Rollingstone magazine has reached a settlement deal with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia in the amount of $1.65 million dollars. The law suit stemmed from the now infamous “fake news” story back in November of 2014 entitled “A Rape on Campus.” The fraternity had sought $25 million. This settlement is in addition to the $3 million dollars awarded to Nicole Eramo, a University of Virginia administrator, who was defamed by the article. Plus, there is still an appeal pending by three individual members of the fraternity who are also seeking millions in damages to their reputations.
In a gesture of good will, it is reported that the fraternity plans to donate “a significant portion” of the settlement to groups that offer sexual assault awareness education, prevention training and victim counseling services on college campuses.
The magazine chose to fight these lawsuits for years, despite the story being completely debunked by a Columbia Journalism School report.
The legal costs of defending the various lawsuits, and the settlement costs, may have contributed to Wenner Media selling a 49% stake in the iconic American brand to BandLab Technologies, a Singapore-based music company back in September of 2016, and US Weekly to the National Enquirer in March of 2017.
If only they had hired a good fact checker. Or simply admitted their mistake and apologized right away.