Sunday, August 26, 2012

The woman who laid down for Louis Freeh.

With the Freeh Report being more publicly discredited every day most recently by Tim Lewis, a former federal judge and prosecutor representing former Penn State president Graham Spanier, who characterized the report the same way its been characterized here for weeks, as a dishonest, biased, incompetent factless document with biased preconcieved conclusions drawn solely by its author, with no evidence to substantiate them, its a good time to remember that a few weeks ago, at the outset of the release of the Freeh Report, another in a long line of incompetent, dishonest and unprincipled journalists, this one, Ann O'Neill writing on CNN's web site, wrote a piece called "The Woman Who Stood Up to Joe Paterno".

The woman Ann O'Neill was talking about was Dr. Vicky Tripony who was head of Student Affairs at Penn State for a short time and, as her interview with Freeh made clear, deeply resented that she was not able to administer what many considered her outrageous, Draconian, sledgehammer ideas of discipline that she leveled at other students, onto Paterno's players as well.

 O'Neill, showing the same lack of journalistic competence or integrity that permeates the news media as a whole,  nevere  bothered to even try to interview anyone else in a position to know before writing her factless "me too" article, if for no other reason,  to see just how much truth, if any, was contained in the Freeh Report's presentment of Tripony's view of things.

But like the others in the torch carrying mob known as the media who were intent on using the Paterno name for their own ends, whether it was to call attention to themselves or to ring the cash register, the truth mattered little.

Reading O'Neil's article its clear she never considered the fact that Paterno had been at Penn State for 60 years and that there were heads of Student Affairs before Tripony and after and none of them had the problems Tripony whines about. We know this because Freeh didn't include anyone in Tripony's position other than Tripony herself in his report, substantiating the charge that Freeh had an agenda and Tripony was able to advance it and others wouldn't. We know this for a fact because it was corroborated by Tim Lewis who reported that many of those he interviewed to who were in turn interviewed by Freeh, told him that Freeh was not interested in any facts or information that didn't support his preconceived ideas of how he wanted the report to read and any attempts to present facts contradictory to what he wanted was met with hostility.

 So O'Neill's entire piece was based, not on any facts, not on anything she actually knew, not anything she found out as a purported journalist, not on any information she learned first hand, but on a set of factless assumptions she made based on the Freeh Report which she seems to have read with the critical eye of a Druid reading the Book of Kell.

When the Freeh report came out and Tripony's interview was highlighted by news organizations, I received a lot of email from former Penn State students who had experience with Tripony, students who are now Ph.D.'s or practicing lawyers or in other professions. They painted a picture of Tripony as something of a cross between Nurse Ratched the sadistic nurse in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and Annie Wilkes, the Cathy Bates character in Stephen King's "Misery". She never took a sledgehammer to anyone's knees as Wilkes did but a lot of students seemed to think she would have liked to.

Though obviously not definitive in and of itself, no one who sent any emails had anything good to say about Tripony who according to reports, tried to rule Student Affairs like a burgomeister in an occupied European town in WWII. She closed down long standing protocols that had existed for Student Affairs, like the ability of students to appeal her decisions to a board made up of faculty and students. She also threatened to close down the university student radio station unless it was placed under her complete control where she and only she would decide what it could say and what it couldn't. She gave students two choices -- relinquish all control to Tripony or shut the radio station down. Under Tripony, Radio Free Penn State came to an end.

 In short Tripony had issues. And in reading her interview in the Freeh Report one could tell she was clearly livid that Joe Paterno, who did in fact have much more prestige and power than Tripony, refused to allow his players to be subjected to Tripony's tyrannical and Draconian ideas of discipline, and insisted that he would discipline players who violated rules himself.

 By all accounts Paterno was not lenient with his players when they were guilty of infractions or violations. But Tripony seems to be infuriated that she couldn't pull her Annie Wilkes act on Paterno's players as she did on other students. The sense one gets from her interview with Freeh is that her frustrations were based more on her feeling thwarted in her desire to punish Paterno's football players and having her authority to do so diminished than anything else.

 Tripony didn't last long at Penn State and based on other articles written about her as far back as 2002, never did have a great reputation among students in her previous job at UConn either. Eventually she was told by Penn State that she would be better off finding employment elsewhere and was shown the door.

