Saturday, January 28, 2012
On Joe Paterno's passing and news media remorse.
The day of Joe Paterno's death, many in the sports world who knew him speaking to the media said they thought he died of a broken heart. Lou Holtz said it. Bobby Bowden said it. Brent Musburger said it. Todd Blackledge said it. But none of that is true. Joe Paterno had more heart dying than all of his critics had living. So, aside from the ravages of cancer afflicting a man of 85, it had nothing to do with a broken heart. But a case can be made that a contributing factor were the injuries he sustained from the beating he took in a back alley from a gang of punks otherwise known as journalists.
The reason the journalistic punks attacked Paterno is for the same reason punks anywhere attack anyone. Because they felt he was vulnerable, that it was safe for them to attack, and the biggest reason and most importantly of all, because of what they knew he had and going after it was for their own benefit.
A gang of punks would never attack anyone if they thought there was a risk the person they are attacking would fight back and cause them real harm. And of course they never attack anyone unless they feel they have something of real value they can take.
That's why it was Paterno who was jumped on by the punks in media and not Steve Turchetta, the coach at the high school where Sandusky's shower victim was a student even though Turchetta, even after complaints by the boy's mother, continued to allow Sandusky to take the kid out of school over the mother's objections. Its why Karen Probst, the principal at the boy's school, and other school offcials, didn't have their picture on the front of page of the Philadelphia Daily News with the words "Shame" even though when told of Sandusky's abuse, according to the mother, tried to talk her out of going to the police.
Ray Gricar was also left alone. He was the DA who the mother went to with the same complaints about Sandusky as far back as 1998 and decided he didn't have enough to prosecute. And without ascribing any negligence at all to the Penn State police, it has never been adequately explained why, when the mother went to the police in 1998 and detectives set up a sting ,eavesdropping on a conversation between Sandusky and the boy's mother where Sandusky allegedly confessed, nothing further was done.
But the roving gangs of punks in the news media ignored all of them. Because none of them had anything worth taking. None had anything near what Paterno had. And what Paterno had that was worth taking was the whole point.
Everyone knew Joe Paterno was a rich man, rich in all of the values he taught and inspired, and all his contributions and accomplishments that made his life and those who came contact with him as rich in their own way. If you're a journalistic punk like Sean Gregory at Time magazine or Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com and you want to make a name for yourself, you want attention, you want to elevate yourself, who are you going to go after? Steve Turchetta? Karen Probst? Time Curly or Gary Schultz? What did they have of value worth ?
So the roving gang of journalistic punks they left them alone. For the most part they even left Jerry Sandusky alone. And went after Paterno. Because that's where the money was.
The media's excuse, their cover story for their attacks was they were sticking up for children and standing up against child abuse. No one should be fooled by that. Or believe a word of it. They weren't. As has been pointed out before, none of them, including the Philadelphia Daily News ever took on the Catholic church or the present Pope, who, as a cardinal knew about countless instances of sexual abuse by priests and made not reporting it to the police official policy so he church could handle it in house. And it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to know that the reason the church wasnt attacked is because those who say they care about child abuse felt it wasn't safe enough for them. There might be backlash, retribution, the church, even in a weakened state could hit back. There also might be financial damage in the form of boycotts in attacking the church.
So instead of going after all of the people who didn't report or act on Sandusky's abuse, they went after the one person who did Joe Paterno. And said it was because he didn't do enough ( it seems to escaped all these people that even if you wanted to believe that Paterno didn't do enough, it would only be because everyone else did nothing).
Okay, so how ludicrous really was the media's narrative and reporting?
The mantra of the media that Joe Paterno "didn't do enough" was the fiction used to justify their attacks for their own self-serving reasons. But this is how ludicrous their empty fiction was. ESPN reported:
"Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have been indicted for perjury and failing to report a crime after being informed of the allegations of Sandusky's child sexual abuse." Anyone notice what they left out?
ESPN conveniently omitted three crucial words, "by Joe Paterno".
Was it because pointing out that two Penn State officials were indicted for failing to report a crime of which they were informed of by Joe Paterno would make the media's attacks on Paterno look idiotic? How could Paterno not have done enough when a grand jury handed down two indictments based on what Paterno did do? If what Joe Paterno did was inadequate, if what he reported was inadequate, how could a grand jury indict these officials for a felony for failing to act on inadequate information?
That's a conundrum the news media would rather not deal with, so in reporting on Curley and Schultz's indictment, let's just forget that the root of their indictment is based onwhat Joe Paterno told them and what they failed to do with it.
Here is something else for the non-thinkers in the press to think about. If Curley and Schultz had acted on what Paterno told them, there would be no stories about Joe Paterno having "not done enough".
Instead the press kept their narrative going, even so far as to twist and distort Paterno's own words, saying that "even Joe Paterno said he hadn't done enough". Joe Paterno said no such thing, at any time anywhere. What he actually said was " with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more".
Saying "I wish I had done more" is what anyone would say who looks back on an event and wished they could have done something to prevent it or fix it. Its not an admission of guilt. Its an admission of humanity. We have heard it from parents going through the heartbreak of losing a child because of bullying wishing they had seen the warning signs and wishing they could have done more to prevent it.
One further thing to keep in mind about the fiction of how Joe Paterno "didn't do enough". After almost three months later there hasn't been one person anywhere who has actually said with any specificity and detail what they think Paterno should have done. They haven't because they don't know. And never did.
Now that Paterno is gone, and the damage was done, it seems that journalistic reflection and remorse is starting to set in.
Jim Litke, who has a byline as sports writer for the Associated Press wrote on the day of Paterno's death:
"On the other end( after speaking highly of Paterno's legacy) was John Surma, vice chairman for a Penn State board of trustees that couldn't muster enough courage or decency to fire Paterno in person."
Litke went on to write " Now all those people who rushed to judgement (italics mine) about Paterno's role in the Sandusky case will have to find their way out from under the sordid scandal without their longtime coach".
The problem with all this is that every word of it could have been written two months ago when it all happened and when it might have had an influence, when it might have done some good when it might have thrown some water on the fire the news media had set and continued to fan. Writing it now is saying it after the fact, after Paterno is gone, after the injustice and damage was done
Brent Musburger, in an ESPN interview on the day of Paterno's death, was now referring to what he characterized as "a slight lapse in judgement" on the part of Paterno. So what Musburger is saying is even if you wanted to believe Paterno should have done more, ( and there is no evidence that he or anyone else in his position should have or have been reasonably expected to), not doing more was now a " slight lapse in judgement".
So the revisionism, the corrections that newspapers always put on page 63 are starting to appear. Maybe they'll decide it's a matter of better late than never. Maybe.
But one can only wonder after Paterno's death, if Jim Litke and other members of the press who are now writing the truth, almost three months later, and seeing the attacks on Paterno for what they really were, aren't now thinking to themselves, "with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more".