Amazing! The Columbia School Of Journalism Just Boarded “Jackie’s” UVA Gang Rape Ethics Train Wreck


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a press conference today to discuss the details and implications of its findings regarding Rolling Stone’s (tardily) retracted article, “A Rape on Campus.”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.

Guess not.


59 thoughts on “Amazing! The Columbia School Of Journalism Just Boarded “Jackie’s” UVA Gang Rape Ethics Train Wreck

  1. The possibility exists that she was raped, just not as she reported it. Of course, the possibility also exists that she is a sociopath. But rape victims confuse facts, dates, etc. ALL the time — especially in situations where alcohol was involved and/or time elapsed between the event and the report. Sometimes they even make up elaborate stories as opposed to telling the real event. Even the VA prosecutor went out of his way to say that.

    Finally, while what the Rolling Stone did was incomprehensible because they couldn’t verify the story, everyone has to keep in mind that the vast majority of rape cases cannot be proved.

    • Come on, Beth! She got nothing right. There has to be some accountability: if you don’t know what happened, don’t accuse people. Surely we can agree on that principle.

      This is the “something happened” excuse again. OK, stipulated: something happened…but what she told a reporter didn’t happen, she’s accountable.

      Good lord.

      • Assume for just one second that she WAS raped. If she was, she obviously needs serious mental help as there are a million holes in her story. If she WASN’T raped, then I think she should go to prison. It’s impossible to prove either scenario, so time to move on.

        That’s why the focus (properly) should be on the Rolling Stone. It was supposed to be objectively reporting a factual story. It failed. It should be sued.

        As for the fraternity, I’ll be interested to see if they demand to know Jackie’s identity and eventually go after her.

        • It might not be impossible to prove it either way, but her best chance to do so was to cooperate with the investigation, which she apparently hasn’t or has ceased doing.

          I remember the article Jack wrote a long time ago about Blagojevich, where he kept saying, “There’s an innocent explanation to all this, just get me on the stand!” And when he got on the stand, he sealed up like a clam. The jury isn’t allowed to take his refusal to self-incriminate as evidence towards guilt, of course.

          But… nobody MADE Blagojevich shoot his mouth off to the press. He said he could explain it, and he didn’t. Taking THAT as evidence that he was lying about having an innocent explanation, in light of his refusal to testify, is not inappropriate conduct for a jury.

          I almost never comment on the merits of criminal cases or accusations like this, but I will say this: I think it behooves her to explain why she chose to stop cooperating with the investigation that seemed likely to be her best chance to get the truth out into the open and for justice to be served. Talking to the press while refusing to talk to the police is strange behavior if the truth is really on your side. If there’s a good reason for it, I would love to hear it. But I am not optimistic.

          If “Jackie” faces charges of whatever kind for this, we should not take our charged emotions for the alleged false accusation of her and others out on “Jackie.” We should not let this whole story play out again in reverse. She should get the full benefit of the law and let it play out in the proper channels. If the news media wants to make something sensational out of it and threatens to upend some lives so they can sell more Ovaltine, then we should change the channel and buy some Nesquik.

        • If she was was raped and made up a bunch of shit and reported it to the police she should still go to jail. Rape is horrible and traumatic but is no excuse to commit a crime. Based on your reasoning anyone who experiences trauma receives a get out of jail free card, but not really because we all know the truth is if it is a women, a pass is demanded, if it is a man justice is rightly demanded.

            • Well then… What are you saying? Because that’s how I read it too.

              “If she WASN’T raped, then I think she should go to prison. It’s impossible to prove either scenario, so time to move on.”

              It’s impossible to know? By what metric? We know that she wasn’t raped where she said she was, not by the people she said she was, and the people she said raped her don’t even exist, we know that the party she said she was raped at didn’t actually happen, we know the she didn’t actually have the injuries she said she did and we know that even her friends have contradicted her story. We know that she’s not cooperating with the police.

              But even with all that. With all we know. SOMETHING could have happened to her at SOMETIME, and because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know, we need to MOVE ON? And you don’t think that’s a free pass?

              Get a grip. I’ve never been more disappointed in you.

              • I want to point out here: I was raped yesterday, by Beth. It doesn’t matter that it’s physically impossible, I’m going to get the story run on MSNBC, and then when MSNBC runs the story because of weak controls, and she’s lost her job, been threatened with violence, had her life in upheaval, I’m going to expect her to MOVE ON. Because she’s a stupid empathetic bitch.

