Friday, January 20, 2012
News media at it again with Joe Paterno.
A new round of sanctimonious self righteous self serving nonsense is being generated again by those addled minds with press passes we know as journalists ever ,since Joe Paterno gave a January 15th interview to the Washington Post explaining his thoughts,feelings and reactions to what Mike McQueary had told him concerning Jerry Sandusky.
It didn't take the news media long to fabricate, twist, re-write and ponitificate about Paterno's words so as to fit their own continuing narrative and attempts at journalistic face saving.
A lot of the already old debunked criticisms have returned including the one labeled " Didn't Do Enough". What is meant by that none of the critics say with any specificity except to say he should have done what he actually did do. But if for some, what is meant is that Paterno didn't follow up with Curley the AD and Schultz the head of Penn State police services to see if they were doing their jobs, had they, none of the criticisms of Paterno would have even been uttered. So what it really comes down to is a bunch of people who having no real idea what they would have done in Paterno's shoes, living out their own self-deluded sanctimonious fantasies and blaming Paterno for what his superiors are alleged not to have done.
One thing we know for certain is that none of the journalists or people who "criticized" ( its in quotes because their criticisms and opinions have proved empty and worthless) Paterno would have done any of the things they delude themselves into thinking they would have done had they been in Paterno's shoes. In fact most would not have done as much as Paterno.
We know this because the initial reaction of most human beings when being told about those kind of allegations, as non-specific as they were, about someone they knew and worked with for 28 years, would be disbelief. Shock. And it doesn't take a student of human nature to know that at least 95% of every person in the same situation would have taken a lot longer than 24 hours to decide what their next steps should be.
We know this, not only because of what we know about human nature, but because when ESPN was not just in Paterno's shoes but had more direct information than Paterno had including tape recorded evidence from an alleged victim, they did absolutely nothing because they felt they needed more information. Paterno didn't need to know more. But ESPN, one of the loudest critics of Paterno for not "doing more", needed to know more. And so did nothing for ten years.
ESPN in fact keeps beating the same dead drum, this time from an ESPN blogger named Gene Wojciechowski who, in response to Paterno's recent interview in the Washington Post, said that Paterno not being sure of exactly what to do next after being told about Sandusky by McQeary, was "no excuse". No excuse for what he doesn't really say, since what Paterno did doesnt requires an excuse. What there is no excuse for is the incomptency of Wojciechowski's column.
In his column further criticizing Paterno's responses in his Washington Post interview the factually challenged
Wojciechowski writes: "He didn't report the allegations to police "
We know of course that he did but the pathetically ignorant Wojciechowski doesnt think Penn State campus police are "real" police, so reporting it to the head of police services is not in Wojciechowski's addled mind, "the police". What he seems completely ignorant about is that the mother of one of Sandusky's victims thought they were the real police and that is where this mother went. But dont hold your breath waiting for Wojciechowski to call the victim;s mother ignorant, gutless and write that she has no excuses for not going to the police.
Wojciechowski also wrote of Paterno's going to the AD, his immediate superior and Gary Schultz head of police services:
"Did he think a college athletic director (PSU's Tim Curley) and a career Penn State bureaucrat with no formal law enforcement training (Gary Schultz, who oversaw, among other departments, the university police force) would have any more insight?"
And did Wojciechowski think that an 85 year old college head football coach is supposed to have more insight? Who does he think Paterno is? Colombo? The head of Law and Order SVU? Given the extraordinary thing Paterno was told, within 24 hours he reported it to his superior and later arranged a meeting between himself, McQueary and head of Penn State police services. And McQueary himself considers going to Schultz "going to the police". So the answer to Wojciechowski's truly and stupefyingly idiotic rhetorical question, did Paterno think that Tim Curley the AD and Gary Schultz head of police services might have any more insight, the answer is to anyone with an IQ in 3 digits is yes.
People like Wojciechowski, sitting far away from the field of engagement usually have their own fanatasies of what they would have done in the same situation without really knowing and without the minimum capacity to think a real problem with a real set of givens, through.
Perhaps there are some who can understand Wojciechowski's thinking when he is critical of Paterno saying he didnt know exactly how to hande it. Being told that a colleague and co-worker of 28 years, someone you've known and worked with every day for 28 years was caught in the shower having some kind of inappropriate sexual contact with a ten year old boy is, as everyone knows, a common every day occurrence, something anyone would be familiar with and like Wojciechowski in his fantasies, would know instantly what action to take. Even in retrospect, the actions Paterno took, reporting what he was told to his superior and to Penn State police, were correct.
But not to Gene Wojciechowski who probably fantasizes himself like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" all decked out in his sequined Red Ryder outfit and rushing out to -- where? The Penn State campus police? No can't go there. That's where Joe Paterno went. And the mother of one of Sandusky's victims. State College Police? No,can't go there either. They have no jurisdiction and would just refer him back to Penn State Campus Police, the agency that does have jurisdication, the agency that people like Gene Wojciechowski think are toy police with toy guns and toy police cars and toy detectives and toy riot gear. So what's a Red Ryder to do? Where does this Red Ryder go and what can he do so that no one can say he had no excuses and didn't do enough? Go to Dick Wolf creator of the Law and Order series and tell him? Wojciechowski never says exactly because the truth is he doesnt know.
