What Columbia Missed In Its Review of Rolling Stone
By Jack Cashill
In November, Rolling Stone magazine ran a story detailing the horrific account of an alleged gang rape at a fraternity on the University of Virginia campus. The story quickly proved to be rubbish, and Rolling Stone reached out to the Columbia University School of Journalism to discover how the magazine could have blundered so badly.
With much ado, Columbia responded. Its 13,000-word report identified problems in “reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.” This was all true enough, but Columbia missed the real problem. As I document in my forthcoming book, Scarlet Letters, cases like the Rolling Stone’s have become so common because those perpetrating a given fraud almost inevitably advance causes that the cultural establishment, the Columbia faculty included, wants to see advanced.
Although there are a few exceptions, the people who guard the cultural gates tend to be liberal on sexual and social issues, socialist on economic ones, internationalist in their worldview, and Democratic in their voting preferences. Not unnaturally, they are inclined to promote, praise, and protect those creative individuals who think as they do. This trend dates back to the conscious cover-up of the Soviet terror-famine of the early 1930s by the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Walter Duranty, and reached something of a collective climax with the media coronation of Barack Obama.
Despite its claim to prepare students capable of “finding out the truth of complicated situations,” Columbia’s Journalism School produces students less interested in finding the truth than in finessing it to accommodate this reigning progressive orthodoxy. In this regard, the Columbia J-School hews to the academic norm.
In his 2011 “To Catch a Journalist” series, a take-off on the NBC series “To Catch a Predator”, James O’Keefe captured on video several profs at Columbia and NYU confirming our worst suspicions. Most revealing was a presentation to a large lecture hall full of eager NYU students by journalism professor Jay Rosen and his guest, new media guru Clay Shirky. “We are all in this room insiders,” Shirky told the students. “We are the most elite news [creators.]” Rosen added, “We are the one percent.”
As Shirky explained, “Elites are perfectly comfortable with there being information about how they make their decisions and what their biases are, as long as that only circulates among other elites.” In other words, they will try to convince readers and critics of their objectivity, but they need not bother to fool their peers...
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