If you’re not familiar with the story, I commend to you this article by National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke.
If I were teaching a journalism class today (as if any j-school faculty would have someone with my views), we’d spend a week on this story. What you would do as an editor when presented with this story. What you would do as a reporter. Was the way the reporter went about getting the story ethical? How do you ensure the truth of this story? What can we learn from Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke and Jayson Blair?
I don’t know whether or not the U Va. rape story is a fabrication or not, but Charles Cooke’s got this right:
If the rape that Sabrina Rubin Erdely is reporting as true happened as she described it, nothing short of apoplectic rage and a series of extraordinarily harsh prison sentences will cut it. Heads will have to roll. Investigations will have to be ordered. And, yes, the alleged victim ought to forfeit her preferences and help the authorities find those responsible and bring them to justice. If it is untrue, however, an entirely different set of questions will need to be asked: Chief among them, what is it about the problem of rape that has led us to this place?
Which brings me to Rachel Sklar, a lawyer and writer who doesn’t appear to care about either the presumption of innocence or writing the truth.
— rachelsklar (@rachelsklar) December 2, 2014
So, if you question the veracity of a story anonymously told to a reporter that’s never been tested in a court of law, you’re a rape apologist.
Does that make the Medill Justice Project, a group with the laudable goal of ensuring that the wrongfully convicted are exonerated (even if they don’t live up to their goal) are murder apologist because they question the guilt of convicted murderers?
I doubt that Sklar would apply the same standard.