Rolling Stone’s Parent Co. Responded to Murdoch’s NY Post, Ignored Request For Comment

After our story about Rolling Stone was published on Thursday evening, #BoycottRollingStone began trending on Twitter and hit #2 nationally. We had sent Rolling Stone’s political editor an extensive letter earlier in the week asking questions about Roger and Jay Penske asking for comment, as well as their writer, Seth Hettena, who had contacted MeidasTouch regarding what they exposed as a potential hit piece. But they didn’t respond by the time we needed to go to press, nor afterward. Their eventual public statement danced around the elephant in the room, the deep and sustained financial ties between the Saudi monarchy and Rolling Stone’s parent company.

Because the story gained traction online, a representative of Penske Media Corporation and not a member of Rolling Stone’s team went to Rupert Murdoch’s paper, the New York Post, to complain about our reporting, rather than contact us. It was a classic use of the public relations maneuver known as the Friday news dump, where a group avoiding publicity wants to be published during the least read time in online publishing.

“Rolling Stone’s rebuttal,” wrote the Post, “focused solely on The Hill Reporter’s claims that a yet-to-be-published piece on MeidasTouch, a left-leaning political action committee focused on stopping Trump’s reelection, was politically motivated.”

Below is the statement released by Penske Media Company to the Post about our reporting, which contains the claim that Seth Hettena is an “award-winning journalist,” despite failing to answer our question about what awards he has won (because we couldn’t find any) or any other question we posed:

“The attacks being made against Rolling Stone’s journalistic integrity and our reporter are entirely unfounded and false,” said Brooke Jaffe, a spokeswoman for Rolling Stone parent Penske Media Corp. “Rolling Stone’s journalists pursue the truth and hold power to account without input from anyone outside our editorial staff. Any notion that Rolling Stone is pro-Trump is demonstrably false, as a review of our coverage would reveal. No tactics will persuade us from pursuing our core mission: to deliver the news responsibly to our audience.”  

Our reporting drew attention to something that is effectively hidden in plain sight but hadn’t been broadcasted widely.  We stand by our story, as we only shared the facts about the Penskes and Seth Hettena that are readily available on the internet to anyone, and have been for some time.

In fact, much of our reporting was based on articles from Penske Media outlets and Rolling Stone itself.

Grant Stern contributed to this story.

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