December 17th, 2014

Jackie enters Stephen Glass and Catfish territory

You have to hand it to “Jackie” of the Rolling Stone UVA story—she dedicated an awful lot of creative energy to her hoax. Although I suspect that on first telling her main motivation was to earn the attention, sympathy, and romantic interest of her friend “Randall” (real name: Ryan Duffin), the story snowballed as she got more of what is known as secondary gains from it.

Jackie now appears to have fleshed out her tale a la Stephen Glass—the New Republic wunderkind who created fake notes and fake phone numbers and even got his brother to pretend to be a source—by setting up fake phone accounts for her fake boyfriend who fake-raped her, in order to have him appear to text her friends. I think this should be enough to convince the lingering Jackie-defenders that the woman has been running a con.

Of course, some are still officially undecided, including the three friends she seems to have thrown under the bus in the Rolling Stone story. I can understand their hesitation, though, because a con artist can be intensely compelling, and it’s very hard to admit you were conned by a friend. Fortunately, most people don’t operate the way Jackie did, and so it can be quite a leap for those not naturally inclined to cynicism to understand how they’ve been taken for a ride by someone they knew and liked.

I don’t know whether Jackie is just a garden-variety sociopath, or whether her mental/emotional troubles are of a more sympathetic kind. At any rate, she was a mere freshman in college when this all began to go down, and at least at the outset she appears not to have intended to go national with her story. That happened step by awful step, as she got deeper and deeper into campus anti-rape politics, and then met up with Sabrina Rubin Erdely, reporter for Rolling Stone. It was Erdely who was older, presumably wiser, and who had a professional duty to fact-check Jackie’s story. Erdely was extremely negligent in failing to do so, and her career should be absolutely finished (I also wonder whether someone at UVA—perhaps the accused fraternity—can sue her for damages).

So both Jackie and Erdely bear guilt, and a lot of it. But strangely enough, I would consider the editors of Rolling Stone even more guilty, because I hold them to a higher standard (I know; how foolish of me). But they are supposed to be the authorities, the last check on irresponsible journalism, the skeptical ones who need to always be suspicious. After all, fact-checking standards exist for a reason, and the reason is to make sure that a publication prints what used to quaintly be known as the truth. Printing fake stories as a result of a combination of lack of due diligence plus ideological fervor is not something new, of course. But in the last couple of decades it seems to have become more and more common.

23 Responses to “Jackie enters Stephen Glass and Catfish territory”

  1. Steve Says:

    Why is “Jackie” able to remain anonymous? She isn’t a victim. She is the perpetrator of a hoax. It is like crying fire in a theatre. There is no first amendment protection for her. I’d hope that she’d be kicked out of UVA.

  2. neo-neocon Says:



    But actually, everyone else was given a pseudonym, too, except the fraternity that was named. It is my impression that the three friends decided to go public on their own.

  3. Ann Says:

    Here’s an article in the New York Observer that has an inside source at Rolling Stone saying this:

    Will [Will Dana, the managing editor] has this WASPy sense of entitlement and has this sense that Rolling Stone is above it all.

    And then there’s this:

    The source knows Rolling Stone Senior Editor/Head Factchecker Coco McPherson well and claims that she is a “stickler who errs on the side of caution,” a claim backed up by Mr. Taibbi [a writer at the magazine], who remarked that the process is so intense “it usually takes longer to fact-check a Rolling Stone feature than it does to write it. Each review is like an IRS audit.”

    The Observer raised an idea that has been mentioned in some corners of the press—that Rolling Stone was credulous about such an intense story because from factcheckers to editors to writers they are predisposed to believe the worst about fraternity brothers at an elite university. Indeed, Ms. McPherson initially defended the story and its methods, taking to Twitter to point to an example in which other news organizations did not identify or interview alleged campus rapists.

    So, they’ve got the super-duper factcheckers, but not in this case. I think both that sense of entitlement/being above it all and the predisposition to believe the worst about fraternities go a long way toward explaining this absurdity.

  4. Steve Says:

    The True Meaning of Christmas – “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown”:

  5. DNW Says:

    Notice the amazing difference in the way the two guys talk?

