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Today in Tabs: Goss Falls Flat on a Rolling Stone

Sexism. Racism. Journalism.

Today in Tabs: Goss Falls Flat on a Rolling Stone
[Photo: Flickr user Bob Mical]

On November 19th, Rolling Stone published a story about a gang rape at a UVA fraternity that was dramatic and horrifying and also very thinly sourced and confusingly reported. The Washington Post re-reported it and found a lot of “discrepancies” from the details reported in Rolling Stone, and the paper’s media critic Erik Wemple described Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Erdely as essentially shopping around for a dramatic story. Rolling Stone editor Will Dana posted A Note To Our Readers, which underwent at least two, and possibly more, revisions as the RS editors abandoned the story and tried to decide who exactly they could safely throw under the bus for what had become a master class in terrible journalism and editing. Tabs then became general: On the Media invited Hannah Rosin and Caitlin Flanagan on for a special report, which certainly does capture one side of the debate. Natasha Vargas-Cooper was inimitably herself for The Intercept. And of course, garbage-pile The Daily Beast called it “victim-culture gone mad”!

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In the New Yorker, Margaret Talbot drew a line connecting this story and the Satanic Cult panic of the 1980s, which was also characterized by reporting victims stories without any kind of fact-checking. This case is different, in that I don’t see how anyone could read this letter from the pseudonymous Jackie’s freshman suite mate and conclude that nothing actually happened. Clearly something did. In Feministing, Maya Dusenbery explains how the story could be both true and also incorrect and why fact-checking is critical—not to knock down Jackie but to protect her from exactly what has happened here. Amanda Taub makes much the same point in Vox. I don’t really have a bland, vapid, unobjectionable kicker so let’s just see what New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan found when she examined the mote in Rolling Stone’s eye: “News is a tricky business, full of minefields.” Yup, there you go.

You didn’t think we were done complaining about Chris Hughes yet, did you? Oh you poor deluded sap, no! We won’t be done until literally every person who has ever read The New Republic has registered his (yes, his) Take on it. Can we start with the best one? Former TNR intern Max Fisher has a pretty self-recriminating tab about how willing all these denouncing daisies were to take Marty Peretz’s racist money. Slate’s Seth Stevenson tracks the backlash and the backlash to the backlash, but mainly he seems to be mad about Leah Finnegan’s Gawker mockery of the white-man handwringing over which white man is in charge of the very white man institution. I’m sure a solid half-dozen of you will be disappointed to hear that the December issue is canceled, but Chris Hughes did publish what may be the blandest, most pro-forma Vision For Journalism’s Future ever on his pal Jeff Bezos’s blog (possibly because he couldn’t figure out how to work The New Republic’s CMS, according to Glenn Fleishman). Dana Milbank, a writer who was once banned from Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show, filed this tear-stained column and then took a really long nap with his favorite blankie and ate a whole pint of ice cream. Clive Crook had what might be the sanest take, in Bloomberg View: “Whatever. There are more important things to worry about.

Tabs intern Bijan Stephen went to the Vice 20th anniversary party this weekend, but in a surprise move, instead of tabbing some self-indulgent garbage about that, he wrote this amazing report for Matter about the Eric Garner protests. Are you an editor? Have you tried to hire Bijan yet? Your shot at doing that is rapidly disappearing, my friend.

TODAY’S INTERN TAB, by BIJAN STEPHEN

While I was traversing New York covering the Eric Garner protests, I ran into Adrian Chen near the West Side Highway. He mentioned that he’d recently been in Ferguson and was a little nervous about how the thing he was writing would turn out.

That piece was quietly published last night in New York Magazine—it’s a long, beautifully reported look at how livestreaming is changing the nature of protest.

Livestreaming isn’t just popular: It also lies smack in the middle of the contradictions that accompany a highly politicized spectacle like Ferguson in the age of social media. It’s protest as reality show, or maybe reality show as protest. It offers hours of unvarnished footage that seems more authentic than cable news, but livestreamers tend to be so closely linked to the movements they cover that they become protagonists in the story they tell. And to some of the livestreamers’ dismay, their success at raising the profile of their issue attracts the very forces of Establishment media (with its attendant narrative-shaping and soundbite-seeking) whom they believe it’s their mission to counteract.

The way we tell stories—to ourselves, to the world—is never objective. Everything is a matter of perspective. As we marched down the streets of the city, that was hard to forget.

You can also hear Bijan read his Matter post for The Catapult podcast (at about 11:40, but Shelly Oria is great too).

Buzzfeed: There has always been poison in the water. Furfest: There is suddenly poison in the air. The Marshall Project presents: The Department of Defense Gift Guide 2014. Wrong Dakota. It’s Watermelon Time is almost certainly not what you think it’s going to be.

Today’s Podcast: This Hazlitt podcast with William Gibson is delightful.

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Today’s Song: Serial Ball ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

~I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s a tab based love~

Today in Tabs is just like oh boy oh boy oh boy today. We’re on FastCoLabs and in your email if you subscribe. Or in your friend’s email to whom you are tired of trying to explain what the hell you’re talking about all the time, if they subscribe! It’s an idea. Follow @rustyk5 now that I have passed my arbitrary round number of followers and will no longer need to sacrifice any of you to The Old Ones.

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