September 18, 2017

"From a loft in San Francisco in 1967, a 21-year-old named Jann S. Wenner started a magazine that would become the counterculture bible for baby boomers."

"Rolling Stone defined cool, cultivated literary icons and produced star-making covers that were such coveted real estate they inspired a song. But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation. And so, after a half-century reign that propelled him into the realm of the rock stars and celebrities who graced his covers, Mr. Wenner is putting his company’s controlling stake in Rolling Stone up for sale, relinquishing his hold on a publication he has led since its founding."

The NYT reports.

I wonder how much they thought about that phrase "an unproven gang rape" and what alternatives they considered. To my ear, it sounds as though they're implying that there was a gang rape, but it just couldn't be proved. The story was completely debunked!
On January 12, 2015, Charlottesville Police Department officials told UVA that an investigation had failed to find any evidence confirming the events in the Rolling Stone article.... At the request of Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism agreed to audit the editorial processes that culminated in the article being published....

In light of the findings, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post pronounced the story "a complete crock". In the Columbia Journalism Review, Bill Grueskin called the story "a mess—thinly sourced, full of erroneous assumptions, and plagued by gaping holes in the reporting." The Columbia Journalism Review called the story "this year's media-fail sweepstakes" and the Poynter Institute named it as the "Error of the Year" in journalism.
The NYT has a separate article that's a tribute to the greatness of Rolling Stone over the years: "It filled its pages with the words of renowned writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe and Greil Marcus." Yes, it's very sad that we don't get journalism like that anymore. These days, I love reading old articles by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe. And I remember the day back in the 1960s, when I was in high school, I first saw the publication waved about by a classmate who acted like he had his hands on something very special. How important is this thing supposed to be?, I wondered. We already have Crawdaddy.

82 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

Rolling Stone joins Playboy as magazines that outlived their time.

I am Laslo.

rehajm said...

There's plenty of appropriate billionaires around willing throw money at a play thing. If not American Media/National Enquirer will be happy to buy a competitor in the checkout aisle.

tim in vermont said...

Yeah, a cover in the checkout line is a great way to do favors for the powerful.

rhhardin said...

It's perfectly good news, but just ran afoul of libel laws.

Narrative is the thing, not what happened.

It's an entertainment choice.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Almost Famous", Cameron Crowe's love letter to the earlier times of Rolling Stone, already has served as the magazine's eulogy.

From the movie:

"Lester Bangs explains it all.

Lester, of course, wrote for Creem.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who played Bangs, died a rock=and-roll death, sadly enough/

I am Laslo.

tcrosse said...

In Scottish law, 'Not Proven' is a possible verdict, not quite 'Guilty' but not exactly 'Not Guilty'. In practical terms, it means 'Get out of here, and don't do it again'.

Steve said...

To my best knowledge I have never in my life read an issue of Rolling Stone. It is an issue of supreme irrelavence to my life whether they continue or not or in what form.

Laslo Spatula said...

Sorry for the typ0s. Disorder that gives me Parkinson's symtoms.

Keyboard is a challenge today.

I am Laso.

MadisonMan said...

I guess Wenner missed the "Sell high" part of the motto. He should have sold 15 years ago.

I note that they were assessed almost $5M in damages in various lawsuits for the Rape Story. Yet no one was fired!

Ralph L said...

Claw
Craw
Caw?

John Lynch said...

My late father cancelled his subscription to Rolling Stone after reading another screed for gun control. He noted the irony that a publication that supposedly wanted to save lives was full of ads for cigarettes. He called them "merchants of death."

Laslo Spatula said...

"From a loft in San Francisco.."

I always wanted a loft.

The first step to havng the Bat Cave.

I am Laslo.

David Begley said...

"Unproven gang rape" is the way the NYT gloats over its victory over Governor Palin. You see the NYT has no obligation to read its own newspaper.

Darrell said...

Sorry for the typ0s. Disorder that gives me Parkinson's symtoms.

Try staring into a bright blue shirt or something--surrounding your head in it. The videos show remarkable results. You can give me unhelpful Lupus hints if it doesn't work out.

Martin said...

I question the much over-used word "bible," even in lower-case.

Influential, sure. But "bible?" I'm a boomer and I don't recall ANY of my friends or acquaintances ever saying or evidencing by their behavior that they viewed Rolling Stone as anything more than a magazine they liked (a lot, some of them). It tried very hard and in some minds succeeded in sharpening generational differences over culture and, when it got out of its proper wheelhouse, politics.

