12 Days of Skyhorse Publishing: Day 4 All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa
12 Days of Skyhorse Publishing: Day 5 The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Rolling Stone’s Agony and the Power of Facts

  AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The rolling destruction of Rolling Stone’s campus rape investigative report – centered on a woman named Jackie whose story of a gang rape at the University of Virginia just didn’t hold up – is both horrifying and fascinating to watch. Especially if you’re in the journalism world and know how easy it is to really, really mess things up.

I had a friend at the newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., many years ago whose father had been in World War II and, a propos of incoming artillery rounds, he offered his son this life lesson: “It’s the one you don’t hear that gets you.” I think this means that if you hear an incoming shell, it is going to land somewhere nearby, but if it is coming straight down on your head the aerodynamics are such that you won’t hear it. Or maybe it just means that you don’t hear it land, because it landed on you!

Either way, my friend was using this to make the journalistic point that you can try mightily to RS Danavoid serious mistakes and then one lands right on you that you never saw coming. I think a lot of journalists would agree that often it is not the big investigative piece that causes the worst problems, but the piddly little review in the same issue that said the local restaurant used beef that was “obviously less than prime.” If the chef has the receipts for the Grade A steak, you are in big trouble. (Which is why it is always better in a situation like that to go for opinion – “The steak, which was advertised as prime, nonetheless tasted like shoe leather.” That’s protected speech.)

Rolling Stone (I'm a lifelong fan, see my framed 1978 Dylan cover at right) definitely got hit by one they never saw coming, and it was not on a piddly little story at all. Sensitive to handling a rape allegation and not further traumatizing the victim, putting their confidence in a writer with a good track record, and – perhaps – subject to a confirmation bias that frat boys at southern universities are capable of all manner of evil, they simply didn’t see the peril. By not talking to the alleged rapists, and not even to her friends, the whole thing came down to reliance on one version of events.

It would have been so easy to avoid, in retrospect. All you needed was the article editor or the copy editor to ask, did we talk to her friends? (let alone the alleged attackers), followed by a memo to the boss: Questions on Rape Story -- Needs to Hold.

Rolling Stone’s agony reminds me of our duty here at AOA to respect facts and fairness. We are in fact advocacy journalists – we come from a point of view, based on our own research, reporting, and experience – but within that framework we try to be journalistically scrupulous. That’s not to say we’re perfect – and with a blog format, multiple contributors, a mission we champion, and constant battering from people on all sides who can’t bear the fact that we’re right – we have to be extra vigilant. But we do insist on facts. We come up against stories all the time where we need to assess the strength of the evidence and report what we find. Although our critics like to think we just wing it, they would probably be surprised at how much checking and care goes into what we do. Two examples come to mind.

One of the reports I’m proudest of was about the treatment of Alex Spourdalakis. Most of you know that story, and its tragic end. But it began as an e-mail on a Friday night – March 7, 2013 -- from Lisa Goes, one of our contributing editors, describing this god-awful situation and providing photos to go with it. Because of its significance – and, frankly, because I hate getting scooped – we wanted to publish it right away, which we did.  Lisa’s e-mail was titled:

“SUBMISSION: Urgent need hoping you find this worth running”

To which I responded: “Wow, very disturbing and powerful. Kim I'd suggest we post this as soon as we have all the pieces together from Lisa, whether on the weekend or not. … an urgent outrage. I'm sure this happens all the time but it is rare to see it so vividly documented in real time.”

And Kim: “OK, having read this and grateful not to have had breakfast first, I’ve prepped the post”

And me: “One of the very best pieces we ever ran or ever will”

There were lots of e-mails in between – does the mom know we are doing this, what does the hospital say, and so on – that were all nailed down. Still, if anything significant about this story had been flat-out wrong, it would have been Rolling Stone-level bad news for us. But it held up, because Lisa was there, she had the evidence, and even while outraged she stuck to the facts. You can see the differences here with Rolling Stone's story. Still, when you hit that publish button, you say a little prayer to the journalism gods to protect you one more time.

Another case in point was the news that Poul Thorsen, late of the CDC, was being investigated for fraud and theft of agency funds. This one was almost too good to be true – which ought to make an editor extra-cautious. To tell you the truth, I had never registered the name Poul Thorsen when this came up, but Mark Blaxill certainly had.

On March 5, 2010, I got an e-mail from a colleague in Denmark with the unpromising title VS:SV. The text said: “Please see the attached file. Kind regards.” Thank God I opened it. It was a letter from Aarhus University in Denmark outlining Thorsen's alleged misdeeds. I forwarded it to Mark Blaxill, who fired back a note, "This is amazing. I’m writing a short piece right now.” A little later he e-mailed, “Can we verify this somehow? I’ve been looking on the Aarhus web-site and can’t find anything.”

Me: “in this situation you can say that it could not be independently verified but ... it appeared to be a statement on aarhaus university's letterhead.”

Mark: “Seems like Jorgen Jorgensen [author of the letter] does exist and is in the role claimed in the letter”

Me: “yes, and here's what appears to be a danish mainstream paper discussing the issue last month without naming thorsen. we're definitely protected legally here ...”

And so we posted the story a short time later. Over on the skeptic blogs, there was discussion for days about whether the letter was a fake, oblivious to the kind of crosschecking we had already done and lacking the skills, or perhaps the motivation, to do it themselves.

Still, the story was almost literally unbelievable. After we published it, David Kirby – who has a solid journalism background – e-mailed, “Are we sure the document is authentic?”

To which Mark responded: “Dan received the document from a contact in Denmark who alerted him to the story. [She also posted it on her small blog.] I've checked and confirmed that Jorgen Jorgensen does exist and is in the role claimed in the letter. I haven't seen anything on the Aarhus web-site about this. We do have confirmation (see attached) that this has been covered in the Danish press. The early report from the Copenhagen Post doesn't mention Thorsen by name, but based on what I had seen as of yesterday, I predicted it was Thorsen. So seeing this letter naming Thorsen is consistent with everything we know."

I added: “i have a high degree of confidence in its authenticity, given the mainstream reporting in denmark in the past few weeks that matches what the memo said.”

Notice the phrase, “A high degree of confidence.” That is what we were working with at the time. Today, of course, we are certain it is authentic, but in real time you have to constantly assess the possibility that something is amiss versus the possibility of missing the story altogether. In that circumstance, having a high degree of confidence was sufficient for publication. If you had to be certain, you’d get scooped every time. Which makes this such an interesting business.

So this is the kind of thing that goes into our news coverage and analysis here at our humble web site. I would like to think that this kind of collaborative and cautious editing would have saved Rolling Stone, although, as my friend’s said, it’s the one you don’t hear that gets you.

