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"The Betrayal of Joe Paterno" Chapter Nine: Playing From Far Behind

CHAPTER NINE: PLAYING FROM FAR BEHIND

After the statue was taken away and NCAA sanctions were implemented, I personally went from being simply outraged at what I saw happening, to feeling an immensely strong need to be part of at least trying to correct the injustice. It may sound insane (it did even to my wife) but I was absolutely positive that I was the person in the country most qualified to find out the truth and tell the story of what really happened here.

I felt this way because of several important factors.

Thanks to my extensive knowledge and extreme cynicism of the news media, I was in a truly unique position to be immune to the nuclear holocaust of negative news coverage which had surely scared away all of the far more sensible candidates. I not only had an intense distrust of the media, but I also had an encyclopedic knowledge of what they had reported in this case. I had already done two other documentary films of very similar stories where the news media had gotten a narrative wrong, so I was trained to see all of the signals of a similar situation having occurred here. I was not a Penn Stater, but I had grown up in the state as huge college football fan, but was only a mild supporter of Paterno and the Nittany Lions. I was a person known for being very unemotional (too much so) in my thinking, while most people were never able to get beyond the horrible feelings which this horrific story understandably provokes. I had extremely thick skin and was not afraid of being unfairly attacked as a “pedophile protector” or being mislabeled as a conspiracy nut. And probably most importantly of all, I had a lot of time on my hands and a very understanding wife.

As it turned out, not only was I the person in the best situation to tell the other side of this story, I was pretty much the only one stupid enough to apply for the “position.”

The primary reason for this was obvious. No one wanted to take on a fight that was, at best, hopeless, and, at worst, already lost. If you think about this as a political campaign, the pro-Paterno side had already lost huge portions of the public, probably forever. For instance, these groups of people were basically completely gone:

Anyone who tends to blindly believe what the media tells them.

Anyone who was sexually abused or close to someone who has been.

Anyone (especially men) who is understandably disgusted by even remotely thinking about sex acts between a man and a boy to the point where they won’t listen to the facts of the case.

Anyone who hates football for having too much power.

Anyone who was jealous of Paterno/Penn State.

Anyone afraid of being called names or perceived as defending a pedophile.

Penn Staters who originally threw Paterno under the bus and who would now vigorously fight the notion that they were duped into rushing to a false judgment.

Anyone who has no interest in the facts/truth, or lacks the ability to comprehend complex concepts.

In short, we would start with little more than older women (I have been amazed at how women are the backbone of the counter movement in this case) who had been strong fans of Joe Paterno, some very unusual men, and a majority of his former players. I figured all this meant that at least 60% of the population was dead against us and at least 35% didn’t care (on the bright side, I did notice that there was a significant percentage of people who didn’t know that much about the case but who once they were given a few key facts were more than willing to consider the prospect that the media had blown it here).

One of the many problems for our side of this debate (as if the other side was ever willing to even have a fair “debate”), was that we have very limited ability to communicate our message. Not only was all of the mainstream media against us, but Penn State, acting not unlike a third-world coup, had purposefully made it almost impossible for the football lettermen’s group to correspond with its members and they had intimidated almost all of the alumni groups from even emailing anything that somehow detracted from their “move on” message. Given the average age of someone likely to be a supporter of our cause, Twitter (which, acting like the media’s version of a high school cafeteria, had a huge impact on this story because it further facilitated the media buying into there only being one acceptable take on the story) was not a viable option and even Facebook was out of reach technologically for many of those who would have naturally been with us.

So I started a website www.FramingPaterno.com and invited some of the handful of bloggers from around the country who had expressed skepticism about the conventional wisdom of the case to join me. To say the least we were an eclectic group, but, thanks largely to some incredible backing from “grassroots” supporters (many of whom did not go to Penn State), we got a remarkable amount done.

Not only did we immediately create one place for people to get highly credible information contrary to the media narrative about the Freeh Report (we even put together a rather comical animation video about how absurd his theory is), but we immediately commissioned a major poll by a nationally known political polling institute to determine how the media coverage of the case had impacted the public knowledge of the facts.

I had done a very similar project for my documentary film on the 2008 presidential election which had gotten a lot of national news coverage. I thought that experience prepared me for what we would find in this case, but in every possible way the results were even more stunning than even I had expected. 

In short, the public didn’t have the slightest clue about some of the most important facts of the story. Not coincidentally (thanks to the media), the more exculpatory a fact was for Paterno, the more likely the public was to get a simple true/false question about it incorrect. The most dramatic result was that a stunning 45% of Americans did not identify the statement “Joe Paterno was accused of being a child molester” as being “false.”   

In retrospect, the entire polling experience should have shown me just how utterly hopeless this crusade for the truth really was.

First, even getting the poll done took a near miracle because the people at the polling company (who I paid to do the poll independently and with whom I had worked before) had simply been so brainwashed by the media coverage that they wrongly thought some of the questions/subjects I wanted tested were inaccurate. I had to fight them every step of the way and even then they still botched a couple of things in order to protect themselves from possible media criticism. These exact types of issues would end up becoming commonplace in all of our efforts to get any remotely positive media coverage for what we were doing (I routinely had editorials rejected on this subject by outlets which normally happily ran my work and I am convinced it was because the editors didn’t know enough about the story to even realize that there was a legitimate other side to it).

Secondly, the results were so overwhelming that I was actually too correct about how much the public had been misled by the media. They essentially proved that the uphill climb to correct these many misperceptions was going to be nearly insurmountable. In essence, this was a political campaign where the opponents had created hundreds of millions of dollars worth of negative media coverage for our side before we had even begun to really fight back. Even assuming we were right, the truth just isn’t powerful enough to overcome that type of disadvantage (at least it isn’t in this modern age).

Thirdly, when we released the poll results, perfectly timed for the week after the Olympics but before the NFL season began, the media reaction was similar to a finicky cat turning up their nose at a new brand of food which didn’t pass their smell test. They almost completely ignored the results.

This was the first of many examples where our efforts to expose the “media malpractice” on this story would actually reveal even more malfeasance from the fourth estate. They simply had no legitimate excuse to pretend this poll was not a real news story. The polling outlet was more than reputable, the questions were highly credible, the results were dramatic, and the subject was extremely relevant and timely. Usually the media loves such easy stories, but this one, like a joke during a wedding toast that is a little too truthful, just hit far to close to home and was immediately rejected.

I actually maintain that the media ignoring the poll was among the best evidence that I was correct in my original hypothesis about their coverage of this story. After all, if I was really so wrong and the media’s case was truly so strong, they would have loved to have destroyed me and the poll, especially during a slow news week. Instead, their near universal disregard for it proved that deep down they knew they had screwed this up. It also confirmed that they were building a wall around their narrative that was simply impenetrable, at least not by a non-celebrity like me.

It really is remarkable (not to mention depressing) how much our cultural obsession with celebrity has changed the way the media works and how news gets reported. Not that long ago, people were interviewed by news outlets on particular subjects based mostly on their knowledge of that particular issue, their overall credibility, and their role in the story itself. Today, the importance of ones familiarity with the facts of a topic is literally dwarfed by the significance of how much wattage is behind their celebrity (which is one of the many reasons book authors can no longer get high profile interviews unless they are celebrities, and thus, why you now pretty much have to be a celebrity to get a book published). In the modern age, celebrity provides far more perceived “credibility” than actual real credibility. 

This phenomenon has been a constant source of frustration for me on this story. I have far more information than anyone else in the media on what happened here and, thanks to the production of the “Framing of Joe Paterno” documentary and my interview with Jerry Sandusky, I have plenty of “standing” on the topic. I am also a very experienced and compelling television guest. And yet, mostly because I am not a celebrity, I have had limited opportunities to be interviewed by major media outlets. Even when I have been able to somehow break through the door, my lack of celebrity has created other problems because of my utter lack of leverage in dealing with those outlets (quite literally, if I had stripped naked on the Piers Morgan show on CNN and lit myself on fire, I would have gotten far more coverage for the book you are currently reading than will likely be the case).

Because celebrities inherently have something to lose/protect and usually only care about themselves, the chances of any of them risking their image for a cause this toxic was about the same as Tom Corbett asking Jerry Sandusky to help him in his 2014 reelection campaign. Heck, actor Ashton Kutcher had even been forced to apologize and take a break from Twitter after he simply questioned Joe Paterno’s firing in a rather innocuous tweet.

Unfortunately, our side had only one celebrity who was unafraid to stand up against the inevitable onslaught on their reputation and livelihood.

Without NFL Hall-of-Famer and four-time Super Bowl champion Franco Harris, our side never would have gotten anywhere in our seemingly futile counterattack. Ironically, Harris, who played for Penn State in the early 1970s, didn’t even have that great a relationship with Joe Paterno when he played for him, but when it really mattered, it was Franco who stood up taller and stronger than anyone else in his old coach’s defense.

The notion that Franco Harris and I would ever team together makes the idea of collaboration between President Obama and Donald Trump (who, ironically, has indicated on Twitter that he is supportive of Paterno) seem rather plausible by comparison.

Franco is thoughtful, soft spoken, reserved, deliberative, and has been a delegate to the Democrat National Convention. I am a loud, in your face, shoot first and ask questions later, kind of person who has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He is a black Italian, while I am a white person of German and Irish descent. Harris was obviously an all-time great for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while I grew up a Philadelphia Eagles fan who hated the Steelers and who wrongly thought that Franco was a wimp for running out of bounds so much.

And yet, whether out of mutual necessity or some sort of special chemistry, some how we meshed into a heck of a duo.  Before we double-teamed Mark Emmert, I helped Franco try to drop in on members of the NCAA infractions committee who were in the Los Angeles area. He was also the star of my “The Framing of Joe Paterno” documentary, and over the next year he hosted, usually at his own expense, numerous events on the east coast where we played the film and participated in panel discussions.

