An Ethics Alarms ethics train wreck occurs when a notable unethical act or event becomes a long-running ethics disaster that exposes not merely the ethics deficits of the original participants, but others who become involved later, including, among others, public officials, commentators, experts and pundits.
This might be the first time I have ever seen the organization specifically brought in to perform a forensic ethics analysis of what caused the wreck end up with its own ethics sullied. Incredibly, however, that is what has happened to the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism, which just delivered the definitive verdict on Rolling Stone’s abysmal journalism concerning a false accusation of a fraternity gang rape by a University of Virginia fraternity.
The Columbia Journalism School held a press conference today to discuss the details and implications of its findings regarding Rolling Stone’s (tardily) retracted article, “A Rape on Campus.” Columbia Journalism Dean Steve Coll emphasize that the fiasco was “the collective fault of the reporter, the editor, the editor’s supervisor, and the fact-checking department.”
“We don’t believe that ‘Jackie’ was to blame,” Columbia academic affairs dean Sheila Coronel added.
Wait: how can she possibly make such a manifestly dishonest statement like this? The woman who made the false allegations that resulted in the story isn’t to blame for the story? She was the one who claimed to be gang raped at a party that never happened, at a fraternity that didn’t have a party, by frat brothers who didn’t exist, using quotes that were never said. “Jackie” is not only to blame, she is the single person most responsible for the story, its botching by Rolling Stone, and the harm it did to the fraternity she accused and the University of Virginia. “Jackie” started this Ethics Train Wreck rolling: note that I named it, months ago, “Jackie’s” UVA Gang Rape Ethics Train Wreck, because while Rolling Stone’s incompetent and biased reporter and editors played insane engineer, throttling down and blindly driving the engine to disaster, it was “Jackie” who owned the train and shoveled the coal. And she’s not to blame?
The woman made a false rape accusation that was blown up by Rolling Stone into a national scandal! By what alien definition of “blame” does that not only equal blame, but primary blame?
The tragic explanation is that because “Jackie” is a woman, and because feminists insanely believe that it is better that false rape accusers face no accountability for their devastating lies than to have real rape victims discouraged from coming forward and reporting an assault, the Columbia School of Journalism is adding its prestige to the fantasy that even a liar like Jackie should face no adverse consequences, because she is “blameless.”
And there goes that prestige.
Sheila Coronel’s statement makes the implied assertion that a catastrophic, damaging lie is acceptable as long as a woman is the liar, and the lie is a an imaginary rape accusation. That statement is itself a lie, and because Dean Coll did not instantly reject it and tell Coronel that she had taken leave of her senses, the organization called upon in this terrible example of journalism malpractice to clean up the mess just vomited all over the scene.
Welcome to “Jackie’s” UVA Gang Rape Ethics Train Wreck, Columbia, and pick out a comfy seat. I assumed you were better than this.