I spent my professional life in journalism. I’m a fierce advocate for publications’ rights to print the truth and more often than not I have looked skeptically at individuals or institutions that have sued publications for libel or defamation.
Not this time.
A University of Virginia administrator has sued Rolling Stone magazine for $7.5 million, contending the magazine defamed her in a bogus story about a gang rape on the campus.
I hope Nicole Eramo wins.
She is UVa’s top administrator who deals with sexual assaults. The magazine portrayed her as someone more interested in protecting the school’s reputation than in protecting a woman named “Jackie,” who alleged she was raped by students at a frat house party. Well, the party never occurred, “Jackie” wasn’t raped, Rolling Stone retracted the story — and the reporter and her editors responsible for publishing the false account still have their jobs!
“I am filing this defamation lawsuit to set the record straight — and to hold the magazine and the author of the article accountable for their actions in a way they have refused to do themselves,” Eramo said in a statement.
The retraction gives this lawsuit some traction. Publications rarely retract a story, taking back what they published and in effect admitting that it was wrong. Rolling Stone admitted the story was phony, but still haven’t disciplined the principals involved in publishing it.
Nicole Eramo’s lawsuit needs to make a statement that the magazine did something grievously wrong in its so-called “reporting” of a crime that didn’t occur.