It seems to me that all Franco really wanted was for Joe Paterno to at least get “due process.” If he was “guilty,” fine, but he at least deserved to have that case actually proven and the truth to be found. Franco was positive that it had not been. But as Harris fought for basic justice, in return, he lost some endorsement money and was roundly ridiculed in the press.

Franco was hardly alone in his crusade, but since the media doesn’t really consider you a full person unless you are a “celebrity” of some kind, he might as well have been. I got my first full taste of the true nature of the rest of what I would come to call the “The Résistance” when I made my initial trip to State College for Penn State’s first game of the 2012 season.

I have had a lot of strange experiences in my memorable life and career, but I doubt I have ever had quite as many crammed into one weekend as on this whirlwind journey to the suddenly poorly named “Happy Valley.”

From Sue Paterno insisting I have some “Peachy Paterno” ice cream at her kitchen table, to Scott Paterno preventing my cameraman from taking a simple picture of Sue speaking with Franco in the legend's luxury suite during the game (a shot ESPN would show during their game coverage), to Jay Paterno drawing me a diagram of the shower where Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed the type of abuse that Jay still didn’t think Sandusky ever engaged in, to an ESPN reporter hugging a member of the family whose patriarch’s reputation he had helped destroy, there were many truly bizarre moments.  

While all of that alone was quite a bit to take in, it was what I saw outside of the immediate Paterno circle which made me fully realize just how hopeless this battle, of which I had suddenly found myself on the front lines, really was.

I can only describe State College at this time as a combination of the Mason/Dixon line during the Civil War, Iran after the fall of the Shah, and Russia after the end of the Czars (that is not to in any way imply that the “reign” of Joe Paterno was anything like the Shah or a Czar!). At least half the people thought that their former leader had been unjustly assassinated, but almost no one had the courage to say that publicly because they feared the wrath of the new regime.

Without a doubt, the most peculiar and disturbing elements of this reality were seen within the walls of the Penn State establishment. Just eight months after they buried him with full honors, Penn State treated the man who put them on the map as if he had never even been there. In fact, any actual mention of his existence was literally verboten.

Not only was the statue gone, the entire area where it had stood had been radically relandscaped and when patrons tried to put cardboard cutouts of Paterno near where the bronzed version used to stand, they were immediately removed. Incredibly, there was not even one mention of Joe Paterno in the game program (and yet references to “Linebacker U,” which was associated more with Sandusky, were still perfectly fine). Even though it was the first Penn State game since his death, there was no mention of him during the pre-game ceremonies. The Paterno family luxury suite didn’t even have their name on the door. The few remaining Paterno loyalists working at the stadium had to almost come up with a secret handshake just to communicate that it was safe to even whisper his name in their presence (one in particular was terrified they might get fired for their support of Paterno just before their lifetime healthcare benefits kicked in).

The most dramatic example I personally experienced in this realm was the difficulty that I had getting press credentials so that my cameraman could shoot down on the field during the game. Newly minted Board of Trustees member Anthony Lubrano, who had run his election based primarily on his support for Joe Paterno, had told me that he had taken care of getting me the press pass. The night before the game, it became clear that there was some sort of problem, but initially I assumed the issue was simply logistical because I had not gone through the traditional channels.

The morning of the game I called Jeff Nelson who is Penn State’s director of football communications (he was the person who dramatically announced to the media that Joe Paterno’s press conference’s had been cancelled and would later somehow hilariously receive the prestigious “Backbone” award from his fellow sports information directors). I asked him what the problem was and he asked me which documentary I was working on. I told him that I was doing the one trying to prove that his school didn’t really protect a pedophile. His response was one of the most stunning things I have ever heard.

“That doesn’t help me. We’re moving on,” Nelson told me as I attempted to make sure that I hadn’t suddenly found myself in Alice’s upside down Wonderland. He then explained that he had thought that I was doing one of the other documentaries (presumably one that might “help” him) and that it was not in his interest to give me credentials. I eventually convinced him to let us have limited field access, but the larger point was clear. I was fighting to vindicate a school that simply had no interest in being exonerated (incredibly, I would later learn that the Penn State administration actually did an investigation of some sort into how we were able to shoot video for the “Framing of Joe Paterno” mini-movie at the stadium).

But it was at dinner the night before the game when I knew for sure just how truly doomed our cause for justice here really was.

Then Penn State professor Spencer Niles (one of the very few professors to show any balls at all as even the guy who taught the “Paterno and the Media” class gutlessly disappeared and the one who held the “Paterno Chair” shamelessly resigned for media glory while writing an explanation which, in part, read like a vigorous defense of Paterno) invited about 25 people within “The Résistance” to dinner at the famed Nittany Lion Inn. At the risk of making too much of it, on an obviously significantly smaller level, the whole thing felt very much like it must have at the initial meeting of our Founding Fathers as they planned the American Revolution. Unfortunately, we had no George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams (though we may have had a Benedict Arnold or two).

While incredibly well-intentioned, the whole event quickly disintegrated into a complete mess as each person around the long table in the private room introduced themselves and inevitably transitioned into making political speeches. Deep divisions quickly emerged and formed into various factions (basically into the “fighters,” the “thinkers,” and the “wussies”).

Here is where being a complete outsider both allowed me to see things that people far too close to the situation could not, but also meant that what I had to say was not likely to be taken nearly as seriously as I would have liked. It was almost as if, because I had no real emotional connection, I was several steps ahead of the Penn Staters in dealing with the various stages of grief and was frustrated that most of the good people in that room couldn’t yet see what seemed so obvious to me. I could hardly blame them. After all, it wasn’t my proud history and reputation that had just been excruciatingly erased in front of the entire world without legitimate justification.

Almost everyone at that dinner had a different opinion on how best to handle the situation and it was obvious that there was never going to be anything resembling a consensus. I knew strong, quick and decisive action needed to be taken immediately because I was well aware that, as hard as it may have seemed to the more naïve among us, the media would be eager to move on from this story as soon as they could (my polling experience was proof that we were already quickly running out of time).

Unfortunately, many Penn Staters were understandably lulled into thinking (quite logically but in contradiction of reality) that the “upcoming” trials of Curley and Schultz would provide the opportunity for the truth to come out and somehow magically reverse at least some of the devastation. The fact that those trials still don’t even have a start date has proven that the well-intentioned group who wanted to be patient was simply naïve and mistaken.

But as frustrating as the stalemate over strategy was, the general lack of courage and leadership was far more depressing.

It was very obvious that we had a huge void when it came to having the right person take the lead. There were five people on our side who had the standing/stature to potentially command our fledgling forces (Jay and Scott Paterno, Franco Harris, Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, who had also just been elected to the Board of Trustees) and the three non-Paternos among them were there at dinner that night.

Scott was compromised because of his integral role in how things went down for his “client” as well as the fact that he was a Republican lobbyist who could not say anything negative about Governor Corbett. Jay (Scott’s opposite in almost every way, including politically) obviously wanted to be liked by the media/enemy, most probably because that is where he saw his only future career prospects. Franco, to whom everyone naturally turned because of their innate respect for his legendary football achievements and courage to stand up for the cause, didn’t have the personality type to quickly and forcefully take charge of such a complex situation. Anthony, without whom the movement may never have even gotten started, much like Jay, wanted to be liked by the media and was obviously a very political operator who had a tendency, probably for reasons he saw as very valid, to play both sides so as to maintain his perceived credibility and options for the future (interestingly, Anthony “joked” during one of our recent public panel discussions that he may be the only guy whose public reputation/standing has been enhanced by this whole story).

I hadn’t met Ryan McCombie until that night and all I really knew about him was that he was a former Navy SEAL. Since I had just spent two days with several SEALs, interviewing them for some political ads for the presidential campaign, I had high expectations for him. I was profoundly disappointed.

If I had to choose just one moment early on where I knew that this cause was lost, it was probably when Ryan dramatically told those at the dinner that what he was enduring for our cause was requiring more courage than anything he had ever done in his military career. Especially considering the fact that he had been taking what I thought was an incredibly soft public stance at that point, I was flabbergasted at this statement (when I told this story to a Navy SEAL friend of mine his first reaction was, “That guy’s not a SEAL,” though, to be clear, I have absolutely no reason to doubt the nature of Ryan’s service).

It was instantly very obvious to me that if a former Navy SEAL really thought that not completely caving in the face of this intimidation required his greatest act of “courage,” that there was no way we could pull off this miracle. To have any chance here we needed to be “300 Spartans,” not the French during World War II (to be fair, Lubrano has said that, at least behind the scenes, McCumbie has been helpful, but in my opinion that is just not good enough when we are facing such a daunting challenge).

Not long after hearing him say that, I confronted Ryan during the communal conversation (in retrospect I am quite sure most of the people there must have been taken aback and wondering who this jackass from Georgetown was) and we got into a pretty heated “discussion” about the level of urgency in fighting back hard and fast. All I remember saying to him was, “Nothing you do will matter while most people still think you guys knowingly protected a pedophile!”

We left on good terms that night, but I knew the cause was toast. We had no natural leader and even our Navy SEAL was no hero. (When I later interviewed Sandusky I learned a possible reason for Ryan’s tepidness. Incredibly, it turns out that just a couple of months before Sandusky’s arrest Jerry played golf together with the “boy in the shower” from the McQueary episode, local businessman Bruce Heim, and Ryan McCombie.)

It wasn’t just our Navy SEAL who wasn’t going to win any medals for bravery. Later that weekend I met with Adam Taliaferro, who was the other “pro-Paterno” candidate who had just been elected to the Board of Trustees. Adam was presumed to be rock solid in support of Paterno because the coach had been so incredibly helpful to him when he almost died on the playing field for Penn State, was paralyzed, and then made a miraculous recovery to be able to walk again.