    The second one, seems more or less normal; and although he appears to inappropriately laugh for a moment, it’s pretty obvious it’s really just a kind of cynical snort in response to the question as to whether he believes “Jackie’ or not. He ends up giving a politic answer.

    On the other hand, the supposed object of Jackie’s desire, Randall/Ryan, just can’t seem to make himself wide-eyed and empathetic enough. Though he certainly gives it the old college try, what with his wiggling eyebrows, prayerfully posed hands, valley girl cadences, and ultimately, his “the literal truth doesn’t matter” routine.

    What the f–k. Is he channeling Will Ferrell doing Matt Damon doing “sensitive”?

    Ryan and Jackie deserve each other. They are both crazy.

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    As long as there is no consequence, travesties such as this will continue for they support the narrative and thus move the left’s agenda forward.

    The left’s machinations and the complicity of the mass media are gradually destroying the rule of law. We may well be not far off from its utter collapse.

  7. Ray Says:

    Remember Mary Mapes, the producer for Dan Rather who obtained the fake but accurate memos? She was certain they were true so there was no need for due diligence. It was derogatory information on Bush so it must be true. Rather claimed the documents were authentic, but couldn’t produce any evidence that anybody had done any fact checking.

  8. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    DNW: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot indeed.

    I was going to say that Jackie and Erdely deserve each other. As someone else pointed out, it’s pretty sad when you can’t tell, between the journalist and the source, who is lying more.

  9. Anna Says:

    I still fail to understand, from a legal standpoint, how any of this is the university’s business. I did not study in the States so I missed out on the “campus experience”, but had “Jackie” attended either of the two universities I attended, the police alone would have been authorized to investigate and conduct a process on a felony charge, and the university would have stayed entirely out of it. And I mean entirely: as felonies are not the university’s competence, it would be impossible for the crime to have been reported to the university authorities nor dealt with by them in any capacity, and it would be impossible to give any sort of academic or disciplinary sanctions to either the accused or “Jackie” (as slander, too, is not the university’s competence – perhaps a student may even be kicked out on account of a libel against the university as such, but “private” slander between parties that merely happen to attend the same university is also not the university’s business, so “Jackie” would not be punished by the university either and any counter-process would have to go to a “proper” court as well).

    The same applies to “consent lectures” for freshmen of which I am told by my US-based friends. No such thing exists. The university does not deal with its students’ intimacy. The only aspect of their lives it deals with is the academic formation. To a limited extent the students can ask for general help (with either legal or personal issues) but they are always referred to “proper” authorities if it goes beyond the university’s competence. As a result, I believe that those offices are pretty much empty. The one time I consulted a psychologist, the first thing I got told was to summarize the problem so that I can be told right away whether or not it is their competence, in order not to waste anyone’s time if it is not. They would deal with problems sufficiently related to the academic student life, but not necessarily with more general issues, such family problems, sexual identity crises etc. – it would be up to their discretion. (Mind you, there is also a broad cultural difference insofar as there is less “therapy culture”, so when people have problems or go through difficult periods they tend to consult their friends or their priest rather than mental health professionals. That may explain it, too, and it may or may not be an overall good thing.)

    So, I do not get it. By what mechanism CAN a university investigate felonies or have its own court with its own sanctions outside of the legal system for matters that are not strictly academic?!

  10. Illuminati Says:

    There have been snobs who claim that it is dangerous for people to rely on the internet for information since the internet is free to everyone and has no authority to regulate the release of information until it has been fact checked. This incident proves that the unregulated freedom of the internet is not necessarily less accurate than the traditional media. Better yet, the internet allows a mountain of information not available elsewhere which helps to overcome the biases of the censors in traditional media.

  11. DNW Says:

    “By what mechanism CAN a university investigate felonies or have its own court with its own sanctions outside of the legal system for matters that are not strictly academic?”

    None that I know of. Whatever action the university takes is merely within the scope of its bylaws or under the assumed institutional discretion of its own authorities; subject of course to the municipal law – insofar as it can be made to stick.

