As of this moment, we are now up to three stories about rape that Sabrina Rubin Erdely has written that would not pass responsible journalistic muster. The most prominent, of course, being the now-withdrawn and discredited UVA hoax, the second being this story about “Billy Doe” in Philadelphia, and the third being her story about Petty Officer Rebecca Blumer.
Sabrina Rubin Erdely is trying to build a narrative. The narrative, really, is not as much about rape qua rape. The narrative is that rape is widely ignored and/or condoned by people in authority within institutions that she dislikes (frats, the military, churches). Reporting that a rape has occurred is upsetting but not surprising to people – so what makes these stories actual news stories is that they in each instance make the sensational claim that the rape was reported to people in positions of authority who either ignored the accusation or who actually punished the victim for reporting it.
And yet, in each of the stories, this is where Erdely’s reporting really goes off the rails. While substantial questions exist about the actual sexual assaults that anchor each of the three stories, the main place where the articles are demonstrably false is in the accusation (or implication) that the authorities in question failed to investigate or pursue the sexual assault allegation when reported. As the indispensible Richard Bradley noted with respect to the UVA story:
5) The one true thing about Jackie’s story…is that it disproves Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s story. Erdely used Jackie to argue that UVa is indifferent to allegations of sexual assault. But as we know now, the university took Jackie’s story very seriously. Jackie spoke with a dean who subsequently checked up on her multiple times; was offered counseling; was offered the opportunity of pursuing the matter through university channels or through the police; and was recommended to a rape survivor group. Then, she was taken seriously when she claimed that she’d been hit in the head with a bottle, although there was ample reason to suggest that this incident was fabricated. Does this sound like official indifference to you?
Reading between the lines, it’s hard not to to think that the officials at UVa who heard Jackie’s story didn’t believe it—and yet they took it seriously, handled it professionally, and did what they could given that their complainant refused to file a complaint. Yet they are maligned by Erdely as indifferent, uncaring.
As I detailed yesterday, it was actually a member of USN who first suggested to her that she might have been sexually assaulted, and after she made the allegation her non-judicial punishment was put on hold for a year and a half while the Navy conducted a thorough investigation that stretched all the way to Iraq, trying to substantiate her claims.
Unsurprisingly, these are the portions of Erdely’s reporting that the delusional feminists who have been loudly and repeatedly wrong about the UVA story from day one are clinging most desperately to. Note the execrable and certifiably insane Amanda Marcotte, writing in TPM yesterday that the implosion of Erdely’s story doesn’t indicate the lack of a problem.
Well, what are we to think about this? Did Erdely just happen to unluckily stumble into three bad stories, while the narrative she is selling happens to be true? If Erdely would have dug a little harder and been a little better of a journalist, would she have found solid stories that supported her thesis? Or does the very nature of her thesis lend itself to questionable stories?
We may never know for sure, but I strongly suspect it’s the latter, and here’s why: In order to ignore or cover up a credible accusation of rape, you would have to be a psychopath.
Get it? Not a sexist. That bar isn’t high enough. You can be plenty sexist towards women in general and yet believe strongly (as all reasonable people do) that people who rape them should be aggressively punished. In fact, in my experience the most aggressively “sexist” men also tend to be the men who are most overprotective of women.
Do psychopaths exist? Sure. Are some of them prosecutors/college administrators/clergy officials? Undoubtedly. So I’m sure that if Erdely had dug truly hard enough she would have been able to find actual instances of the phenomenon she is trying to prove is widespread.
But I bet she would have had to dig a lot longer and harder than the Amanda Marcottes and Jessica Valentis of the world would have you believe. Because it stretches plausibility to me that this sort of psychopath who just doesn’t care about women getting raped is just super commonplace in the halls of authority of all American institutions.
Now, I definitely get that there are times when an actual rape victim reports a rape and would like to see someone punished and it does not happen. And I do not disagree that it is infuriating when this occurs. But when it occurs, in the vast majority of circumstances it is because of problems of proof that are inherent in at least some rape cases. It is because a prosecutor (or school administrator or whoever) simply cannot factually corroborate a story or prove it by the applicable standard of proof.
However, that’s not what Erdely, Valenti, Marcotte et al want you to believe. They want you to believe that it is a relatively commonplace phenomenon that women present credible rape stories that are subject to reliable corroboration and that they are either ignored or are punished for doing so.
And I don’t believe that – because, again, to me, the sort of person who would behave that way is an absolute psychopath and in my judgment individuals who are that sick and twisted simply aren’t that commonplace. And I say this as someone who has an extraordinarily dim view of humanity in general.
Which is why, in the final analysis, it’s not surprising that these stories of Erdely’s keep falling apart. It’s not that she’s unlucky, it’s that she’s chasing a narrative that’s untrue. And the specific vehicle she is using to do it – to wit, alleged rape victims who are angry that their stories aren’t taken seriously – is especially vulnerable to tunnel vision if you don’t bother to get the other side of the story from the authorities who are responsible for investigating their claims. Which, as we are now learning, Sabrina Rubin Erdely apparently never did.