Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who conducted the Penn State investigation, said today at a press conference that he wished he had gotten an opportunity to get Joe Paterno's side of the story. He didn't. But Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins did. In January, she interviewed Paterno, who, I thought, wasn’t pressed nearly hard enough on why he didn’t do more. Jenkins went easy on him.
Today, Jenkins called the former Penn State coach a liar and cover-up artist.
Up until the end, Paterno vehemently denied knowing anything about a 1998 investigation of Sandusky, who occupied an office just feet away. Jenkins explains the forcefulness with which Paterno delivered that lie: [Washington Post]
Joe Paterno was a liar, there’s no doubt about that now. He was also a cover-up artist. If the Freeh Report is correct in its summary of the Penn State child molestation scandal, the public Paterno of the last few years was a work of fiction. In his place is a hubristic, indictable hypocrite.
Paterno didn’t always give lucid answers in his final interview conducted with the Washington Post three days before his death, but on this point he was categorical and clear as a bell. He pled total, lying ignorance of the ’98 investigation into a local mother’s claim Sandusky had groped her son in the shower at the football building. How could Paterno have no knowledge of this, I asked him?
“Nobody knew,” he said.
Never heard a rumor?
“I never heard a thing,” he said.
He heard everything.
Not a whisper? How is that possible?
“If Jerry’s guilty, nobody found out til after several incidents.”
As we detailed earlier, email evidence shows that Paterno knew about the 1998 investigation. Freeh’s report blasted Paterno and others for their failure to act.
Jenkins makes many good points about Paterno in her scathing column (which I would highly recommended reading), the most notable of which is her pointing out that if Paterno knew about the 1998 investigation (he did), then Mike McQueary’s account in 2001 should have tripped an alarm inside the old man’s head. It didn't. Or maybe it did. Whatever the case, Paterno never did anything about it.