Tag: Penn State

Beware of Media

The past few weeks have finally made me take a second look at how the news media reports stories. If you follow politics at all you’re already well aware at how each side (Democrats and Republicans) claim each other is in cahoots with the media to further their own agenda (the “liberal” and “corporate” media respectively).

Quite frankly, I think the argument is ridiculous. I mean, who in their right mind would want to use an organization who can’t even get its own facts straight?

Late last week singer Adam Lambert announced that he would be singing with the band Queen for the MTV Europe Awards. This led news organizations to some how believe that the announcement really meant Lambert was going to be the replacement for the band’s late singer Freddie Mercury on a tour this summer.

This would have been big news, had it have been true of course. This was something the media has been chomping at the bit to report. I mean, Adam Lambert is a good singer AND he’s gay. It makes perfect sense that he would replace another gay singer in one of the biggest bands of all time.

But these news outlets, in their haste to always one-up everyone else, reported this non-existent replacement story and subsequent tour without having all of the facts straight. Even if Mr. Lambert’s comments were a bit ambiguous, someone wearing a fedora with a “Press” pin on it should have clarified it before sending it off to cyberspace.

Another example of the media jumping the gun happened just a few weeks ago. Long time Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who had been in ill-health for several months, was about to pass away. Being that one of the greatest coaches of all time was at death’s door was more than enough information for a sea of journalists to descend upon Happy Valley to get the scoop and report of his death seconds after it had happened.

Unfortunately, some small college newspaper claimed it had received an email informing players that Coach had passed away a day early. When they went to press with it, all the other news organizations blindly followed suit and within hours had to apologize for it. The next day, Coach Paterno died (for real this time).

These little “accidents” are definitely cause for concern. There needs to be more accountability when reporting. Especially in an age where information goes out to the world in seconds.

If a bunch of farmers could fall for a radio station saying we were being invaded by aliens in 1938 consider this: What if the media all reported at the same time about a bogus nuclear attack by some rogue nation without having all the facts first? I think there would be people taking to the streets with more than pitchforks and torches to combat the alien menace. We as a society can not allow these news outlets to control us. We need to get the facts straight.

So whether it’s the New York Giants posting they’ve won the Superbowl on their website before the game is even played or news organizations announcing Dewey defeats Truman in the 1948 election before all the votes were counted one thing is certain. We need to take everything these news outlets report on with a grain of salt.

Singers, football coaches, it doesn’t matter. There’s no real media bias. There’s only media stupidity. So Beware.

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Penn State: The Conspiracy of Silence

Shhh! Don’t make a sound. We can’t let this get out. It needs to be kept very quiet.

From 1998-2011 that’s pretty much what it was like on the campus of Penn State University. That was the time frame that the allegations of child molestation against a long time assistant coach and heir apparent to the legendary Joe Paterno remained concealed.

Jerry Sandusky now faces a total of 460 years in prison if the alleged offenses are proven true and deserving every single one of them. But I wonder, how many years would have been taken off his sentence if his conduct would have been stopped when they were first observed instead of being allowed to continue under a shroud of silence?

Shhhh.

Considering that the education they peddle at a college institution is to better prepare individuals to be more well-rounded human beings it’s ironic that when these horrific acts first came to light the  Penn State University brass decided putting brand first was more important than human life.

Shhhh.

When Joe Paterno was alerted of the alleged abuses he decided to tell his athletic director instead of the authorities. Washing his hands of the situation and looking the other way is appalling considering JoePa IS Penn State. Had he done the right thing sure, there’d still be a scandal but he would now be the HERO instead of being disgraced.

But Joe’s from a time when there was no Internet, no Facebook or Twitter and no 24/7 tabloid media. Things like this happening in his day were simply brushed under the rug and never spoken about again. If a human life had to be collateral damage for the good of the brand well then so be it.

Fact is, Joe KNEW what was going on and did only what he was “legally” required to do. I guess we’re lucky he at least went that far. So from a legal standpoint he may have succeeded but as a human being he’s failed miserably. Even he himself admits that in hindsight he should have done more.

Coincidentally, when now former university president Graham Spanier, who also had to have known about Sandusky’s indiscretions chose brand over boy he forfeited his human being membership card too.

But what’s most appalling of all is when then graduate assistant and now assistant coach Mike McQueary actually walked in and noticed Sandusky in the act of molesting a ten-year old boy and did nothing but tell Joe Paterno instead of the authorities essentially keeping it quiet. Why this man didn’t first stop the abuse he witnessed and alert authorities is beyond me. And why he is still an employee of Penn State is even more of a travesty.

How can this man even look himself in the mirror? How many times has he walked past that shower room and not thought about what happened there?

Worse still: How many times did he tell himself over the years to keep quiet?

Shhhh.

The House That JoePa Built

Penn State University: The House That JoePa built. A man who spent the last 61 years of his life at the famed college, 46 of which as the head coach of the football team. The legacy he created there with all the notoriety and championships lost in a single night when the university’s board of trustees fired him over allegations he failed to do more when assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was molesting young boys on campus over a period of years.

It will be the first time in more than half a century that Joe Paterno won’t be included in the final Penn State home football game of the season this Saturday.

You don’t need to be a genius to know that for most of his tenure, JoePa was seen as the anointed ruler of Penn State and for him to not have done more when hearing about sexual molestation of a child being done under his watch is unconscionable. But what’s even worse has been the reaction of fans and some of the student body: putting football, of all things, ahead of children who’ve been victimized.

Attention students and fans: children were RAPED on your college campus!

It’s hard to imagine that Joe didn’t know what was going on under his nose. When Austin Scott, a promising running back recruited from my home town, was unjustly accused of raping a woman, Paterno and company were quick to lay judgement on him and kick him off the team. Although he was eventually vindicated, his tenure at the university and any possible chance of a career in the NFL was ruined. Joe and the school pounced on that incident without knowing all the facts but then some how took a blind eye to a horrific incident involving an assistant coach?

Once the announcement of Paterno’s immediate firing was made public, students were seen railing in the streets and tipping over a news van. Police needed to be called in to pepper spray them in an attempt to restore order. A scene we might have seen during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. And why? Not because a black woman had to sit at the back of the bus or couldn’t drink from a “White’s Only” fountain. No, the students were raising hell because a football coach got fired.

You can talk about tradition and JoePa’s legacy all you want. I’ve even heard people calling it an outrage at how the Trustees fired him over the phone. “What about the 40 some years he coached?” they would scream. “Surely there’s something to be said for loyalty right?”

Wrong.

My mother worked for the same hospital for forty years. Pretty much gave her life to that place. Then a few days ago while at work she was called and told that her position was eliminated effective immediately. No reason given at all. She was just let go. But I think no reason at all (it’s just business) is still better than why Joe was let go.

You know, I was once a student of Penn State (albeit only for one semester) and never got the chance to experience the whole “University Park” and football Saturday experience. But I tend to think that even if I did I’d still be one of the ones calling for Paterno’s ouster. How people can look past what was done there just because it’s football season is as much of a tragedy as what actually happened there.

So what can Paterno do now? How about using his king-like powers for the final time and telling his subjects that the University did the right thing for the school and end the senseless protests. Stop making the University and America for that matter look bad.

In the end Sandusky will get what he deserves, any evidence of a cover-up will come to light and the University will find another coach to carry on the tradition. I’m sure at some point down the road there will also be a Joe Paterno tribute day to celebrate being the all time winningest coach in Division 1 football.

But before you put on your PSU jersey and start chanting “WE ARE” for the final home game this Saturday, ask yourself one question:

If someone came to you distraught and told you that an old man was sodomizing young boys in your house – what would you do?