 This is who Ann O'Neill decided to portray as a hero based solely on her reading of the Freeh Report and like any factually deficient journalist, too lazy to find things out for herself . Instead she did what most journalists have done whether its about Paterno and Penn State or Washington DC and politics and policy -- lay down for an authority figure. O'Neill bought everything Freeh had to say without bothering to check facts, and simply joined the mob so she could pile on too and pretend that made her a good person. It didn't.

 Ann O'Neill, who decided it wasn't necessary to talk to any Penn State students, never talked to any heads of Student Affairs who were at Penn State before Tripony or after about their experiences with Paterno, never did a moment's research on her own, simply decided her assumptions which were based on a report concocted by a man with a 15 year documented history of dishonesty and investigative corruption, mattered more than finding out facts for herself.

 Ann O'Neill became one more in a long line of journalists, lacking in journalistic integrity or journalistic competence who, like others before her, laid down for Louis Freeh. And as the saying goes, when you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas. And no doubt Ann O'Neill is still scratching.

NOTE: The  new animation satirizing the Freeh Report can be seen clicking on this link.


Linda Berkland said...

Great article as always Marc! It is also important to point out that Freeh interviewed Triponey who wasn't even around during the years he was supposed to be investigating (1998-2001). She was at PSU from 2003-2007. Why was she even included in his interview process? There can be only 1 answer....because she was the only person he could find who could substantiate his preconceived notion that Paterno ruled the roost and nobody interfered with his football players or program! It was Vicky Tripony who was the self annointed dictator!

Anonymous said...

Love the article! Thank you Marc! As time moves forward, the truth will be known.

Stacie said...

Well done. Context is extremely important and many people don't realize the rocky relationship Ms. Tripony had with many Penn Staters--not just Joe Paterno. It's still astounding to me that people fail to see that she is the only person during Paterno's tenure to have any issues with his discipline. This is, of course, why her perspective was included in the Freeh Farce. It fit the narrative the university is selling. Keep up the great work. I know the truth will be exposed.

Enter Mr. Meacham in 3,2,1....... :)

P. Morrissey said...

The point(s) of your blog are salient. Drop the broad-based metaphors and comparisons. They are pedantic, self-serving and weaken the strength of your facts.

Bill Levinson said...

Vicky Triponey = Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series. If they ever do a movie about recent events at Penn State, Imelda Staunton could easily play Triponey. "The Vicky Tripony Timeline of Terror" is highly instructive, and shows that she seems to have not gotten along well with anybody.

Tripony wanted to throw her authority around, and she tried it on the wrong person.

Duane A. Webb said...

...another Prostitute for the exagerrated and panicked CSA (child sexual abuse) industry. We have a few of those here in Charleston, and I can't wait to get to work on their FWA (fraud, waste, and abuse). As expected though, this liar was sold to the general public through CNN - who also happens to be a publisher of Sarah Ganim, the "reporter" who was the first to start advertising the Sandusky Farce that led to the $60 Million Dollar NCAA payout for the above mentioned CSA industry operating under the guise of "charity".

Unknown said...

Marc, I am a low end part-time photojournalist for My only study on writing came from University of Maryland; while stationed in Germany, and at Penn State-Berks. For a motorsports photographer/writer I am ill suited to write at your level, but as a Penn State fan.... Thank You for telling it as it really is. I do hold another position in Pennsylvania in the legal profession and worked as a sex crime and homicide investigator for a number of years. The entire investigation done by the AG now Governor is an embarrassment at best. The victims here are not only those that Sandusky violated, but all the kids who have come and gone at Penn State. The media in itself has violated those who have attended PSU. ESPN, CNN, and many others have accomplished that violation. Thank the lord that Pennsylvania does not allow cameras into the court system otherwise the victims would have been violated again, and again. I will not sit here and tell you I always swore by Joe, but the man had morals. For anyone to believe that he would allow kids to be knowingly hurt and not do something really did not know the man, nor listen to his teachings. The grand experiment at State is one that each of us can be proud of, and stand behind today. Coach O'Brien said that the NCAA sanctions may be lifted or lessened if we behave..... behave, the team did no wrong, the students did no wrong, and Joe did no wrong. Jerry Sandusky has been convicted, and his wrongs will be paid when he stands in front of his lord and begs forgiveness. None has been earned!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your article. As a PSU Student from 2005-2010, I was HAPPY to see Triponey go in 2007. I met her in 2006 before the apartment incident and I could not stand her then (she was just not nice and she was condescending).