There’s another reason to care about facts and Rolling Stone – it published Bobby Kennedy’s Deadly Immunity, which required some corrections. I said at the time that these were the kind of things that a good fact-checking operation could and should have caught. Bobby’s basic thesis was incontrovertible, but the relatively picayune fact errors were enough to allow some to divert attention from that. Rolling Stone, to its eternal credit, refused to retract the piece after Salon did so. But the Kennedy saga and the Rape on Campus story suggest they might have a systemic problem with rigorous fact-checking and asking the kind of fail-safe (one of my editors called it “bomb-proofing”) questions that can keep the shell from landing smack on top of you.

So, hey, Rolling Stone, deconstruct how you screwed up, get yourself a couple of cranky and skeptical copy editors, the old-fashioned kind who go out back to smoke and probably drink at lunch. And rock on! We need you,  bro.


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.



@Taximom/Cia Parker:

This Slate article is the most balanced article I've read to-date re: this topic. I hope you both, and all others interested, will read it as well:



Cia, what shocks me is that you're taking one side as TRUTH, while accusing the other side of lying.

I'm not saying I'm believing the accuser. Note, I've been referring to her as the ALLEGED rape victim.

We don't know know which side is telling the truth. We have NO FACTS from either side. All we have are allegations. There isn't a shred of evidence on either side.

But you are presenting the side against the accuser as though they have factual evidence, AND THEY DON'T.

You are presenting the media reports--not testimony of actual people--supposedly quoting the alleged victim's friends as fact.

You should know better than that. Look how the media manages to edit recorded interviews with vaccine critics to make them look like mentally ill conspiracy theorists.

We don't know whether the alleged victim is lying, has misremembered, or, as many rape counsellors have already said, is typical of rape victims in not being able to recall some details accurately.

We don't know whether the alleged friends are lying, misremembering, or, as attorneys know, simply remember the incident from a very different perspective.

One of the comments about the incident is, I think, very instructive:

"Anyone who's had anything to do with criminal prosecutions or the courts in general knows that human memory is grossly unreliable.

I don't mean just getting details wrong; the average person makes stuff up to sustain their personal narrative, and quickly comes to sincerely believe it.

Memory is a story, not a record. It's refashioned every time it's called up. It's more like a novel than a videotape.

So it's perfectly possible for two people to swear to entirely different versions of the same events with perfect sincerity."

Even the following statement, which is supposedly from one of the friends of the alleged victim, does not indicate that the alleged victim made up a story for fun:
"Still, people who knew Jackie at the time stress to the Post that they believe something happened to her that night. "She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma," Randall told the paper. "I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again. ..."

And again, we have to remember that NONE of this is admissible testimony.

It's all news media.

For all we know, every character in the whole scenario is a figment of the reporters' imagination.

And you are acting as judge, jury, and executioner, calling for a girl you've never met (who might not even exist) gets kicked out of college, because hearsay--I'll grant you, masterfully presented hearsay--has convinced you that 1) she exists and 2) she's lying.

Perhaps you are unaware that a large community in Steubenville, OH, treated a rape victim--whose assault was confirmed by investigation--the same way you are treating the alleged victim here, and gave the same reasons you did: she was supposedly lying, the football players backed up each others' stories, she was old enough to know better, etc.

cia parker

The three friends have come forward and released their real names. One of the boys says that on the fateful night, "Jackie" said her friends dissuaded her from calling the polce for fear their social standing would be damaged, but in reality one of the boys says they tried to call the police, but she didn't want to. The boy says he asked the RA of her dorm if he should call the police even without her permission. The RA has confirmed that he really did ask her that. It has also been learned that a year before the alleged attack, that Jackie had marched in a demonstration against date rape with a sign that said she had herself been date raped.

cia parker

The girl showed a picture of a guy she had gone to high school with, saying he had been her main attacker. The photo turned out to be from a high school yearbook and was of a boy who lived several states over, who had not been in Virginia for six years at the time of the alleged attack. She said one of the attackers had been a lifeguard at the university pool at the same time she had been, but the boy she named was not a member of the fraternity and no boy from that fraternity had been a lifeguard at the pool that semester. The girl first said she had been forced to have oral sex with five boys, some of them fraternity pledges, in a ritualized assault. There was no social event at that fraternity that night, nor were there any pledges that semester. She later changed it to ordinary sex, increasing the number of attackers to seven (I mistakenly said eight the other day)and that she was raped for three hours on shards of broken glass from her having been thrown onto a glass table in the room which broke into pieces, thence the bloody dress which was mentioned in the RS article. The three friends she met with immediately after the alleged incident said there was no blood, and she appeared unharmed and said she didn't want to go to the clinic or to the legal authorities, but only home to the dorm. The RS article claimed that one of the friends, "Cindy," said she should have relaxed and enjoyed it. The other friends said that if she came publicly forward with the charge, it might damage their social standing at the university. (???) They all say that they did not say anything like what she later reported, and instead tried to take her to a clinic or to the police, but she refused.

I am at least as shocked as you that so many are willing to believe this girl's story despite the complete lack of any evidence that it is true, and much evidence that it was not true. Because of her story, the university president suspended all university fraternities, not just the one she mentioned in her story, and for the first time gave police authority to enter any of them without reasonable cause. The girl's lies have damaged the boys she ahs accused without foundation, the fraternity named, all fraternities in general, and the university's good name. She told RS belatedly that she didn't want the story to be published, but the RS reporter, gloating at covering such an explosive scandal, said it was too late, and it would be published whether she wanted it to be or not. She had specified at the outset that none of the parties she accused could be interviewed by the RS reporter. One article I read about it yesterday that the reporter should nonetheless have interviewed other people from that and other fraternities, and in some way have checked out the ridiculous details of her story. The girl was 18, old enough to have known better. One of the friends said she was a great story-teller, and it's too bad that she thought it would be fun to make up this story to tell her friends, never dreaming that it would snowball as it has. Besides the immediate damage done to the reputations of the parties she falsely charged, she may have made it harder for real victims of sexual abuse to be believed.

I am deeply shocked that so many are willing to believe any woman's charge of sexual abuse. How would you feel if it were your son falsely accused? Would you have no problem with a court also believing the girl's false story just on their conviction that the politically correct side must always be the factually correct one as well? This girl's lurid story has many inconsistencies and has not been confirmed in even ONE detail. Nothing. Not the place, the event, none of the parties named, no broken glass table, no physical evidence of rape of any kind. Nothing. Why would anyone continue to say they believe the girl who has shown no qualms about lying about any number of individuals, including the friends she went to immediately afterwards?

