Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New facts continue to make a mockery of media attacks on Joe Paterno.

Ted Koppel, the respected television newsman and former host of the ABC News show Nightline, said almost 20 years ago, " the amount of credibility the news media has with any individual is in inverse proportion to the amount of knowledge that individual has about the subject being reported". That is the long way around of saying, the more you know, the more facts you have, the more personal knowledge you possess, the more you know that journalists and the editors who over see them are incompetent.

Sometimes it's about life's most serious issues, like the erroneous front page stories by Judith Miller of the New York Times about Saddam and his horde of WMD which not only didn't exist but for which Miller was never even shown proof and for which neither she nor her editors required any corroboration. That helped sell a war, land Miller in jail, get her "source" a perjury conviction in the Valerie Plame episode and eroded the credibility of the New York Times.

The news media both in and out of the sports world, sold a story to the country about Joe Paterno, for their own self-serving reasons, and also without any facts or proof to back up a single word and ignoring all the existing facts that ran contrary to the story they wanted to push.

The facts were there if they cared at all to report them. But that wasn't be in their self interest, which was going after a big name to make the story bigger for financial reasons and to help make a lot of very small people feel, momentarily, bigger than they are.

And because the issues swirled around child abuse, they felt safe to commit to their own form of abuse, which was abusing the First Amendment, and abusing every known standard of journalism and instead substituting fabrication. They felt safe because they could hide behind the pretense that was writing in defense of children when it was really for their own self aggrandizement and profit.

In Paterno's case the news media had confidence that the world would be on their side, that they were reporting in defense of children and they believed, to use a football metaphor, which they had a free play so to speak, to say and do anything they wanted with no fear of penalty or repercussion. So Time magazine prints Sean Gregory's outrageously dishonest report that "Paterno knew that a 10 year old child was being raped, in the showers and didn't report it to authorities", to the somewhat obscure Jemele Hill's sloppy, casually and factually dishonest, report on ESPN.com about Paterno's " knowledge of alleged sexual abuse of children".

Hill casually, sloppily, and in providing as pointed an example as possible of the egregious dishonesty that permeates journalism and the people in it, she simply tosses out of the word "children" as in plural, as in multiple, as in many, in essence accusing Paterno of knowing about multiple cases of sexual abuse of children and doing nothing, when she knows there is not even an accusation that Paterno had knowledge of multiple abuses of children.

There is another phenomenon at work here which proves with virtually every sentence and word written or spoken about Paterno in connection with the crimes Sandusky is accused of, that for the media this has been all about selling a story, getting web hits, selling newspapers and advertising, getting ratings being a mob without a brain and enjoying for a brief time, a phony and fabricated and dishonest feeling of superiority.

And that is Jerry Sandusky's name is almost never mentioned. It is Joe Paterno that is talked about. It is Joe Paterno's picture that was all over the media. It was Joe Paterno's picture on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News, (a newspaper and it's advertisers that should be boycotted until the editor is fired). In Jemele Hill's sentence she mentions "Joe Paterno's knowledge of alleged sexual abuse of children" but not even "Joe Paterno's knowledge of Sandiusky's alleged sexual abuse of children".

Because for journalists this isn't really about the sexual abuse of children. In Hill's sentence the actual abuser isn't even named. Because to Hill and other journalists that isn't what the story is really all about. That isn't where the money is. Or the momentary false sense of superiority.  Or that warm fuzzy feeling you get from joining a mob. After all, who in their right mind could get a warm glow feeling superior to Jerry Sandusky?

Well okay, there might be some in the media who could, but for most of them it was about Joe Paterno. Because that's what sold.  And that's what could make them feel superior to someone whose accomplishments would forever outstrip anything they will ever do. And that is the kind of journalistic trash the Penn State trustees succumbed to. When what was needed was a standing up to the media if for no other reason than a defense of the values they preach and teach at the university.

Paterno was the big name and the media knew it. Karl Ravetch unintentionally confessed to it on ESPN within 48 hours of Sandusky's arrest when he said that Sandusky would have his day in court but "until then the only way to move the story forward is to focus on Joe Paterno". And that's what was important—pushing the story.

