Almost three years ago, an article was published by Rolling Stone magazine, that would bring a huge talking point of third wave feminism to the forefront of national discussion; Rape culture. The idea that our daily lives are invaded by aspects of rape that we may or may not notice. The idea that we shouldn’t question a rape victim or put their stories to scrutiny, because it would be a traumatic experience for them. Refusing to question supposed victims, however, may have proven a bit costly for Rolling Stone.
3 years ago, Rolling Stone alleged that a student identified only as “Jackie”, had been gang-raped by members of a fraternity in the University of Virginia. In the coming days after the article was published, the fraternity would come to face backlash and scrutiny both from within and without the university. Several of the fraternity’s windows and property were destroyed in the protests organized by feminists to fight the university’s culture of “rape culture” and their name was tarnished on pretty much every Feminist blog on the Internet. This went on for a while, until inconsistencies and discrepancies were found in Jackie’s story. The story was eventually exposed as a hoax, and Rolling stone issued a retraction and apology. The fraternity decide to seek legal recourse for the damage done to its name and property.
Earlier this month, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity settled with Rolling Stone for 1.65 million dollars in it’s defamation claim. Last year, Nicole Eramo, the dean of UVA’s sexual misconduct board was awarded another 3 million dollars in her lawsuit against Rolling stone. The jury adjudged that the rolling stone article had portrayed her as callous and indifferent to the plight of the alleged sexual assault victim in the story. Charlottesville police said they couldn’t find evidence to support Jackie’s account of a rape and beating at the Phi Kappa Psi house. And the Rolling Stone journalist never spoke to the men identified in the story as Jackie’s attackers.
A review by the Columbia Journalism School said Rolling Stone failed to adhere to basic principles of journalism.