I hope the university kicks her out and that this will be a lesson that credible evidence of some sort is always necessary to support such serious charges.


Cia, I'm shocked.

Look at what you are accepting as "evidence" that supposedly refutes the alleged rape victim's story:

1) A statement from the fraternity that they did not have a party that night.

A little critical thinking here? Who in their right mind is going to accept the unsupported statement of a hard-partying group of college boys under an accusation that stands to ruin their college/employment careers? Isn't that like believing a group of drug dealers who insist that they weren't on their usual street corner, but were all together watching TV that night?

2) A statement supposedly from one of the friends of the alleged victim.

Do we know that this person IS the friend referred to in the article? The alleged victim didn't identify her--and also, apparently, did not continue the friendship with her. Do we know for sure that this person doesn't have her own reasons for discrediting the alleged victim? What is her current relationship with members of that fraternity? What pressure might she be under from the university? What if it's not even the same person but someone who was pressured by the university to identify herself as such and make a statement?

3) You even assume that "there was no bloody dress."

WHAT? Is that an admissible fact, "no bloody dress?" You have the alleged victim and an alleged witness, with conflicting stories, two years after the fact. That would be hard enough to prove, even with an immediate police investigation.

Remember, there was no investigation.

As much as we want to believe that the subsequent report of the alleged victim's "friends," because really, it would make us feel so much safer to know that what she says she went through didn't really happen--it's no more believable than the alleged victim's statement.

We don't have any admissible FACT. Not from the alleged victim, not from her alleged friends.

That means we can't say it happened, we can't say it didn't happen.

What we can say is that there have been many young women coming forward and testifying to EXACTLY this "rape culture" that the alleged victim described--not just at UVA, but all over the US, where women are supposedly respected. This is the same "rape culture" that spawned the Steubenville rape case (where the rapist was convicted--and is now back on the football team).

And it's EXACTLY the same culture that enables perfectly decent people to draw the conclusions they're encouraged by the media to draw about vaccine safety, efficacy, and need, and allows them to dismiss and ignore the victims..

Cia, based on all you've written til now, I think it's fair to say, THIS ISN'T LIKE YOU. And a number of us here have noticed this and commented on it.

I don't think this means that you are, I don't know, suddenly changing personalities, or becoming cold and insensitive, or that you have a UVA connection, or anything like that.

I think this IS a perfect example of the power of the media, and how all of us, EVERY LAST ONE OF US (including me) (and even you!) is susceptible to propaganda, to the point where we actually believe we've been given cold hard facts (by...the media?!).

God in Heaven (said as a desperate prayer, not as a swear), no wonder our families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc., don't believe us when we tell them we or our children have had severe vaccine reactions. No wonder they think they know the facts better than we do.

cia parker

Anon is right, the campus police have primary responsibility for maintaining order on campus, but the standard police would be called in when a crime had been committed. The campus police patrol the campus at night. I was at home with my parents for a weekend many years ago when a man broke into our basement dorm room through the window and threatened my Chinese roommate with rape. She was able to run out of the room unharmed, but was extremely shaken up, as anyone would have been. The campus police investigated, but were not able to make any arrest until the following week, when the same man broke into another girl's room and actually did rape her. He was turned over to the city police. I don't know what happened after that, but I hope the man got a long prison sentence.


Jenny- I'll tell you from my experience at a large University, it was well know that if you had a problem, call the campus police. They covered the college campus and involved the city police at their discretion. The campus police would overlook things like underage drinking, but the city police would not. I think the threat of ticketing or incarceration for underage drinking by the city police was a big contribution to the under-reporting of rape. Unfortunately, from my experience and some of my friends, the campus police, the Dean's office and the Greek administration would also overlook rape.

cia parker

I am dismayed that so many appear willing to reach conclusions which run counter to the actual facts provided, passing judgments based on ideologies to which they are attracted for personal reasons. This is not rational, just, or compassionate, but only politically correct.


@Cia Parker,

I don't know if you've realized this, but I've been in no way speaking about this particular case at U.Va.! I just read the Washington Post article about this issue - yesterday. Up until yesterday, I'd only read the by-lines about this story. What I take issue with YOU is when you make a statement such as 'many' make false rape allegations for their own purposes. THAT statement is absolutely false, according to statistics, as difficult as they are to compile/collate within our agencies who monitor the stats.

Having said the above, in reading the Washington Post article, I took the time to also read through the many comments below that article. What I found was intriguing. There was a young gal who commented that she'd worked with many post traumatic stress syndrome clients and detailed, with specificity, the enormity of the conflicting accounts because of the stress related issues these victims were dealing with. It made me weep. I was able to empathize with those victims in a way far too personal in which to detail here at this forum (which has absolutely nothing to do with anything I've since described here under these comments).

I don't know whether this young gal at U.Va. is telling the truth or not. My gut instinct tells me she is. But facts, or lack thereof, being what they are with this particular case leads me to SUSPECT that SOMETHING DID happen to this young gal. She is standing by her story. Time will tell whether or not she is/was telling the truth.

I was discussing this situation with my husband last night. My husband, as many of you know, is an attorney. He has certain life experiences that I've never had and his impression of this entire issue at U.Va. is decidedly negative.

He KNOWS what goes on in these college frat houses and feels w/o a doubt that these white frat boys get by with a lot - because they DO so often, for one reason or another. He had nothing good to say about U.Va.'s policies regarding these type incidents because, as he states, even when they supposedly have strict guidelines for dealing with these type issues, they inevitably get swept under the rug in the name of PR and campus politics. One need only look at the Jerry Sandusky issue to understand the mentality behind the good old boy issues of man versus woman.

This is an age old issue still borne out in today's modern civilization. It pains me to know there are some women who are also seducing young men; women are not always JUST the victims.

But statistics far and above prove out that by far, women are far more times victimized than the other way around. I'm not just talking about rape, beatings or what have you. I can remember as a young 20 something girl having to walk past a construction dock to get to the law firm I worked with at Two Allen Center in Houston, Texas. I would literally shake in my shoes because of the numerous cat calls and what have you that I had to deal with, simply because I was walking past these idiots. At one point, one fellow took pity on me when he noticed how troubled/shaken I was as I was walking past and from then on, they knocked it off.

But how pathetic that in this day and age, women are still treated in this fashion. It just absolutely sickens me.

In reading your MANY comments on this U.Va. issue, Cia, I can't help but wonder if you have some sort of personal stake in this. I'm not taking this U.Va. issue at all personally, just your so-called facts that MANY women make false rape allegations, which is just flat out wrong.