                    • I’ll eat that. I called a name first. I do regret that. I’m sorry.

                      I however don’t think that makes my points wrong. So I might be worthless scum, but unless you can tell me why I’m WRONG worthless scum, I’ll continue to assume I’m right.

    • So, are you suggesting that when a woman is raped, it is better for an innocent man to be charged and pay for that crime than for no man to be charged?

      If she can’t remember where, when, or who raped her, she can report that, I guess, but she doesn’t get to make up a fake time, place, and rapist. Even if she was raped, she still should go to jail for the accusation against innocent people.

      Just because something bad happened to you doesn’t mean you get to do bad things to others.

  2. I often wonder why women get a pass like this. She may have been raped, but if she were, why not accuse the person or persons who actually did it? Why drag the fraternity into it? She told a complicated story about a party on a specific date, accused a certain fraternity. Now it turns out that no one at the fraternity knows her and there wasn’t a party that week, never mind that particular night. Why bother? Why not have the guys who really did it arrested?

    By now it’s looking as if she has made a false accusation, and she should be accused publicly. This is another thing that makes me see red…in so many of these cases the accused are dragged through the press, expelled and vilified before trial, and it’s nearly impossible to save one’s reputation if it turns out to be a false accusation, but the accuser’s name is often not released even after the claims are found to be false. Why? The zeal to get someone in jail for the crime often trumps logic and common sense. I know it was a while ago, but it still astounds me that one of the Duke boys was arrested and charged even though he had proof (and was found on security footage) he was at an ATM miles away at the time of the incident.

    I really think they should get to the bottom of this. I do not agree with the idea that prosecuting a false accuser will make it harder for real rape victims to come forward, a claim often put forth by feminists.

    • This is another thing that makes me see red…in so many of these cases the accused are dragged through the press, expelled and vilified before trial, and it’s nearly impossible to save one’s reputation if it turns out to be a false accusation, but the accuser’s name is often not released even after the claims are found to be false.

      Are not court records public information. Can we note retrieve the names of accusers from court records?

  3. Okay, I have been incommunicado for the last few days and should probably not jump in while completely uninformed, but this is the internet, so what the hey:

    My initial reaction is that, from a JOURNALISTIC stand-point, her lie is of no importance. She is not a journalist. She has no duty in that regard. What she said may have been unethical (assuming it was a lie), but the journalists screwed up under a whole different set of rules that don’t apply to her. The journalists screwed up by not investigating properly and that is what Columbia was concerned with: journalistic ethics.

    Just my half-informed take.


    • I agree, just as a prosecutor who wrongly prosecutes the wrong man as a a killer and the defense attorney who does a lousy job defending him are the only ones who have behaved unethically under the legal system, and in regard to legal ethics.

      But boy, would anyone sound stupid, once having identified the real killer, to say “he was completely blameless in X’s wrongful execution.” It’s an old causation conundrum: is the party to blame who starts the disaster in motion, or is the one responsible who should have stopped it, but didn’t. In the law of negligence, and in common sense, they are both liable, and both “to blame.”

      Since CSJ wasn’t asked to assess Jackie’s culpability and that’s not their field, they should have kept quiet. Having ventured an assertion, however, they are obligated to be prudent and responsible.

      Of course she was to blame, accountable and culpable. The lies that were printed were hers.

      • Jack (don’t flatter yourself; Baby Gory Number 2 was named in spite of you, not because of you),
        I do not blame the prosecutor of my most recent criminal trial for believing lying witnesses. I think she had a bad case. I believe she believed her witnesses. I believe her witnesses lied (or grossly misinterpreted the facts). It was not a capital case, or even a felony. But, the prosecutor only had what she had to work with. I have the same issues with clients. I don’t always know what to believe, but I know whose story I have to defend.

        Having said that, to the extent that Columbia was vague about its role, it should have made clear its position on Jackie. It may have been fine for them to plead ignorance on her claims, if they said that they are doing so. To the extent that they are unclear about their analysis, they are to blame for that.

        • Oh, and I forgot to mention that Aristotle’s four causes would be useful in this analysis. I forget them all. But, the prosecutor, or the Rolling Stone, would be the efficient cause(?), but Jackie would be a different cause (with more culpability).

        • You do blame the lying witnesses, though, correct? The statement about “Jackie” smacked as off-target partisan, feminist sucking up. Everyone is writing about how bad this incident is for legitimate victims of rape, so she was taking the position that the less everyone beats up on Jackie, the better. So Rolling Stone’s publisher says its not really culpable because it was tricked by a liar, and Columbia says that the liar isn’t at fault, because if RS did its job, her lies wouldn’t have hurt anyone.

