White man’s burden

by Ben Crystal

Allow me to offer my condolences to the friends and family of Rolling Stone magazine. In these final weeks before the once-respected magazine is presumably taken over by the brothers of the University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, try to focus on the good times. Remember the good old days of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Take solace in reminiscing about how Rolling Stone reporters used to write about music and musicians, although those efforts seem as far gone as the days of MTV showing the music Rolling Stone used to write about. Hell, there was even a time during which the magnificent P.J. O’Rourke contributed short bursts of sense.

Sadly, those days are as long gone as cassettes, hair metal and “reporter” Sabrina R. Erdely’s credibility — soon to be joined by a sizable chunk of RS publisher Jann Wenner’s sizable personal fortune. As of Monday, Rolling Stone, Erdely, Wenner and the usual players to be served later are likely facing a lawsuit bigger than the budget for Metallica’s next tour. And unless the courtroom is filled entirely with disgraced pseudo-journalists and man-hating abortionista-types, they are going to fork over more cash to the men of Phi Kappa Psi than a Saudi sheikh buying influence from the Clinton Foundation.

As it turns out, running a more than 9,000-word story without bothering to see if it contains more facts than Lois Lerner’s congressional testimony is generally frowned upon — a memo Rolling Stone clearly forgot before publishing the very publicly debunked “A Rape on Campus.” But Rolling Stone didn’t stop there. It ran Erdely’s now completely discredited hoax as a direct result of what an independent investigation by the Columbia School of Journalism termed “journalistic failure that was avoidable” and followed up with a months-long effort to hide from its own culpability.

While Erdely busily dug her own journalistic grave by attempting to frame her critics as part of a so-called “campus rape culture” and complained that scrutiny of cases like hers might serve to frighten potential victims of sexual assault into silence, Rolling Stone dawdled over acknowledging the systemic failure of their editorial chain and then responded to the CJS report by changing absolutely nothing. The magazine libeled the living crap out of dozens of boys whose only crime was being selected as dupes in an insane scheme cooked up by a lovesick girl, did everything it could to avoid admitting it and then demonstrated a total lack of contrition. Indeed, Wenner has publicly announced that Erdely and her colleagues will not be facing any real disciplinary actions.

The question remains: How could this happen? Granted, Rolling Stone isn’t exactly the Wall Street Journal; but surely one or two of the staff members should have wandered past an ethics lecture during their six years in college. While Erdely’s own post-disgrace performances leave little doubt as to her motivations, the entire Rolling Stone organization won’t fit behind the “narrative is more important than facts” excuse. So how, exactly, does a team of people from proofreader to publisher and back fall into what will probably be a stupendously expensive trap?

The answer is as simple as Vice President Joe Biden, and it ought to be as recognizable to liberals like the Rolling Stone staffers as process servers are about to be. This whole situation — from the still-unidentified mastermind “Jackie” to Erdely’s feeble attempt to fit facts into a narrative instead of vice versa to the “king of rock ’n’ roll”-sized check everyone’s going to have to write to Phi Kappa Psi — is a consequence of racism.

And I mean “racism,” not some one-off like “reverse racism.” No matter how you spin this record, the tune is the same. The original perpetrator picked the Phi Psis because the Phi Psis look like the stereotypical, out-of-control, spoiled frat boys we’ve all loathed since the Omegas gave Bluto and the gang a hard time in “Animal House.” Erdely turned “Jackie” into a heroic stand-in for all the unheralded victims of all the Omegas everywhere. Rolling Stone let it reach the newsstands without asking either Erdely or “Jackie” to provide anything even approaching actual evidence beyond an accusation. Rolling Stone and Erdely appear to have met every legal definition of “libel” in the dictionary, and they did it all because their targets were college fraternity brothers at a Southern university. Throw in a couple Justin Beiber-style haircuts and a few pairs of boat shoes, and the Phi Kappa Psi boys might as well be the models for the next Ben Silver catalog. They’re white. And as the sad saga of Rolling Stone’s rather public journalistic suicide revealed, they neither received nor deserved a presumption of innocence.

Truth be told, Rolling Stone will probably get away with simply writing a check with more zeroes than their newsroom contains. After all, the left-wing media’s descent into malpractices like the UVA rape hoax is neither new nor unexpected. And the perpetrators in this case have no more reason to fear for their futures than their fellow flacks who flunked basic reporting. The victims of Rolling Stone’s and Erdely’s fraud fall into the same category as the 2006 Duke Lacrosse team and Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson: AWW, accused while white.

Mumia Abu-Jamal gets a legal defense fund and the adulation of liberal icons like terrorist Bill Ayers. The Tsarnaev boys were driven to bomb the Boston Marathon by rampant Islamophobia. Christopher Dorner was a “black superhero.” Michael Brown had his hands up. Even O.J. Simpson was framed. And criticism of Barack Obama is, of course, racially motivated. But the Phi Kappa Psis are guilty as charged — if not of the crime of which they were falsely accused, then certainly of “white privilege.”

–Ben Crystal