So no question, Rolling Stone f***ed up big time in its “reporting” on a supposed gang rape at the University of Virginia. In doing so, they did a great deal of damage. For instance, as Attorney General Mark Herring puts it, “Rolling Stone’s failures have put survivors in a more difficult position, shaken a university community, and injected doubt at a moment when we are finally building national momentum around efforts to end campus sexual violence.” Rolling Stone also, of course, damaged itself, which is highly unfortunate given that it’s done some great, progresssive journalism over the years. Yet after this incident, sorry to say, it’s going to be next to impossible to trust anything in that magazine as long as the crew that completely botched the UVA story is still in charge. Time for some heads to roll at Rolling Stone…like, anyone involved in this debacle.
Having said all that, I’ve just got to note that watching the corporate media pile on Rolling Stone, in a holier-than-thou feeding frenzy of sanctimonious, gleeful outrage is just…rich. Take the Washington Post, for instance, which massively failed in its job leading up to the Iraq War. OK, that was a decade ago, how about today? Well, today we’ve got a paper which features on their editorial page climate science deniers, torture apologists, and people who haven’t been factually or analytically correct in years (decades? ever?). Then there’s the Post’s “both sides” bull**** “journalism.” There’s their political “reporting,” which in the leadup to the last presidential election, called things wrong over and over and over again. Has there been any accountability for any of this? Has anyone been fired for being utterly incompetent at their jobs? And now they’re going to get on their high horses and lecture Rolling Stone?
By the way, this is the same Washington Post which used to have an Ombudsman, but which eliminated that position, while keeping on board egregious lying liars and utterly unprincipled hacks such as Jennifer Rubin. How much does the Post pay the Jennifer Rubins and George Wills of the world? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was more than what the Ombudsman made.
Of course, the Post – like other corporate media these days – is desperate for eyeballs, clicks, and some sort of business model in the age of free online advertising (Craigslist, etc.), gazillions of media outlets of all types, and a continued decline in the number of people who get home delivery of a physical newspaper (or who read one every day). So basically, they’ll print anything, no matter how laugahbly wrong, absurd, offensive, whatever, if it draws precious “clicks.” Check the Post tomorrow, or any day; I’m confident you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Meanwhile, as budgets atrophy, so does quality control. For instance, if you’ve read the Post in recent years, and you have any knowledge of the English language whatsoever, you’ve no doubt noticed the deterioration in spelling, grammar, you name it. So much for copy editing, apparently, at the Washington Post. Apparently, it’s much more important to shell out whatever they’re paying the climate science deniers, torture apologists and unprincipled right-wing hacks, than to get the basics of publishing a spelling-and-grammar-checked (not to mention FACT-checked!) newspaper nailed down.
In the end, as egregious as Rolling Stone’s screwups in the UVA “gang rape” story fiasco was, the corporate media is in absolutely no position, moral or otherwise, to lecture them. And frankly, as important an issue as rape and sexual violence on campus (or anywhere, for that matter) is, there are even more important issues in the world (e.g., climate change, which threatens humanity and ecosystems/species on the entire planet) which the corporate media gets wrong EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yet I see no uproar or outrage about that. Why not?
Sorry, but until I start seeing at least a few of these “journalists” held accountable for their repeated, ongoing failure – whether from incompetence, willful igorance, corruption, whatever – to connect the dots on climate change, or to get their reporting right on almost any subject, I am not going to be in any mood to listen to their high-horse lectures aimed at Rolling Stone. However badly Rolling Stone screwd up – and again, there’s no question that they did! – the corporate media at this point simply has zero credibility to be lecturing anyone on journalistic standards, ethics, or anything else. In short, about the ONLY thing the Washington Post and other corporate media outlets should be doing right now is looking in the mirror and perhaps repeating to themselves, “there but for the grace of god go I.”