Bozell & Graham Column: Rolling Stone, Sacred Text of the Left?

November 11th, 2017 7:00 AM

On November 9, Rolling Stone magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first issue, published in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. True to form, liberal journalists – who claim to care so deeply about the menace of fake reporting – honored founder Jann Wenner and dismissed as insignificant the magazine’s 2015 “A Rape on Campus” scandal about the University of Virginia. 

On November 5, CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley gushed over Wenner as “the rock star of publishing,” and then minutes later, upgraded the flattery to “perhaps the most influential rock star on the planet.” 

Out of nearly nine minutes, CBS correspondent Anthony Mason spent less than a minute on the fake-rape story. He asked “How much did UVA hurt the magazine?” Wenner said “A little.” Mason pushed back, and Wenner complained it was “one incident” in fifty years. “I think that the people who were in charge of this at the time, you know, let certain standards slide. Were it not for this one woman who fabricated – that was golden, that was a great story.” Had both the interviewer and interviewee yawned at this point, it would have done justice to the mood.

“This one woman” was the center of the story, which became a national outrage about gang-raping fraternity boys. It turns out Rolling Stone didn’t even get to Square One, attempting to check if there was a party at the Phi Alpha Psi frat house on the night in question. There wasn’t. That’s why they had to fork over $1.6 million in damages.

Put yourself in the shoes of those innocent young men, accused of such a heinous crime, found guilty by such a powerful magazine, and soundly condemned by a nation. $1.6 million does not begin to erase the humiliation.   

NBC’s Today interviewed Wenner and didn’t even bring up the subject. Matt Lauer was more interested in asking “what are you most proud of, in terms of a social issue that you got ahead of?” How about rape on campus? At least Lauer asked about the Rolling Stone cover that glamorized Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, then asked “Was that your biggest do-over? Or are there some others?” Wenner volunteered the UVA story, that “we got, you know, really duped.” So it just wasn't their fault. How's that for taking responsibility?

ABC’s Good Morning America aired a story on Rolling Stone and a new Jann Wenner biography on October 20, which never whispered a word about the fake-rape story as it gushed over a nude cover photo of Partridge Family star David Cassidy in 1972.

Despite being exposed as an unreliable source of lies and character assassination, almost every liberal-media notice started with comparing Rolling Stone to the Holy Bible. This suggests that they’re all eager lackeys of the hippie magazine’s public-relations staff. CBS began with “It’s been the cultural Bible of baby boomers for half a century.” NBC also called it “the cultural Bible for baby boomers.” The New York Times used “shiny entertainment-industry bible.”A few weeks ago, the Times headline was “Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale.”

If Rolling Stone represents the “sacred text” of the Sixties-mythologizing Left, then that’s a sad indictment. But it’s obvious that the magazine was part of transforming the “counterculture” into the “culture.” Its revered status as a cultural "agent of change" seems to be a major reason why the media elites grant them a pass on smearing entire universities.

And with that, let's return to those media lectures about the need for honest and competent journalism.