Much like with McCombie, I had high expectations for Taliaferro. After all, I presumed his incredible life story and ethnicity gave him plenty of “cover” so that he didn’t need to fear the media backlash, which I figured couldn’t be nearly as daunting as what he had already overcome. I spoke with him in person for over an hour and informed him of a remarkable number of facts which he had never heard before. He seemed very eager to try and help correct the injustice, but after that in-person meeting I only got a couple of texts from him promising phone calls which never came.

In general, with only a few exceptions, Adam has turned out to be a universal disappointment for our side. He is seemingly a very nice and intelligent guy, but he was simply in over his head in this incredibly difficult set of circumstances. He was just too young, too inexperienced, too easily intimidated, and too compromised by a conflict of interest involving his job to be any sort of advocate for this cause. Both publicly and privately he has only ever done the bare minimum to support justice for Paterno. This is not just my opinion, but that of virtually everyone I have spoken to within "The Résistance.” Sometimes errors of omission are just as unacceptable as those of commission, and Adam, much like Todd Blackledge, has been in the category of people who had the power to do a great service here, have helped in some important ways, but who felt enormous pressure to mostly to do only the minimum required.

Believe it or not, in between meeting dozens of people, almost all of whom would end up as disappointments in one way or another, I actually found time to attend the game that weekend. Perhaps the most amazing thing I witnessed that remarkable weekend in State College came during the game itself, but it had nothing to do with what was happening on the field, but rather behind the luxury suites.

During the second half I noticed ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi roaming the hallway. Since I had watched nearly every hour of ESPN’s Paterno coverage and knew his tendencies, I correctly figured that Rinaldi was looking for Jay Paterno. I had just seen Jay in one of the suites I was visiting so I introduced myself (I was surprised to learn that he was already well aware of my “Framing Paterno” efforts) and directed him to Jay.

Once they connected, I was kind of on the periphery of the conversation unsure whether to butt out so I politely drifted far enough away as to not be rude. At the end of their discussion Rinaldi gave Jay Paterno a rather large embrace, which, even forgetting the fact that he worked for what I at least considered to be the enemy, seemed more than a bit odd. As Rinaldi started to walk away Jay asked him where he was off to next. Rinaldi told him the he would be heading to the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Jay indicated that he was thinking about going there himself. Rinaldi told him that if he decided to go that he should let him know because he might be able to “hook him up” (presumably with tickets).

Now, to me this entire scene was more than surreal. Rinaldi not only worked for the organization that destroyed Joe Paterno’s entire life’s work and effectively Jay Paterno’s coaching career, but he himself had made several key errors during those critical first couple of days. And here he was warmly hugging Jay Paterno and promising to help him attend the US Open?

I was astounded, but, unable to resist, I turned to Jay after Rinaldi had walked away and casually said, “Correct me if I’m wrong Jay, but did ESPN just offer to get a ‘pedophile protector’ tickets to the US Open?” Not missing a beat, and with a smile on his face, Jay coyly responded, “Yes you did. Which makes you wonder if they really think I’m a pedophile protector, doesn’t it?!”

If there was one episode which best encapsulates the utter insanity of this entire saga, that one would probably be it.

One of my many takeaways from that interaction was just how utterly contrived and bogus ESPN’s position on the entire story really is. After all, Rinaldi was their primary correspondent on the ground when the story first broke and is one of their most well known reporters. Obviously, unless he is a sociopath, he does not believe for a moment that the Paternos were knowingly protecting a monstrous pedophile. And if he doesn’t believe that, either he is being censored by ESPN from reporting the other side of the story, or he is simply going along with the obvious company line because he doesn’t perceive it to be worth the personal risk to fight it.

While neither of those scenarios make either Rinaldi or ESPN appear at all good, I actually think that there is a third way of looking at this which might be more accurate.

My sense from watching that exchange and from what I have seen in my own media career is that the whole thing is nothing more than an act on nearly everyone’s part. Essentially, ESPN created a highly rated reality show surrounding the Sandusky scandal and everyone instinctively knew the best direction to take the narrative. Once that narrative was set, there was simply no contradicting it because it would essentially be like Toto removing the curtain to reveal the old man pretending to be the Wizard of Oz.

Effectively, Rinaldi and ESPN don’t look at Jay, or even Joe, Paterno as a “pedophile protector” because they know that they probably weren’t. But to them it doesn’t really matter. In their world it’s simply “all’s fair in love and war… and media feeding frenzies.” It was almost like Rinaldi was saying, nonverbally, “Hey, sorry about all that stuff we did that destroyed you, your dad and your school. You know how it works. I was just doing my job.” Of course the “job” here has him pretending to be a journalist trying to find/tell the truth, but in reality, it means “tell the story that will draw the best ratings we can get away with on any given day, even if it means that the account we are providing isn’t really true and innocent people get destroyed.”

In other words, it’s all just showbiz. The Paternos got really unlucky and ESPN just took advantage of a good break during a slow news week. As William Shakespeare famously wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely actors.”  Tom Rinaldi, like most “news reporters” these days, was simply an actor playing a role. Joe Paterno was just the best villain that fit the favored storyline. Essentially, Paterno was just the wrong guy, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Obviously had I been in Jay Paterno’s shoes, the discussion, for better or worse, with Rinaldi would have been much different. For whatever reason, when people do something wrong, especially to me, and never get held accountable for that, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to at least call them out on it (often to the detriment of my own career). Obviously, out of deference to Jay and those of whom I was a guest in the suites, I was never going to say anything negative to Rinaldi. However, I felt no such restriction with regard to another ESPN reporter who was covering the sidelines during the game itself.

I was dumbstruck to realize halfway through the game that ESPN had decided to use Mark Schwarz as the sideline reporter for the first Penn State game since Paterno’s death. At first, I honestly thought that I had to be mistaken. After all, this was roughly the bizarre equivalent of a network using the guy from the FBI who, on the recommendation of Russian Intelligence, interviewed the mastermind of the Boston Marathon Bombing (and let him go without restriction) to criticize the way the Boston law enforcement handled the case. 

Schwarz had long been in possession of an audiotape of the wife of then long-time Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine telling a former ball boy that she knew that her husband had sexually abused him. Schwarz didn’t call the police and didn’t even report on the story. As far as we know, he didn’t say anything to Syracuse about what he had been given (though Syracuse did do an “investigation” of Fine at some point after that which led to no apparent action being taken). In fact, this never even came to light until after two allegations from former ball boys finally emerged just weeks after the Sandusky story broke and Fine was then fired.

Contrary to popular perception, I actually somewhat understood why Schwarz did nothing. He had what he thought was a tough call and he apparently made a mistake, but one that, giving him the benefit of the doubt, may have been theoretically without ill intent. I was totally outraged however at the overt hypocrisy that Schwarz, who was heavily involved in ESPN’s coverage of the Sandusky story, did not give Paterno or Penn State anywhere near the same presumption of innocence. This was especially true since could make a very strong argument that they had less evidence to move against Sandusky than Schwarz did against Fine (though, bizarrely, Fine is now suing ESPN, which should be fascinating).

Since, incredibly, no one in the media had really done so (he had been questioned about it, but very gently) I decided to confront Schwarz about this on the field after the game. Knowing that I would be held to a very high standard of behavior, I politely waited until he was done with his job interviewing the winning team and inquired if I could ask him some questions on camera. At first he indicated I could ask “one” question. Then, as soon as I told him the subject matter was the media coverage of Penn State he changed his mind (gee, I wonder why) and said, “No.”

Not willing to take that for an answer I immediately went in for the kill and asked him to explain why, based on the information he had in the Fine case, he should not be considered a “pedophile protector.” Like a startled prize fighter who had lost his bearings after taking a surprise direct hit, he instantly walked briskly away from me, making a big circle while desperate for someone to help bail him out of this situation. Without ever actually addressing my question he looked to his security team and pointed at me saying, “Who is this guy?!” He then, surrounded by at least four uniformed goons, retreated off the field into the safety of the tunnel as I continued to pepper him with different versions of the same unanswered question.

I always find it hilarious when people who are supposed to be journalists suddenly have the tables turned on them. They inevitably respond far worse than the average “civilian” would and certainly in a manner that would have them outraged if one their own interview subjects had responded that way. Can you imagine how Mark Schwarz would have reacted if a Penn State official had run away from his questions, mocked him, and used security guards to shield himself for further inquires? ESPN would make sure that person was destroyed, all while replaying the episode endlessly into ratings gold.

Of course, this situation also further illustrated just how truly difficult our circumstances really were. Normally, the amazing video of my altercation with Schwarz would have been irresistible at least to all of the non-ESPN media and could have been a huge boon to our cause by at least getting it some coverage and oxygen. But in this case, because the media was universally against us, and because ESPN rules the sports world with a virtual monopoly (partly because everyone in sports wants to eventually work there) it was obvious we had none of the normal options.

I knew that if the video was released it would be, at best, totally ignored, and, at worst, result in me being the one attacked for being “rude” (one of the many infuriating aspects of the modern media is that, since there are no longer any rules or accountability, every “journalistic” decision is completely subjective and therefore consistency is nonexistent). I decided to wait until part one of the documentary was finished to release that clip and, sure enough, there was absolutely zero media coverage of an event that easily could have created quite a stir and exposed the absurdity of ESPN’s coverage of the case.

