Ever since journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely published her searing Rolling Stone story about “Jackie,” a woman who was allegedly the victim of a gang rape at a frat party at the University of Virginia, there’s been an ongoing and much-needed public conversation about the way rape and sexual assault claims are dealt with on college campuses. But Robby Soave at the libertarian magazine Reason thinks we’re talking about the wrong questions entirely. Shouldn’t we be asking, he wonders, if Jackie just, like, made the whole story up?
Soave writes that Erdely’s story is “not credible,” according to “journalists who contemplate such matters.” Which journalists, exactly? One, to be precise, a guy by the name of Richard Bradley, who writes on his blog that he doesn’t believe the story: “I don’t believe that it happened—certainly not in the way that it is recounted.”
Bradley writes that “something about this story doesn’t feel right.” …’
Soave at Reason—who has previously written that much of the campus sexual assault crisis is just “criminalizing campus sex”—takes Bradley’s giant ball of shit and runs with it. …
In summary, what we have here are two dudes who have some vague suspicions and, on that basis, are implying that Ederley either fabricated her story or failed to do her due diligence and didn’t fact check what Jackie told her. Never mind that she gave a long interview to the Washington Post this weekend about the weeks she spent fact-checking the story. Erdely explains in that interview, too, that she won’t discuss some details about Jackie’s alleged attackers because of an agreement she made with Jackie, who is, she tells the paper “very fearful of these men, in particular Drew. . . . She now considers herself an empty shell. So when it comes down to identifying them, she has a very hard time with that.”
But never mind Erdely’s months of work. Two guys who have no idea what they’re talking about don’t believe it. Case closed.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Richard Bradley is retired. In fact, he is the current editor-in-chief of Worth. I regret the error. This is what a professional journalistic correction looks like, in the unlikely event that any editors at Worth or writers at Reason ever need to issue one.
Richard Bradley responds here.