Over the weekend a relatively new and unreported fact came to light to add to the mountain of evidence against the news media in their dishonest attacks on Paterno.

CNN reported that in 1998, the mother of one of Sandusky's victims, (they didn't say if it was the mother of Victim One or a mother of a different victim,) was told by her son that Sandusky had taken a shower with him and "hugged him in the shower", an act which clearly made the boy uncomfortable enough to tell his mother.

The mother, immediately reported what her son had told her to guess who -- the Penn State campus police.

The same Penn State campus police that the news media en masse claimed was tantamount to "not going to the authorities" or "not doing enough".

According to the CNN report, the mother and Penn State campus police arranged for the mother to have a confrontational conversation with Sandusky on which two Penn State campus police detectives would eavesdrop. Just to repeat, that's two Penn State campus police detectives, not Penn State campus crossing guards. Not TV cops from Law and Order. Detectives from Penn State campus police.

In that conversation, the mother confronted Sandusky with what her son had told her about the shower incident and Sandusky reportedly said, " I know, I was wrong. I wish I were dead."

There was reportedly a second conversation between Sandusky and the mother, also with detectives from the Penn State Campus police eavesdropping.

Why that 1998 investigation went nowhere is for others to determine. But as it pertains to Joe Paterno, it was his reporting what McQueary told him to Gary Schultz, the administrative head of that same Penn State campus police, which was deemed and damned as "not reporting it to authorities" by the ignorant media who called for his dismissal.

So now that we know that the mother of one of Sandusky's victims, in taking action against what she believed happened to her own son, took her allegations to the same police agency to which Paterno reported what he had been told by McQueary. It was the Penn State campus police that the mother cooperated with, and it was detectives from the Penn State campus police, who were trying to gather evidence against Sandusky.So with the mother of one of the victims feeling that reporting what she knew to the Penn State campus police was"doing enough", will the Philadelphia Daily News now put the mother's picture on the front page with the word "Shame"? Or will they put a picture of themselves?

Will Jay Bilas, Stuart Scott, Sean Gregory, Jason Whitlock, Jemele Hill and the rest of the ESPN college sports crowd accuse the mother of " not going to the authorities" or "not doing enough"? Will Stuart Scott say of the mother “doesn’t she get it?" Will Sean Gregory in Time Magazine call her unfit for "not going to authorities" ? Will all of them demand that she lose her son?

No accountability of the media and their hypocrisy can be presented without once again revisiting ESPN and the audiotape they had nine years ago, given to them as evidence by a victim of molestation by assistant Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine.

After hearing his allegations and listening to a tape he secretly recorded with Fine's wife telling her of his molestation by Fine and her virtually admitting her husband's abuse, ESPN did nothing. They told Fine's victim that he didn't have enough evidence for them to report it, and that they needed more corroboration by way of another victim.

The blatant hypocrisy by ESPN is twofold. First, if it was journalistic standards and corroboration they needed before they would report accusations against Fine, they applied no such standards to Joe Paterno ( one makes the cash register ring, the other doesn't). And secondly, no one pontificated more about "moral responsibility" than the commentators at ESPN, moralizing that Paterno should have "done more" than simply report it to the very authorities they ignorantly didn't understand were the authorities Paterno was supposed to report it to in the first place.

So while spewing about morality and what actions others should have taken, the moral actions taken by ESPN when given even more specific allegations and proof of child abuse than Joe Paterno ever had was to take no action at all.

It's one thing to say there wasn't enough evidence to meet certain journalistic standards (standards they seem to apply selectively based on self-interest) but more to the point, morally they did nothing.

They didn't call the police to say what they had. They didn't refer Fine's victim to anyone at any law enforcement agency for a police investigation. They didn't call a child protective agency. They didn't even call the AD at Syracuse University to say what they had. They did nothing. If they couldn't report it as a story, if it wasn't for their own benefit they weren't interested. So they did nothing. For 9 years.

