In balancing a systematic critique on a single person’s story, Erdely essentially used a rightwing strategy to make a leftist point. The trouble is only that the right is skilled at this game, and correctly deduced that undoing Jackie’s story would go a long way to endangering Erdely’s larger structural point. It’s an opportunity they never should have been given, both for Jackie’s sake, and for the sake of the victims who really do find themselves struggling for protection within a hostile justice system.
In case you were wondering how the Rolling Stone rape story debacle was still somehow the right-wing’s fault, Stoker-Bruenig is here to bolster your faith. Amidst all the obfuscatory hand-waving, though, there’s a noticeable lack of two simple points. One, for deep-rooted psychological reasons, people will always grasp lessons better when they’re couched in compelling narratives as opposed to dry statistical analysis. (Progressives usually understand this, as evidenced by their almost-religious levels of faith in the dubious idea that reading novels makes you a better, more emotionally-intelligent person.) Rather than bemoaning that fact, perhaps you should simply make a stronger effort to tell the truth in your own narratives. Which leads us to the second point: fudging factual details in service to a “higher” truth is a bipartisan phenomenon, regardless of what partisan hacks will tell you to the contrary.
(Bonus third point: this post of Scott Alexander’s is a far more penetrating look at why partisans reliably choose the most sketchy stories to go to war over.)