Rolling Stone has a journalistic ethics problem. Does their editorial staff want to fix it?


Mistakes happen. Learning from them is one of the ways we become better at the things we do. Most people strive for that, struggling every day to improve their work.

Some, however, choose instead to cultivate and build upon their blunders, spreading their ignominy around, much like a toddler finger painting on the wall with the contents of her recently filled diaper.

It seems the staff of the Rolling Stone is of the latter school of errata management.

After the Jackie debacle, in which a story with no credibility was believed and shared far too easily, one would think greater care would be taken to verify claims before publishing them. The Jackie drama became big enough to embarrass not only the Rolling Stone, but also University of Virginia, and then to affect the dialogue on campus administrative response to sexual misconduct allegations.

Then it spectacularly crumbled in front of the Stone’s worldwide readership. Other media converged on the topic, reporting on the writer’s failure to vet her subject’s tale even in the slightest. The public discussed a variety of implications related to it, from the many reasons why automatic belief is as dysfunctional as automatic denial to how it related to the attacks due process has suffered over the last 30 years. For the Rolling Stone, the biggest impact was the hit to their credibility. They had been caught publishing a wild lie. Surely that would call for an increased level of caution among the staff.

In response, the Rolling Stone has made certain to avoid offering the public any similarly exaggerated claims without verification, and now strives to avoid demonstrating any bias on the topic of sexual violence… right?

Well, no, not exactly.

At least, not according to Lauren Kelly’s recently featured article, “America Has a Rape Problem – and Kate Harding Wants to Fix It.”

The article promotes Harding’s book, along with the same rape culture narrative that inspired Sabrina Rubin Erdely to publish Jackie’s fantasy without any effort at fact-checking, or even questioning the more unbelievable assertions she included in it. That narrative, which infers an epidemic of male perpetrated sexual violence against women and girls, is a carefully crafted lie used by feminist organizations for political benefit. It’s used to advocate for a vast network of women’s enterprises which profit from trotting out feminism’s stable of female victims to persuade the public and by extension, law and policy makers, to support and increase their function. For almost the last 30 years, those organizations and their political and media supporters have worked to try to make that lie public opinion. During that time they’ve done everything to oppose their critics except engage in rational debate, responding instead with accusations, shaming language, shunning, and censorship.

When confronted with criticism of the theory behind Harding’s work, the Rolling Stone resorted to that last option, removing the comment rather than allow anyone to see it. There was no excuse for this; the comment contained no links and no images. It addressed the subject matter of the article and was made in response to another comment. It’s long, but doesn’t contain anything that could reasonably be considered spam. The only reason to remove it is an ideological objection to the information contained in it. See for yourself:

The feminist “rape culture” rhetoric is an enormous scam. It’s based on house-of-cards research methods wherein a small “study” using an interview process with built-in bias is used to get desired results in stead of accurate ones, and then that flawed research is buried under layers of citation and essay.

All of today’s research on rape is based on a method invented by Mary Koss that works more like a push poll than an interview: Respondents are asked questions with wording just vague enough to get yes answers about experiences which they would not consider rape if asked directly, with the phrase “when you didn’t want to” (which could be interpreted by the respondent to mean “when you hadn’t originally planned to but changed your mind” or “when you weren’t actively craving…” used where the more clear “against your will” would get a more accurate response.

These interviews are written to make respondents feel like they’re answering questions about their own actions, but are interpreted by the researchers to be descriptive of actions done to the respondents. They get a high rate of “yes” answers specifically because some of the questions are designed to find rape in courtship and seduction. They’re designed to not differentiate between  drunk sex, where both parties are a little intoxicated but still able to appraise their actions, and alcohol facilitated rape, in which one party is incapacitated. They’re designed to not differentiate between women being sexually assaulted by authority figures in the workplace, and women who use sex to gain favor in the workplace. The results of these surveys are not an accurate representation of anything but the researchers’ determination to inflate rape statistics.

The original sources for this method have been followed up with analysis and essay writing, which is cited by another tier of similar “studies,” and a lot of theory writing citing those. Each tier is the basis for assumptions in a higher tier, where its credibility is less likely to be questioned because it’s been “established” by having been published, the flaws now hidden beneath layers of previous publication.

And that has been going on for decades.

The Toledo Blade covered the biased research effort on October 10, 1993, when it was being used to promote the Violence Against Women act. The story, archived online, was titled “Rape: The making of an epidemic.” Included in it were quotes from other researchers, including Dr. Margaret Gorden, who admitted that there was pressure within their field of research to show rape being as prevalent as possible. She is quoted as saying, “The really avid feminists were trying to get me to say that things were worse than they really are.”

Koss’s methods became the standard not because they are good research methods (clearly they are not) but because they obtained statistics giving the highest rate of rape out of any of the researchers working on the “problem” of rape not being prevalent enough in our society for feminists’ standards. Her success is not due to respect in her field, but to having been promoted by Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem. Her methods have been used since Steinem began promoting her, not for women’s benefit, but to promote a false culture of panic and paranoia that can be used to further the financial and power interests of feminist organizations. The entire thing is a protection racket that would impress even the most savvy organized crime boss, using portrayal of women as helpless victims and demonization of men as brutish, rapacious clods to make their case.

