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.