Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) lamented Tuesday that the “bad journalism” in Rolling Stone’s article on rape culture at the University of Virginia was hurting victims of sexual assault.
“I am saddened and angry because it is a setback for survivors in this country,” McCaskill said during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
The Missouri senator called the disputed magazine article, which detailed an alleged gang rape at a UVA fraternity house, “bad journalism.” Later reporting by the Washington Post had revealed that certain details of Rolling Stone’s story didn’t check out, leading some to speculate whether the subject of the article, Jackie, made the whole thing up.
“Our problem is not victims coming forward and embellishing. Our problem is victims are too frightened to come forward,” McCaskill said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also addressed the Rolling Stone controversy during the hearing, noting that some may consider the magazine’s backpedaling as a reason not to believe victims of sexual assault when they come forward.
“Clearly, we don’t know the facts of what did or didn’t happen in this case. But these facts have not changed: UVA has admitted that they have allowed students who have confessed to sexually assaulting another student to remain on campus,” Gillibrand said. “That is and remains shocking.”
She said she hoped the Rolling Stone article wouldn’t overshadow the stories of other students who come forward to report sexual assaults, or discourage them from coming forward in the first place.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.