So what can be done about the news media?  Commentators at ESPN, Sean Gregory at Time Magazine, Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com, Jemele Hill at ESPN. com, the Philadelphia Daily News and really just about everyone reporting on this in and out of the mainstream media have abused the First Amendment to the same degree that Jerry Sandusky abused children, and as viciously, thinking only of themselves, their own desires, being exploitive and not even thinking about, much less caring about the rights of others.

The legal system will deal with Sandusky. But what to do about the news media? More on that soon.


Anonymous said...

I agree with almost all of this and all of what I think your point is. However, when you say that the mother reported to the PSU police, the same police that paterno reported what he had been told. I don't think this is accurate, according to the grand jury report. Paterno told the AD. He did not tell the police or the administrator in charge of the police, as he was brought into it later.
Of course, the grand jury is only a summary and only tells or cares about what is important to their case, and since no criminal charges, paterno probably isn't anyone they care about.
I'm not saying you miswrote because I think paterno is guilty. i again, I agree with your thoughts behind this. I'm just not sure that fact is correct.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Now that Joe has been fired, do you think media folk will pull down his statue, then up and stomp on it like the Iraqis did to Saddam Hussein?

Pat Armstrong said...

People who judge other people without evidence are guilty of a "moral crime"--or they are at least stupid and malicious.

The sin of pre-judgement/stupidity might be forgivable for a citizen-blogger-with-a-lot-of-anger, but not for a journalist, who should understand simple legal principles: an accusation is not a conviction, and a prosecutorial report (the Grand Jury report) is not the whole story--nor is it intended to be the whole story.

I watched, astonished, as ESPN journalist-pundits tried and convicted Paterno on air. They seemed driven almost by a blood-lust.

Susan said...

Paterno and the other officials, including the D.A., didn't do anything wrong in the Sandusky matter. I am under the increasing suspicion there is a LOT less here than meets the eye on the whole thing.

Sandusky at the very least has problems with appropriate boundaries with children. Whether these actually meet the threshold of "child molestation" is for the courts to decide, I guess. However, I don't exactly trust anything a parent says or so-called victims when there is money to be made in civil suits.

I know from personal experience having been wrongly accused civilly of "failing to report" something that never happened in the first place. It's really hard to get a reputation back once trashed in this manner.

Marc Rubin said...

"..when you say that the mother reported to the PSU police, the same police that paterno reported what he had been told. I don't think this is accurate, according to the grand jury report. Paterno told the AD. He did not tell the police or the administrator in charge of the police.."

Here is an answer given by another reader as to the issue you raise, whch has been raised by others.

"..look at page 8 of the grand jury report. Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Paterno and Curley, which certainly indicates he did report to Schultz, who oversaw police on campus."

This reflects my understanding of the chain of events as well.

Anonymous said...

Why are we still talking about JoePa? His connection to JerrySan has been talked to death. Today JerrySan was arrested wearing a "Penn State Wrestling" warm up suit. Is "Penn State Wrestling" a euphemism or is there actually a Penn State wrestling program? If there is such a program, what are its connections to JerrySan? Everyone was so quick to jump on JoePa and the football program. Can we please spend some time talking about the wrestling program, if any?

Anonymous said...

"..look at page 8 of the grand jury report. Schultz testified that he was called to a meeting with Paterno and Curley, which certainly indicates he did report to Schultz, who oversaw police on campus."

Thanks, I did not know that part. Lucky for me, I said I didn't think and not I know like the media does.

I'm interested too see what happens when this all plays out, if we ever even find out the real truth.
I'm not a Paterno fan. Not because of this, but because of other reasons of his "true character" I have witnessed. However, everyone, even sandusky is innocent until proven guilty, so I'm not sure why Joe has been fired or given this so called shame the media has put on him.

I'm afraid Sadusky will walk, even if guitly. And that I blame partly on the media and their so called facts. that is the real shame in this.

Anonymous said...