This type of issue was one of the many problems our cause had because, thanks mostly to Penn State wrongly creating the strong impression that the case was closed and that “guilt” was a forgone conclusion, we were “playing from far behind.” One of the many devastating impacts of this was that the vast majority of the media stopped even bothering to keep up with the evolving body of evidence in the case, creating the mind-blowing phenomenon that many of them didn’t even know enough to know what they didn’t know (this ignorance was particularly debilitating in this particular case because, thanks to its complexity, you have to dig far deeper than the lazy media was ever going to do before finally striking a gusher of truth).

This also allowed the media, which already had no interest in providing us with any credibility, to easily portray us as nut jobs, cult members, and conspiracy theorists, even without any actual evidence to that effect (there were countless times when media people presumed I must be insane because they knew so little about the case that they had no context to even understand what I was telling them).

This led to the utterly maddening phenomenon that since almost all of the people motivated enough to delve deeply into the factual record of the case were “Penn Staters,”  we could therefore all be dismissed as brainwashed “JoeBots” in denial (after all, why would someone who didn’t care deeply about Joe Paterno ever bother to take the incredible amount of time and effort needed to learn all about a complicated case of child molestation?!). Effectively, in this case, those who had the most knowledge were bizarrely considered to be the ignorant and crazy people!

I personally ran into this exact problem at least dozens of times with my many interactions/battles with reporters who made basic factual errors in their stories which I tried to correct (the incredible and infuriating full details of which deserve their own book and I will share them at another time). Universally, they never even tried to confront me on the facts. Instead they simply called me names and dismissed me (or in the case of the obviously deranged Buzz Bissinger, blatantly lied about the facts and then hung up on me twice on his old radio show after specifically promising to not do so), safe in the knowledge that everyone else in the ignorant journalism pack agreed with them at least enough not to make an issue out of their mistakes.

It never remotely mattered to them that I wasn’t from Penn State, wasn’t even trying to make any money from my efforts (and was actually harming my career greatly), was an ardent anti conspiracy theorist, and that they couldn’t find anything that I was saying that was factually incorrect. All that mattered was that I wasn’t a celebrity (how could all of them be wrong and only some nobody like me be right?!) and that there were more than enough events in my strange career to irrationally take out of context in order to deem me to be “not credible.”

It was obvious that facts just had no meaning at all to them (I even had a Sports Illustrated writer admit to me that he was wrong to claim that Sandusky “raped” a boy in 1998 and then refuse to correct his Internet article which still to this day reports that critical falsehood as a fact). They had the story they wanted, and no one was going to make them change their minds, especially not someone as threatening to their insecurities as me. Quite simply, the media was and is as invested in this Penn State fairytale that they created as a five-year-old child is in Santa Claus.

Despite this, because we had the truth and logic (forces not nearly as powerful as they once seemed to be) on our side, our cause at least had a theoretical shot at success. But when you are far behind in any contest, it is mandatory that you take full advantage of any and all opportunities to get back in the game. The cause of due process for Joe Paterno and truth in the Sandusky scandal had precious few chances for that to happen, but when they did come about they largely slipped through the buttery fingers of an aging and obviously blindfolded Lady Justice. 

Perhaps the best and by far the most underrated chance to make a significant change in the media’s narrative (or at least remove it from “set in stone” status) came with Joe Posnanski’s book Paterno. Posnanski is a writer who is highly respected by the sports media establishment and, as fate would have it, had been shadowing Paterno for a biography for the past year (I have always found it to be quite amazing that literally no one in the media ever thought to even question why Paterno would allow an author to follow him around if he was really part of a cover-up which, by the time he gave Posnanski permission to do the book, he had to at least strongly suspect was about to fall completely apart).

Had Posnanski’s book, which came out soon after the Freeh Report, been a full-throated defense of Paterno, it would have surely raised doubts in the minds of many in the news media and would have at least made it “acceptable” to publicly take that position. As it turns out, despite him having been there through the entire scandal until Paterno’s death, incredibly Posnanski did not find a single shred of new evidence supporting the theory that the coach was somehow guilty of knowingly being a pedophile protector. In fact, he discovered a few pieces of information which seemed to go in Paterno’s favor.

However, this is where the ferocity and unanimity of the media’s perspective on this case once again created a self-fulfilling prophecy fueled by overt intimidation. The elite media is, above everything else, a club. Getting in the club is extremely difficult and the cost of getting kicked out is very high (especially for the insecure narcissists who tend to gravitate towards a media career to begin with).

Joe Posnanski clearly knew that he had to make a choice (heck, Deadspin did multiple stories on him well before his book was even finished, basically warning him not to do a “defense of Paterno” book). He had to throw Paterno at least somewhat under the bus or else his “media club card” would be revoked and his ability to write future books as a “credible/respected” author would be repealed.

Posnanski clearly decided to try and thread the needle by having the book be mostly positive regarding Paterno while his public comments (which was all the lazy media really cared about since hardly any of them actually read entire books) were laced with enough negative barbs so as to placate his journalism friends and keep his seat at the semi-cool kids table in the high school cafeteria that is the modern media world.

In that fictitious remotely rational world, Posnanski’s palpable sellout would have been at least somewhat counteracted by a negative statement from the Paterno family condemning him. However, as I have already mentioned, Scott Paterno was seemingly far too enamored with his own relatively positive portrayal in the book, as well as filled with delusions about how a major movie based on the book might turn out, to ever allow such a condemnation. That act of omission of course further legitimized Posnanski’s public view that Paterno had failed to do enough to stop Sandusky and that he no longer thought of him in the same way he once did. To this day, Scott routinely kisses Posnanski’s backside on Twitter, despite the obvious damage he did to Scott’s “client’s” reputation via errors of both omission and commission.

The next blown opportunity dealt with the release of what was planned to be the first part of my documentary film “The Framing of Joe Paterno” (the “framing” was intended figuratively, not literally). Made on a shoestring budget, its very existence was a testament to the incredible grassroots support that came from remarkable people throughout the country who simply wanted to see the truth be told and an injustice corrected. Incredibly, we had over 400 small donors (we limited contributions to $1,000 a person) and I produced/directed the film completely for free. Considering the incredible financial, time and content constraints, the 32 minute video is probably the greatest accomplishment of my life.

It tells the basics of the other side of this story in a very credible and compelling fashion and in a way that no one has come close to doing in any medium. In an environment where the truth actually still mattered and the media was remotely fair, the film would have made very significant news. This was especially the case since we released it for free on You Tube on the anniversary of Paterno’s firing and couldn’t be accused of trying to somehow profit from a tragedy (we didn’t even accept advertisements for our website or any of our videos).

Instead, the coverage was sparse and, even though it was acclaimed by those who saw it (well over 100,000 have seen either of the two versions by now) and no one could even attempt to contradict the plausibility of our alternative narrative, the movie was largely disregarded by the media. The big donors connected to Penn State, still in a “wait and see” mode under the false illusion that the Curley and Schultz trials would soon make it safe for them to come out of hiding, never fully backed the project (while they were putting money into far less controversial productions which had no chance to alter the factual record or the accepted narrative). Consequently, we had no ability to spread the message in nearly the manner that it deserved or was required in order to make a real impact.

One of the many corrosive impacts of the ever-shrinking attention span of the average American media outlet and their consumers is that there is just simply not enough time for the truth to come out while it still has significant power. This is especially the case in complex matters like this one. The fact that those at the center of this particular controversy happened to be in mourning over the loss of their husband and father simply added yet another element to the “Perfect Storm.”

In a semi-sane world, Sue Paterno’s appearance on the Katie Couric television talk show combined with the release of the credible “Paterno Report” would have been a real game- changer for this story. Sue’s first interview since the scandal broke simply could not have possibly gone any better. Her performance was perfect in nearly every possible way and Katie Couric seemed legitimately taken with her and the Paterno family. As someone who was once “arrested” essentially protesting Couric receiving a journalism award for her interview with Sarah Palin, I think I have the credibility to say that she was actually remarkably fair and almost sympathetic to the Paterno cause.

How anyone could ever watch Sue’s appearance and conclude that Joe Paterno knew anything about Jerry Sandusky being a pedophile is simply beyond me. I don’t believe any rational person did so. The problem was that it aired well over a year after the story broke. It was just simply too late. The Paternos had waited to fire their biggest gun until the target, unbeknownst to them, had drifted out of the weapon’s range (the media of course didn’t remotely care about such antiquated ideas such as a year-long mourning periods for widows, and the greatest testament to how well Sue did was that her interview created very little news coverage from the army of Paterno critics in the media).

I had spoken with Scott Paterno several times about what the plan was with regard to having Sue do an interview. Of course I wanted to do it myself, but I was well aware that, even before our eventual falling out, Scott would never let that happen. Worried that the media window may be closing, I asked why no interview had been done as of yet and he told me that they had tried to have Sue practice answering questions on camera several times but that she, understandably, just wasn’t emotionally ready to do one publicly yet.

Unfortunately, we now live in a modern media environment where if you don’t get your story out immediately and you aren’t a huge celebrity or the media doesn’t have some sort of strong incentive to keep your story alive, it simply doesn’t matter what you say. Once people make up their minds, it is almost impossible to change them and once a story loses its ratings “juice,” you have an extremely limited ability to even make your case. Had Sue Paterno been able to give that interview before the Freeh Report I honestly think it would have been it far more difficult, if not completely impossible, for Freeh and the media to pull off what they did. Unfortunately, thanks mostly to Joe’s death, that sequencing just wasn’t feasible.

As for the simultaneous release of the “Paterno Report,” that effort was well-intentioned and, in a simpler, less cynical, time, could have worked wonders for their cause (though, in hindsight, breaking the story on ESPN on a Sunday morning may have been a mistake). It was written by highly credible people such as Dick Thornburgh who was former United States attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania and it poked plenty of holes in the work of Louis Freeh. Fifteen or 20 years ago (because our attention spans were longer and the media was at least somewhat objective and substantive), that probably would have been enough to make a major impact. Unfortunately, the report was released in 2013 and the era of Twitter where anything more than a couple of pithy sentences is just too much for the general public to absorb.

