‘Rolling Stone’ Editor Accused of Covering Up Child Porn Accusations

On October 18th, 2022, Rolling Stone published a shocking story about how an ABC News national security reporter and producer had their home raided by the FBI, and disappeared shortly thereafter. “Exclusive: Emmy-winning ABC News producer James Gordon Meek had his home raided by the FBI. His colleagues say they haven’t seen him since,” is how the article was sold.

James Gordon Meek was a former investigator for the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee who went to work for ABC News in 2013. The Rolling Stone article praised Meek for his combative and tough-nosed journalism style, while also implying that his arrest appeared to be a gross overreach by the United States government to persecute a journalist for allegedly possessing classified documents.

“Meek appears to be on the wrong side of the national-security apparatus,” the Rolling Stone story said. The article created shock waves of concern across the media and political world, with the story being reported by scores of others outlets citing Rolling Stone as the source.

However, the Editor-in-Chief of Rolling Stone has now been accused of doctoring the story to overplay the angle of governmental overreach, and to hide the true reason James Gordon Meek’s home was raided, namely that Meek was under federal investigation for being in possession of images depicting child sex abuse. Rolling Stone‘s Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman is reported to be a close professional acquaintance of James Gordon Meek.

An NPR Investigation into the article revealed how Rolling Stone reporter Tatiana Siegel found out about the April 2022 raid from neighbors of James Gordon Meek in September of 2022, and began pursuing the story. As part of her investigative work, Siegel found out that the raid was due to a federal investigation over child pornography.

However, Noah Shachtman stepped into act as editor of the story, even though that would normally not be part of Shachtman’s day-to-day duties. Shachtman discouraged Tatiana Siegel from mentioning child pornography in the article, and also discouraged the use of a photo of James Gordon Meek as the cover image, instead wanting to use a stock photo of an FBI raid.

According to NPR’s sources, Noah Shachtman then used the occasion of Tatiana Siegel’s mother dying to make critical edits to the story before publishing it without her knowledge or consent, completely ignoring the child pornography angle, and playing up the angle of government persecution of an investigative journalist. Tatiana Siegel was said to be infuriated when she saw the story published online. Siegel’s mother passed away hours after the Rolling Stone story was published.

Shachtman is also accused of adding to the story afterwards and amending the publishing date to October 24th after the editor’s previous outlet, Daily Beast, published an article pouring cold water on Rolling Stone‘s characterization of events. “After the story ran—and as Tatiana’s family emergency continued—Noah added a quote from a Justice Department spokesperson to the piece without consulting Tatiana,” Rolling Stone‘s parent company Penske Media confirmed in a statement. “He takes responsibility for that.”

But that is all Penske Media and Noah Shachtman are taking responsibility for, claiming that the reason they edited out the child porn accusation was due to not enough information being available at that time—something reporter Tatiana Siegel refuted. After the dispute over the story, Siegel moved to Variety, which is also owned by Penske Media.

On January 31, 2023, James Gordon Meek was formally arrested and charged with transporting child pornography. The FBI Affidavit claims that Meek wrote to someone, “Have you ever raped a toddler girl? It’s amazing.” Meek is also accused of sharing a video showing the rape of an infant girl. The judge in the case denied bail to Meek, and cited that the former ABC employee appeared to be engaging in the “grooming process.” Meek is currently in jail awaiting trial.

Meanwhile, the case of James Gordon Meek is yet another blow against the credibility of Rolling Stone, especially under the leadership of Noah Shachtman.

After taking the reigns of Rolling Stone in July of 2021, Shachtman presided over numerous lapses in journalistic integrity before going on a media charm offensive to explain his new strategy for the legacy media outlet. In a feature in The Washington Post, Shachtman said his approach to journalism will be “more immediate, more visceral.” In an interview with Media Masters, he said his approach will be “faster, louder, harder.” But not only do these philosophies run counter to all recognized tenets of responsible journalism, they have resulted in multiple high profile cases of false reporting like the ones involving James Gordon Meek.

For example, there was the September 3rd, 2021 story from Rolling Stone titled, “Gunshot Victims Left Waiting as Horse Dewormer Overdoses Overwhelm Oklahoma Hospitals, Doctor Says,” with the photo of masked individuals waiting in a line in coats, even though it was supposed to be about an incident that occurred in Oklahoma in the summer. Not only was the story widely debunked and patently false, it was implausible to begin with. But as the Washington Post said in their deconstruction of the incident, the story was just “too good to check.”

On numerous occasions, Rolling Stone was also part of the false media claim that high profile podcaster Joe Rogan took horse dewormer when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Though there was never any truth to the matter (Rogan received an off-label prescription for the human version of Ivermectin that has been prescribed billions of times worldwide), it was a juicy, clickbait headline, and “too good to check.”

Shachtman Rolling Stone strategy hit close to home in country music when the outlet falsely claimed that Morgan Wallen failed to meet his commitment of donating $500,000 to black charities after he was caught using the N-word on camera. Rolling Stone reported Wallen had only donated $165,000 of the promised amount, but both Saving Country Music and USA Today were able to independently verify that Morgan Wallen had indeed donated $400,000 to various charities, and later donated the final $100,000 to the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville.

Noah Shachtman prides himself in “taking down” musicians, actors, politicians, and other public figures with scathing articles questioning their character and attempting to whip the public up into frenzies. But in the case of his colleague James Gordon Meek, Shachtman helped run interference for Meek in a way that once again undermines the credibility of a publication that has major implications in the music realm, and an Editor-In-Chief who often prioritizes breathless and sensationalized reporting over dispassionate fact-based truth finding.

© 2024 Saving Country Music