Marc - you've got some interesting points here but overall, I think you're bending over way too much into hero worship and putting on blinders as to what happened. The fact is that Joe Paterno had an eyewitness to his longtime assistant, Jerry Sandusky, raping a child. Paterno's life and career is built around going above and beyond, not merely doing what is necessary. And reporting that alleged rape to the authorities was all that was necessary.

There's a reason that Joe Paterno was the story - he had made himself the face of the program and the university for the past 40 years. If anything happened on campus, there was one person the media wanted a comment from - Joe Paterno. And now we've got arguably the biggest coverup in the history of college athletics happening on JoePa's watch. Seems reasonable that the media would chase this one.

Sports is all a game of what have you done for me lately and sad though it may be, this will now be the headline in his obituary. A couple national titles and Linebacker U are phenomenal things but they are tarred by his having knowledge of a child rape and not doing all he could to investigate it. The media were right to go take this one to the top and Penn State was right to get rid of him immediately.

Anonymous said...

Why are you going on about this? Are you insane? For the three and a half years I've been reading you, you've been skewering Obama and often talking sense.

Now you're defending the most powerful guy in an organization that protected a child rapist for over a decade.

What the hell is wrong with you? The U.S. Senate just voted to let the military arrest and detain people indefinitely on American soil. You can't be bothered to care about that? You only care about Joe Paterno?

Jeez man where did this ill-advised and wrongheaded obsession come from?

Marc Rubin said...

:"..so I'm not sure why Joe has been fired..."

The trustees said exactly why he was fired and didnt mince words. They said they couldnt stand the media pressure and attention anymore and that they believed it was in their self-interest to fire him and get out from under the pressure. Pretty good reason for firing a 60 year employee where no proof existed he did a thing wrong, just empty uninformed fabrications by the news media.

Marc Rubin said...

.." The fact is that Joe Paterno had an eyewitness to his longtime assistant, Jerry Sandusky, raping a child."

This is the problem isnt it. You say "the fact is..." when there is not a single fact anywhere on the planet earth that indicates Joe Paterno had any idea McQueary saw "a child being raped in the shower" because McQueary never told him that and there is a mountain of evidence to show that McQueary didnt tell him that. So Paterno never "had an eyewitness" tell him that a child was being raped in the shower. That is the fabrication and dishonesty and incompetence that was put out there by the news media.

Let me remind you and everyonee else that needs reminding, that Paterno testified in front of a grand jury. He also said publicly that he was never told any of the things McQueary told the grand jury about what he saw (even though he hasnt as yet said what it was exactly that McQueary told him).And the grand jury obviously believed him. If Paterno's public statements were at odds with his grand jury testimony he would have had a big problem. And McQueary obviously didnt testify to anything regarding what he told Paterno that was at odds with anything Paterno said publicly or to the grand jury. Those are the facts.

It's got nothing to do with any kind of hero worship. It has to do with out and out lies and misrepresentations by the media for their own self-serving interest and also because they are grossly incompetent and the damage that they do not only to Paterno but to the democracy, when people such as yourself, who have busy lives and dont have the time to fact check or think through what they report, believe what you read and hear.

Marc Rubin said...

"Now you're defending the most powerful guy in an organization that protected a child rapist for over a decade."

The problem is that there is not a single fact to substantiate what you wrote. Not one.

If you've been reading my attacks on Obama and the news media, you know Ive been attacking him for his dishonesty and duplicity as well as the news media for turning a blind eye to all of it. Just as they turned a blind eye to egregious incompetence and dishonesty in the Bush administration.

Lies, dishonesty and incompetence by the news media for their own self-serving reasons have become a way of life for journalism and its been a real a threat to democracy.And I can trace every serious problem this country has had in the last 15 years to the news media's misrenpresentations or avoding reporting the truth.

It doesnt matter if they lie and misrepresent about politicans and public policy or Joe Paterno. It's all part of the same problem.

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic post, Tom! I'm looking forward to any suggestions you could give on "what to do about the news media".

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog and its fantastic. You might find this of interest:


Anonymous said...