Why so vociferous about this issue, Cia? May I ask? Do you know someone on this campus? Just a curious question...

@Jenny: I have asked similar questions as well.


What I don't understand, and maybe someone could clarify this, is why would a student reports a rape to a campus security department rather than the city's police department, in any case? Why does a campus police department "turn over" the investigation to the real police? Would that be akin to the Vaccine court "turning over" a case to the real courts, where real legal precedents would apply? Is a campus like an Indian reservation, with its own laws, and operate independent of the rest of our legal system? I don't quite understand why campus administration are even allowed a seat at the process. Does a bar owner control the report of rapes and the investigation if it happens in their parking lot? I've always wondered about it . . .


"The Rolling Stone article, published last month, described a culture of sexual violence hiding in plain sight at U.Va. The article has roiled the campus and caused a huge backlash, with U.Va. suspending fraternity activities until January, the Board of Visitors appointing an independent investigator to look into the allegations and the university handing the case over to the Charlottesville police."


If the Rolling Stone article was so baseless, then there would be no reason for any backlash at the university and certainly no reason for them to now, 2 years after the incident, to hand the case over to the police.

Wouldn't the outcome of this investigative journalism, minus the backlash to Rolling Stone, be the desired effect?

cia parker


I certainly regret your own terrible experience. I was lucky, I foolishly placed myself in dangerous positions many times when I was young, but was never raped.

In your comment it said that police and other sources classify between 1.5 and 8% of rape allegations as false. That would be their judgment call, again, without concrete evidence there would be no proof. Rumney said that police often use their gut instinct to decide whether they believe the charge of rape made by the woman is false or not. He further said that it's impossible to know the rate at which false accusations are made. And that's true, no one could know for sure. I agree that whether or not a woman appears disheveled or distraught does not prove anything one way or the other. But outside of physical evidence or eye witnesses, there would be no way to prove the charge one way or the other. As sympathetic as I feel toward victims of any crime, without proof it would not be just to convict the man on her say-so without independent evidence. Again, with so many discrepancies in her story, no authority could prove charges against those accused. I don't believe her. Her friends said she appeared unhurt. So who came up with the bloody dress? Did she say that to the RS journalist, or did the journalist throw it in as a vivid detail? She may have been raped by someone, but it looks as though she thought up a sensational scenario to accuse the young men involved without checking the details to see if it would be plausible. I don't always believe the woman, and I certainly don't in this case. And anyone making false accusations of anyone is contemptible.

cia parker

I know that rape victims are often treated badly, but that's not the issue here. There can be no definitive stats on how often rape victims are telling the truth and how often they're lying. How could government or any other agencies read the experiences stored in people's minds and heart? Unless one of the parties admits that he/she was lying, or the man shows that he has an airtight alibi and was not anywhere near her at the time she claimed (as in this case), or there is physical evidence, ultimately how could anyone say that alleged rape victims are only lying 2% of the time? How can anyone say that it is certain the woman did not consent if it was with a man she knew? And beyond that, even if it were true that women only lie about being raped 2% of the time, it looks as though the woman in this case would fall into that 2%, given all the discrepancies. I think we should feel just as concerned about the fraternity and the boys unjustly maligned as for a girl horribly abused, as she certainly would have been were the allegation true.


I wonder if the timing of the story, or the timing of the discrediting of the woman's story has anything to do with this rape bill? I don't know if the bill passed or not, but it did, there is now financial incentive, obviously meant to punish a school for not cooperating or conducting an adequate investigation, but which could be a double edged sword to a school. It could incent them to discredit a victim story so as not to have to investigate at all, or even convince a victim to find a way to railroad the situation (which could include deliberately falsifying details, theoretically), as opposed to risking a 150,000 fine for poor reporting compliance.


What I do know is that there have been hundreds of attacks on women's rights on multiple fronts, - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/opinion/sunday/the-attack-on-women-is-real.html?_r=0 - and that everyone on this site is familiar with efforts to limit a woman's right as a mother to make medical decisions for her child (by discrediting mothers as hysterical idiots who don't know shit about medicine) as well as hysterical in general (re: LeRoy). And we know about possible control of birthing through hospital control and eugenics programs and experimental research and vaccinations. And we know that our medical world would rather consider a woman caretaker crazy than admit rubbing mercury could be poisonous to the mind. (Dan, and Mark) Would it really surprise anyone if there were folks in powerful positions trying to affect laws concerning rape though various methods of message-massage marketing? I'm not saying that's the case here, but it a possibility, knowing the history of the many ways women have been disenfranchised in this country.


Regardless of the whether the girl's story seemed to hold up, a case should have been opened at the time and it should have been formally investigated. Even if it turned out that she was mentally ill, or outright lying, or something in between, there should have been a case, every allegation researched thoroughly. It is terrible to be falsely accused, but unfortunately in a situation like this, there is no choice but to investigate. It's the only right thing to do. Our society is supposed to hold judgment - innocent until proven guilty. It was only after this article was written, 2 years later, that there was any kind of investigation, according to the article Dan posted. That's just not right. She could have been calling a party a frat party, the accused could have told her it was a frat party and it was a hazing, and she should certainly not be dismissed based on the impression/judgment of the (teenage) male friend that she confided in. You know? Not saying the boys are guilty. But the university and the police were definitely guilty, in my mind, of not doing what they were supposed to do. I can not be sure, but this looks to me like 1) damage control 2) a warning to anyone else, female student or journalist, to not go there in the future. And, if after a proper investigation, the accuser's story was found to be deliberately false and malicious, then she could have been held accountable for whatever damages she caused. Which they could do now, but curiously, it doesn't seem like they're going after the accuser for lying (are they?), they're going after Rolling Stone for daring to report the story.



I would agree with you in some small measure, but given the stats I've just uncovered, I would hope you would read through them and perhaps undo a little of your own bias in favor of the stats gleaned from the FBI, our Justice Department and the various international agencies that have collated as much as possible, this information.

I worked as a legal assistant in the field of litgation for over 25 years. I KNOW how rape victims are normally treated, or used to be treated, decades ago in this country. The victims become victims all over again in a court of so-called law.

The facts as they are, as I've just discovered today re: this subject matter, bear completely with what I have personally discovered when working in various law firms throughout my career.

