The old axiom is that the news media loves nothing more than to put a person or institution on a pedestal.
But what it really loves even more is to kick out the pedestal it created.
Penn State is learning this lesson first-hand. One of the most respected colleges in the nation thanks to lavish media coverage over the years and high academic standards, Penn State discovered that one of its coaches was a bisexual pedophile who preyed on young boys. A respected coach for four decades, married and with a foundation created to help disadvantaged children, it was almost unbelievable to learn Sandusky had used his positions to molest young boys.
When his actions were revealed the media lynching was on with full force. When it was reported that some officials knew of Sandusky’s actions and did not take appropriate action by immediately notifying the police, an all-out media witch hunt was leveled by the national media against the entire school.
Once-revered head coach Joe Paterno was fired and unfortunately for the media died shortly thereafter. A statue in his honor at the stadium was taken down. The media attacks on his character and his family have not slowed down one iota despite his death. One would have thought Paterno was the child molester.
And now the NCAA has decimated the school, its players, students, alumni, city and state with a series of punishments that will guarantee the college will likely never recover from for at least decades. The media is foaming at the mouth and loving every minute of it. USA Today has highlighted its punishments.
Many media folks felt the devastating punishments were still not harsh enough. They wanted the school to receive the death penalty where football would not be allowed for several years. SMU received that punishment and has never recovered. There is no punishment too severe for Penn State in the minds of some media folks.
As part of it punishment Penn State must now pretend Paterno did not win 112 games from 1998 to 2011. That move could mean the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling will now become the winningest coach in history.
Grambling had been lobbying for the action to be taken. However, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will hold the top spot with 377 major-college wins.
The media’s actions against Penn State are reminiscent of the all-out attack on Duke University and its lacrosse team in 2006 where an escort/ stripper made wild accusations against several players. The media initially took her every utterance as valid and attacked Duke mercilessly. Players were villified. Eventually all the players were found not guilty and several lawsuits ensued. It cost the school millions of dollars and a tarnished reputation.
While the outrage over Sandusky continues at a fever pace, there is little doubt that Syracuse University assistant coach Bernie Fine had been molesting young boys for most of his career. However, when head coach Jim Boeheim, Fine’s boss and close friend for 35 years, was told of it he promptly attacked Fine’s accusers and defended Fine. He later was forced to apologize for blaming the victims.
Syracuse first learned of Fine’s actions in 2005, but dismissed them. In 2011 when the accusations against Fine rose again, the school was forced to fire him, but the statute of limitations had run out for the boys to actually have Fine prosecuted. Case closed. Media coverage over.
The firing of Fine had come hours after ESPN reported it had an audio recording of a 2002 conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife Laurie in which she said she knew about the alleged molestation but felt unable to stop it.
The news media and NCAA seems to have taken a blind eye toward the entire Syracuse situation. It could be because Syracuse is located in New York, the media capital of the world.
Or it might be that Syracuse’s broadcasting school has produced some of the most powerful media folks in the business today such as Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Len Berman, Ted Koppel, Steve Kroft, Mike Tirico, et al. Some speculate the media circled the wagons to support their alma mater. Whatever the reason the Fine scandal quickly evaporated.
What might be the most ironic part of the entire situation is that one would be hard-pressed to find a group with lower morals than many of the journalists who are practicing today on a local and national basis. Despite many of their own personal failings they are more than willing to quickly pass judgment on others and hold others to the highest of standards.
Locally, one of the loudest voices attacking Penn State and felt the school should have been given the death penalty was 610 Sports’ Danny Parkins. Parkins is a ‘Cuse alum. No surprise there…
Just my opinion…