One of the Paterno Reports goals seemed to be to raise doubt about Freeh’s conclusions and it succeeded there, but much in the way that a broken dam is “successfully” fixed after a town has been destroyed by flooding. It was simply too late for just creating uncertainty in the accepted narrative. They needed something dramatic and it appears to me that they purposefully didn’t even try to find it.

The report produced virtually no new facts, no new narrative, and, perhaps most amazingly of all, outlined a “Rush to Injustice” which somehow happened to the most famous person in Pennsylvania without there being any sort of villain, or even anyone to really blame. It never pointed a finger at anyone, leaving the reader to wonder, “How the heck did all of this happen to such a great guy?”

Instead, the strategy seemed to be to hitch the wagon almost completely to the analysis of retired FBI sex crimes expert Jim Clemente. Clemente’s report detailed how he views Sandusky as one of the “best” child sexual abusers he had ever seen and was a classic “nice guy” offender who was extremely difficult to catch because he didn’t fit what non-experts think is the profile of a molester. The bottom line of his study seemed to be that Paterno and Penn State could be forgiven for being fooled by Sandusky because everyone, including law enforcement and numerous child welfare agencies, were all bamboozled.

While I agree with the gist of that conclusion, I have significant problems with other aspects of Clemente’s analysis and I discussed my issues with him very extensively both before and after my Sandusky interview and both on the phone and in person.

My first problem with the conclusions in the “Paterno Report” is that it largely accepts a narrative of what happened here that is neither likely accurate, nor particularly helpful to the “defense” of Joe Paterno. While it raises some minor doubts about what Paterno was actually told by McQueary, it does almost nothing to seriously question whether any sort of sexual assault ever actually took place that night and whether the “boy in the shower,” who Paterno was essentially fired for not doing enough to protect, even needed any significant protection from his relationship with Sandusky. It also fails to make the full case that Paterno and Penn State actually did almost exactly the right thing based on what they knew at the time.

The way I see it, even if you believe everything in the “Paterno Report,” because it fully embraces the “Sandusky as Hideous Monster” caricature, you can still make a powerful argument that more should have been done based on what Paterno/Penn State knew and that great harm was caused because they did not do more. In my view of the case (which I strongly believe is based on more factual evidence than the Paterno’s public stance), neither is true because no sexual assault happened in the only incident they knew about and the boy in question had a great relationship with Sandusky for the next ten years.

In a sense, the narrative in the “Paterno Report” not only didn’t provide any bombshells for the media to latch onto as a reason to “reopen” the case, it also left Joe Paterno (unnecessarily in my view) essentially “checkmated” from ever getting to complete exoneration. Even worse, it appears to me that this direction was taken purely out of a desire to be politically correct and to placate the very media which unfairly destroyed Paterno to begin with.

Jim Clemente is clearly an expert in this field and a very intelligent guy. However, he is also an abuse survivor himself and a guy who obviously wants to be famous (he works as a consultant on the TV show “Criminal Minds” and wears weird hats in many of his news interviews as to be seen as more hip/memorable) and I think that these factors cloud his judgment somewhat.

His extremely rigid philosophy of the nature of both offenders and victims made it nearly impossible for him to fully accept what I strongly believe the facts indicate is likely the real truth of this matter. Due largely to his almost religious belief in the concept of “compliant victimization” (where victims become so obedient to their abusers that they deny the abuse and maintain close relationships with them), much of the evidence I found so compelling was virtually irrelevant to him.

First of all, it was astonishing to me that Jim appeared to not even be aware when he wrote his portion of the report that the “victim” in the McQueary episode had strongly denied the abuse that night. I am positive that he had no clue about the remarkably extensive record which exists with regard to that victim’s denials (amazingly, Clemente appeared to possess only rudimentary knowledge of most of the case in general). By the time I had informed him of all of this new information (which, to be fair, was mostly gleaned from my interview with Sandusky and learned after the “Paterno Report” was written) it was too late for him to suddenly change his view of the case, especially when doing so would have forced him to seemingly contradict a huge element of his entire theory of child sexual abuse.

During our many hours of at times animated conversation I came to think of Jim as a bit like an extreme environmentalist who believes so strongly in the theory of global warming that, no matter what the weather is (hot, cold, calm, stormy), it is always further evidence that global warming is real. Similarly, it appears that Jim’s theory of “compliant victimization” makes it virtually impossible to disprove any sort of allegation of sexual abuse, sometimes when even the victim has never even technically claimed abuse (it is also very interesting to point out that the Sandusky case began with Victim 6 in 1998 with a case which was clearly not one of “compliant victimization,” since the boy let his mother know something was wrong immediately and there were no allegations of abuse after that).

After all, under Jim’s theory, if a potential victim says that no abuse happened, then that is actually evidence that it did occur and if they say they were abused, then it must be true because male victims never lie in the affirmative about being forced to have some sort of sex with a man (I never was able to get Jim to explain how it is that some victims like Victim 1 in this case deny sex, then claim sex, then dial it back, and then amp it up again later). Jim also believes that victims never tell stories for money either, which basically means that, in a case like Sandusky’s where all the victims had great relationships with him after the allegations began and all of them were underprivileged kids who eventually sought money, that Sandusky’s best defenses were instantly rendered not credible.

To be clear, I actually agree with Clemente’s theory in general, but do not believe, if only for reasons of basic logic, it can be used universally as a hard rule to which there are no exceptions. But as I have already documented, if there were ever a set of circumstances which could be deemed “unique” and far outside of the realm of “normal,” then the situation surrounding McQueary, Sandusky, and Victim 2 would certainly qualify.

During our many conversations, it seemed to me that Jim “got” what I was saying about the denials of Victim 2 being so powerful and proactive as to be fundamentally different from a typical victim being afraid to tell the truth. I also think Clemente saw, as I did, Victim 2 later “flipping” as consistent with Jim’s own theory of “grooming” and that Victim 2 may have simply realized later what all of Sandusky’s weird acts (none of them being directly and overtly “sexual” in the traditional sense of the word) were really all about. He also admitted that, just as a recent Harvard study had concluded, it was not uncommon for a pedophile to be “chaste” or to never engage in direct sex acts with a victim (more on that and how it may relate to Sandusky is still to come). I even asked specific questions of Sandusky based on Jim’s suggestion on how to get him to confess (this effort was largely unsuccessful, but Jim complimented me in writing on the interview). But unfortunately, Clemente was so tied to his own theories, and so afraid of being perceived as calling a “victim” a “liar,” that I could never get him to fully endorse my view of the case.

This last aspect of the problem was particularly maddening. Clemente was very fearful of being seen as calling Victim 2 a liar (and thus losing his “street cred” in the victimization community and possibly his prominent place in the rolodex of TV news producers), but I wasn’t coming close to saying Victim 2 was lying. As I would say multiple times on national television, I am actually claiming the he was telling the truth! (I wish to make clear that, while I am currently very confident that no sexual assault took place on the night in question, that if Victim 2 later comes forward and contradicts his current story in a credible fashion I will gladly retract my entire theory of this case. At least at that point the accepted media version of what happened here would finally have some actual evidence to back it up, the current absence of which is a large part of why I took up this cause to begin with.)

Based on the current evidence, Victim 2 has made recorded statements regarding Sandusky on three separate occasions in very different situations. In none of them did he come close to indicating that Sandusky ever sexually abused him, and in one of them he specifically and emphatically denied any sort of sexual assault in the McQueary episode. And yet, because he hired a law firm (which, it is important to note, in neither of their two public statements has ever specifically claimed sexual abuse in the McQueary incident) who says that he is seeking money from Penn State, somehow his denials instantly become irrelevant, at least to the so called “experts.” This type of thinking seems simply insane to me.

Unfortunately, Scott Paterno clearly decided that buying completely into Clemente’s view of the case was the best scenario for him, his family, and his “client.” I wish to make it apparent that since it is his last name he obviously gets to make that call and that I can actually see the potential logic in this strategy. However, it most be noted that Scott’s viewpoint here is indeed a political tactic and not a pursuit of the real truth that Joe Paterno said he wanted (I will provide evidence that this is exactly how Scott sees this issue momentarily).

It is obvious, at least to me, that Scott decided that they could only get the media to accept so much of their argument without there being a massive backlash. Delving into the politically incorrect realm of seemingly (though not really) “defending” Sandusky and questioning some of the jury verdicts would have surely provoked a hue and cry from the media that the Paternos still didn’t “get” it and that they were now doing even further harm to the victims (it is also essential to remember that no one had the full evidentiary record at the time these decisions were made because I had not yet done the Sandusky interview and the full story of “Victim 2” was not yet known/verified).

In my view, Scott essentially took the “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy and wrapped his father’s legacy forever in the blanket of educating society not to make the same mistakes about child sex offenders that he did (while not realizing that, like it or not, fair or not, people were far less likely to be able to “pardon” Paterno if Sandusky was seen as “Hitler”). In effect, Scott decided to throw his father’s long-term fate on the mercy of the media court and, instead of arguing for exoneration, made a plea for the media to eventually reduce Joe Paterno’s penalty from “death” to maybe something like “probation into perpetuity.”

Much like with the Sue Paterno interview, this approach may have had real value in a world where the media was remotely fair. However, it was obvious to me that the same reporters who benefitted so much from destroying Paterno were highly unlikely to suddenly have mercy on him simply because his family took the very high (politically correct) road when they finally formally responded to the charges against him.

