Saturday, October 15, 2016

"What Happened to Jackie?" ABC 20-20 reviews UVa libel suit concerning false report of rape

On Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, ABC 20-20 aired “What Happened to Jackie”, about the supposed rape case at the University of Virginia, leading to a libel lawsuit by Dean Nicole Eramo against Rolling Stone and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely, The viewing link is here. (Somehow I think. “What Happened to Baby Jane”?”

The broadcast made the point that campus rape is a huge problem, and Jackie’s apparently false report, which seems to have been a “catfishing” scheme motivated by being turned down by a particular boy for romance (Ryan?) seriously impairs the willingness of others to take campus rape seriously.

The broadcast did describe the fact checking process at Rolling Stone, and the efforts of Washington Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro to recheck the entire story, here.  A big issue seems to be how Erdely and Rolling Stone really perceived her personal credibility.  She came to a point herself where she had to tell the magazine that her source had not been credible after all and that the story would have to be removed and retracted.
The broadcast also spent a lot of time interviewing the main plaintiff, Nicole Eramo. She got a lot of hate mail from people who didn't seem to be interested in the truth, or realize that a major publication could get things wrong.

Is this narrative a lesson for bloggers?

The actual trial begins soon (Monday).  Reason argues that since Eramo is a public figure, she herself has to pass a high bar to win a defamation suit,

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