You've provided absolutely no statistics to refute the information I've just uncovered in my below comment in order to back up your claim that "many people file false allegations for their own gain(s)."

cia parker

There can be no reliable scientific methodology for estimating the rate of false rape accusations. It's sort of like the sharia law that no illicit sexual encounter can be adjudged to be proven unless there were at least four reliable witnesses who actually saw penetration take place. If only the accusing and accused parties are involved, which is usually the case, then it winds up being he said, she said. When we're talking about thousands of accusations, then how could you ever determine which were truthful and which were not? It would usually come down to the bias of the investigators as to which party they chose to believe and how to tally that case.


Well now, Linda1, that's very interesting. My gut instincts tell me there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

cia parker

Reading over the comments, I dislike the suggestion that because women are often victimized and brushed off, that this makes it probable that this girl's story is true and that RS was vilified unfairly for trying to report what is often a true and reprehensible crime. I don't believe at all that the fact that victims of vaccine injury are nearly invariably brushed off means that the boys accused of rape in this case MUST have been guilty as charged. This is allowing the lens you have chosen to look through distort your perception of the facts of what really occurred.

cia parker

This report linked below from the Washington Post says that one of the friends the alleged victim went to right after the alleged attack says that she was shaken, but not visibly hurt, and said she just wanted to go back to her dorm. The Rolling Stones story said that she was in a blood-stained dress, which appears not to be true. Everyone says that the important point is that such a brazen attack could have been true, and is in fact often true. OK, but it is completely unfair to accuse this fraternity and these boys of a crime that did not happen in the way the alleged victim reported. The girl should feel ashamed of herself.


cia parker

If the huge discrepancies in the girl's story are true, it seems likely that the police dropped the investigation for that reason. What else could they do?

cia parker

In this case, the girl told a male friend what had happened soon afterwards. He said when he was interviewed that he thinks that something traumatic happened to the girl, although it wasn't the event that she reported. There are too many discrepancies for it to have been a valid charge. The fraternity she charged didn't even have a party the night of the alleged crime. She said it was part of a hazing of new pledges, but there were no pledges at the fraternity at that time. Several of the boys she charged were not members of the fraternity. In the interest of protecting the innocent, no charge could have held up. Those accused have rights as well as the girl, and their rights were not respected in the Rolling Stones story that was not supported by the facts.


Wait a minute. I went to one of the links Dan gave above - TPM Livewire. According to that reporting on this story, the girl's report of an incident in September 2012 wasn't investigated by local police until AFTER the Rolling Stone article was published last month, more than 2 years later, accusing the school of ignoring her, which it appears they did. It is not for the school to decide whether a rape allegation is true and it is not for a journalist to decide either. They are to report and let the legal system decide. In this case, the story is that the accusation was ignored and it was. Rolling Stone was right to report that. To quote from the TPM article linked above:

"The degree of her trauma — there’s no doubt in my mind that something happened to her that night. What exactly happened, you know, I wasn’t in that room. I don’t know and I do tell it from her point of view," Erdley told Slate.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Rolling Stone insisted that the story was fact-checked.

"Through our extensive reporting and fact–checking, we found Jackie to be entirely credible and courageous and we are proud to have given her disturbing story the attention it deserves," the statement reads.

Erdley herself also defended her article and reporting.

"I am convinced that it could not have been done any other way, or any better, she told the New York Times on Tuesday. "I am also not interested in diverting the conversation away from the point of the piece itself."

And a couple journalism professors told the New York Times that they saw nothing wrong with Erdley's piece.

"If a reporter were doing a story about a university accused of failing to address the mugging or robbery of a student, that reporter would not be expected to interview the alleged mugger or robber," Columbia University journalism professor Helen Benedict said. "The piece might have been stronger with more than one source, but exposés of wrongdoing often start with one whistle-blower."

Rolling Stone is being criticized for not vetting the story with the accused before publishing. Is that like asking the CDC if they buried data regarding a link between the MMR and autism and if they say no, there's no story?

It looks like Rolling Stone is being punished for embarrassing and pushing the hand of the U of Va and their local police.


@Cia Parker,

Here is an interesting link I just found appearing in The Guardian:



“From Rotherham to Westminster, police dismiss victims and press them to retract their allegations.

We have repeatedly raised with the former and present DPP that biased and negligent rape investigations result in miscarriages of justice.

The CPS said it did not collate figures on how many individuals have been prosecuted for allegedly making false rape allegations. A CPS review over 17 months from January 2011 to May 2012 revealed there had been 44 individuals prosecuted for perverting the course of justice or wasting police time, out of 159 charging decisions.

A spokeswoman said: “Cases of perverting the course of justice that involve allegedly false rape allegations are serious but rare. They are usually highly complex and sensitive often involving vulnerable parties, so any decision to charge is extremely carefully considered and not taken lightly.

Such cases can only be brought where the prosecution can prove that the original rape allegation was false and the relatively few cases that are brought should not dissuade any potential victim from coming forward to report an assault.”

And yet another source re: 'false rape' allegations - from Wikipedia, no less:



"A false accusation of rape is the intentional reporting of a rape by an alleged victim when no rape has occurred. Studies have found that police typically classify between 1.5 and 8% of rape accusations as unfounded, unproven or false, however researchers say those determinations are often dubious. The "conventional scholarly wisdom," according to American law professor Michelle J. Anderson, is that two percent of rape complaints made to the police are false. The United States Justice Department agrees, saying false accusations "are estimated to occur at the low rate of two percent -- similar to the rate of false accusations for other violent crimes." However, others say eight percent or more of rape accusations are false, and as a scientific matter the answer remains unknown."

This is interesting:

"A 2006 paper by Philip N.S. Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal offers a review of studies of false reporting in the US, New Zealand and the UK.[10] Rumney draws two conclusions from his review of literature. First, the police continue to misapply the "no-crime" or "unfounding" criteria. Studies by Kelly et al. (2005), Lea et al. (2003), HMCPSI/HMIC (2002), Harris and Grace (1999), Smith (1989), and others found that police decisions to no-crime were frequently dubious and based entirely on the officer's personal judgement. Rumney notes that some officers seem to "have fixed views and expectations about how genuine rape victims should react to their victimization." He adds that "qualitative research also suggests that some officers continue to exhibit an unjustified scepticism of rape complainants, while others interpret such things as lack of evidence or complaint withdrawal as 'proof' of a false allegation."

Rumney's second conclusion is that it is impossible to "discern with any degree of certainty the actual rate of false allegations" due to the fact that many of the studies of false allegations have adopted unreliable or untested research methodologies. He argues, for instance, that in addition to their small sample size the studies by Maclean (1979) and Stewart (1981) used questionable criteria to judge an allegation to be false. MacLean deemed reports "false" if, for instance, the victim did not appear "dishevelled" and Stewart, in one instance, considered a case disproved, stating that "it was totally impossible to have removed her extremely tight undergarments from her extremely large body against her will"..."


