- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2015

Actor and comedian Ed Helms blasted Rolling Stone magazine in a commencement speech Friday at the University of Virginia, following a now-retracted article about a gang rape on campus that has landed the magazine in a defamation lawsuit.

“It has been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss,” Mr. Helms told graduates. “I would add that sometimes a rolling stone also gathers no verifiable facts or even the tiniest morsels of journalistic integrity.”

The university is suing Rolling Stone for more than $7.5 million following a November article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, titled “A Rape on Campus,” which was found to be deeply flawed and was eventually retracted. On Friday, Mr. Helms praised graduates for not letting the magazine define them.

“Rolling Stone tried to define you this year,” he said. “As a result, not only was this community thrown deep into turmoil, but the incredibly important struggle to address sexual violence on campuses nationwide was suddenly more confusing than ever and needlessly set back.

“This community didn’t fall for the fallacy that just because Rolling Stone was wrong everything here must be perfectly peachy,” Mr. Helms continued. “You all had the courage to understand you can be outraged at Rolling Stone and still ask yourselves hard questions: if sexual violence does occur in our community, do we have the best possible protocols and resources available to our students? And UVA is charging forward to answer those questions and you should be proud of that.”

“The Office” star also discussed the way the media has covered events like the Baltimore riots, criticizing reporters like Erin Burnett and Wolf Blitzer for using words like “thug.” “The reductive labels aren’t helping,” he said.

“We’re all guilty of this,” Mr. Helms said. “How many times do we label someone with our first impressions only to be proven wrong? The tattooed motorcycle guy who turns out to be a teddy bear, the buttoned-up co-worker who actually knows how to party, or the mousy librarian who takes off her glasses to reveal she’s a bloodthirsty alien from a distant galaxy.”

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