Sandusky Verdict Coverage Reveals Massive Media Malpractice

On the surface, the largely drama free sentencing of Jerry Sandusky would seem to be a strange event for the news media to completely botch their coverage. After all, the date had been set for months and there was no ambiguity about what was going to happen. In other words, there were no surprises or tight time constraints on which media members could plausibly blame any blatant errors. 

However, none of this prevented the sentencing from providing an almost comical level of incompetence, revealing so much about how and why this entire case has been misunderstood by a public which has been badly misinformed.

The first two extreme examples came in the realm of twitter and can be viewed at this link which Barry Bozeman at SSMSS put together at my request (there are also numerous “Penn State” related headlines compiled there, which should also be noted).

In the first example, the editor of a women’s magazine inexplicably tweeted that “Paterno” had been sentenced to 30-60 years. What makes this error particularly noteworthy is that her magazine is in Syracuse, home of basketball coach Jim Boeheim who somehow got zero blame for a current assistant coach being a pedophile after calling the victims money-seeking liars.

Farah Jadran later apologized and claimed some sort of utterly nonsensical technical problem somehow caused the error, but it seems pretty clear that she is one of the 45% of the nation that our scientific poll found somehow thinks that Joe Paterno might have been a child molester.

The second tweet is less dramatic, but perhaps more significant. Al Gore’s Current TV network asked its followers the question: “What do you think of the Penn State sentencing?” Now, that might be a legitimate question when the Curely/Schultz trial comes around, but there is no rational interpretation where calling the Jerry Sandusky sentencing the “Penn State sentencing” is remotely legitimate. Unfortunately, this incident shows just how deeply the false notion that this is a “Penn State” story as opposed to a “Jerry Sandusky” story has seeped into the media’s consciousness.

Then the esteemed New York Times chimed in with a strangely timed, and clearly piling on, editorial in which they wrote: “One of Mr. Sandusky’s victims was a young boy who was sodomized by Mr. Sandusky in the Penn State football shower room, according to testimony by Mike McQueary, a former assistant coach. Mr. McQueary did nothing to stop the attack. He reported it the next day to Mr. Paterno, who kept it from the police.”

Well, perhaps the New York Times editorial board should ask the jury in the Sandusky case why they found him “not guilty” on that charge. The notion that Paterno “kept it from the police” is flat out absurd. It was because of Paterno that the man in charge of the campus police interviewed McQueary about what he saw. There is currently no legitimate evidence that Paterno did anything to personally prevent the story from going to law enforcement.

However, by far the worst example of “media malpractice” surrounding the Sandusky sentencing occurred at Sports Illustrated in two separate articles. One was writer by their legal "expert" Michael McCann. McCann casually wrote that  “McQueary, who witnessed Sandusky rape Victim 2 and then later reported what he saw to Joe Paterno and a grand jury.”

I immediately tweeted McCann that he clearly had no idea what he was talking about. The entire twitter exchange is really quite extraordinary and is a must read. Barry Bozeman and Carol Scheffler put together the entertaining/illuminating chain. It really illustrates just how totally clueless most of these "journalists" really are about the facts here. They literally don't even know enough to know that they don't know enough!

The other incredible example from Sports Illustrated comes from Michael Rosenberg. His column was simply bizarrely bad. It was almost as if he was writing a parody of all the horrendous reporting that has gone on in this story (much of it by Sports Illustrated, which did not do even one news item on the Sandusky allegations the week after the indictments, before later calling it the biggest scandal in college sports history).

First, there is the hilarious notion that the premise of the column is that we just don’t know what really happened in the Penn State portion of this story. The self proclaimed “story highlights” include: “Many questions remain about what Tim Curley, Gary Schultz did and didn't do” and “We’ll soon find out how deep the Penn State cover up was.”

Now, in a remotely rational world, this reality would cause a columnist to at least mention the fact that there had been an obvious rush to judgment here and that the punishment should not have been dished out before the truth was remotely proven. Somehow, this simple notion never even seems to occur to Rosenberg.

But even that ineptitude is easily surpassed by what is simply the most staggeringly inaccurate paragraph that I have seen written by a major media member in this entire mess.

Rosenberg wrote: “In 1998 police investigated Sandusky for raping an 11-year-old boy but did not charge him. In 2002, assistant coach Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky raping a child and told multiple superiors. They did not pursue charges. And a janitor says that in 2000, he saw Sandusky raping a boy; the janitor told a co-worker and a supervisor, but he said he did not report the incident to police out of fear of losing his job.”

Wow. An entire book could conceivably be written about that one paragraph.

First, in 1998 Sandusky was not investigated for rape. It was for brushing up against a boy in a shower.

Second, the year of the McQueary episode was 2001 and not (as McQueary originally testified) 2002.

Third, McQueary, by his own testimony never “witnessed” a “rape” and, again, Sandusky was acquitted at trial of that charge.

Fourth, according to McQueary’s own testimony, there is no evidence that he told anyone he witnessed a “rape.”

Fifth, no janitor ever said they saw Sandusky “raping a boy.”

Sixth, there no way that the one janitor who actually saw the incident is now saying he didn’t report it for fear of losing his job, because he is in a nursing home with dementia.

I emailed several editors at Sports Illustrated to inform them about all of this and I got no response. I tweeted Rosenberg and he eventually “apologized” for the 1998 mistake but laughably claimed that there were no other errors. Most incredibly, even after Rosenberg has publicly apologized for at least one mistake, that clear error is, as of this writing, still not corrected in the online version of the column!!

All of this is simply maddening and further proof that the media in this country is completely broken. One of the many lessons of this sad saga is that the truth simply doesn’t seem to matter to even the “elite” media at all anymore.

We here, however, will still continue to document the insanity.