FBI statistics

"FBI reports from 1996 consistently put the number of "unfounded" rape accusations around 8%. In contrast, the average rate of unfounded reports for "Index crimes" tracked by the FBI is 2%.

However, "unfounded" is not synonymous with false allegation. Bruce Gross of the Forensic Examiner says that:

"This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, "unfounded." That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser's statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false..."

May I ask, given the report statistics, from where you believe

..."It is important both to recognize that bogus reports are filed by many people to get attention or to advance their own interests..."

Yes. There are occasionally reports that are indeed, false reports. But given the stats I've just now looked up, it seems to me that, for the most parts, FALSE RAPE ALLEGATIONS are fairly rare. Further, given that some of these cases are deemed UNFOUNDED, but that said definition of unfounded in any one police department may have differing interpretations, it is quite easy to see the difficulties in establishing, at times, truth from false allegation.

I will make another statement here that I have never revealed publicly: I, too, am a rape victim. This event occurred many years ago when I lived in Houston, Texas. I did NOT fight my attacker which is why I believe I wasn't harmed more substantially. I was young, foolish and naive. I'd met this complete stranger when I had been out sunbathing at an apartment complex. He approached me, seemed nice enough (although a bit smarmy) and I accepted his request for a night out.

I sensed almost immediately when this guy picked me up, that something wasn't quite right. The rest, as they say is history.

I NEVER reported this event because I was a) too frightened, and b) didn't want to deal with the police. I had no proof, had taken a shower afterwards, and that was the end of that.

So, perhaps I'm a bit biased here, but at the same time, I can definitely understand why some women (make that many women) have never reported their rapes to the authorities.

One need not be reminded of the MANY until of late reported rape/drugging cases against a very well known entertainer that has been making the news. I COMPLETELY believe these women - every last one of them (I've literally read and/or watched every one of their stories).

Times back in the 1960's, '70's and 80's were DIFFERENT; women were oft times, if they dared to even report their rape, let alone file suit against their victimizers, made out to be the villains in their day in court.

I've seen this happen during my days in litigation when I worked in law. I know how this game was played, and every single time a female appeared in court to face her rapist, SHE was made out to be the villain. Every detail of her sexual life was brought into the open. I cannot imagine the courage it took for women during those times who were willing to face their abusers in court.

I'm encouraged to see more women are becoming empowered and are willing to speak out. All it takes, as we've seen with this latest scenario with BC, is for one courageous woman to speak out...and many others have followed.

So - although I do understand your analogy above, I disagree with you. I completely agree with Taximom...couldn't agree more, actually.

cia parker

I usually agree with you, but not this time. What if I said that I took my 12-month year old daughter to the Johnson Clinic on May 20, 2008, and she got an MMR there at that time. Then I say that she developed seizures and explosive diarrhea the same day, and within three days had lost the ten words she had been saying, and six months later was diagnosed with autism. Let's say an unusually brave reporter does a story on her three years later and reports all these details as supporting the claim that vaccines cause autism (as they really do). But then what happens if another investigation revealed that the child was a son not a daughter, was really ten years old at the time, and that there was no Johnson Clinic? The truth must be told, but in that case the revelation of the truth would tend to increase people's skepticism when they heard authentic accounts of vaccine damage. The boy who cried wolf. Several months ago we discussed Dorit's assertion that very few VAERS reports are authentic claims for vaccine damage, saying that one physician had reported to VAERS that a vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk, and that VAERS just accepted the claim. It is important both to recognize that bogus reports are filed by many people to get attention or to advance their own interests, but that many other reports are true and justice requires that, if they can be verified, that appropriate action to taken to punish the wrongdoers and compensate the victims. In this case, there were many discrepancies between the alleged victim's story and reality. The really bad thing is that this would tend to make people more likely to disbelieve future true accounts of abuse and rape. Rolling Stone screwed up, too anxious to publish a story on sexual abuse committed by a group of immature, privileged, white males.

cia parker

I agree completely that too many in positions of authority try to make their reported opinions jibe with the politically correct narrative current at the time. In this and other stories, including Ferguson, the vaccine-autism cover-up, and the elevation of the Palestinian cause, facts are ignored in order to promote an agenda. I'm about to finish the book When David Turned into Goliath, and was really shocked to read about how academia en masse bought into the beliefs supporting the movement which, among other strategies, seeks to boycott Israeli products. Edward Said held himself up as a victim of Israeli imperialism, as a representative of the victimized "other", when in reality he did not grow up in Jerusalem, as he said, but rather as the scion of a rich, extremely privileged Egyptian family. How could so many intelligent people have neglected to investigate the actual facts? It must be that everyone, no matter how objective and scientific they claim or even believe themselves to be, is motivated by deep-seated ideological principles and images which distort their (our?) vision. And then, of course, a lot are conscious of their dishonesty, but do it for the money or for the social position it gives them.

Jeannette Bishop

I haven't followed this reporting, but having watched the entire press get it wrong on more than one extremely important issue (and hence probably dangerous to get right) and never to date correct it...even continuing to repeat false talking points and narratives decades later in some cases, just in case we start to forget, I guess...

and having experienced a surprisingly difficult time recalling details in reporting of a much less traumatic, but somewhat related illegal incident...

and having experienced completely blocking for a time of some aspects in my memory about my decision to vaccinate my injured daughter...

and seeing the level of deceit some groups are apparently willing to orchestrate...

and if RS is named after a certain rock group there is to me much irony in the original reporting if honest in intent...

I just have to say thanks to those who do their best to find the truth and report it openly, walking this mined and booby-trapped field of information and organized corruption.

Jenny Allan


Obviously can't comment on the US case, but some American University Fraternities have been 'imported' into UK Universities, along with some vile male behaviour towards female students. The universities, which apparently include Oxford and Cambridge, are trying to 'stamp it out'. I hope they succeed.


I have always loved the story behind the news story.

These are always entertaining to know how a news story gets attention and published.

By the way on my face book several people that are not into vaccine injuries, still love modern medicine as a God have ciculated the picture of Baby Ian with his spleen all swollen - red feet, hands, and head - dying.

I as a parent - I too- that had a child almost that severe with Kawasakis disease - this was a very brave thing to do. And - thoughtful - it is rare that people document bad things in their lives.

People are curious of this picture and really want to know what is wrong with this baby.


When it comes to powerful universities who depend on image and mystique to continue lining their pockets, rape is very bad for business, and surrounding college towns depend on those stellar reputations for their economies. For how many years did university officials look the other way while Jerry Sandusky was on the payroll?