May I suggest that you write an article about McQueary's credibility? Given how his story has changed, is it not conceivable that he told Curley, Schultz, and Paterno something different from what he told the grand jury? Is it not possible that Curley, Schultz, Paterno, and/or Spanier "did the right thing" based on the information they possessed at the time? Remember, the public outcry and charges against these four men are a direct result of McQueary's testimony, and solely of McQueary's testimony.

At least seven versions of McQueary's story have surfaced so far. For listing purposes, I'm numbering them in chronological order of when he said them.

VERSION 1. The Dranov version, told to Dr. Jonathan Dranov on March 1, 2002, immediately after the alleged incident. In this version, "McQueary heard 'sex sounds' and the shower running, and a young boy stuck his head around the corner of the shower stall, peering at McQueary as an adult arm reached around his waist and pulled him back out of view. Seconds later, Sandusky left the shower in a towel."

VERSION 2. The Paterno version, told to Joe Paterno on March 2, 2002, one day after the alleged incident. According to the GJ presentment, McQueary "telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen. ... Paterno testified that [McQueary] was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley ... to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that [McQueary] had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." Elsewhere in the GJ presentment, Gary Schultz testified that Paterno reported to him "'disturbing' and 'inappropriate' conduct in the shower by Sandusky upon a young boy, as reported to [Paterno] by a student or graduate student [namely, McQueary]." According to an ESPN article, a "source" said that "Paterno recalls McQueary 'vaguely' referencing 'fondling' or 'touching' or 'horsing around' by Sandusky and a youth. But Paterno never had the understanding that McQueary had witnessed a 'sodomy' or 'rape'."

VERSION 3. The Curley version, told to Tim Curley, with Gary Schultz present, approximately a week and a half after McQueary's meeting with Paterno. According to the GJ presentment, McQueary "reported to Curley and Schultz that he had witnessed what he believed to be Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in the Lasch Building showers." Curley testified that [McQueary] reported to them that 'inappropriate conduct' or activity that made him 'uncomfortable' occurred in the Lasch Building shower in March 2002. Curley specifically denied that [McQueary] reported anal sex or anything of a sexual nature whatsoever and termed the conduct as merely 'horsing around'. When asked whether [McQueary] had reported 'sexual conduct' 'of any kind' by Sandusky, Curley answered, 'No' twice. When asked if [McQueary] had reported 'anal sex between Jerry Sandusky and this child,' Curley testified, 'Absolutely not.'"

Anonymous said...

VERSION 4. The Schultz version, told to Gary Schultz, with Curley present, in the same McQueary/Curley/Schultz meeting as Version 3, above. According to the GJ presentment, Schultz testified that McQueary "reported the incident in the shower involving Sandusky and a boy. Schultz was very unsure about what he remembered [McQueary] telling him and Curley about the shower incident. He testified that he had the impression that Sandusky might have inappropriately grabbed the young boy's genitals while wrestling and agreed that such was inappropriate sexual conduct between a man and a boy. While equivocating on the definition of 'sexual' in the context of Sandusky wrestling with and grabbing the genitals of the boy, Schultz conceded that the report the graduate assistant made was of inappropriate sexual conduct by Sandusky. However, Schultz testified that the allegations were 'not that serious' and that he and Curley 'had no indication that a crime had occurred.' Schultz agreed that sodomy between Sandusky and a child would clearly be inappropriate sexual conduct. He denied having such conduct reported to him either by Paterno or [McQueary]."

VERSION 5. The statement to police version, in the form of a handwritten statement to police "during the recent grand jury investigation", presumably shortly before his Grand Jury testimony. "In it, McQueary states that he witnessed a boy, about 10, being sodomized in a shower and hurried out of the locker room. He does not mention stopping the assult, and does not mention talking to any police officers in the following days, the statement says. The whole incident, the statement says, lasted about a minute, and McQueary wrote that he would not recognize the boy if he saw him today."

