Author of disputed Rolling Stone article is getting back in touch with sources

sabrina erdely pbs
Rolling Stone's Sabrina Rubin Erdely hasn't said anything publicly about the discrepancies in her article.

Sabrina Rubin Erdely still hasn't said anything publicly about the discrepancies in her Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

But Erdely has spoken in private to some of the students who were featured in her article, apparently while seeking to "re-report" the article, according to interviews with the students.

Erdely's contacts with the students offer a glimpse at how she's reacting to the controversy that has tarnished her 9,000-word article, titled "A Rape on Campus."

The article focused on a student named Jackie -- her last name was withheld -- who was raped by a group of seven men during a UVA fraternity party in 2012. Portions of the story have not held up under scrutiny; for instance, the fraternity in question denies that there was even a party on the night of the alleged attack.

On December 5, Rolling Stone apologized for its failures relating to the article, including its agreement with Jackie "to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account."

Erdely has not responded to interview requests since then. And some of the news outlets that interviewed her before the article unraveled have taken steps to adjust the record.

Rolling Stone steps back from rape article
Rolling Stone steps back from rape article

The "NewsHour" on PBS, which televised an interview with Erdely on November 21, has appended an "editor's note" to the online video of the interview.

What's Erdely been doing? On Sunday, The Associated Press reported that Erdely apologized to one of the students, Kathryn Hendley, "for portraying her the way she did."

In the article, Hendley was identified with just a first name, Cindy, and was described as a "self-declared hookup queen" who discouraged Jackie from reporting the gang rape: "She's gonna be the girl who cried 'rape,' and we'll never be allowed into any frat party again."

Cindy and two other students in the article, Randall and Andy, all say that it "was wrong on a number of key points," according to The A.P.

Furthermore, "all three say Erdely has since reached out to them, and that she has told them she is re-reporting the story."

Separately, another UVA student who was quoted in the article, Alex Pinkleton, said Erdely has tried to contact her since controversy erupted over the article.

In an interview on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Pinkleton told me that "I am under the impression that she just wants to know what's going on, and I think that's a fair question, because I think there's a lot of confusion of what happened that night and she, like everyone else, wants to know."

But Pinkleton said she had decided not to respond to Erdely.

Rolling Stone has declined to comment on the controversy since its December 5 statement, which said in part, "We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening."

A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Monday about Erdely's apparent follow-ups and whether they are related.


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