A halo above Joe Paterno's head was removed from a mural this weekend [pic via Centre Daily]
Caution: I make a lot of fat jokes here.
Following the release of the grand jury findings last fall, Joe Paterno called for a thorough, fair and transparent investigation. Like everyone else, Joe was stunned at the charges that were filed against Jerry Sandusky. At the same time, Joe cautioned against a rush to judgment on Penn State and its senior officials and reminded everyone that we owed it to the victims to uncover the full truth.
I’m sorry, Paterno clan, but who, in the hell, is Joe Paterno to be the thought-leader on this investigation? Or any investigation, for that matter. Quoting your father like he is some sort of oracle, though many who grew up in Happy Valley may view him as such, is completely misguided and, now, offensive. He was a liar. But we’ll get to that in a second.
The announcement of the findings by the Freeh Group is yet another shocking turn of events in this crisis. We are dismayed by, and vehemently disagree with, some of the conclusions and assertions and the process by which they were developed. Mr. Freeh presented his opinions and interpretations as if they were absolute facts. We believe numerous issues in the report, and his commentary, bear further review.
Our interest has been and remains the uncovering of the truth. We have never tried to run from this crisis or shift all responsibility to others. To help prevent this sort of tragedy from happening again at Penn State or any other institution, it is imperative that the full story be told.
Blah blah blah blah good point blah blah blah. Let's be very clear– their interest remains in keeping their father's $3 million, pre-negotiated retirement package. However, there's one part of the statement with which I agree.
Remember, Louis Freeh was paid by the Penn State Board of Trustees to conduct this investigation. We’re not going to question Freeh’s credibility or track record (it’s stellar), but few were expecting his report to have far-reaching targets. Notice: Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, Tim Curley and Joe Paterno were the focus of this investigation. And perhaps with good reason– they were the main players in a sinister cover-up. But were they the only ones involved?
Freeh, who once criticized the 9/11 Commission for leaving out critical information from their report, gave the board of trustees what amounts to a strongly worded wrist slap. He criticized their lack of institutional control, but never implicated them in any wrongdoing or cover-up. In fact, one part of the report, in which Freeh detailed an email exchange between a board member and Spanier – who wouldn’t give up any information about what was going on with Jerry Sandusky – makes you almost sympathize with the board. You could feel the unnamed board member’s frustration as Spanier stonewalled in an email response. As such, the report’s biggest criticism of the board centers on their failure to demand information.
It may just be a coincidence, but the fact that Freeh’s report stopped exactly at its paywall, if you will, raises a few eyebrows. Or at least mine.
And the report is not just limited in it’s vertical tentacles. Second Mile, Governor Tom Corbett (attorney general who began investigation of Sandusky and also received campaign donations from Second Mile), local authorities, and others fell outside the focus of this report. It seems all too convenient that the only men continuously on the receiving end of Freeh’s whopping stick were already shamed (or dead). Hell, even pussy Mike McQueary got off scot-free (that angle brilliantly examined by Gil Spencer).
Curley and Schultz were already charged with crimes. We already knew they were shits. Spanier was already the worst university president in the history of the world (admittedly, though, the findings in Freeh’s report open him up to prosecution). And Joe Pa, the perfect figurehead scapegoat, is dead.
Make no mistake, I’m not downplaying the findings against any of those men– it’s clear that the current public sentiment toward them is the right one. But it is curious that the report only focuses on four people who were already (literally or figuratively) finished. It provided just enough information to give us public enemies, but not enough to answer all remaining questions.
As much as it pains me to say, in this case (pleading for the full story to be told and saying that the report’s conclusions are mostly Freeh’s interpretations of facts), the Paternos are right.
Of course, they'll soon be wrong again.