But I sure never saw anyone who thought of it as some sort of "bible," let alone "Bible."

Maybe it later became a "bible" to Gen X or Millennials or something, where I am not as familiar, but that's not what the article says.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Someone non-leftwing should buy it and save it.

Laslo Spatula said...

Rolling Stne covers help follow the arc......

1970's: John and Yoko. Abbie Hoffman. Captain Beefheart. Charles Manson. Bob Dylan. Doonesbury cast. Muhammad Ali.

1980s: Pat Benatar. Ringo Starr. Christine Brinkley. Culture Club. Madoona. Julian Lennon. Huey Lewis. Terence Trent D'arby. Ghostbusters II cast.

1990a" Tom Cruise. Johhny Depp. Jim Morrison???? Sebastian Bach. Spin Docotrs. Seinfeld cast. Beavis and Butthead. Beastie Boys. Melissa Etheridge. Jennifer Aniston. Jakob Dylan.

2000s: Backstreet Boys. Britney Spears. Jakob Dylan. Sopranos. Jennifer Love Hewitt. The Simpsons. Shania Twain. Lisa Marie Presley. The Olsen Twins. Lindsay Lohan. John Kerry.

2010s: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Try staring into a bright blue shirt or something--surrounding your head in it. The videos show remarkable results. You can give me unhelpful Lupus hints if it doesn't work out."

I'll try it. Why not?

Unfortunately no tips to give you...

I am Laslo.

narciso said...

This is something taranto has observed.

Owen said...

Laso(o) those typos, Laslo! We're with you here!

I loved how the NYT rewrote reality with "unproven rape story." These geniuses who agonize over every nuance could have said "mistaken,""erroneous,""disputed,""fake,"fraudulent,""debunked,""disproven,""unproven,""libelous" or just plain "wrong." And our English word-board holds many more possibilities. But they chose "unproven"? As in "we needed 50.01% of the evidence but we couldn't quite get there." In contrast with, "Erdely went shopping among many schools to get the 'facts' to juice up a story she had already written in her head and sold to a magazine living on the dregs of its Rock Star career and desperate for a big headline. When she got to UVA she met a former Obama White House activist for Title IX (which rests on a witch-hunting hysteria about campus rape) who steered her to a head case, whose facially absurd story was 'too good to check.' The rest is history."

That's what NYT was trying to say with "unproven."

EDH said...

It's been all downhill since David Cassidy's nude centerfold.

Ralph L said...

steered her to a head case, whose facial absurd story was 'too gooey to check.'

Ralph L said...

"archive.rollingstone.com took too long to respond."

Couldn't get to the Cassidy story.

Big Mike said...

I think the problem gets back to Sabrina Erdely wanting to be Hunter Thompson or Tom Wolfe, but lacking their work ethic and writing talent she had to go for bogus instead.

Robert Cook said...

"Lester Bangs explains it all."

I was a huge fan of Lester Bangs and read him in CREEM, ROLLING STONE, MUSICIAN, and wherever else he was published until the day he died. I even bought his 45" on ORK Records, ("Let It Blurt," backed with "Live") as well as the two albums he recorded, ("Jook Savages on the Brazos," credited to Lester Bangs and the Delinquents, and "Birdland," credited to Birdland, a band that included Joey Ramone's brother on guitar).

Robert Cook said...

"To my best knowledge I have never in my life read an issue of Rolling Stone. It is an issue of supreme irrelavence to my life whether they continue or not or in what form."

So...why did you even bother typing a comment?

Todd said...

Isn't that the mag that had that song written about it? I think it was also mentioned in the S.K. novel Firestarter.

Darrell said...

Why did YOU even bother to write a comment about that?

AllenS said...

To be used for informational purposes only --

To my best knowledge I have never in my life read an issue of Rolling Stone.

Sebastian said...

"To my best knowledge I have never in my life read an issue of Rolling Stone." Same here. I have, however, read many early-boomers claim that RS was great somehow, once upon a time. In the future, it will serve as data for a study of boomer nostalgia and self-importance.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

My university had a complete set of back issues and, flipping through those late '60's issues they absolutely reeked of the zeitgeist of their times. True historical documents. After about 1973, basically just a vehicle for advertising. if you want to be an icon instead of a whore you have to know when to call it a day. Of course, that's true of rock music in general.

Robert Cook said...

"Why did YOU even bother to write a comment about that?"