In addition to inflating statistics, Koss designed her survey methods to avoid showing the experiences of male victims of female perpetrators. She described this on page 206 of her published report,  “Detecting the Scope of Rape : A Review of Prevalence Research Methods,” saying in it, “Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman.”

You can’t find a more clear effort to erase these particular responses than to define rape specifically for the purpose of excluding them.

The reason? Including those statistics would create a very different picture than what is being promoted by feminists today. Prevalence of victimization by male and female perpetrators according to the researchers’ interpretations of these surveys would be very close in numbers… and both sexes would show equal rates of victimization. In other words, the results would show near equal perpetration by men/boys, and women/girls, and indicate equal vulnerability in men and boys.

It’s also a good deal harder to demonize one gender as naturally sexually predatory and portray the other as vulnerable and in need of protection when the research shows near equal perpetration by both.

Those results could not be as easily exploited by lobbying groups like NOW who use a gendered portrayal to get laws passed like VAWA, which contains funding for multiple endeavors which would employ graduates of women’s studies programs. They couldn’t be exploited by womens’ groups to “justify” a continued need for funding and activism on behalf of women. In fact, they might even be more likely to be questioned by the public, because what may be believable to men and other women when the experience is described as a female experience becomes far less believable when it’s attributed to everyone.

This is how we end up with government agencies like the CDC and the U.N. taking seriously statistics garnered from interviews in which the researchers took measures to avoid information they did not want. This is how we end up with gender biased laws and policy governing the authoritative response to allegations of sex crimes, which are have been slowly chipping away at due process for the accused, and are now written with open contempt for it… and that is something the public needs to wake up to and put an end to, before the methods used, which started with the exclusion of certain types of exculpatory evidence from rape cases, begin spreading to other areas of criminal law.

Nowhere in the comment is there any foul language, any abuse, anything which should justify removing it.

So why do so?

Because it effectively contradicts the narrative on which Harding’s work and Kelly’s choice to promote it are based.

What the editors don’t realize is that censoring it only shows that the narrative isn’t strong enough to weather scrutiny. Once again, the Rolling Stone has put politics before integrity, and published the fraudulent assertions of an ideologue.

Hannah Wallen
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About the author

Hannah Wallen

Hannah has witnessed women's use of criminal and family courts to abuse men in five different counties, and began writing after she saw one man's ordeal drag on for seven years, continuing even when authorities had substantial evidence that the accuser was gaming the system. She is the author of Breaking the Glasses, written from an anti-feminist perspective, with a focus on men's rights and sometimes social issues. Breaking the Glasses refers to breaking down the "ism" filters through which people view the world, replacing thought in terms of political rhetoric with an exploration of the human condition and human interactions without regard to dogmatic belief systems. She has a youtube channel (also called Breaking the Glasses), and has also written for A Voice For Men and Genderratic. Hannah's work can be supported at

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="152746">16 comments</span>

  • I have slowly, over the years, watched Rolling Stone turn from a rolling stone into an immoveable marble. We can but hope it fades into oblivion before it becomes a cultural Pravda.It has been ideologically infected and shows no signs of wishing to get better. Omni magazine suffered the same fate.

    • The comment was mine. I posted it in the evening before going to work.
      Then I went to work. Upon Discus in the morning, there was the notification that it had been removed. I can still see it, but nobody else can.

      • Rolling Stone treated you the way AVFM treated me. So far HBB has not but it is hard to sympathize when your groups are cozy. Begin to call Elam to task for his slander about SavannahApe and their Admins’ censorship of those who protest it and then these complaints will not stink of hypocrisy. PE calling SA a pedophile is as unsupported as RS rape claims. The former or his allies are pots calling kettles until they clean their own messy yard up.

        • Well, knowing AVFM’s commenting policy, though it’s far more strict than ours, it wasn’t just for mere disagreement. There has to be something more to this story.

          • O rly? Driversuz called it ‘trolling’ and David King agreed when I inquired that this was a poor fit. No actual policy has been cited in association with it. At best I’ve gotten mischaracterizations relating to enforcement of unwritten policies.

          • If Driversuz saw your comment as trolling, based on what I’ve seen of her history of comment moderation, it’s probably because you did one or more of the following which individuals at both publications have experienced repeatedly over claims people have made about us:

            * Restated something that has already repeatedly been discussed and proved or disproved, with a demand to rehash that whole discussion for your benefit, carrying the insinuation that if you personally don’t get the answer you want, the issue is still not settled.
            * Made wild accusations too ridiculous to deserve consideration without evidence, then demanded evidence against them with the insinuation that failure to provide it would be some kind of admission.
            * Made a comment chock full of rhetological fallacies for the editorial staff to wade through in order to sort out a response that isn’t manipulated by the comment’s content.
            * Inferred bad character or poor intellect on anyone disagreeing with your negative opinion of Elam.
            * Stated your case in a particularly confrontational manner using inflammatory language or in the falsely courteous but transparently manipulative manner of a concern troll (concealing inflammatory assertions or inference within a cushion of conciliatory language).
            * What you’ve done here: Demanded one individual within the movement
            answer for your opinion of another, as if we’re some kind of hive mind.