While there were some positive developments because of the “Paterno Report” (a few fence-sitters such as Phil Knight finally felt like they had enough “cover” to publicly express support for Paterno again and Bob Costas began to indicate he had changed his mind on some important elements), not surprisingly, the media almost universally dismissed it as “nothing new” and paid for by the Paterno family. In its totality, I viewed the report as, at best, a “push” for the ultimate cause because if you are going to sell out the truth in order to trigger a political gambit, you better get something significant in return. There is scant evidence at this point that is likely to be the ultimate result of that effort.

From my personal perspective, the “Paterno Report” simultaneously opened up an important need that I was the only person likely to be willing/able to fill, while also paradoxically closing off any real chance of that effort being nearly as effective as it should have been.

One of the very many elements of this case that has always baffled me is that so much permanent punishment could be levied without anyone even speaking to most of the key people involved in the situation. Paterno was fired before ever providing his version of events and had his record, statue and legacy taken away after he could no longer respond to the charges against him. Freeh never spoke to Sandusky, Paterno, McQueary, Curley, or Schultz. McQueary has never done a real media interview. And Jerry Sandusky never testified at his own trial and only did a short telephone interview with Costas before he was sent away to prison for life.

I am truly mystified as to how anyone could possibly fully understand this story without at least hearing from the person at the very center of the saga. That is why I had been trying to set up an interview with Sandusky from prison for months before it finally happened. The logistics and politics of the planning for this series of interviews was the most complex of my career (even more intricate than those involving my news-making post-2008 election interview with Sarah Palin while she was essentially “imprisoned” in Alaska).

Even after navigating that frustrating maze (coordinating with Sandusky in prison was more difficult than it must have been communicating during the time of the Pony Express), I still had to figure out if I could get a record of the three hours in prison where recording was strictly prohibited and whether it would be worth the risk to do so. Finally, in an act that was part James Bond drama and part Police Squad comedy, I was able to record the entire interview, though I did so in a manner that created far more aggravation and expense than it should have (though it did provide me with an utterly hilarious story I will eventually tell publicly).

The interview itself was remarkable on numerous fronts, but the headline for the purposes of finding “new facts” to potentially exonerate Joe Paterno and Penn State was definitely the revelation of the real identity of the “boy in the shower” in the McQueary episode.

Sandusky actually refused to tell me the name of the person (though he later inadvertently used his first name a couple of times), but I was able to figure it out after I returned home and did some more research and got some help from former Penn State player/coach Gary Gray. Gray had helped prep Sandusky during the grand jury investigation (when he still thought that Jerry was falsely accused) and had kept some letters that a few Second Mile kids had written in support of him. One of the letters happened to be written by a Sergeant in the Marines who had the same first name that Sandusky had used by mistake with me. The profile he depicted in the letter fit exactly the details that Jerry had used to describe him. I then went back and confirmed his identity with Sandusky, his wife Dottie, and their lawyer Joe Amendola.

I also obtained the high school football roster of the guy’s senior year when Sandusky had stood in for his father at his last football game, both copies of the letter to the editor he had published in his own name in local newspapers supporting Sandusky, an original version of a very similar letter he sent to the attorney general, and a copy of the statement he gave to an FBI-trained former police officer (ironically on the day Paterno was fired) saying nothing happened on the night in question. I also obtained an official report of a DUI he got, which connected him to the lawyer who was publicly representing “Victim 2.”

This document confirmed his age as nearly 14 when the shower episode happened, rather than “ten” as McQueary and the prosecution had claimed (This distinction is, at least in my mind, extremely important but almost impossible to articulate in the media without it being badly misunderstood. A 14-year-old is far less likely to be so naïve about sex as to allow these acts to go on without alerting anyone. They also have a far greater ability to physically defend themselves. This appears to be why the prosecution, as well as Governor Corbett, went to great lengths, much like Trayvon Martin supporters who always used photos of him years before his shooting, to portray the image that Sandusky’s victims were in the ten year old range when they were really mostly between 13 and 15 years old when the abuse apparently occured.)

In short, I had proven who the “boy in the shower” was (or that a series of impossible and nonsensical coincidences had all converged at the same time and that the “real” victim of the most infamous episode of child sex abuse in history was willing to stay quiet and let someone else claim to be him for money). I also had an extremely strong case that no sexual assault had occurred the night McQueary saw him with Sandusky in the showers.

Now, in that fictitious remotely rational world, this revelation would have been genuine bombshell material. It would have instantly required the media to ask a series of new questions while also seriously considering whether they had bought into a largely, if not entirely, false narrative. For sure it would have meant that the Paterno family would be thrilled to know that there was an excellent chance that Joe was not told about a rape and that no specific child had been left endangered because he didn’t do “more” to stop Sandusky.

Unfortunately, in the world in which we actually reside, what really happened was so very different from those scenarios as to render any simile hopelessly inadequate.

Scott Paterno called me almost immediately after the last of the Sandusky interviews was completed. I had been trying to inform him for days what was going on as a courtesy and we had been unable to connect except through email, but I was confident that Anthony Lubrano would tell Scott everything I told him, so I figured that Scott already knew the basics.

Scott was beyond irate and, without any real clue about the details of the situation (yes, ironically, he “rushed to judgment”), he launched into a 15-20 minute profanity laced tirade in which attacked me unfairly, threatened me, and accused me of numerous things that were simply ridiculous. For some context on our relationship (which had been rocky almost from the start when he made that silly call to prevent my cameraman from taking a simple shot of Sue together with Franco Harris in Franco’s suite during Penn State’s opener when ESPN had already put the same shot on national television), in January I had done an interview with a Penn State student publication in which, in one benign phrase, in just one sentence, I said that the Paterno PR team was among those who had made “mistakes” at the beginning of the story. Scott, personifying “thou doth protest too much,” sent me this email, which I am confident would have resulted in 99.9% of people in my position instantly going public with what they knew and quitting the movement.

 

-----Original Message-----
From: GEORGE SCOTT PATERNO <[email protected]>
To: John Ziegler <[email protected]>
Sent: Thu, Jan 3, 2013 12:19 pm
Subject: You are walking a fine line

I understand you do not like our PR team.  If you keep attacking us and them, we will 
at some point respond.  I suggest you attempt to make your point and raise your profile
on my father's death absent those criticisms.  Your way is your way.  

How we chose to do things -- and with who -- is our business.  I am not in this for a 
quick hit or a splash -- I am trying to ensure that a complete record is created credibly.

My way is how we are going to do things.  I have remained silent and not in any way 
hampered you to this point because I believe that on some level you are trying to right
a wrong even if your methods and guerrilla style is off putting.  
Anyway, react publicly to this if you chose, or you can simply move off the puck -- you
will neither change my mind or our course by repeatedly publicly attacking people whose
opinion I respect a hell of a lot more than yours.  

And if push comes to shove, the Paterno faithful like Franco will side with Sue when 
she speaks in the near future.  

 

After getting that from Scott I immediately concluded that my suspicions about him must have been dead on because he never would have reacted that strongly if I was wrong. I also knew that things between us were now sure to end very badly, and as I got the post-Sandusky-interview phone call it was obvious that we were about to reach that point very quickly.

I made an extensive and detailed record of the memorable conversation from notes that I was taking during the call, those that my wife made while listening, and my extremely good memory for what people tell me and what I say during discussions. I actually made a tremendous effort to be as fair to Scott in the creation of a partial “transcript” as possible and I even sent the final product to his brother Jay (who apparently had no problem believing any of it and seemed to think Scott was both inappropriate and unintentionally rather funny).

It had been my original intention to publish the entire record of the call here, but after I sent it to Franco Harris and discussed with him the direction I was heading with this “book,” he urged (he did not “force” me) to eliminate elements which simply made Scott look bad and didn’t directly relate to the case against Joe. It is my belief that the entire call was vital to understand who Scott Paterno really is, why he reacted so incredibly emotionally to me having simply interview Jerry Sandusky in jail, and why he has made some of the strategic decisions that he has made in this story (and that all of that is critical to understanding how this all went down). However, out of loyalty to Franco, I have edited out huge chunks of the most entertaining (and perhaps illuminating) elements of the conversation and maintained, at least for now, just the parts which most directly relate to the case.

Here are those sections in the order in which they occurred:

Scott: You’re using my last name and it’s a courtesy to me that you let me know that your going to use that last name to have Jerry have a chance to say his peace?  Do you think Todd Blackledge is going to stay with you when I have my mother call him? Do you think Franco Harris will?

John: Scott, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Scott: Are you going to air video of an interview with Jerry on a website called FramingPaterno?

John: You have no idea what you are talking about. You didn’t even ask my any questions. You started this conversation with an accusation and a threat. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scott:  You do what you want, but if you air a minute of an interview with Jerry either defending himself or trying to discredit Mike McQueary on a website that has my last name on it I would have to distance myself from it.

John: That’s fine Scott. You do what you need to do.

Scott: I will have my mom call Franco and Todd and everybody else..

John: That’s fine. How do you think that is going to hurt me?

Scott: Its hurting me!! Do you think anybody believes a word Jerry has to fucking say?

John: You don’t even know what the purpose of the interview was or what I asked him,

Scott: Did you get the impression that Jerry did not like my father?

John: That’s true.

Scott: Who gives a shit? I can’t have my name giving Jerry a voice.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scott: We’ll see who the Penn State army lines up behind tomorrow after Sue Paterno publicly disavows you. We’ll see how many people listen to you.

John: If that makes you happy, Scott go for it! That makes you feel like you have some sort of power…

Scott; Shut the fuck up!! I have let you peacefully exist with us.

John: Thank God. Thanks so much Scott. I appreciate that. You’ve been very helpful.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scott: Do you know who you remind me of? Jesse Jackson.

John: Oh God. That’s exactly right Scott.

