Saturday, December 6, 2014

Too Good To Check

What the hell?

Just about the time I have finally simmered down after reading of the horrific rape at UVA, word comes that Rolling Stone no longer has confidence in the story and apologizes to everybody for publishing it in the first place. Their exact words were:

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”

Hmmm, “we apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.” Does that include me? I sure was affected by this story and I’m here to tell you, Rolling Stone, I do not accept your apology. At a time when journalism has become about confirming and advocating agendas, not the honest pursuit of truth, a simple apology isn’t going to cut it. This story was apparently too good to check. This writer set out to write a piece about rape culture and was simply too willing to accept testimony that confirmed her own beliefs and biases. But, that’s what editors are for. That’s what the Perry Whites of the world do. They bark at their reporters for “sources, sources and more sources!!” But even in the make believe world of the Daily Planet, the barking is done BEFORE the story goes to print.

To those out there who ask, “Do you actually think that an accused rapist would agree to be interviewed?” My answer is that if a writer came up to me and said, “Mr. Dunnevant, I’m writing a 9000 word story that’s going to appear in the Rolling Stone about a girl named Jackie who is accusing you and 8 of your buddies of repeatedly raping her at a frat party in 2012,” I would absolutely either A. Tell her that it was a lie or B. contact my attorney and give her a “no comment.” Either way, the reporter has something to write and has made a good faith effort to get the other side of the story, which I understand is Journalism 101.

Instead, not only have many key details of the story collapsed under scrutiny, but the last remains of my confidence in journalism lies in tatters on the floor.

The problem with advocacy journalism disguised as news reporting is that it segregates us into information ghettos. If I lean conservative in my politics, I watch Fox News. If I lean liberal, I watch pretty much everything else. But regardless, I know in my heart that I’m being lied to at some level by all of them. Everyone has an agenda. Every story has an angle. I’m so tired of it all.
I shed no tears for the frats at UVA, but I do shed tears for the truth.