Most of the Penn State trustees are no better. Mark Dambly, a Penn State trustee who voted to fire Paterno recently spoke for a news article by the Associated Press part of which is excerpted here:
"A day after the graduate assistant, Mike McQueary came to see him, Paterno relayed the accusations to his superiors, one of whom oversaw campus police. Board members didn't think that was enough. Dambly said, "It was our opinion that Joe Paterno did not meet his moral obligation and for that reason -- me personally for that reason -- I felt he could no longer lead the university". What Dambly doesnt say and what he is now morally obligated to say, is exactly and with specifity and detail, what he thinks Paterno should have done and what he, Dambly would have done. It is not enough to parrot the news media's narrative or clap your fins together like a trained seal and say "it wasnt enough". Dambly and other trustees now have a moral obligation to say specifically, not with vague generalities, what should have been done. If Dambly can't or if gives a preposterous answer, he has a moral obligation to resign as does every other member of the Board of Trustees who cannot adequately answer the question of what they think Paterno should have done. But to also show just how intellectually dishonest Dambly and the rest of the trustees are, their claim that Paterno "didnt do enough" was based on no first hand knowledge. They had a moral obligation to talk to Paterno first and get his side of what happened right from him. But it seems that for the trustees moral obligations are only a one way street, since they fired Paterno without even talking to him or asking him what happened. They just buckled to media pressure, which they admitted at the time was the primary reason for dismissing Paterno and now are trying to rewrite the record.
Dambly also mentioned that there was resentment by the Board who felt that Paterno was challenging the board's authority ( imagine that!) by speaking for himself without clearing what he was going to say with the board and taking it upon himself to say he would continue coaching till the end of the season. The trustees, according to Dambly were upset Paterno didnt talk to them first. But the same trustees had no problem dismissing Paterno without them talking to him. Which just happens to make this collection of university trustees guilty of not fullfilling their moral obligations.
Dambly is just one of many of Paterno's critics in and out of the media living in a fantasy world of their own making. Another is Bobby Bowden who recently gave a radio interview in which he said what he would have done differently if in Paterno's shoes. Unbelievably,nothing he said was actually any different from anything Paterno did. Except Bowden did say he would have " gone to Sandusky, asked him if it were true and then I would have told him to get out and never come back". In Bowden's fantasy he doesn't say what he would have done if Sandusky had denied it which Sandusky most surely would have thereby denying Bowden his exit line. Paterno skipped Bowden's "never darken my door again" histrionics, didn't waste time asking Sandusky anything and reported what McQueary told him to the AD within 24 hours who effectively did what Bowden said he would have done, ban Sandusky from Penn State (without bothering with the "and never come back"). Then Paterno met with the administrative head of Penn State campus police. Yet somehow Bowden's account was promoted by the news media as "what Bobby Bowden would have done differently". Maybe the Philadelphia Daily News should put Bobby Bowden's picture on the front page with the word "Shame". If they did, at least they would be consistant.
All of this nonsense is because the news media always has their own narrative designed to call attention to themselves as heros and crusaders and is always self-serving. And when the truth or facts explode their narrative, and makes them all look like idiots as the Paterno story does with everyone from Wojciechowski and ESPN to the Penn State trustees, the truth becomes, not just expendable, but distorting it, fabricating it or burying it becomes essential.
Another article within the last 24 hours on the ESPN web site, this one attributed to the Associated Press claimed that "even Pennyslvania's top cop criticized Paterno for not doing enough and not going to the police"
The article doesn't say who the top cop is or names the top cop because no cop, top or otherwise ever criticized Paterno for not doing enough, and no cop, top or otherwise would not consider Penn State campus police, "the police" and as the facts bear out Paterno did go to the head of Penn State police services, Gary Schultz. By the way, referring to Gary Schulz as "the head of Penn State police services" is the term used by one of the Penn State trustees in relation to Schultz and his job description. It should also be noted that ESPN pulled the article and a subsequent search couldn't find it. Maybe it's being rewritten. Or used to wrap fish.
Its not too much to expect that the news media simply get their facts straight because that's their job. And its not a hard job its an easy job. The job of journalist is to simply gather the facts, make sure they are accurate by checking them with more than one source, and then present them in a way that any idiot could understand. And the sorry thing is that 90% of them can't do it.
The official position and narrative of the news media and commentators (whose job description should be changed to "pontificators",) related to Paterno is that they are "protecting children" and standing up against child abuse. But as we have seen in other cases they only take a position on anything if they feel its safe to do or in their own best self- interest. If not, no matter what the truth is or what the facts show, they will ignore it bury it or run from it.
None of the pontificators for example, has ever demanded that the current Pope immediately resign even though the current Pope, as a cardinal, had known about some of the most egregious and heart-sickening examples of child sexual abuse in human history, including the Wisconsin priest who had abused over 400 deaf children at a Catholic school for the deaf for decades, and about which the current Pope did nothing for 40 years because, as he said in a letter, the image of the church was what mattered most. But attacking the current Pope for "not doing enough", in fact for doing nothing for 40 years and letting it as well as other instances continue, and demanding his resignation and that of everyone in the church heirarchy who knew about this and did nothing, is not a safe position. It could cost them ratings, viewers, subscribers, it could even get them criticized and called anti-Catholic so better just downplay it.Paterno is a lot easier.
So for the editors of the Philadelphia Daily News, putting a picture of the Pope on the front page with the word " Shame" would be out of the question. And it would be out of the question for Wojciechowski to question anyone connected with ESPN and criticze those at the network who knew about the Bernie Fine allegations and did nothing for ten years. Instead, for the news media, whether its ESPN or the Philadelphia Daily News or anyone else, the prevailing journalistic standard is, do what you think is safe, if there is a journalistic mob, join it, don't get left out, find a high horse to sit on, weight the power of the subject to hit back, distort or fabricate to fit the narrative and dont do or say or report anything that might make them pay the biggest price of all -- losing advertisers.
Gene Wojciechowski can be reached at: email@example.com
ADDENDUM: By now most people know about Joe Paterno's passing on Sunday morning. And listening to the tributes come in from many of the people who knew him, people are starting to realize and it's becoming obvious, whose sins Paterno died for. And they werent his own.