Scott: He wasn’t there when Martin Luther King died but he made sure that he got his blood all over his shirt.

John: Scott, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Scott: You are one of the people I have thought from the beginning is out for himself.

John: (laughing) You have no idea what you are talking about!

Scott: You have done nothing to help me. You are not a Penn Stater, you didn’t play here, you are not a member of this family. You have no right to claim ownership of this. I will be forced to distance myself from any attempt to impugn Mike McQueary’s reputation with the word of a convicted pedophile.

John: Mike didn’t see an assault Scott and you have put yourself in a situation where your dad can never be exonerated…

Scott: We’ve never said he saw an assault!

John: Mike did!

Scott: You fucking idiot, no one is listening to Jerry!

John: Mike said he saw an assault and that is why your dad’s name is Mudd.

Scott: Even though you may be right about the kid. Even though that might be Victim 2, having Jerry say it is not going to change a single fucking mind. That’s my problem with it John.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scott: Go do that Steubenville case. Leave my family alone. Walk away from Paterno.

John: I understand why you don’t want the full truth to come out.

Scott: Why wouldn’t I want the full truth to come out?

John: For somebody who refers to their father as their client, and their client got the death penalty, what kind of a lawyer does that make you if your father isn’t at least a little bit guilty?

Scott: Excuse me? You think my father is guilty?!!

John: No!! I didn’t say that!

Scott: It’s fucking idiots like you that make it tougher for people to listen to us because they can discredit us as one of these lunatics who are supporting my father blindly.

John: Jerry didn’t assault that boy that night.

Scott: Do you realize that no one gives a shit if he didn’t assault him that time?

John: That’s the only time that matters!!

Scott: Are you a fucking idiot?! That’s what matters when convicting Jerry but when you’re convicting these guys for not doing enough it matters what Mike said he saw, it doesn’t matter what actually happened.

John: So there is no connection between what he said he saw and what he actually saw? You don’t think there is a connection between those two things? Seriously Scott?

Scott: You can’t prove what happened!

John: I can prove what didn’t happen.

Scott: No you can’t prove that.

John: You have accepted a narrative that dooms your father for all time. You had your big report and it got dismissed because there were no new facts…

Scott: Oh your are right, that was my last move (sarcastic). We have haven’t thought this through. We need you to fucking bail us out! I got more in one day with Dick Thornburgh than you have gotten in a year and a half! Go away! You want to make this a public fight I will carry it through. Give me seven weeks and if I haven’t changed your mind (about how I can win this) then do whatever you fucking want and we’ll go to war.

John: Why would I do anything you tell me to? You have made it clear that I am the enemy.

Scott: You make yourself the enemy with airing Jerry with my name on it. Paterno is my name.

John: You haven’t even asked me how this will be disseminated…

Scott: I don’t care. I don’t want it out there.

John: If you had given me any reason to believe or trust you or your direction I would consider doing what you want.

Scott: Its my father. Its my kids who will have this last name. When this is over you walk away without anything but a fucking pain in the ass.

Scott then tells a story of being in bar and giving bartender a credit card and the bartending telling him that Paterno must be a bad last name to live with.

Scott: You are so arrogant. You sound like fucking Obama telling me what’s important to me!! Fuck you John and fuck the horse you came in on!!

Scott then hangs up the phone.

 

While I am obviously not completely objective here (though I honestly believe that I am far more so than most would be under these circumstances), I truly think that, in some ways, that phone conversation says more about what really went down in this whole story than just about anything else I have uncovered.

Scott’s responses simultaneously reveal a significant part of why Joe Paterno got into this mess, why he couldn’t get himself out of it, and why the family’s responses have been as ineffective as they have been. Quite simply it is because Scott Paterno, due to being overly driven by ego and emotion, is a person who was in no way equipped to handle the legal, political, or public relations aspects of this story, and he was the one who was somehow making, or at least approving, most of the decisions by the Paterno camp (ironically, I and others close to the case are convinced Joe let Scott handle this situation because Joe was so certain he had done nothing wrong that he didn’t consider himself to be in serious jeopardy).

Thanks to his extremely emotional reaction when he mistakenly thought that I was saying Joe Paterno was “guilty,” it also shows that Scott strongly believes his father/client to be “innocent.” This may seem like an insignificant discovery, but for me it was not (I made that obviously loaded statement to him at least in part to see what kind of reaction I would get).

If Joe Paterno truly was “guilty” then Scott would be the one person on the planet sure to know it. I had often told people close to the case that Scott’s actions were about the only thing that really worried me that I could be wrong in my conclusions because they sometimes seemed consistent with some level of “guilt” (memorably, when I told one of the primary players in this case that, based on Scott’s behavior, I could only conclude that either Joe was at least somewhat “guilty” or that Scott was an idiot, they assured me that they were confident that it was the latter).   

After Scott hung up on me and we tried to make a decent record of the call, I got a hold of Franco Harris. I wanted to let him know that things were now sure to eventually blow up between me and Scott,  that my efforts were now doomed to failure, and that he should feel free to throw me under the bus when needed so that he could maintain his close relationship to Sue Paterno. Remarkably, Franco assured me that the last part of that equation was the last thing I needed to worry about and expressed his full support for what I was doing.

Meanwhile, Scott was already moving to let the rest of the Paterno family know that I was being excommunicated from the movement. This error-filled email was sent presumably to everyone in the Paterno brain trust and then forwarded to me by Scott, I presume with the purpose of trying to frighten me.

 

From: GEORGE SCOTT PATERNO <[email protected]>

Subject: John Zeigler

Date: March 2, 2013 3:24:27 PM EST

All,

I wanted to let you know that we will be publicly distancing ourselves from the work of "framingpaterno" and John Zeigler. While we have never challenged John's assumption of some role in our battle for the truth, he recently made decisions that we simply cannot have associated with our name. I reached out to let him know this and he responded with the meal you will see below.

We then had a every angry call, during which John said "you are the person in this mess I loathe the most," which he then quickly moved to except Jerry, so I guess I have that going for me.

This is a long tough process. But quick fixes and sensationalism that is easily ignored does not serve us. As our report shows, we are taking the thoughtful and CREDIBLE path.

I hope you can all respect our position.

Thank you for your continued support.

All the best,

Scott

 

Bizarrely, after Scott and I exchanged a couple of more emails (and I reminded him how to spell my name correctly and mentioned that his own expert, Jim Clemente, had helped me both prepare for and interpret the Sandusky interview that had so incensed him), he sent me this last message, which seemed to be a promise to remain quiet, at least for the short run.

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Paterno <[email protected]>
To: talktozig <[email protected]>
Sent: Sat, Mar 2, 2013 4:01 pm
Subject: Re: John Ziegler

One last thing - I emailed Clemente and asked his take on whether airing helps the victims. If he signs off on what you want to air and will say so publicly I am always willing to do what is in the best interests of awareness.

 

I may have misinterpreted that email, but I thought what Scott was saying there was that if my message was crafted in such a way that Clemente thought that it was a positive development for understanding pedophilia, that Scott would then deem it to be politically correct enough to not have him try to undermine it. I did find it amazing that nowhere in any of his correspondence with me did he seem at all concerned with what the actual truth was.

Unfortunately, numerous further conversations with Clemente were rather fruitless, at least in part because, according to Jim, Scott had not communicated clearly to him what exactly his role was supposed to be here. Jim apparently hadn’t been explicitly told by Scott that he was the official “arbiter” of this situation, and I really didn’t care that much about what Scott decided to do (this was partly because I knew my efforts were already doomed, because I knew Scott wasn’t rational enough to ever change his mind, and because I had miscalculated how things were going to transpire with the Today Show, which I already knew was where bits of the interview would be first released). This meant that our already slim chances of pulling off a negotiating miracle were effectively non-existent and I had more important things to be worried about than Scott’s sense of self worth.

Sure enough, despite the best efforts of Franco Harris and his wife Dana (who was has been the backbone of our counter movement) to try and get Scott to at least stay quiet through my release, the “Paterno Family” put out a statement the night before my Today Show appearance (a statement Jay Paterno told me he lobbied against) essentially giving the media everything they needed to discredit or ignore my findings. My interview with Sandusky was intended to be a Trojan Horse with which to get me inside the mainstream media to make the case that Joe Paterno had been railroaded, but Scott Paterno acted effectively as a snitch who alerted the enemy (the media) to the plan.

Taking myself out of the equation (the statement didn’t actually use my name, it claimed that using a Sandusky interview to try to find out what happened was wrong), the Paterno proclamation made no logical sense at all.

First, they released their “rush to judgment” before they had any idea whatsoever what I was going to say or what clips from Sandusky would be used (how it ever became appropriate to ask people on live TV about statements which were released before those who wrote them have any idea what you are actually going to say is truly mystifying to me).

Second, their own “Paterno Report” properly ripped Louis Freeh for not speaking to any of the primary people in the case, and yet here they were criticizing me for speaking to the person at the center of the entire story (from the perspective that their guy got railroaded!).

Thirdly, the only objective the statement truly achieved was to placate Scott’s ego by allowing him to feel as if he had finally accomplished something, but in exchange for having eliminated me as a “threat” to upstage or disrupt his grand plan, he effectively destroyed the last chance for his “client” to finally at least get a fair hearing on the evidence.

There was simply no need for what Scott did. No one would have blamed the Paternos because I (a person they had never publicly supported or privately helped in any significant way) did an interview with Sandusky, which the Today Show deemed newsworthy enough to place in their most-watched time slot. Scott simply created a need in his mind to separate himself from the interview so that he could justify sticking it to me and “winning” this bizarre “competition” in which he seems to see us engaged.