I don't know the details of this story, but for reasons already explained by Taximom and Ottoschnaut, the media is not to be trusted. It is a known fact that rapes on college campuses are under reported (not always by the victim, but by the school). Given enough alcohol, drugs and chaos, it would be hard to remember who was there. She might have gotten false information re the people and events (frat party or not). That doesn't mean there wasn't a crime. It also doesn't mean there was. All we really know for sure is that powerful entities would want this to go away and at the same time discourage future stories like this.


Dear Dan and AoA Friends-

First- to Dan- thanks for the shout out. As a human engaged in matrimonial bondage, I mean, bliss, I am fully aware that I am right about any particular issue no more than 49% of the time. If you are personally convinced and satisfied that RS screwed up- it carries a lot of weight. As I have posted before, AoA is my first read of the day, every day. I appreciate the high standards you maintain. Your experience as a journalist and an editor shows in the reliability of the information posted.

@Cia- the suspicious nature of the story is how the entire national msm complex suddenly jumped on RS and hammered the same points in a synchronized attack, If The Today Show leads with it, the only thought that goes through my mind is "who paid for this placement?"

I think the similarities between the msm vaccine injury narrative and the UVA rape story could be more than coincidence. RS touched a third rail and pissed off some very powerful people. I have noticed some slippage between what RS actually wrote and what is now blaring out of the TV. If memory serves, "Jackie" alleged in the RS story that she was held down and raped by 4 people. Now, the number is up to 7 or 8- how and why did that happen? RS folded like a cheap suit on this one- not even a whimper of defense, just a shameful "mea culpa." I acknowledge that perhaps RS got it wrong- to me, it still seems more like they got it too close to right.

The unintended consequence of RS getting it wrong is that kids who have been raped will be more inclined to keep their mouths shut.


Listen, I think it's terrible that RS didn't check the facts, but what makes me so upset about this whole situation is the impact it is having on real rape victims today.
They are already doubted and vilified when there is 100% evidence. I could tell several stories about college rape in the 90's involving frats, drinking and some planned drugging. Back then there was a code of silence and it involved the University and Greek administration. I know personally because it happened to me and several of my friends.


Before everyone jumps to the assumption that the rape victim's story doesn't hold up, I suggest looking at it from a different angle.

Suppose the article was about a vaccine injury victim.

Suppose the author interviewed 3 of the mom's friends, none of whom actually saw the vaccine reaction. Suppose instead of a fraternity swearing that it didn't have a party on the night in question, we read instead about the vaccine manufacturer swearing that they'd never had reports about seizures caused by the vaccine in question.

Our, like the case of Lisa Marks Smith, both vaccine manufacturer and government do their best to prove that she never had the vaccine in question.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

There are so many similarities in how rape allegations and vaccine injury allegations are handled, I'm absolutely astounded at the tone of AoA's article here, as well as the tone of some of the commenters.

All of us here should know better than that. We should know better than ANYONE.


Rolling Stone published the story without checking for the same reason the press publishes stories absolving vaccines from causing autism - it fits the narrative they choose to believe and support and to Hell with the facts.

cia parker

I just googled it, and it looks like there was no frat party at that fraternity on that night, they didn't have pledges in the fall semester the way the girl said, and several of the boys she accused were not members of the fraternity. She increased the number of boys involved over time from five to eight. I don't think she's telling the truth.

cia parker

The Rolling Stone reporter who wrote the article said that false reports made by apparent victims are incredibly rare. I don't think false reports are that rare, I think there are a lot of unstable people seeking attention who make false reports, and a lot of advocacy journalists looking for compelling stories to write, with consequences that can be tragic for the falsely accused. The only answer would have to be that journalists be aware of the problem, and investigate the confirmatory details more thoroughly then this one did.


The question I'd be asking myself is, Why this particular story, and Why now? I'm in the journalism world myself and something doesn't smell quite right. In fact, it stinks outright. The abundance of unnecessarily lurid physical detail by contrast with a dearth of actual facts doesn't make sense - unless someone wanted this particular piece published very badly.

My take is that this story was intended to create a national incident, as it certainly has. Somebody whispered in the editor's ear and the rest is history. Who the actual instigator(s) as, I'll leave to others to determine.


Thank you for all you do Dan.

Is there any data on just how much money the tobacco industry gave the AMA over the years before that little scam fell apart ???


Just in time for Christmas... Gardasil 9

The Food and Drug Administration approved the company's Gardasil 9, which protects against nine strains of the virus called HPV, or human papillomavirus.


Dan Olmsted

Hi Ottoschnaut, I almost always agree with you. but i'm afraid i don't here, if i understand your point correctly. "Does anyone really buy the story that RS did not properly vet these explosive allegations very,very carefully before publication?" Yes, I buy that story! I don't see the basis for believing they got the story right but then somehow were forced to back off the truth. That's an unlikely scenario when human screw-ups that have been amply documented explain it quite convincingly. Best, Dan


One more:


excerpt from abstract (please note last two sentences):

"Vaccine. 2012 Apr 5;30(17):2715-27. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.015. Epub 2012 Feb 17.
Regulatory, biosafety and safety challenges for novel cells as substrates for human vaccines.
Hess RD1, Weber F, Watson K, Schmitt S.
Author information
In the development of novel substrates used for production of human vaccines there has been significant progress made in recent years. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases like the recent porcine Influenza A virus (H1N1) pandemic necessitated the availability of unprecedented amounts of vaccines. In addition, the high demand for vaccines in the industrialised countries has also been paralleled by a steep increase in demand in developing countries. The manufacturing capability for viral vaccines produced in embryonated hen eggs and conventional/classical cell substrates, such as chicken embryo fibroblasts, has now reached its capacity limit. This constraint may be overcome by utilising other recognised cell substrates such as Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) (dog origin), Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) (hamster cells) or Vero cells (monkey origin) or as an alternative, introduce new cell substrates of human or avian origin. Using new cell substrates may prove to be a highly replication-proficient way of producing live viral vaccines such as Influenza A viruses. Despite some advantages, cell substrates may pose a small residual risk to humans since some of them are known to be tumourigenic in immunosuppressed animals. However, this residual risk should be considered acceptable by regulators."


