In an interview last week with the New York Times, Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana professed to have entertained some doubts about an early version of the now-discredited story titled “A Rape on Campus.” “I thought, ‘Are you sure?’” Dana told the Times about his reaction upon reading Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s draft.
Editors should never let go of their first-impression skepticism — it’s often dead-on. But Dana and others decided to move forward with the story and its allegation that a University of Virginia freshman named Jackie was gang-raped in September 2012 at the prestigious Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The piece has collapsed under a debunking from the Washington Post’s local staff and Rolling Stone has apologized for the many unsupported claims that it peddles.
How did this happen? Well, Dana told the Times that the magazine was retracing its steps in an effort to find out. Its “note to our readers,” too, pledges further investigation.