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A Handy Resource: The Biggest Media Myths of the Jerry Sandusky Scandal

For the Uninitiated: The Biggest Media Myths of the Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Since details don’t seem to really matter anymore, here is the “Cliff Notes” version of how the media created a false narrative (which they refuse to correct) in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. You might think of this as “Why Nearly Everything You Think You Know About the Penn State Story is False.” Please feel free to share it as a resource with those whose minds you are trying to open about what really happened here.

In the basic order in which they occurred, these are the biggest media-created myths…

Mike McQueary saw a young boy getting raped by Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State shower.

(McQueary saw no such thing and has said under oath that he saw no such thing. Sandusky was found not guilty of this charge at trial and there are many valid reasons to doubt McQueary’s story and the way in which it has been interpreted.)

Mike McQueary told Joe Paterno he witnessed a rape of a young boy.

(McQueary himself has said that did not come close to happening and has never said under oath that he ever told anyone at the time all the specifics he now claims he "witnessed.")

Joe Paterno did “nothing” with the information McQueary gave him.

(Paterno immediately contacted and met with both his superior and the person in charge of the campus police and then had them meet with McQueary. Penn State then contacted Sandusky’s employer about the McQueary incident.)

Joe Paterno’s testimony proves he “knew” at the time McQueary saw something “sexual.” 

(While Paterno used those words in his testimony, it is not clear what he really intended to mean by them. There is also circumstantial evidence that Paterno may have been “fed” those words by McQueary or someone else because he needed to refresh his memory of the ten year old conversation at the age of 84. It should be noted that in the report on Paterno's police interview he gave just before his testimony there is no mention whatsoever of McQueary having told him something of a "sexual" nature.)

Mike McQueary is a credible witness.

(McQueary’s story has changed significantly both publicly and privately. It has shifted each time seemingly based on his self interest at that particular moment. He also has a history of making false accusations and engaging in highly inappropriate sexual conduct himself. McQueary had an incentive to give investigators what they wanted because he might have been charged with "not reporting," and now has an incentive to lie in order to maintain his "whistleblower" lawsuit against Penn State.)

The charges against Tim Curley and Gary Schultz were legitimate.

(They were clearly charged with perjury because, if they weren’t, McQueary’s testimony, since they largely contradict it, would have been essentially hung out to dry. As for the “not reporting” charge, it is not even clear that they were “mandated reporters” under a poorly written law and, even if they were, it is hard to understand how they were charged and Dr. Dranov, who spoke to McQueary the night of the episode, and McQueary himself, were not.)

Gary Schultz testified that McQueary told him it was “sexual’ in nature.

(Schultz’s testimony is, frankly, bizarre, and perhaps the greatest proof that there was no “cover up.” Having retired two years earlier, he obviously has forgotten almost everything about what happened many years before, but, even more incredibly, his description of what McQueary told him is obviously based on what he IMAGINED might have happened in the shower after hearing McQueary’s “no details” account of the shower scene.)

Joe Paterno admitted guilt with his “I wish I had done more” statement.

(This is simply an absurd and self-severing media interpretation. He said, “With the benefit of hindsight,” that he wishes he had done “more.” This is nothing other than a statement of the obvious which should/should have been stated by literally hundreds of other people in this case. If the head of American Airlines said the same thing about 9/11, would anyone seriously take that as an admission of “guilt”?)

Joe Paterno knew everything that happened in State College and ran all of Penn State.

(Paterno was obviously powerful, but he was not “all powerful” and, especially as he aged, did not “rule” Penn State. For instance, the baseball field was placed across the street from the football stadium against his wishes and his hand written note during Sandusky’s retirement negotiations saying that he should not be allowed to bring kids on campus was ignored.)

Jerry Sandusky’s retirement was related to the 1998 criminal investigation of him.

(Contrary to numerous media reports even after the release of the Freeh Report, the investigation actually concludes the exact opposite by specifically exonerating Paterno from having knowledge of any allegations against Sandusky before telling him he would never be the head coach at Penn State, which facilitated his retirement.)

Joe Paterno was fired because of his role in the scandal.

(It will become clear that the key moment in the events which led to the firing of Joe Paterno was the cancellation of his final Tuesday press conference, which cut off his chance to change the emerging media narrative and made it clear that Paterno’s job was in great peril. That decision was made by one person with an obvious vendetta against Paterno, board member John Surma.)

The student riot which followed Paterno’s firing was because of anger over the football team being harmed.

(There is just no evidence to support this media-created narrative. Only a few students rioted, there are strong indications that the media actually urged them to do so, and it is not a coincidence that a television truck was the largest object of their ire. Most students were upset at the lack of due process for a guy they saw as a grandfather figure.)

The Syracuse pedophilia case didn’t deserve the same treatment as Penn State’s.

(Please. The Syracuse case involved a prior botched investigation, a current assistant coach, victims which came directly from the program, an actual tape proving the allegations, and a head coach who called the victims money grubbing liars. Had ESPN wanted to make it just as big as Penn State, they easily could have, but a huge percentage of ESPN workers went to Syracuse.)

“Everyone” in State College knew that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile.