Because I'm always puzzled and curious why someone who never had any interest in a particular matter would be interested enough to declare their lack of interest in the matter in a discussion about the matter.

Quayle said...

When the counterculture bible becomes the de facto Bible, it isn't really counterculture any more, is it?

The counter-counterculture didn't bother even to point out to the counterculture that it was no longer the counterculture, it was the THE Culture.

So busy decrying and opposing The Man, they were blind to the fact that they became and were The Man.

Even FZ had it pegged way back when: I mean,
What's there to live for?

Big Mike said...

My university had a complete set of back issues and, flipping through those late '60's issues they absolutely reeked of the zeitgeist of their times.

Reeked? You mean they stank of marijuana smoke, stale Stroh's beer, and unwashed hippies?

bagoh20 said...

Having a copy of Rolling Stone was how a young person would try to project being an adult, and how adults tried to project being young, and how hacks tried to project being journalists. In other words, it was part of a costume. I dressed up like that myself for about a month in the 70's.

bagoh20 said...

The rape story was in fact proven - proven to be a fraud, so "unproven" is just wrong. RS kinda has a thing for being wrong.

The problem with Rolling Stone is that it gathered too much moss.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"The counter-counterculture didn't bother even to point out to the counterculture that it was no longer the counterculture, it was the THE Culture.

So busy decrying and opposing The Man, they were blind to the fact that they became and were The Man."

Exactly. Rock stars have revealed themselves to be good little statists. If they are British, odds are they have a knighthood.

But rich musicians and actors still cling to the conceit that they are anti-Establishment.

John Tuffnell said...

Obligatory reference about having to be scrounging your next meal

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Rolling Stone lost Boston in July 2013 with the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cover. They keep sending it, but it goes straight to recycling.

Ray said...

It's really google fault.

Goggle sucked up most of the advertising dollars.

glenn said...

Bagoh hit the nail right on the head. Part of a costume, in a long running play.

exiledonmainstreet said...

The most entertaining thing I've read in RS in recent years had to be their article about the 5 Most Dangerous Guns, written by someone who clearly knew next to nothing about guns. Number 5 was: Derringer.

The comments were hilarious. I was surprised that RS didn't delete them.

Howard said...

Blogger Robert Cook said... "To my best knowledge I have never in my life read an issue of Rolling Stone. It is an issue of supreme irrelavence to my life whether they continue or not or in what form."
So...why did you even bother typing a comment?
Right wing virtue signalling. Everything they accuse the left of, the righties do in spades. As you can tell, whenever Robert Cook posts something slightly to the left of Genghis Khan, there is always a few whiny responses because the cucks got their safe space breached.

Professional lady said...

Maybe Steve wrote his comment to point out that RS is not as influential and relevant as claimed in the article.

Curious George said...

"Robert Cook said...
So...why did you even bother typing a comment?"

Why did you type this?

I picked up my first Rolling Stone the other day in the doctors office. It had a front cover, back cover, and maybe six pages in between. Seemed about right.

rcocean said...

Howard - quit whining and stay on topic.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bay Area Guy said...

AA: "These days, I love reading old articles by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe."

Me too. I used to buy Rolling Stone, read the articles, and post the covers on my dorm walls as mini-posters!

The problem is leftism. Once RS went full leftist, it lost its magic.

Don't forget PJ O'Rourke -- I loved him too.

Anonymous said...

Rolling Stone was founded on the premise (and conceit) that the counter-cultural movement of the 1960's was an important historical, cultural, artistic, and spiritual movement movement. A modern Renaissance, if you would. And RS was there in real time, making proclamations, declaring the latest masterpieces from super genius rock musicians, publishing interviews with the latest oracle and so forth. They have never recanted that dopey, delusional stupidity. The writing was good, but palpably self-righteous. Unfortunately, the only big thing that persists from that era is the anarchic, self-destructive (Abbie Hoffman) hippie political wing, which is now mainstream democrat party- Antifa, OccupyWhatever, BLM.

I bought my last copy in the nineties when they stopped running PJ Orourke articles.

AllenS said...

Serious question. Were there any pictures of naked women in RS?

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

LOL. I'll signal my virtue by claiming to only read Rolling Stone at the doctors office if the other choices were People, Us and Elle. I think I did read some of their anti gun stuff, but it was like drinking syrup of ipecac. Never understood why anyone needed a stoner writer to tell us if music was good or not.

FullMoon said...