          As usual, nobody’s at fault, nobody’s held accountable, and no lessons are learned….and the culture gets more corrupt by the second.

          The CSJ report says that nothing Jackie said appears to be based on verifiable facts. The conclusion seems to be res ipsa loquitur, and yet it announced the opposite conclusion. She is not to blame means, to most listeners, “she did nothing wrong.” Who believes that?

          • Yes, I blame the lying witness. She is more to blame than the prosecutor in Many respects. The prosecutor has no first hand knowledge and is only bound by legal ethics. The lying witness is worse in many ways, but not from the perspective of legal ethics.

  4. What if “Jackie” doesn’t exist. What if “Jackie” is a small little cabal of false-flaggers, that happens to include several UVA faculty who happen to be just the kind of Leftist insurgency that Left-wing professorship always dreams of being.

    And Columbia finding out + UVA finding out would just rather this who mess be swept up than a pandora’s box blown wide open?

      • If it were people at UVA, they wouldn’t have gotten the date wrong. All they had to do is drive by the frats on Friday night to see if there is a party to get a date for one and other useful details (cars there, tables in the front yard, description of people passed out on the lawn…). Of course, they could be really bad at this, just not bad enough for Rolling Stone to care.

    • I thought I was the only one skeptical enough to go off in that direction, except that I see it as having much more of a righteous-anger target than a distantly political one. What if a tight group of women, likely surrounding one or more of their number who had been raped and with detailed knowledge of other assaults (not to mention the humiliating and futile results of having made official reports, on or off campus), put the story together from multiple instances? It wouldn’t be the first time. Ah, but of course not: everyone knows women can’t keep secrets ….

    • Well, taking out the leftist conspiracy wing-nut part of your comment, I do agree that there is a possibility that Jackie doesn’t exist at all. If you are an unethical reporter, you are an unethical reporter. She wouldn’t be the first person to make up a source.

      • 1) I don’t go for conspiracy theories, so this is significant.

        2) it’s not a “wing-nut” theory at all. Wing nut is relegated to world controlling or moon landing faked or shadow government conspiracy theories. A tight nit cluster of lefty professors and others with a chip on their shoulder? Believable.

            • Wait! Urban Dictionary assumes a broader definition.

              1. Ideological extremist from either side of the political spectrum who unquestioningly repeats any and all propaganda and/or conspiracy theories propagated by their side of the political spectrum, no matter how unlikely.

              2. An eccentric driven by religious fervor to take on unusual or irrational social or political opinions without care that other members of society consider them off balance. The extremism of these people’s faith is proof to them that they are right.

                • “The Bible is not just great literature, it is written Truth, the Word Of God. It says so right there in the Bible.”

                • File a complaint with Urban Dictionary. As for me, wing-nut will be removed from my vocabulary as I am now thoroughly confused about its true meaning.

                  • Groan. If I must engage this seriously.

                    It’s urban dictionary. And though its definition is actually quite compatible with my usage, that does little to bolster your characterization of my commentary as “wing nut”.

                    As per the definition:

                    1a) I am not an extremist from “either side”, which we must assume is right/left.

                    1b) I propagated my theory (though it would be better termed a hypothesis). So I can’t be repeating someone else’s.

                    2) inapplicable.

                    • Well, it’s certainly a conspiracy theory in so far as Tex theorized (or as he prefers hypothesized) a conspiracy among a group of alleged co-conspirators. I didn’t consider it far out at all.

                    • Treads carefully through the muck……..

                      Unless, of course, ‘either side’ means right/wrong.

                      So, you as the theory propagator are not a wing-nut, but the people who uncritically accept and espouse your theory are, in fact, wing-nuts. Right?

                      Therefore, you, sir, are a wing-nut enabler.

                      We, collectively, shine in the reflected light of your glory.


                      Hopefully, no wing-nuts were harmed in the construction of this post.

  5. “she is the single person most responsible for the story” this seems a little too strong for me. I think it is quite likely that Jackie is mentally disturbed (she either made up details and doesn’t believe them, making her a sociopathic liar, or she truly believes them, and is therefore delusional), and that the author of the article used her to push an agenda, making the author the person most responsible for it.

    This is just quibbling to an extent, and Jackie is certainly not blameless.

