In the wake of Rolling Stone’s apology and admission that its controversial article on the alleged campus gang rape of “Jackie” contained “discrepancies,” here’s a double whammy from the Washington Post and Zerlina Maxwell. In an opinion piece published Saturday, Maxwell, a lawyer, challenges the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” concluding, “In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says.”
Again, remember that Maxwell’s words were published under the headline, “No matter what Jackie said, we should automatically believe rape claims.” Those who aren’t in the newspaper business should note that writers in most cases have little or no say in the headlines that accompany their work. The blowback against the piece, though, inspired someone at the Washington Post to quietly change the headline to read, “generally believe rape claims” — a significant alteration that slipped past no one.