This guy destroys the Rape Story, and the author, and Rolling Stone, including almost 500 comments from readers.

Rolling Stone Rape story destroyed

bgates said...

slightly to the left of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was more successful at uniting nations than the United Nations, he favored unlimited immigration (of Mongols), he amassed more wealth for his family than Chavez and Castro combined, and he may have caused more death than Stalin and Mao put together. How could you get to the left of a guy like that?

Nonapod said...

Allow me to signal my right wing virtue by also chiming in that I haven't read Rolling Stone since sometime in the mid 90s.

One of my theories as to why so many left leaning cultural institutions like Rolling Stone ultimately fail is that people don't like feeling like they're being surreptitiously preached to, even when they happen to agree with what they're being preached to about.

Politics touches everything and politics ruin everything it touches.

Brookzene said...

I was young enough. I read and could see Bob Dylan's take and thought "Oh, yeah. This is mostly superficial, not relevant."

Reviews of records I really liked were always worth reading and sometimes got to sneer like a kid. Then more and more was just infotainment, inextricable from tv culture, had to move it out and away from me.

Robert Cook said...

To the degree Rolling Stone is "failing"--is it?--it is likely more to do with the decline in magazine readership in general. In fact, here in NYC, many newsstands have gone out of business entirely, or have changed into little non-newstand general stores. About the only places one can find magazines now are in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Where are magazines sold outside NYC?

AllenS said...

Wide range of magazines in convenience stores.

tonyg said...

Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Paul Williams, Lester Bangs - those guys could really write.

RS lost me when they trashed "Christmas and the beads of sweat" by Laura Nyro. I still remember this sentence in their review: "She would be nowhere without Nina Simone". I thought WTF?

Quayle said...

Ha ha! Their medium is dying.

Michael said...

The rape story was important in many ways not least of which was the gullibility of the press proving itself incapable of even the slightest skepticism of a tale that was so obviously false that debunking it could have been done in an afternoon. The single detail needed to give away the lie was the bit about the glass table. Anyone anywhere who has been in a fraternity or even visited a fraternity house would know that a glass table has never been present in one. Ever. This single ludicrous detail should have been enough.

Michael said...

Robert Cook: The only place anywhere to buy magazines today is Barnes and Noble. Hopefully they keep it up.

Darrell said...

And in grocery stores--the supermarket variety.

Birkel said...

Funny how Leftist business models fail and the Robert Cooks of the world are here to help us understand that it is not the fault of Leftist politics. ESPN will be fascinated by this Robert Cook Hot Take (RCHT).

RCHT: Universities that have spasms of Leftist violence are not losing students due to the Leftist violence.

RCHT: Communism will work if only the right people are in charge.

RCHT: Venezuela was doing socialism right a decade ago. It is not clear what happened in the last ten years to derail the economic miracle that is socialism.

RCHT: Billionaires buying newspapers and periodicals shows that the Leftist business model is working.

MadisonMan said...

BTW -- I note that the link to the RS Rape at UVA article (here) now has a preamble that says the story "centered around a ... student's horrifying account", a preamble signed by the Managing Editor.

A center is a point. You cannot center around it. You can only center on it. Basic Journalist skill violated by the Managing Editor.

Birkel said...

MadisonMan

But Rolling Stone proved it can circle the wagons around the center of their story. So give them that much credit.

Also, they proved they can right checks for judgments from lawsuits about their false stories.

n.n said...

NYT continues to repeat partisan myths, form close associations, then plead ignorance in the pursuit of profit and social progress.

Birkel said...

write checks... damn

buwaya said...

"The rape story was important in many ways not least of which was the gullibility of the press"

There was no gullibility in it. It was engineered by political operators in order to drum up female/feminist turnout in the 2016 elections. They went looking for the worst atrocity story they could find. The story was not pre-written, but the treatment was pre-determined and the activists went looking for facts that would suit the purpose.

The MSM was not just on-board and sympathetic, but were part of the PR campaign rollout. None of this was spontaneous, this was all planned and organized.

The big error was that the activists and the reporter were deceived by a petty hoax, that sounded too good (for their political purposes) to question. The ground-level operators were incompetent.

gerry said...

I note that they were assessed almost $5M in damages in various lawsuits for the Rape Story. Yet no one was fired!

I think they are all about to be layed off...

Quayle said...

"I note that they were assessed almost $5M in damages in various lawsuits for the Rape Story. Yet no one was fired!

