Politics, current events and the failures of the mainstream news media.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The sanctimonious railroading of Joe Paterno
If there is one thing we have come to expect from the press its that when it comes to almost any big story they will miss what's important and what matters in place of those who will seize the opportunity for their own self-serving, sanctimonious, self-righteous reasons to try and make a name for themselves.
That is exactly what is going on now with the phony moralistic and imbecilic calls by factually challenged sportswriters and other journalists, not exactly known for their ability to think in the first place, for Joe Paterno the coach of Penn State football, to resign or be fired over a child abuse scandal involving a former defensive coach at Penn State.
The fact that, based on all the facts presently known, Paterno did nothing wrong, not in any imaginable way, doesn't stop the sanctimonious, self-righteous pseudo-moralistic members of the press from piling on over an issue for which they feel safe in piling on.
Here is what we and self-serving sports writers like Andy Staples for Sports Illustrated, Bob Ford, and others know. We and they know we don't have all the facts but that the prosecutors and grand jury do. We and they know that the grand jury, the body who does have all the facts, handed down indictments, one involving the abuser and two involving two Penn State officials who were charged with perjury for covering up one of the incidents and were indicted for failure to report sexual abuse. After hearing all the evidence including testimony by Joe Paterno, the grand jury did not indict Joe Paterno for anything.
Based on all the facts at the grand jury's disposal Paterno did nothing wrong. And the Pennsylvania State Attorney General said as much as well.
But if you want to pretend youre a moral hero, if you are self-serving and sanctimonious and looking to beat your chest about something, that isnt good enough. That also wont sell newspapers, get TV ratings, or get website hits the way going after a figure like Joe Paterno would. And the justification by these factually challenged journalists who are trying to do something journalists have proved they are incapable of doing in the first place -- think -- is that while Paterno did nothing criminally wrong he was morally wrong in not reporting what he heard to the police.
The problem with that is the need to answer the question, "heard what"?
Perhaps these journalists are not aware that it is in fact a crime -- a felony -- to know about child abuse and not report it. We have seen that repeatedly with the serial and institutional child sexual abuse in the Catholic church. We know that those in the hierarchy of the church who knew about the abuse by priests and did nothing are being held accountable.
The grand jury, the only body in possession of all the facts ( and the indictment is NOT all the facts - only evidence and testimony given to the grand jury contains all the facts and that is secret) decided that Paterno is blameless and committed no crime. At the same time the grand jury indicted two Penn State officials for not doing what the sanctimonious is saying Joe Paterno also didnt do but should have -- report abuse. So with no facts to support it a group of self appointed self-rightous journalists posing as moralists are calling for Paterno to be fired.
According to them Paterno should be fired for not doing what the grand jury held Paterno blameless for not doing -- going to the police with nothing.
The incident in question was witnessed by an assistant coach who actually saw the abuse take place. This coach - an eyewitness -- did NOT go to the police with what he saw but the press is giving him a pass anyway. Why? Because he is not a big fish. Because he is not going to embellish anyone's reputation. Because pointing the finger at him is not going allow sanctimonious journalists to stick out their chests the way the morally sanctimonious always do. Going after the person who actually the saw the abuse and did nothing but who is a lowly assistant coach wouldn't put a feather in the cap of those like Andy Staples, Bob Ford, or the editorial writers of the Philadelphia Daily News. Going after the witness who did nothing doesnt allow them to strut their "moral superiority" but going after Paterno gives them the opportunity to say, "look ma, I'm a hero".
So they go after Paterno, who according to his testimony and public statement had no details or specifics of what this coach saw because the coach never told him. This is an excerpt from Paterno's statement:
" He ( McCreary, the eyewitness) at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report:".
The grand jury investigation which included calling McCreary as a witness as well as Paterno and the two Penn State officials eventually indicted, concluded Paterno's statement was the truth and that Paterno fullfilled all his obligations in reporting what he knew to the Penn State Athletic Director and not the police.
But that still isn't enough for the railroading press. According to them Paterno should have gone to the police anyway. But they never say with what. An incident he didn't see and for which he had no details or specifics? What exactly was he supposed to say to the police? The sanctimonious in the press calling for Paterno's dismissal never say.
The mother of the boy who was sexually abused by Sandusky issued a public statement yesterday. In it she said that Sandusky in 1998 "admitted to my face - he admitted it", that he had sexually abused her son. She said in the same statement that Sandusky admitted the abuse to her again in 2002. What did the mother do? Nothing. Did she go to the police with this specific admission? No. But Paterno was supposed to with none of the facts the mother had.
So we have an assistant coach who actually witnessed the incident but didn't report it to the police and the mother of the victim who was told twice over a 4 year span by the abuser himself that he had abused her son and neither went to the police. But Paterno, who didn't have a fraction of the information those two had, and didnt have a fraction of the moral responsibility of the boy's own mother,was supposed to do more than the boy's own mother did. And should be fired for not doing so.
McCreary and the boy's mother are clearly the ones who should have gone to the police but they are given a pass by the press because there is no money or moral superiority to be had by going after them. But going after Paterno who didn't know a thing about any specific act of abuse, well, that's a gold mine.
The justification being used for attacking Paterno is that while he may have done nothing wrong criminally he was morally wrong in not reporting it to the police. Again, these factually challenged journalists are oblivious to the fact that what they say is morally wrong -- not reporting it to the police -- is also criminally wrong. To restate the facts, not reporting child abuse is a felony. The fact that the grand jury didnt indict Paterno for not reporting abuse to police while indicting two Penn State officials for that very thing, is proof that those in possession of all the facts decided that there was nothing Paterno should have done that he didnt do.
With the press when it comes to controversy its always about cowardice and what they think they can get away with to sell newspapers, get ratings or website hits as long as they feel safe against retribution. They had nothing to say about irrefutable evidence that Bush lied the country into war but they got real tough with Anthony Weiner over a picture of his underwear. They put Joe Paterno's picture on the front page of the Philadephia Daily News with the word "Shame" in huge type but never a picture of the present Pope with the same word after we learned that the present Pope had known about the Wisconsin priest who sexually abused over 400 deaf children over 20 years and did nothing.
Sandusky no doubt will get what's coming to him if he is guilty. Its too bad the same cant be said about journalists like Andy Staples, Bob Ford and the rest of the press especially those at ESPN who threw due process, common sense, facts and journalistic integrity out the window for their own self-serving reasons. But one can always hope.
NOTE: This morning on ESPN, Karl Ravich an ESPN anchor made an inadvertent but stunning admisson that bears out the premise of this peice. Ravich pointed out that all of the media attention is being focused on Joe Paterno, and almost forgotten is Jerry Sandusky, the person actually indicted for engaging in the sexual abuse. Ravich made the point that while Sandusky will eventually have his day in court, for now they can't advance the story using Sandusky so all the attention is being focused on Joe Paterno. Obviously to, as Ravich said, advance the story.And milk it. At Joe Paterno's expense. And their own self-aggrandizement.