Back in December, the day T. Rees Shapiro in the Washington Post broke a long, complicated, confusing but important story about the U. of Virginia fraternity gang rape allegations that allowed a careful reader to deduce that Jackie had catfished her purported gang rape organizer into electronic existence, a friend called from upstate New York to warn that the New York Times was going to try to make this story as vague and boring as possible so that most people wouldn’t be able to remember what happened. People would just remember that mistakes were made, proper journalistic procedures were not followed as carefully as they should be, and it was all a big he said, she said, but who knows maybe something happened to her, and anyway waddaya waddaya?
The Times has succeeded in keeping its columns a Safe Space for those who don’t want their views on the UVA story challenged too directly.
And you can see this is exactly pretty much what happened by looking at the reader comments to today’s NYT article on the police report. Here’s a fairly representative one:
So what does all of this mean? That RS misinterpreted or failed to validate her story? That Jackie lied? Did she? If so, why nobody says so? If not, where is the evidence? So unfortunate that this ‘story’ will end up having the most negative impact on those least deserving, true victims. Sad . . .
A commenter who actually knows the score replied:
Petrov Too close for comfort 1 hour ago
Research “Haven Monahan” and ‘catfishing’ to begin your education.
Exactly. By suppressing all reporting on Jackie’s catfishing, and never mentioning the dread name “Haven Monahan” until today, the NYT has succeeded in keeping the story tedious and vague, when it’s actually clear-cut and hilarious.
The crucial fact is that Jackie engaged in massive fabrication, and before anything else happened. She didn’t start making up stuff just when Sabrina Rubin Erdely arrived on campus, or when she first went to poor Dean Nicole Eramo, or when she told her friend Ryan that she had been raped.
No, days before the purported rape, Jackie was occupied in ginning up an elaborate scam involving electronic sock puppets to get Ryan to believe that a dream date named Haven Monahan was pursuing her. Why? To make Ryan jealous so he’d fall in love with her.
In Aristotle-Aquinas terms, Jackie was the Prime Mover of the whole story.