I think they are all about to be layed off..."


That's true socialism, for ya! Socialist to the end.

Big Mike said...

@buwaya, I think there's more than a grain of truth in what you say. Before " Jackie" there really had been a horrific rape there in Charlottesville. A UVa coed named Hannah Graham had gone out drinking alone, had gotten herself barely-able-to-walk drunk (per videocams), climbed into a cab driven by a black man, and was never seen alive again. But there was no way to use her case to bash the campus administration, no way to bash the Charlottesville police, and no way to bash the Greek system. So Jackie it was.

Robert Cook said...

"Funny how Leftist business models fail and the Robert Cooks of the world are here to help us understand that it is not the fault of Leftist politics"

What "leftist business model" is being followed, and by whom? Rolling Stone? Hahahaha!

Etienne said...

As a no talent musician (always giving up), I think my youth was defined by my morning sickness response to reading anything about musicians, or people who exploit them.

Jann Wenner and his magazine pretty much was the guide to everything wrong with America. If you read the rag, you could follow the enemies of civilization, and be in direct contact with the people who will do anything for a buck.

There is a reason the tribe promoting usury still exists. People with no principles will make a loan with them, and the next thing you know, your daughter burns her bra, and your wife goes to Santa Fe to paint rocks and blow her money on expensive real estate (with interest).

If you want to know what's wrong with America, look no further than the abortion called the Hall of Fame. Can you imagine a musician who's goal in life is to be famous? No, a musicians goal in life is to have groupies and make enough money to afford the drugs and the friends that will kill you before age 27 and ...that's all right mamma...she ain't no good for you...

The best thing that could happen would be for the 60's and Rock and Roll to just fucking die.

All I know about Rock and Roll is taken from Billboard magazine. Every week I would learn how to exploit musicians, and there was no political bullshit to wade through. There was no reason to put a dress on the pig, which was the music industry, their unions, and copyright law.

Etienne said...

Jann Wenner won't let the Monkeys be in the Hall of Fame. He said they were actors, and not musicians.

Give me a break. 90% of the music coming out of LA and Detroit was manufactured by professional musicians for the exploited kids and their bands.

Even the Beach Boys used Union musicians to record the music for them. Glen Campbell probably made them what they are, as he was born with a guitar pick in his hand.

buwaya said...

The contacts between the parties involved in organizing the story and its media coverage are just too convenient. It all goes back to the Obama administration, indeed, directly to the White House.

http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/08/how-deep-is-this-education-officials-involvement-in-the-rolling-stone-hoax/

The Director of the the DOE Office of Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, was working with an activist at Charlottesville, Emily Renda. Emily Renda had been to the White House six times prior to the story breaking. Renda had been appointed to the "White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault" in Jan 2014.

Emily Renda had, indeed, cited a disguised version of the story in Congressional testimony. Renda and Lhamon testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members. The falsehoods were out there pre-Rolling Stone.

Susan Erdeley was put in contact with Emily Renda by her DOE contacts.

In a away, Rolling Stone and Erdeley were fall guys, tools, taking the blame for a Democratic Party get-out-the-vote PR plan, believing it was making use of an especially egregious atrocity.

Bob Boyd said...

"Where are magazines sold outside NYC?"

Gun shops.

JaimeRoberto said...

The unproven gang rape at UVa is a lot like the unproven pedophilia ring in the the NYT editorial board except the UVa case has been debunked.

Unknown said...

The Beach Boys were competent musicians as you can hear on their first two albums and then later in the post Pet Sounds era. They were not, however, the best musicians in LA(*), whom Brian could hire to lay down tracks while the band toured (playing their own instruments) and brought in more money.

The Monkees are an interesting case. They certainly *became* a band, and wrote and performed some of their own songs even during their prefab period..

(*) Brian did continue to use Carl in the studio when he was in town.

Birkel said...

Robert Cook intones that there are no true Scotsmen.

William said...

Shailene whatever her name intoned that she never watches television. I watch lots of television, but I rarely listen to popular or current music. I don't think not listening to Miley or Britney has In any way diminished my life......I've thumbed through Rolling Stone on occasion. Do people really need music reviews to help them decide which music to like?......Why would anyone pay top dollar to buy a magazine they customarily read when you can buy it for a fraction of that by subscribing.

Big Mike said...

What "leftist business model" is being followed, and by whom?

Venezuela, by Maduro. North Korea, by Kim Jung-Un. Need more, Cookie?