VERSION 6. The Grand Jury testimony version, told to the Thirty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, in December, 2010. In this version, "as [McQueary] entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As [McQueary] put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy ... whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. [McQueary] was shocked but noticed that both [the boy] and Sandusky saw him. [McQueary] left immediately, distraught. ... [McQueary] was never questioned by University Police ... ."

VERSION 7. The e-mail to friends version, told to friends in an e-mail shortly after the firing of Joe Paterno, in November, 2011. In McQueary's e-mail, he said, "I did stop it, not physically ... but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room ... I did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police ... no one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds ... trust me." Also, in "the email, McQueary states that he also told Penn State University police about what he saw that night."

Marc Rubin said...

"May I suggest that you write an article about McQueary's credibility?"

What's clear is that every new peice of information supports Joe Paterno's initial public statements before Penn State gagged him.

Clearly whatever McQueary saw he was too uncomfortable with it to give details to Dranov about sexual contact which supports Paterno's statement that he was never told by McQueary of any sexual contact. Despite the fact that all the evidence supported that, it didnt stop the news media from claiming the opposite.

Dranov's version of what McQueary told him completely supports what Paterno said McQueary told him and didnt tell him which more than justifies the actions Paterno took and completely discredits the news media for anyone who needed additional proof.

Marc Rubin said...

"when you say that the mother reported to the PSU police, the same police that paterno reported what he had been told. I don't think this is accurate, according to the grand jury report. Paterno told the AD. He did not tell the police or the administrator in charge of the police"

You are incorrect. As another reader has pointed out,check page 8of the grand jury report which reports on a face to face meeting between Paterno,Curley and Schultz, the administrative head of Penn State campus police.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know that JoePa tried to fire sandusky before 98' season and was over-ruled by the trustees! JoePa did what he was suppose to do. Everyone has their chain of command and he followed it. Whatever happen after that is out of his hands!

Moms Hugs said...

Marc ~ You relied on the infamous CNN in this post: "According to the CNN report, the mother and Penn State campus police arranged for the mother to have a confrontational conversation with Sandusky on which two Penn State campus police detectives would eavesdrop. Just to repeat, that's two Penn State campus police detectives, . Detectives from Penn State campus police.
There was reportedly a second conversation between Sandusky and the mother, also with detectives from the Penn State Campus police eavesdropping." [Emphasis mine]

State College P.D. (city) Detective Ralph Ralston was with PSU Detective Shreffler when they eavesdropped on Sandusky's conversation with Victim 6 in mid-May of 1998.

In addition to city police, a state Public Welfare Dept. investigator, Jerry Lauro, was with PSU Police Detective Shreffler when they interviewed Sandusky on June 1, 1998.

Reference: Grand Jury Presentment, pg 19-20.

You fell into the very media trap you are ranting about others doing, and skewed information others rely on, by making it sound as if ONLY PSU police investigated Victim 6's case.

The first Grand Jury Presentment was made available - by the print media - on Nov. 6. No need to rely on any journalists or bloggers for information, is there?

Reference: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/uploadedFiles/Press/Sandusky-Grand-Jury-Presentment.pdf

Anonymous said...

"The blatant hypocrisy by ESPN is twofold. First, if it was journalistic standards and corroboration they needed before they would report accusations against Fine, they applied no such standards to Joe Paterno ( one makes the cash register ring, the other doesn't)."

Just a heads-up on using this logic going forward - 9 of Penn State's 12 games in 2011 were on ABC or some form of ESPN. Their bowl game against Houston is on ESPNU.

Syracuse (like many Big East/Big 12 teams) will play on ESPN's family of networks for the majority of their conference games but football definitely moves the meter on television. In terms of overall dollars I would say Penn State brings in more bacon, though I cannot prove that definitively.

Either way, I would be shocked if ESPN's coverage was motivated by money since they probably want both PSU and Syracuse to do well in their respective sports. Short-term sensationalism generally is not favored over long-term success. A Paterno-less PSU that will likely struggle to land big time recruits in the next few years hurts ESPN's coverage, despite the bump in ratings during the scandal.