In reviewing Vanessa Grigoriadis‘s new book on campus sexual assault, Michelle Goldberg credits the author for some fine reporting. “Her kaleidoscopic tour through the campus sexual assault controversy, which begins and ends with Sulkowicz, introduces readers to rape victims-turned-activists, faux-worldly sorority sisters, young men who say their lives were destroyed by false accusations and the college administrators struggling to enforce rapidly changing rules and norms,” writes Goldberg about the book, “
The book, however, bungles certain important things, according to the review. It’s “too sloppy with the facts to succeed”; it contains occasional “baffling errors that threaten to undermine her entire book”; it contains “other puzzling statements”; it contains still other “inaccuracies” that are “smaller, but still jarring.” More: “The mistakes in ‘Blurred Lines’ offer easy justification to anyone who wants to dismiss it.” And yet more: “But if you’re going to challenge people’s preconceptions, you have to have your facts straight. ‘Blurred Lines’ gives readers too many reasons not to trust it, even when perhaps they should.”
That assessment, as it turns out, may well apply to the book review, too, to judge from the correction that the New York Times has formulated:
Correction: September 14, 2017
An earlier version of this review referred incorrectly to Vanessa Grigoriadis’s reporting for her book. She did in fact write about Department of Justice statistics that say college-age women are less likely than nonstudent women of the same age to be victims of sexual assault; it is not the case that Grigoriadis was unaware of the department’s findings. In addition, the review described incorrectly Grigoriadis’s presentation of statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. She showed that there is disagreement over whether the data are sound; it is not the case that she gave the reader “no reason to believe” they are wrong.
Before proceeding any further, we pause to credit the New York Times for what appears to be a full-throated correction. We have contacted Grigoriadis to see if there are other issues with the review.
Considering that the review rips the book on factual grounds while at the same time failing on this front, we asked New York Times book-review chief Pamela Paul whether there was any consideration of scrapping — retracting — the whole thing and starting anew. “So what’s the rub here?” we asked. Her reply: “We ran the correction as we normally would do when a correction is warranted, and the review stands as corrected. No rub!”