The New York Times reported yesterday that Rolling Stone magazine is going to release to the public an external review of how the magazine came to publish a story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia that, as far as anybody can ascertain, never took place. The Rolling Stone story was so glaringly biased and under-reported that it quickly unraveled.

The review, which is being conducted by Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia J School, may make for an interesting read, but it is a transparent effort on the magazine’s part to salvage its reputation by being vedy vedy serious after the fact. Hey, Rolling Stone, the time to report a story is before you publish it.  

The New York Times harumphingly reports:

Mr. Coll said when the review was announced that the magazine had allowed him access to its staff and materials. The report will focus, he said, “on the editorial process,” but he added that it would also “have the freedom to move in any direction along the way that we believe would be germane and of public interest.”

I like journalism porn as well as the next former reporter and anticipate many happy hours poring over Mr. Coll’s forthcoming report, but we already know that the story was false and why the magazine ran with a story that had not been even minimally reported. We don’t need an external review to tell us that the story made it through the editing process because it played to the editors' biases.

In one of the best installments of the Factual Feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers asked:

Why was it so easy for so many to believe that nine unnamed male undergraduates were sociopathic monsters?

Why indeed? The reason, of course, is that we have been led to believe that a “rape culture” exists on campus. Just to be clear: Whenever a rape takes place, we want the perpetrator punished to the full extent of the law. Rape and murder are the two most heinous crimes.

But the idea that there is a “rape culture” on campus is based on bogus statistics promoted by the Obama administration to portray the left as the protector of women. One particularly unfortunate result of this is federal guidelines for campuses that abridge the civil rights of the accused. In a way, Rolling Stone abridged the right of the accused to be heard in a feature story by not insisting that the reporter do due diligence. If they had, they might not have published the story, sparing Rolling Stone a disaster from which, if the deities of journalsim are just, it will never recover.

I am wondering if and how Mr. Coll will deal with the ideological atmosphere at Rolling Stone that gave birth to this fiasco.

It should also be mentioned that the Charlottesville, Va., police said today that they cannot “substantiate” the alleged gang rape at U Va, saying that they have “no basis” to conclude that the gang rape took place. But they have not closed the case in case further evidence turns up. Rolling Stone editors must be wishing about now that they had paid more attention to evidence.