It was almost entirely personal for Scott and motivated by deeply rooted factors which I couldn’t possibly begin to fully understand. The proof of that is that if a celebrity like Matt Lauer had done the Sandusky interview, which he had wanted badly to do, I have zero doubt that Scott would have never said a word about it and may have even commended the findings (tellingly, Scott recently allowed a family statement to go out properly lavishing praise on Franco Harris, even though some of Franco’s beliefs about this case are even more “controversial” than mine).

I honestly hope that Scott felt good about his moment of power over my efforts for the truth, because he sacrificed an enormous amount on behalf of a lot of people who care deeply about this issue and who want the truth to win out. And he did it mostly just for that fleeting feeling of having shown me who was really in charge here and to justify his previously taken position (as outlined in the Paterno Report) that they needed to accept the vast majority of the media’s narrative.

When Lauer inevitably asked me about Scott’s statement on the Today Show, my voice cracked and those in the studio apparently thought I might shed a tear. This emotion was honestly not for me (though I am sure it was fueled in part by the knowledge that a year’s worth of great work, as well what I strongly believe to be the truth, was in the process of being needlessly destroyed). I was thinking about Joe Paterno and all of the many people who still believe in him, and how the final nail in his historical coffin was likely being hammered by his own son (who probably didn’t even realize it and certainly wasn’t honest enough with himself to admit it).

Of course, a large part of why I got emotional was that I knew that Scott’s effort to sabotage me would be successful (the irony and “coincidence” that perhaps Scott’s only “successful” strategic move in this saga targeted the efforts of the person who was most likely to expose his own role in his father’s demise should not be lost here). I was fully aware that the media didn’t even need an excuse to try and render me and my revelations “not credible.” Even though it meant giving Scott Paterno credibility for the first time ever, since consistency and logic are hardly required in modern media decision making, this would not be a problem for them.

It is important to point out that while Scott’s torpedoing of my Sandusky interview was indeed “successful,” it was not because of the thinking he outlined in his last phone call to me. Obviously, he seemed to believe and hope that he (or, more specifically, his mother) would kill my support from Penn State people. One of the many reasons Scott and I didn’t get along is that he was under a massive misperception that I somehow was in this for money and that Penn Staters were my “core customers.” Bizarrely, Scott even direct-messaged at least one (I am sure there were others but I only have the proof of one) total stranger on Twitter to tell him a completely concocted story of how I have set up a shell company so that I could falsely claim I wasn’t making any money from my efforts.

But from almost every indication I got, the “core” supporters, while understandably confused, were almost completely unmoved by Scott’s actions. Instead, in yet another irony, it was the very news media which suddenly decided to treat his words as having real significance who were the only people really impacted by his sabotage efforts. That, combined with things having gone unexpectedly haywire behind the scenes at the Today Show (which is rich fodder for a completely different writing project), eliminated any leverage that we might have had during the Sandusky interview’s release, as well as control over my intended message.

Instead of the remarkable revelations regarding the real “Victim 2” being the story, it was, thanks largely to Scott feeding the narrative, mostly about what a “debacle” the whole affair was. If there was one fact which personified just how impervious the media is to even hearing the other side of this story, it was probably that after I waved the dramatic, never-before-seen statement of “Victim 2” live on both the Today Show and primetime on CNN I did not receive even ONE media inquiry about the document. Not one!

Hilariously, during the commercial breaks while in studio with the extremely rude, arrogant, and ignorant Piers Morgan on CNN he literally didn’t even look at the document. Morgan was so disinterested in the text that I might as well have been holding a set of guidelines for good journalism (in which he would have obviously been equally apathetic).

So instead of the media seeking out “Victim 2” (whose name I never purposely published even though he had “outed” himself when he wrote those published letters to the editor in his own name supporting Sandusky) and Mike McQueary and at least asking them some important questions about whether the entire narrative here had been based on a falsehood, I became the target of vicious and absurd attacks. Since I had predicted on the Today Show that this would happen, and was completely prepared for that inevitability, I really couldn’t have cared less about me. I was just profoundly disappointed that the truth was getting lost in all of the insanity. In fact, I truly wish Scott had issued a statement saying that John Ziegler is the biggest jackass who has ever lived but you may want to take a listen to the Sandusky interview.

As for the silly charge that I was relying completely on the word of a convicted child molester who refused to take the stand in his own defense (and, unbeknownst to the world until now, took a lie detector test which was “inconclusive”), this defied simple logic. I never gave full credence to anything he said unless it could be corroborated by other evidence, or if at least it was against his own self-interest to say (which, by the way, the identity of “Victim 2” fits into both of these categories). Also, it should not be forgotten that people are routinely put to death in this country based on the testimony of convicted felons.

Since when does being a convicted criminal mean that you are definitely lying about everything? I guess, only when the media really doesn’t want to believe you because it will mean that they were flat wrong about one of their favorite stories of all time.

If that bit of convenient situational ethics on the part of the media was not “insane making” enough, the notion that I was the “not credible” one in this equation was flat out hilarious. After all, I had spoken to more of the people closest to this case than probably anyone else and had researched it nearly non-stop for a year. I was the only person to ever extensively question Sandusky on the record. And yet, sports media people who still were routinely still under the delusion that Mike McQueary witnessed a “rape” and told Joe Paterno about it, were the same scribes claiming I was the one who didn’t have a clue (and many of these same lemmings were among the media horde who also told us with great certainty that the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa duel was great for baseball, Lance Armstrong never cheated, the Duke Lacrosse team committed a gang rape, Tiger Woods was a good family man, Tim Tebow is an NFL star, Manti Te’o endured an unspeakable double tragedy, and Oscar Pristorious was an international hero). 

In the end, I believe that the truth, as well as the last evidentiary path to Joe Paterno’s exoneration was completely lost amidst the mayhem caused by the toxic mix of politics, insecurity, ignorance, and self-preservation. What should have been a game changer was really, barring some sort of dramatic development, a game ender, at least in the realm of the publicly accepted narrative of this story.

In my view this was proven just a couple of months later when yet another potentially destructive storm hit the media’s narrative and it barely even registered on the national radar.

It was obvious after the way the media reacted to me (thanks to a big assist from Scott Paterno) that a non-celebrity such as myself had no chance of storming the heavily fortified walls that they had constructed around their narrative. Even before I went public with the Sandusky interview I had spoken with Bob Costas twice (thanks, in large part to St. Louis radio host Kevin Slaten who is friends with Bob and who had successfully pushed him to read the full Freeh Report and opened up his mind to the possibility that the conventional wisdom could be very wrong here) and told him point-blank that if there was any chance of correcting this injustice that it had to start with someone such as him who had the celebrity and “gravitas” to be respected by the rest of the media. He seemed to instinctually understand that reality and I was pretty confident that he would make at least some legitimate attempt to reopen the case.

Costas kept his word and used the filing of the long-awaited and probably well overdue lawsuit on behalf of the Paterno family and others against the NCAA to do an hour-long program on the NBC Sports Network about the Freeh Report. The show itself was very solid, but unfortunately ran extremely late at night thanks to the NHL playoff game going into overtime just before the broadcast (yet another example of the “Perfect Storm” against the truth here) on a network which is almost totally unknown to the average American.

There were two amazing elements of the special which, in that nonexistent remotely rational world, should have easily sent instant shockwaves through the sports media.

The first was that both Louis Freeh and Mark Emmert were invited by Bob Costas to participate in the show and they both refused without even a hint of a legitimate explanation. The second was that Costas himself, the most respected sportscaster in the country, articulated, powerfully and convincingly, serious doubts about the accepted Paterno narrative, especially with regard to the alleged cover-up.

It would be hard to imagine two more easily understood developments occurring with more potential to at least get people to say, “hmmm… what is really going on here?” than these. After all, how could Freeh possibly claim his investigation has any legitimacy when he won’t even answer questions from a broadcasting icon who had originally completely supported his findings? However, as has happened so often in this story, the truth’s best punch once again had landed with almost no impact. Remarkably, though, sadly and predictably, the rest of the media essentially conveniently ignored these incredible developments.

It is my belief that what happened to me and the revelations from the Sandusky interview (specifically the real story of Victim 2) had a significant impact on the Costas show lacking the power that it should have. I had told Costas about these important new facts and given him the entire transcript of the Sandusky interview. It seemed to me that he fully understood their implications and I know he watched my appearance on the Today Show. But after what Scott Paterno did that day there was no way that Costas, who already knew that he was out on a precarious limb by even taking this story on at all, was ever going to touch a subject which had now been deemed “toxic” by even the Paterno family.

I also think that what happened with the Sandusky interview semi-officially put the story into the realm of “old news,” and thus gave the media yet another excuse to ignore what Costas had done on a network where very few were watching. As proof of this, it is astounding how much less interest I got from both news reporters and  producers of various movie projects about the content of the Sandusky interview after what Scott did as opposed to before, even though, until now, the vast majority of the incredibly compelling content has never been released (as an example, I got enormous interest from the Today Show for the Sandusky interview, but if, just a couple of months later, someone got an interview with Victim 2 or even Mike McQueary, my guess is that they would probably pass on, or at least greatly downplay, the whole subject).

While there were probably multiple reasons for that, it was very clear to me that the story was no longer on the list of ratings “winners” which are to be discussed whenever there is any chance to do so, and is now placed into the category of “been there, done that” stories of which people are just tried (the Costas special didn’t even register in the cable ratings that night and far fewer people saw it than viewed even my CNN battle with Piers Morgan). From a media perspective, except in parts of Pennsylvania (even in Harrisburg one prominent TV reporter has told me and others that they have been told to back off the issue), the story is simply dead. That is a large portion of the reason that the Costas special was disregarded and why it is that a court of law is likely the only place where the truth of this matter may have any chance at finding renewed life.

CHAPTER TEN: CONCLUSIONS