            Regardless, perhaps you have a logical reason for thinking visiting the honey badger blog to shit talk AVFM is a good idea. I mean, surely you’re not here in the mode of a teen girl, talking behind the backs of people you’re upset with because they didn’t capitulate to demands you made, are you? Surely you’re not asking fellow MRAs to engage in the type of relational aggression where we all stop talking to someone because our friend is mad at them.

            I’ll be interested to hear your alternate explanation for your behavior here. If not, we can drop this discussion and move on.

    • That’s an interesting article because the Lisak study talked about has been cited by Karen Straughan before as a counterargument to “rape culture” – if most rapists are that small, tiny minority of sociopathic men, then this casts doubt on the idea that our culture socializes men into rapists through encouraging the idea of a universal “male entitlement” to sex. It also casts doubt on “teach men not to rape” – you can’t teach a cold-blooded predator to stop raping women.
      Many who reject Lisak do so because Lisak’s work indicates that “teach men not to rape” or affirmative consent policies only would address about 10% of rapes (the portion not committed by sociopaths). If rape is primarily about sociopaths and not primarily about culture, a huge amount of feminist theory has doubt cast upon it.
      Lisak’s ideas and a softer, more reasonable understanding of “rape culture” are compatible (i.e. accepting that some ideas within our culture can, even if unintentionally, make it easier for consent to be miscommunicated or for sociopathic rapists to get away with things), but the establishment still wants to destroy Lisak for imperilling the “teach men not to rape” orthodoxy.

      • What’s interesting is that a Navy study reached some of the same conclusions that Lisak did – namely that rape is rare, committed by an already criminally violent minority of the population rather than a majority.

        Also interesting… feminists loved both studies until MRAs read them and started applying their conclusions rationally in discussion. Both Lisak and the navy study have been cited by feminists as evidence that men don’t understand consent. I used to get that from them frequently on reddit.

        Now it’s being pointed out that they show that the majority of men aren’t sexually violent, and most of those who are don’t care about consent. Neither one actually supports the way feminists have been using them… they aren’t good backup for arguments against due process at all. In fact, they’re the opposite, because they indicate that it’s vitally important when a sex crime is alleged that the truth is sought first and foremost, both because of the risk of entirely false accusations (like Jackie’s story) and the risk (which may be as high as 1 in 4) of getting the wrong guy due to misidentification even when the allegation is not false. Getting the wrong guy would not only punish an individual who doesn’t deserve punishment, it would also let one who might be dangerous to others go free. A small percentage of the general population commits rape. Two-thirds of that small percentage, the criminally violent two-thirds, repeat offends. That doesn’t indicate a need to increase conviction rates. It indicates a need to conduct thorough and unbiased investigations in order to ensure that actual rapists aren’t getting away with their crimes because we’re convicting the falsely accused. It indicates that the “teach men not to rape and cast a wide net for perpetrators” approach, one which has been financially and politically profitable for feminists, is completely ineffective and may actually be making things worse. No wonder the feminist establishment is up in arms.

        On a side note: one reason Lisak may have decided his study was applicable to campus environments is that the majority 88% of respondents who admitted to rape admitted specifically to drug or alcohol facilitated rape, which would fit the environment at schools where students do a lot of drunken partying. It doesn’t back feminist claims about a rape epidemic, but it does indicate that perhaps allowing a drunken-bash “culture” to exist on the campuses of educational institutions creates an environment full of easy targets for the type of sexual predator most likely to be encountered anywhere, who apparently (from the studies) prefers an incapacitated victim to one who has to be subdued… which means that if Lisak’s study IS applicable, then “teach people not to drink themselves unconscious” could do worlds more to prevent rape on college campuses than any campaign addressing male understanding of consent. That makes it yet another reason why establishment feminists would go from loving to hating the study. It does not mean that none of the criticisms of it are legitimate. It does, however, show a lack of integrity in feminists, who were quite happy to cite the study when they thought it backed their assertions, but decided to attack it as soon as it was used to contradict them.

  • Rolling Stone has been using Matt Taibbi more of late. He is an impeccably ethical journalist. Also, for a rag that seems to be having some staffing problems, he doesn’t generally need as much editorial supervision. He holds himself to very high standards. That’s a good sign but the rape narrative stuff has got to go. I understand from a legal perspective why RS might be circling the wagons. They’re facing two potentially devastating lawsuits as a consequence of the UVA debacle. If you admit guilt it can ruin you in civil court. Still, it feels like they’re doubling down at a point where they should be negotiating. Not a good strategy.

    • I’m pretty certain it was removed because of the information included in it, not the length. Other lengthy comments were left on the article, but none with that specific info.

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