    That said universities under the control of Progressives, i.e., Stalinists or postmodern lunatics, can set up academic conduct regulations which threaten academic career consequences for students seeking outside legal counsel when confronted with left-wing academic kangaroo courts. I believe Neo has already commented on this in the case of a University of Michigan sap, Drew Sterrett, who was pathetic enough to engage in recreational sexual activity with a coed friend who came to his room looking for sympathy – only to later accuse him of rape. Also see:

    It is also difficult to extend sympathy to people who seem so morally feral and probably autistic that they blithely hump away while some poor character is trapped just a couple feet away from them on an upper bunk.

    Of course the roommate could have thrown a bucket of water on them, if he had any real spine.

    It almost makes me want to shrug at the fate of these simpering weaklings.

    In fact it does; and I do.

    The state did not get involved in the case you mention because there was no public evidence of a crime, nor even an official accusation by the supposedly aggrieved party.

    We do not have an inquisitorial system here, though some would like to impose or import such features into our law. It remains for the present, adversarial.

    We will only continue to have the legal freedoms we are willing to fight for, since the left recognizes no boundaries or principles of any kind. Unless the sole principle it recognizes, is that it recognizes none.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Anna; DNW:

    The answer is Title IX as interpreted by the Obama administration. See also this and this.

  13. RickZ Says:

    neo-neocon Says:

    It is my impression that the three friends decided to go public on their own.

    They came forward after Erdely’s article made them out to be uncaring twits who are part of the problem of the ‘campus rape culture’. Can’t blame them for trying to set the record — and Erdely — straight.

  14. DNW Says:

    ” neo-neocon Says:
    December 18th, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Anna; DNW:

    The answer is Title IX as interpreted by the Obama administration. See also this and this.”

    Pretty amazing; surprises even me. I wonder how long it will be before ignoring someone, or failing to carry their load, constitutes harassment.

    You know, “depraved indifference”; guilty of “wrecking” by failure to sacrifice.

    I suppose I could make remarks about the ruin of law and the institutionalization of left-fascism in the United States, but there doesn’t seem much point in it. Those who would be upset at hearing it already know, and those who would not see the problem, are on board with it and never had an appetite for law as we once knew it, anyway.

    In happier, or at least more amusing news, it seems that some Hollywood types have been shocked to encounter other collectivists who actually hit back when offended.

    May we live to see the revolution eat its own; and wise enough to not interfere on some specious humanitarian grounds.

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    For 16 years, I was a kickass prosecutor who made most of my reputation vigorously prosecuting rapists. I am unaware of any Colorado prosecutor who put as many rapists away for as much prison time as I did during my prosecutorial career. Several dozen rapists are serving thousands of years as a result of my efforts.

    However, during my time as a prosecutor who made case filing decisions, I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department. It was remarkable and surprising to me. You would have to see it to believe it.

    Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes that there is. A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45 percent.

    Objective studies have confirmed this. See Purdue Professor Kanin’s nine-year study published in 1994 concluding that over 40 percent of rape allegations were demonstrably false.

    The above statements are heresy to say publicly for many politically correct prosecutors. That is especially true if they want to maintain good relations with the victim advocacy community

    —- Craig Silverman sex-crimes prosecutor

    Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience. Catherine Comins

    We have anything up to four or five reports of rape every weekend but a large number of complaints turn out to be something else with some not thinking about the consequences of false allegations. But we always take allegations of rape seriously and do everything we can to gather evidence.

    Most weekends we also have a report from somebody saying their drink has been spiked with rohypnol – while we have had cases where women have been drugged these are extremely rare. We actually have significantly less genuine rape cases than those reported so it is important to consider the percentage of bona fide reports when looking at conviction statistics, which appear low because they encompass all reports

    —- Detective Dougie Shaw

    If anyone is prosecuted for filing a false report, then victims of real attacks will be less likely to report them. David Angier

    Rape lies are sometimes concocted as a form of revenge to land ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands in jail, or as a means to get rid of a current partner.

    A woman may lie about rape to cover up the fact that she is cheating on her husband, which sometimes results in her husband killing her lover. Sometimes, if the husband is having an affair, the woman the man is having an affair with will falsely accuse him of rape if she is caught by his wife.

