Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Rolling Stone's UVA Story's Fallout: Sabrina Rubin Erdely - the Reconsideration

Given all we are finding out about the journalistic habits of Sabrina Rubin Erdely, is it time to look again at her body of work? Odds are, her habits that are in glaring display in the UVA rape story are not an isolated incident. Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway makes the case;
All of these stories — even the University of Virginia rape story — involve real people. The alleged problems relate to how well the sources’ stories were reported. In the case of the alleged gang rape, we’ve learned that the other alleged players in the story weren’t interviewed at all. That includes the alleged rape victim’s friends or supposed perpetrators.

Older stories also seem to have a pattern of Erdely credulously reporting a source’s version of events.

A story about a heroin using mother has virtually no facts that could be independently verified. Though it does include a line that names and other details have been changed.

Another story about a prostitute mother would be too unbelievable for a Lifetime movie.
Another of Erdelys's older stories - again about a girl, alcohol, drugs, and gang rape - may be familiar to some readers here, as the target was not a university but the military in general and the United States Navy in particular.

The article was part of the narrative which is ongoing that military and rape. I think it is more than high time that we look at this a lot closer. Again, from Erdely in Rolling Stone; The Rape of Petty Officer Blumer.
Three Army guys – one with light hair, the other two dark-haired – had sent Blumer a shot of J├Ągermeister, a drink she didn't care much for but had downed anyway. The light-haired man had rounded the bar to talk to her. The last thing ­Blumer remembered was being overwhelmed by a dizzy, sluggish feeling, her limbs and head too heavy to lift, the ­noises in the bar rising up and caving in on her. Only later would Blumer find out the rest: that at 1:40 a.m., police had noticed her driving with her headlights off. That she'd barely been able to stand upright during her field sobriety test, but when placed under arrest she'd gone berserk, trying to break free of the police car and screaming incoherently. In jail, she'd yelled for a doctor and fought with the cops so ­wildly that she'd been hosed down in an effort to quiet her. Now, crouching in her cell with a swollen jaw; bruises smudging her wrists, ankles and neck; her abdomen sore inside; and her lower back and buttocks afire with what felt like rug burn, it dawned on ­Blumer. She'd been roofied and raped.
Just a few details that, in light of the events of the last week, smell even worse than they did at the time. A claim of rape after being busted for a DWI? There are two sides to this, one states that she was an actual victim, the other that she is someone who partied hard, got busted and is looking for a way out. Especially with Erdely, you have to question if you have the "truth" being objectively told to you.

Knowing what we know now about the author - how do these lines sound?
"But as it stands now, "blue on blue" sexual crime has become ­utterly commonplace. Just ask 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Nicole McCoy, who was assaulted so often during her four-year stint that she came to regard it as an unavoidable, even sanctioned, part of service. " and "As a woman often confined to Navy ships – "like a big floating frat party" – Rebecca Blumer had seen her share of harassment.
"Blumer had had orders for a deployment to Naples, Italy – a dream assignment"
Is that the Navy you know? OK, some people like Naples. Maybe that part doesn't need to be examined - but the rest? Revealed truth? We also see here that Erdely seems to have an issue with Fraternities.

In the end, no date rape drugs were found in her system, and no seminal fluid in the rape examination kit. Sure, she could have been a blackout drunk and the rapists could have used a condom ... but in the totality, interesting odds to base an entire story on, yes?

Back to the subject at hand - we get a little help from the sub-title of the article:
Inside the military's culture of sex abuse, denial and cover-up
So, if this is not objective journalism, but narrative journalism - what is being left out? More importantly, what smears on our Navy and military culture is being left in?

Perhaps Ederly just has a difficult gig and was having trouble coming up with a new article. She seems to be the "go to" person for the stories involving the tender-vittles. 10 out of the 16 stories she did for Rolling Stone in one way or another touched on sex, homosexuality, transsexuals, or rape. She's got issues.

Then again, her RS CV is a case point why no serious person over the age of 21 should be reading Rolling Stone anyway (or work with their reporters). 

Grow up and get a subscription to Garden & Gun instead - unless, of course you are Michael Tomasky or someone like him, then, well ... bless your heart.

On a very serious note; you know who this injures most by this whole affair? Real victims of rape. You know who this protects? Rapists.

By putting these alleged victims and their easily deconstructed stories out there, it shadows and diminishes those who have actually been victims of rape - a uniquely horrible crime - and are looking for justice. The reason some people are suspected of falsely claiming they were raped, it that these false claims happen - and they destroy lives. Now those who are looking for justice have just one more hill to climb.

Irony alert.

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