As mentioned in the report, she changed many things at Penn State. There might have been somethings that needed modernizing or streamlined, but she did it the wrong way. The USG/UPUA fiasco is a great example of how she got what she wanted. She got rid of an organization led by students and created a new one that sent PSU student government back 5+ years. Yes, USG had issues, but it wasn't that broken that it deserved what she gave it.

The other sad thing is that Triponey is friends with Emmert...

Anonymous said...

Haha great article. I saw her interview on espn weeks ago. All you need to do was look at her. She just looked evil. The wicked witch of penn state.

Anonymous said...

As far as Ann O'Neill agreeing with the Freeh conclusions is concerned, she has clearly studied the Freeh Report. She even cites footnotes. What's wrong with Ann O'Neill agreeing with its conclusions after such study? The overwhelming majority of Americans agree with those conclusions. Ann O'Neill should be PRAISED for going BEYOND that national consensus to do her own independent review of the Freeh Report. Reporters usually do not "reinvent the wheel". Didn't she do exactly what you've been urging the media to do with respect to the Freeh Report?

You seem shocked that Ann O'Neill didn't challenge the national consensus on the scandal when interviewing Triponey. Would you criticize an interviewer of Elie Wiesel for not peppering him with questions about the validity of the Holocaust? You wouldn't because there is an overwhelming consensus in favor of the Holocaust's validity. You may disagree with the consensus reached on the Freeh Report and Paterno's reputation but it's unfair to excoriate reporters and others for acting on that consensus. If you don't like that consensus, change it.

Anonymous said...

You would not know a fact if it hit you in the face. This is a bunch of manipulated, regurgitated crap motivated by incredible hate. You guys might want to consider an alternative theory of reality. Otherwise you will forever be stuck in delusional flotsam.

Anonymous said...

"You would not know a fact if it hit you in the face. This is a bunch of manipulated, regurgitated crap motivated by incredible hate. You guys might want to consider an alternative theory of reality. Otherwise you will forever be stuck in delusional flotsam."

What or whom is this referring to, the original posting or some comment?

Anonymous said...

Any investigator knows you dont use descriptive adjectives such as scandalous and callous in an investigative report. Those type of words manufacture opinion as the reader reads. The Freeh debacle is laced with this type of writing. He attempts to evoke emotions and that is grossly unacceptable as content in any investigative report. Freeh wrote an editorial article, not a report. This would be a unanimous conclusion if you polled every active FBI agent because they would have to acknowledge that they could never write an investigative report in that manner.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen much critical analysis of Freeh's report since Spanier's lawyers did a rather detailed job of questioning/discrediting almost everything aout it. Very sad that the media has not given it much attention. I truly hope that more information is released through Spanier as well as in the criminal cases for Curley and Schultz.

Anonymous said...

"Haven't seen much critical analysis of Freeh's report since Spanier's lawyers did a rather detailed job of questioning/discrediting almost everything aout(sic) it."

You mean the legal geniuses who let their 64-year-old client embarrass himself with what Above the Law, the website for lawyers in large corporate firms, called the "lamest excuse in internet history":

"I have no memory, and I still don’t today (about email conversations on what to do about Sandusky). I can’t even swear that I saw those e-mails. Because first of all, back in that era, every so often, maybe once a month, our I.T. folks would say, 'All the e-mails today have been lost, if you were expecting any you need to write people and tell them to resend them because the system went down.' Honest to goodness, I had no recollection of 1998, didn’t in 2001, have no recollection now, what I’m telling you I’m only for the sake of not wanting people to think that I’m hiding something."

Anonymous said...

No. Referring to the 16 page report Spanier's lawyers distributed which shows the numerous holes in the Freeh Report, and how one sided that independent investigation (prosecution ) is. Are there questions I still want answered, yes. Do we know the answers to all the questions, no (unless you are Louis Freeh who knew the answers he wanted and set out to prove them). If you read the report prepared by Spanier's lawyers you might actually see that they have many very valid points.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I checked out Above the Law web site referred to above. What a piece of crap site. Whoever the genius above who buys their opinions hook, line, and sinker should probably find another source. It is absolutely worthless.

Ray Blehar said...

To the poster who stated no one has done an analysis of the Freeh Report before Spanier's lawyers, I'll tell you that you don't know where to look.

I beat Spanier's lawyers to the punch on July 19th and I did it after I returned from a five day vacation and spent less than a few hours reading the Freeh Report.

Read the rest of my posts and a comprehensive report is forthcoming.