    Some female students falsely accused their teacher of rape because they get poor final grades in class as an excuse for failing their exams. Other women make up false claims simply to get attention, or because they regret a consensual sexual encounter.

    In some cases women lie about rape to get an abortion (see here and here).

    There is also a rash of Feminists who make false rape claims (especially in academia) as a means to “raise awareness” of the problem of rape.

    Sometimes entire groups of men are falsely accused, which happened at Duke and Hostra University. While both cases were highly publicized and accompanied by public outcry neither false accuser was charged.

    One woman cried rape because a man forgot her name.

    There is also virtually no limit to which some women will go to fabricate a false claim. Some women seek out S&M/bondage encounters and use the rough sex as “evidence” against the men they falsely accuse.

    Some women give themselves black eyes, or rip their clothes and scratch their faces, or cut themselves, or tie themselves up as “evidence” against the men they falsely accuse.

    There are also some women who use false rape claims as a means of extorting money from men. In some places women who claim rape can immediately apply for “victim’s compensation,” which has led some women to lie about rape just to be handed free money.

    I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it. Barbara Jordan, former Congresswoman

    Edward Greer, J.D., states in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the ‘two percent false rape complaint’ thesis,” and that “without exception every scholarly or semi-scholarly source that utilizes the two percent false claim proposition can ultimately be traced back to Against Our Will.” Against Our Will is a book on rape by Feminist Susan Brownmiller that was published in the 1970s. Brownmiller claims that she was given the figure by a professional in the criminal justice system. We are given no evidence other than her word that this was ever the case.

    Below are a few examples of other school policies, warehoused at the key AVFMS post on Rights & Protections. Some schools:

    Declare that, in regards to consent, “no always means no” but “yes does not always mean yes,” and hold that body language, context, tone, etc. – even when they contradict words expressing consent – may be used to convict a male student, but cannot be used to acquit him. Example: Occidental College.
    Declare that accusers who are drunk are not capable of agency, whereas those accused who are drunk are capable of agency (i.e., by punishing a male student when both the accuser and the accused are drunk and have sex). Example: Mississippi State University (see here and here).
    Adopt an “affirmative consent” policy, which declares that the accused must prove that the accuser verbalized her consent by explicitly stating “yes” at each degree of the sexual encounter. For example, if the woman said “yes” when a man kissed her but not “yes” when he touched her breast, it is an act of sexual assault. Nods, winks, and other gestures do not count toward consent. Examples: St. Louis University, Elon University, and Gettysburg College.
    Adopt a policy that a woman’s consent is not valid if the person she accused of rape “is perceived as more powerful” than the accuser. Examples: Duke University, Vassar College and Loyola Marymount University.
    Lastly, schools are continuously pushed to adopt broader and more draconian measures in addition to the ones they already have. Example: the “enthusiastic consent” standard advocated at Harvard, whereby sexual assault occurs if a woman’s consent is not sufficiently “enthusiastic” (according to extreme Feminist standards of “enthusiasm”). This policy was at least adopted at Vassar College andLoyola Marymount University.

    taken from


  16. Artfldgr Says:

    “Feminism is built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men.”
    – Feminist Professor Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 5.

    “They [victims of false rape accusations] have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”
    – Dr. Catherine Comins, assistant dean of students at Vassar College. Source: TIME magazine.

    “I’m really tired of people suggesting that you’re somehow un-American if you don’t respect the presumption of innocence, because you know what that sounds like to a victim? Presumption you’re a liar.”
    – Wendy Murphy, adjunct professor of law and sex-assault victim advocate, commenting on the Duke lacrosse false rape case. Source: National Public Radio.

    “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape, she may have had reasons to. Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.”
    – Ginny, college senior interviewed by TIME magazine (source here).

    “So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything. So if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances out.”
    – Oberlin sophomore Emily Lloyd, after Feminist students were criticized for placing posters around campus that bore the title “Rapist of the Month,” and below that heading a name of a freshman male drawn randomly from the campus registry. Source: the Toledo Blade.
    [this last one is akin to the reasons for things like the knockout game and setting whites on fire – they may be innocent, but it somehow evens things out]

    “Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”
    – Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 82.

