sabrina Erdely.


– SM –


* Other Resources

AP Spins Ludicrously to Rehabilitate Sabrina Erdely’s Tattered Reputation
Has the Rolling Stone gang-rape author EVER corroborated a story?
What was the single point of failure at Rolling Stone
At Some Point, ‘Jackie’ Needs to Be Held Accountable
Campus Rape and the ‘Emergency’: It’s Always an Excuse for Authoritarianism






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  1. Mark Reply

    “In the end, the only predator on the campus of UVA at that time was Sabrina Erdely.”

    Goose bumps! Awesome piece.

  2. A Reply

    they didn’t apologize because they were expecting to (rightfully) be sued out of existence.
    so they didn’t want to apologize, implying they did something wrong (which they did), because it would kill their case.

  3. BonHagar Reply

    It is difficult to shame the press being that they have few (if any scruples) left and their defensive mechanisms are all-pervasive just like the “memes” they project onto those they want to destroy.

  4. chuckrr Reply

    This is a bad reach to somehow try to relate pop culture to bad journalism.
    And to make the comparison worse and somewhat ironic the author uses inaccurate and sloppy reporting to make points to support her agenda .
    That was kind of one of the points of the article ….right. I realize the author is no fan of Katy Perry but she never faked playing an interment or has been caught lip syncing. She is a legitimate musician that has written hundreds of songs and plays the guitar and piano. You reduce the effectiveness of your criticism of journalism when you engage in sloppy journalism

  5. chuckrr Reply

    Stephen….I thought those were the two incidents you were referring to. In the flute case that was a bit she did in every show…it was a joke. You can see the bit on youtube at multiple concerts. The incident at the FMA was a mistake by the FMA production crew. They played the wrong tape and apologized later. She does use a backing track on some songs as almost all touring artists do, but she always sings live. Sometimes not so great. Katy has been playing coffee shops , streets and writing songs long before she hit it big. She also studied under one of the best classical voice instructors in California. My point is when you have a opinion on a topic already formed it’s easy to find info that supports your beliefs. Sometimes that info is not quite the truth It’s certainly not as important as the Rolling Stone farce but if your writing about journalistic accuracy I think you should be accurate. I do thank you for responding and I like your article with that exception

  6. chuckrr Reply

    Stephen, One more point. Pop music is a mixed bag as it’s always been. . I don’t think it’s any more vapid , superficial or deviant that it’s ever been . When I was a teenager we all thought this young boy band was complete fluff, but all the girls loved them. Not to many people think the Beatles are fluff now and I’ve come to give a little more respect to teenage girls musical tastes. Conservatives, and I am one, make a big mistake to reflexively condemn pop culture. They immediately turn off a lot of young skulls full of mush. But you know it fits the narrative right so why check it out. You read it on gawker so it must be true I’ve learned the liberal mainstream media always distorts a story . I’ve also learned conservatives aren’t much better. I enjoy your tweets by the way. I didn’t know this was you that wrote this article

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