Re tumorigenic and animal cells used for vaccines. Here is another article re MMR from 2013. Note the inclusion of MDCK which includes tumorigenic cells:

"Acta Virol. 2013;57(2):91-6.
Overview of measles and mumps vaccine: origin, present, and future of vaccine production.
Betáková T1, Svetlíková D, Gocník M.
Author information
Measles and mumps are common viral childhood diseases that can cause serious complications. Vaccination remains the most efficient way to control the spread of these viruses. The manufacturing capability for viral vaccines produced in embryonated hen eggs and conventional/classical cell substrates, such as chicken embryo fibroblast or primary dog kidney cell substrates, is no longer sufficient. This limitation can be overcome by utilizing other recognized cell substrates such as Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK), Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO), Vero (monkey origin) cells, MRC-5 (human diploid) or as an alternative, introducing new cell substrates of human or avian origin. A very important factor in vaccine production is the safety and immunogenicity of the final vaccine, where the proper choice of cell substrate used for virus propagation is made. All substrates used in vaccine production must be fully characterized to avoid the contamination of hidden unknown pathogens which is difficult to achieve in primary cell substrates.
PMID: 23600866 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]"



People commented to voice their own opinion and also out of concern for you.

Re tumorigenic cells used in vaccine manufacture, Suzanne Humphries says (youtube) that they are used. A quick search turned up this from the FDA, but it talks the possibility of using them in flu vaccine manufacture:

"In September 2008, CBER convened its VRBPAC to engage in scientific discussion regarding the suitability of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney Cells, or MDCK cells, rather than eggs for the
manufacture of live attenuated influenza virus vaccine or LAIV. Detailed information concerning this meeting can be found at Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting – September 25, 2008 – Transcripts – Part 1 Part 2 Addendum.
Prior to the 2008 meeting, CBER also convened its VRBPAC in November 2005 to consider the use of MDCK cells for the manufacture of inactivated influenza vaccines. While some lines of
MDCK cells are not tumorigenic, others are highly tumorigenic. Thus, one goal of this meeting was for the Committee to comment on CBER’s approach to risk assessment of highly tumorigenic cell substrates. Information on this meeting can be found at


The following is a long paper that describes vaccine manufacture - well worth the time IMO. Below quote shows the MDCK cell lines were approved and are used. Tumorigenic cells are more cost effective and easier to use because they don't die, referred to as "continuous" cell lines as opposed to "finite". My understanding is that finite cell lines have to be replaced whereas continuous cell lines do not. Please see the paper for details and further information that is too extensive to post here:

"With appropriate characterization, tumorigenic cell lines such as MDCK for production of influenza vaccines and PER.C6 for vectored vaccines are therefore now acceptable [150]."


Viruses. Apr 2014; 6(4): 1672–1700.
Published online Apr 11, 2014. doi: 10.3390/v6041672
PMCID: PMC4014716
Matrix and Backstage: Cellular Substrates for Viral Vaccines


Rolling Stone screwed up all right and they are paying the price. To see them issue these craven groveling apologies makes me sick to my stomach. The former journalistic home of Hunter S. Thompson is reduced to this......spectacle.

Must disagree with Mr.Olmsted (OMG!!! don't "censor" me!) on a central point. RS is in the hot seat not because they got it wrong but more probably because they got it right.

A key assertion of the RS article (that oddly is ignored by the MSM) is that school officials denied at an alum meeting being on the list of schools being investigated by the feds for campus sexual culture, when, in fact, they are.

Does anyone really buy the story that RS did not properly vet these explosive allegations very,very carefully before publication? Of course they did. They have fact checkers and editors, and for them all to have dropped the ball simply is not a believable scenario. Now, the victim is being dragged through the mud. Sound familiar?

This disgusting episodes demonstrates the impotence of journalism when it takes on entrenched, monied interests. Anyone who has followed the Andrew Wakefield story, including the exoneration of Professor Walker-Smith, should smell a rat here.

Jenny Allan

Thanks Dan and AoA. Keep up the good work, exposing those unwelcome facts which the 'establishment' would rather keep hidden, and a press and media made compliant by the need for advertising revenues.

On a smaller scale, perhaps this is a good time to also remind AoA commenters about the differences between facts and opinions. I got a lot of stick over my decision to accept an annual flu jab, offered free in the UK to over 65s. My contention that an average 50% of prevailing flu strains are covered, provoked particular fury. I was told the vaccine is 'useless', less than 1% efficient. Hadn't I read the CDC's 'admission' about the 'uselessness' of this year's flu vax?

As a matter of fact I DID read the CDC's media release. They admitted some strains had mutated during the time taken to plan and manufacture the vaccine, but still insisted the vaccine would still provide good protection over the other vaccine strains, and would likely also provide a measure of protection over the mutated strains. This is a far cry from 'useless', and those persons persuading elderly relatives NOT to get vaccinated on a false premise of a complete lack of protection, are doing them a dis-service. In my age group it's NOT the flu that kills, but its aftermath, particularly those persons with heart disease, diabetes, and respiritory problems, all very common co-morbidities in the elderly.

Gorski, who never misses a chance to accuse AoA of being a 'den of quackery' devoted an article to this year's flu vax. He puts the efficacy at 57%, a bit optimistic perhaps, but far more accurate than what is being alleged here. Even the 'Natural News', very much anti-vaccine -puts the efficacy of this year's flu vax at 50%.

Another contentious vaccine issue is the ingredients. We hear a lot about about aborted foetuses, bits of pigs and the latest, (thankfully NOT on AoA), accusation of parts of cancer tumours, complete with a gruesome illustration. Having worked in a research lab I am aware human and animal tissues are used during the research processes, but the idea that these are put directly into vaccines is absurd. All this obscures the REAL vaccine concerns, particularly about the existence of retroviruses. This one has Offit shifting uncomfortably in his chair. His Rotateq vaccine is also known to cause twisted bowels in some young babies, a very dangerous condition requiring surgical correction.

BoB Moffitt

"Sensitive to handling a rape allegation and not further traumatizing the victim, putting their confidence in a writer with a good track record, and – perhaps – subject to a confirmation bias that frat boys at southern universities are capable of all manner of evil, they simply didn’t see the peril."

Unfotunately, what passes for today's "journalism" is far removed from what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote a Constitution that guaranteed "Freedom of the Press".

"Confirmation bias" is only one of the many flaws the have established deep roots throughout the profession of journalism. It is often called "advocacy journalism" .. and .. I suspect it is taught in the most prestigious journalism schools in the country as a replacement for the more troubling "investigative journalism" .. the bedrock of a profession which strived to present both sides of a controversial issue .. which is exactly what most editors and corporate CEO's prefer to avoid at all costs.

All one has to do is read Sharyl Attkisson's book "Stonewalled" to understand just how difficult it is for the truth to be told .. or .. Anne Daschal's "Cover-up" to understand .. as Anne asks .. "How and why the media is lying to the American public."

As Thomas Paine once said : "These are times that try men's souls ......

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