Archive for May, 2015

I’m Still Here

Posted on May 26th, 2015 in Uncategorized | 34 Comments »

My apologies for the fact that I haven’t written much lately. It’s been an unusually busy time at the day job.

I did want to let folks know that, yes, as some of you have figured out, I was subpoenaed because of this blog. The subpoena, which was delivered by a very nice guy straight to my office, came as a result of comments made on a post about the trial of Mark Zimny, an education consultant who was recently found guilty of committing fraud against one of his clients. I wrote one post about the subject a few years back, but that post has become a sort of bulletin board for all those interested in the case—and apparently it has a small but passionate following.

One of the commenters appeared to be a member of the jury in Zimny’s trial, and his/her comment suggested that the jury had begun discussing the case among themselves before receiving the judge’s instructions, which may or may not be grounds for a mistrial.

The subpoena, which actually came from the district attorney involved in prosecuting the case, compelled me to provide the IP address of the commenter.

(As any commenter on this blog knows, I do not require registration for comments, though I do have to approve any comment which contains a hyperlink. Therefore, an IP address is the only information that I could provide about a commenter.)

I got the subpoena on a Friday; I was compelled to appear in court on Monday morning. It came with a check for $45, apparently to cover round-trip transportation between New York and Boston.

Deeply irritating.

I consulted with a friend who works in media law for an international media conglomerate, and asked him about their policy regarding the anonymity of commenters. He advised me that his conglomerate does not provide it, and that most media firms do not believe that preserving the anonymity of commenters is a First Amendment issue. Which is a good thing for all us to bear in mind.

On Monday morning, I emailed the information to the district attorney. I’ve had no communication with them since, and I have no idea if anything came of it.

As to the Zimny post—it has been nothing but a pain in the ass for me. (I previously had to delete a threatening comment.)

I am still debating whether to simply delete it.

In any case, apologies for the silence on this end. Stay tuned—there’s more stuff coming.

Now Nicole Eramo is Suing

Posted on May 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized | 75 Comments »

The Washington Post reports that UVA dean Nicole Eramo is suing Rolling Stone for $7.5 million.

Eramo, who is the university’s chief administrator dealing with sexual assaults, argues in the lawsuit that the story destroyed her credibility, permanently damaged her reputation and caused her emotional distress. She assailed the account as containing numerous falsehoods that the magazine could have avoided if it had worked to verify the story of its main character, a student named Jackie who alleged she was gang raped in 2012 and that the university mishandled her case.

“Rolling Stone and Erdely’s highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the result of an innocent mistake,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. “They were the result of a wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth or actual facts.”

It’s actually pretty hard to argue with those allegations. There’s no question that Sabrina Rubin Erdely was more concerned with writing an article that was about fulfilling her preconceived narrative than she was about telling the truth; stupidly, she essentially admitted that before the whole thing started to fall apart. And Rolling Stone was so sloppy, so careless, you’d have to think that buzz and the resulting boost in advertising/circulation were significant rationales for publishing this story.

Given that Rolling Stone and Erdeley both had ample evidence to show that Eramo handled the Jackie situation quite well, yet still chose to suggest very much the opposite, I think Eramo is going to have a strong case.

Generally, I don’t like to see magazines sued, because it’s a tough business and most journalists really do try to do their work well and conscientiously. But in this case, I can’t be that upset. Rolling Stone’s article was the worst piece of journalism I’ve seen in many years. In this one case at least, I’d say that publishing such crap does more harm to the profession than the libel suits that follow it.