(The reality is that no one knew Sandusky was a pedophile because he had done such a good job of “grooming” the entire town. He had dozens of foster children, numerous adopted children, and founded the largest troubled children’s charity in the state. Sandusky created a “big lie” that no one, not even his wife, suspected was a façade.)

This was a “Penn State” scandal.

(Of all of the entities that failed in their obligation to protect children, Penn State was far behind the various law enforcement agencies involved in the 98 investigation, the Second Mile charity, and the parents/guardians/teachers/coaches of the victims.)

The Freeh Report was a legitimate investigation.

(The investigation never even spoke to any of the five Penn State people closest to the story and its outrageous conclusions are not remotely backed up by the meager evidence that it found.)

The Freeh Report’s allegation of a cover up makes even basic sense.

(The report never even tries to explain why it is that Paterno, who was essentially supposedly acting as a “Mafia Don” in this cover up, allowed his employee Mike McQueary to testify as he did or why Paterno himself didn’t simply say, “I don’t remember.” It also never addresses why Tim Curley, who had a young boy who was frequently exposed to Sandusky went along with the cover up, or why Curley, who supposedly had his life destroyed by a Paterno-led cover up, issued a statement at Paterno’s death praising his “honor and integrity.”)

Joe Paterno had any reason to fear “negative publicity” from reporting Sandusky.

(He didn’t like Sandusky, Sandusky was a former coach, and Paterno’s sterling reputation would have given him any benefit of the doubt in 2001 if Sandusky would have been turned over to authorities. As the Syracuse case shows, Paterno, who never gave a damn about “negative publicity,” had nothing really to fear anyway.)

Joe Paterno had real knowledge of the 1998 investigation and lied about it.

(The email evidence that Paterno “knew” about 1998 is incredibly thin and potentially not even related to him but rather Sandusky. It also would have been technically illegal for Paterno to be informed of the details and even Freeh admits that there is no evidence that Paterno was ever informed of its conclusion.)

Penn State had any responsibility for what happened in 1998.

(All Penn State knew was a vague and fairly mild allegation was made and that a law enforcement investigation, thanks to a report from an “expert” who concluded that Sandusky was not a pedophile, determined that no charges should be filed. What were they supposed to do? Presume that a local legend not charged with a crime was actually guilty and therefore destroy a massive children’s charity?!)

There was a major problem with Penn State’s “culture.”

(This was simply a concoction by Louis Freeh intended to be his back up in case the alleged “cover up” evidence didn’t pan out. Penn State’s statistical record on football academics was one of the best in the nation for decades and Paterno’s former players universally support the notion that he put academics/character over anything else.)

The fact that Penn State didn’t fight back proves that they are “guilty.”

(Most people simply don’t understand this basic chain of events: Surma and the BOT unanimously decide to prematurely fire Paterno mistakenly thinking that it will “end” the story, the students riot and are castigated unfairly, killing their resolve to fight back in the future, the alumni object strongly to the BOT’s action and eventually elect three new members, the BOT needs to justify the firing  of Paterno and they commission the Freeh Report, Freeh gets paid $6.5 million by the BOT and knows exactly what they and the media want, Freeh issues an absurd report which the Penn State administration has zero incentive to refute it and the media fosters the idea that any fight back shows Penn State doesn’t “get” it, this leads the statue being taken down in an effort to placate the NCAA which decides to take advantage of the reality that they can create whatever punishment they want without any opposition from Penn State or the media.)

The NCAA sanctions are remotely logical/appropriate.

(Not only did the NCAA have no jurisdiction over a criminal matter, but the sanctions made absolutely no sense. Taking away victories for something that had nothing to do with gaining a competitive advantage is simply absurd, but even more ridiculous is the notion that Penn State had any culpability starting in 1998 because a botched law enforcement investigation they had limited knowledge of resulted in charges not even being filed. It also appears as if the NCAA didn’t even remotely understand that Freeh Report, as their president has laughably claimed that it had subpoena power, which it in no way had.)

Those who don’t want to “move on” are blinded cult members.

(The ‘move on” movement is a sure sign that the true story has not been allowed to be told here. How in the world is it remotely just to punish severely before all the facts are close to being in and then claim that it is now time to “move on” because the punishment has already been decided? How does that not sound like something right out of the book 1984?)

No media celebrity has taken up the other side of the story, so it must not exist.

(We now live in a world where celebrity is everything and the weight of a given perspective is directly proportional to the fame of the person providing it. But famous media people inherently have something to lose and the massive media momentum and outright intimidation on one side of this story has prevented anyone from this group, already not known for their courage, from having the guts to even give the other side a remotely fair shake. There is just too much risk involved.)

The truth is a significant factor in what gets reported by the news media.

(While public trust in the news media is at all-time low, it is still much higher than it should be. Thanks to economic pressures and the ability to determine almost instantly which stories “pop” and which don’t, ratings are all that matter in the modern media, especially the sports media. This is why the “fall of Joe Paterno” is far more desirable a narrative than the “Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile” story and why it is exponentially more exciting than the “potential fall of a Syracuse coach who isn’t as famous and who nobody ever really expected very much from anyway.” The sad reality of modern life is that a complicated truth simply can no longer remotely compete with a simple story that will sell.)