    • I don’t think it’s too strong. She lied. Repeatedly and egregiously, and a lot of innocent people were directly harmed by it — and she had to know they would be. So she’s Responsible Person #1.

      A few people have said that there’s still no definitive proof that nothing happened to her, and that’s true. But that’s not the point. The point is that everything she said to Rolling Stone was a lie. That has been definitively proven.

      There’s still room for a bit of sympathy…maybe. “Jackie” is obviously an unstable person. It would be sad, but not very surprising, if an encouraging/exploitative “journalist” gulled her into a series of lies that had the temporary pleasurable effect of making her the center of someone’s attention; at a certain point, maybe she didn’t dare to stop telling the story (maybe she didn’t want to).

      Even if Jackie is Responsible Person #1, that doesn’t absolve Sabrina Rubin Erdely or The Rolling Stone. If journalism were the legitimate profession it pretends to be and not a long-running professional scam, they’d have been run out on a rail long ago.

      • Several people have said that ‘Jackie” must be unstable or have mental issues. Why does she have to be unstable? Perhaps she just doesn’t like fraternities. Perhaps she doesn’t like THAT fraternity, or UVA. Just because someone does something mean doesn’t make them mentally ill or unstable. Women falsely accuses men of rape all the time for a variety of reasons. Look at the Tawana Brawley case (accusing multiple men of rape, abduction, etc so she wouldn’t get in trouble for going to a party) and the Duke Lacrosse team case (team insulted her?). In the Innocence Project files, there are numerous cases that can only be fake rape accusations.
        Look at this another way, the Clintons charged the operators of the White House travel agency of embezzlement, dragged them through the federal court system for years, and then admitted that there was no money missing. They apparently did all this to give the jobs and travel contract to their friends. That isn’t crazy, it is just unethical.

        I suspect the “has mental health issues” is just another excuse to deflect blame from someone who falsely cries rape.

        • Falsly crying rape when you know it’s false is sociopathic.

          Truly believing you were raped when you weren’t is delusional.

          Mental health issues seems pretty clear to me. It doesn’t erase responsibility, but it may affect how blame is apportioned.

  6. “The point is that everything she said to Rolling Stone was a lie.”

    Yes. That is the point. All other points shaved from it make it all the sharper.

  7. She is indeed a liar and responsible person #1, but I find a stronger point in Jack’s writing, “…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 ….”

    That is exactly what they believe. Yes, rape is heinous and damages its victims, but lives are damaged and ruined from false accusations, and sometimes that ruin includes years spent in prison and years spent registered as a sex offender, which destroys the lives of not only the falsely accused but also his family and children. It is the assumption, the, “It goes without saying attitude,” that all of those lives, especially the life of the male who is the primary victim, lack the value and importance of the life of a female, whether she is an actual rape victim or whether she is a liar and false accuser.

  8. However, from an ethics, or at least journalistic ethics standpoint, Jackie doesn’t have any…she isn’t a journalist. Rolling Stone et. al. ARE and, hence, should be held responsible vis-à-vis journalistic ethics. Jackie is to blame, since it is her lying story, but she did NOT violate any journalistic ethics.

    • Nor did she, according to what I have read on other blogs, make any reports to the police and therefore committed no crime with which she could be charged. It isn’t against the law to lie to a journalist. A shame, that.

  9. I feel the need to point out, as far as the whole “you can’t prove that nothing happened to her” thing: Yeah, and you can’t REALLY prove that the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to prove a vague negative with absolute certainty. You can, however, prove that many of the specific points she made are completely made up.
    Someone, at some point, once kicked me in the shin. Can I go around accusing whoever of assault, whenever the fancy takes me? No. Well, I CAN, but it would be wrong. Arguing that “Jackie” isn’t to blame at all in this mess is obviously a dumb stance to take.
    However, Coronel’s statement, “we don’t believe that ‘Jackie’ was to blame,” spoken during a press conference (where one may not have time to carefully choose words), could easily be interpreted to mean that she doesn’t think “Jackie” should be blamed for the bad journalism specifically, not that she’s completely innocent. Then again, I tend to err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt.

    • “could easily be interpreted to mean that she doesn’t think “Jackie” should be blamed for the bad journalism specifically, not that she’s completely innocent.”

      Not to blame means completely innocent of blame, which means—completely innocent.
      If the statement meant that she didn’t control Rolling Stone journalism practices, why say it? Duh. She doesn’t work for them.
      There is giving the benefit of the doubt and then there istrying to avoid stating an unpleasant truth.

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