EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell Audio Proves ESPN Withheld Key Info in their McQueary Profile
Back in March, ESPN the Magazine published an extensive profile on Mike McQueary by investigative reporter Don Van Natta.
Here is that story:
After their story ran, I went on several radio shows and expressed outrage that Van Natta had clearly broken the agreement he had made with me to protect the confidentiality of the grand juror I put him in touch with for the story. I also said that I had proof that Van Natta was forced to take out key parts of the story, presumably by ESPN editors, which would have exposed McQueary's true mindset when he was finally approached by investigators ten years after he saw Jerry Sandusky in a shower with a boy. It also explained why he may have been so eager to cooperate with what investigators wanted to hear him say.
Here is a column I wrote about this at the time:
I have waited to release the audio proof that the McQueary profile was a fraud and that ESPN has an obvious agenda to protect their original false narrative until ESPN's "Ombudsman" (kind of like a company policeman) had released his story on the story itself. The reason why I knew this was in the works was because, much like I had engaged in extensive interaction with Van Natta before his story was published, I had even more communication with their ombudsman, Robert Lipsyte, before the results of his investigation were released.
While I have come to expect to be screwed over by almost everyone I speak to in the media about this story (because just about every single media member has done so, usually with remarkable vigor and lack of conscience), I had some real hope that Lipsyte might be fair and at least partially expose what a fraud the original ESPN the Magazine piece was. He is an "old school" journalist and seems like a genuinely nice guy who was very eager to hear my take on the entire saga.
We spoke several times on the phone and I sent him emails proving that Van Natta had shattered the agreement he made with me to protect the grand juror's identity (bizarrely, Van Natta not only used his name, but also his address and place of employment!) as well as the audio proof that Van Natta had been forced to kill important parts of the story. I also told him that, based on the Penn State wide receivers I had spoken to, it seemed to me that Van Natta had conflated two different stories involving McQueary and the issue of "abuse," and that the evidence that McQueary ever told his team that he was a victim of "sexual abuse" was exceedingly thin and, frankly, didn't make a lot of sense.
Lipsyte seem to understand where I was coming from (or at least pretended to) and I made it clear to him that he was the very last hope for the real story here to be given life. I hardly expected him to take any huge chances, but even I was disappointed in what he finally published on ESPN's website this week.
Here is the link to his story:
Lipsyte uses several typical media tricks to enable himself to feel like his did his job but without any real damage having been done. First, he compliments Van Natta as a great and courageous reporter. Secondly, he goes out of his way to somewhat discredit me (apparently seeking the truth means I "have an ax to grind" & even though I make it clear at the top of the website that "Framing" is figurative, he makes it seem as if I mean that literally). Thirdly, he somehow muddies the water just enough on the grand juror ID issue as to inexplicably call it a "misunderstanding" between Van Natta and the grand juror (how the heck is it a "misunderstanding" when he tells me that he will protect an identity, and I tell that person their identity will be protected, and that is why they agree to speak to him?!).
Lipsyte then basically ignores the problems I showed him with the "sex abuse" angle and only very vaguely alludes to the idea that some things were left out of the story (I have spoken with Lipsyte since his story got posted and, to his credit, he acknowledged to me that my objections with it are not illegitimate).
Omission is often the most effective weapon in the biased reporter's arsenal and both Van Natta and Lipsyte used it (or were forced to by others) to great effectiveness in this case. While it did not shock me (nothing the media does can really surprise me anymore), I was still very disappointed that Lipsyte left out any discussion of the proof I gave him that Van Natta was planning to report a bombshell which could have dramatically altered the public's perception of McQueary's credibility.
As the audio I am releasing here proves, Van Natta was eager to report that Mike McQueary originally thought (contrary to his own testimony in the case) that when investigators came to his home it was because they had found out that, just months beforehand, McQueary had sent naked pictures of his penis to a Penn State female student through a Penn State-owned phone. He also thought that he would be reporting that the delayed timeline of how McQueary came to finally tell his story was highly suspicious.
Here is the audio of Van Natta telling me about this compared with the comically/scandalously different account he gave on the radio to Kevin Slaten after the censored version of his story got published (warning, there is some profanity in the audio):
There are many striking things about this audio. It couldn't be more obvious that Van Natta lied to Kevin Slaten about what really happened and what he believes to be the real truth of this matter. Ironically, these two audio clips are FAR stronger evidence of a REAL cover up (by ESPN) than Louis Freeh ever found at Penn State.
What I think really happened here is that Van Natta truly thought that he was going to blow the lid off of this entire story when he spoke to me the first time (we had a second phone call which was "off the record"). It is important to point out that he also told me at that time that he had further evidence bringing McQueary's motives into question. He told me McQueary had manipulated himself into eventually getting (three seasons later) his wide receivers coaching position in a way which convinced Van Natta to give credence to the theory that Mike may have indeed gone to see Joe Paterno that fateful morning in part to position himself for Kenny Jackson's suddenly open job.
In short, it seems very clear to me that Van Natta saw McQueary as a fraud and that that there was no assault in the shower that night. In fact, at one point when I was trying to convince him that McQueary never saw or reported an assault, he stopped me and said, "John, you're preaching to the choir here!" (remarkably, Van Natta even told me that he agreed with my theory that Scott Paterno and/or Mike McQueary may have "misrefereshed" Joe Paterno's recollection before his testimony in this case, but that he couldn't prove it).
Unfortunately, I think that ESPN editors read all of that and realized that, if true, all of this simply cut too deep and too close to home. Its one thing to bruise McQueary's credibility in the name of a good story, its another matter entirely to eviscerate it. Doing that would bring into grave question the entire narrative on which ESPN built their destruction of Joe Paterno and Penn State (and frankly, in a rational world, would do the same with Sandusky's own guilt as well). That was simply not an option for ESPN so they forced Van Natta to remove those most dangerous parts of the story.
At that point, I believe the story became the subject of "horse trading," which is a horrendous way to do journalism. I think because they took out the guts of Van Natta's story they then had to let him go with elements which were not nearly as well documented (like the gambling and sexual abuse assertions) or else he would have been left with nothing "new." The result of all of this was a yet another example of poor reporting and the loss of perhaps the last best chance for the real truth of this matter to be told and accepted in the mainstream media.
As has happened so many times in this bizarre case, the events, like this one, which are the most depressing and which indicate just how impossible this fight for teh truth really will be to ever really win, are also those which inevitably prove just how right I am about what really did and did not happen in this story, and exactly how this grave injustice was allowed to happen.
Here is an interview I did on State College radio about this release: