Sandusky's trial generated some poor journalism
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Jerry Sandusky, rightly convicted of heinous crimes, should and likely will spend the rest of his life in prison. The damage that he has caused will be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy.
Mr. Sandusky's trial, though, also provided additional evidence that some of our country's most prominent and well-known journalists are more concerned with their own personas and sensationalism than they are with accuracy, context and attribution.
First, Maureen Dowd, in a column published both in The New York Times and the Post-Gazette two weeks ago, states rather crudely that: "It was an open joke in Penn State football circles that you shouldn't drop your soap in the shower when Jerry [Sandusky] was around."
She does not attribute that statement to any person or group associated with the football program, nor does she make any effort to explain why she believes that those in the Penn State football circle would take such a joking attitude toward Mr. Sandusky even if any of them did, in fact, know or even suspect that he was a predator.
I am close to two people within the Penn State football circle. Combined, they have had frequent, ongoing and personal interaction with hundreds of players and coaches over the last three decades, including, until recently, Mr. Sandusky. Neither of my friends nor any of their inner-circle friends, ever thought Mr. Sandusky was anything other than a good-hearted person trying to help children. In other words, Ms. Dowd's generalization is almost certainly not true, which might explain her lack of attribution.
Then, this past Friday, Sheppard Smith of Fox News stated with great authority that Mike McQueary's explicit description to coach Joe Paterno of a certain sex act involving Mr. Sandusky and a minor was quashed by the coach, who Mr. Smith states failed to take any subsequent action. An even minimal amount of research by Mr. Smith, however, would have revealed that Mr. McQueary stated under oath that he did not provide explicit details to Paterno but that, even so, Paterno did notify in a very timely manner both the athletic director and the university vice president in charge of security, who both then interviewed Mr. McQueary.
Ongoing investigations and perhaps other trials will determine if and the extent to which the Penn State administration and others may have enabled Mr. Sandusky. In the meantime, Journalism 101, where have you gone?
First Published June 26, 2012 12:00 am