    “In this book we will be using the term victim to refer to people who claim to have been sexually assaulted.”
    – Drs. Carol Bohmer and Andrea Parrot, Sexual Assault on Campus, p. 5.

    Feminist Amanda Hess argued that a woman who has consensual sex she later regrets once it becomes public “must defend her femininity by saying that she had been coerced into sex.” Men, however, do not make false rape accusations because they regret consensual sexual encounters with unattractive women.

    a whole lot more at the links in the prior post

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    and so, now you know one facet of why there is MGTOW (men going their own way), the Marraige Strike, men bowing out of society and participation… etc…

  18. Artfldgr Says:

    Not only did the UVA gang rape turn out to be a hoax, but then President Obama’s own Department of Justice completed a six-year study on college rape, and it turns out that instead of 1-in-5 college coeds being raped, the figure is 0.03-in-5.

    Less than 1 percent of college students are the victim of a sexual assault — 0.6 percent to be exact — not to be confused with the 20 percent, or “one in five,” claimed by feminists and President Obama.

    But neither the DOJ report, nor the UVA rape hoax have dissuaded Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill from pushing their idea that the nation is in the grip of a college rape epidemic.

    A. Ccoulter

  19. Coolidge Says:

    One minor quibble: Stephen Glass wrote for The New Republic, not The Atlantic

  20. neo-neocon Says:


    Thank you. Will fix it now. I knew that—certainly have read a lot about Glass, and seen the movie—but somehow wrote the Atlantic instead of TNR. He also wrote for Rolling Stone and other mags, but I don’t think the Atlantic was one of them.

  21. Gary Says:

    Jackie now appears to have fleshed out her tale a la Stephen Glass … by setting up fake phone accounts for her fake boyfriend who fake-raped her, in order to have him appear to text her friends. I think this should be enough to convince the lingering Jackie-defenders that the woman has been running a con.

    Well, looks like I was bamboozled into giving Jackie too much benefit of the doubt, but I think it’s too simple to describe what she did as “running a con.” To me, it looks like she fabricated a phony boyfriend–with faked phone numbers and texts to make him seem real–as a ploy to get Duffin interested in her: see the Washington Times excerpt below.

    At some point–perhaps as a last (moronic) desperate gasp of frustration to gain attention and sympathy from her “crush”–she concocted the gang-rape story. Which didn’t work either, but instead spiraled out of control and then detonated like a 2000-lb bomb when Erderely showed up.

    BTW, one ABC News story reported that Jackie’s friends said “she seemed fine” after the rape–contrary to the RS story that claimed she sunk into a depression. This seems to bolster the theory that she invented the rape story and nothing terrible had happened to her on that night.

    Washington Times Excerpt

    The friends said they believed that Jackie may have had a crush on Mr. Duffin but that he was interested only in friendship, and that the mystery upperclassman entered the picture shortly afterward.

    Mr. Stock told The Times that Jackie was “extremely sad” that Mr. Duffin would not escalate their relationship beyond a friendship. A few days later, Jackie told her three friends that she had an admirer in her chemistry class, the upperclassman she called Haven.

    Mr. Stock said Jackie “was receptive to the whole idea” of the three texting with her new admirer, but noted that he found it “suspicious” that during the text exchanges, Haven “would always steer the conversation back to Ryan.”

    Mr. Duffin said his experience texting with Haven was similar.

    “He just told me he really liked Jackie, but that she wouldn’t give him a chance because she liked someone else. It didn’t take me long, based on what he was texting, to figure out that the someone else he was referring to was me,” he told The Times.


  22. FOAF Says:

    While I wouldn’t say I hold RS to a “higher standard” since I never would expect anything good from them you are right neo to say that the buck stops with their editors. Reporters may be willing accomplices but ultimately the publisher and editors are responsible for what appears in a magazine or newspaper.

    As for the last weak defense of Erdely that she may have been conned by Jackie, I can only think of the title of WC Fields’ “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man”. When I was young I couldn’t figure out what that meant but now it applies to this situation exactly (except that Erdely is a woman).

  23. Whisky Stone Says:

    Great article.

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