I thought I couldn’t be more outraged about the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, but as it turns out…I was wrong.
I underestimated ESPN’s ability to manipulate the situation. Intentional or not, the Worldwide Leader made sure that protecting Joe Paterno trumped truth.
On the ESPN ticker, rolling text that feeds snippits of news across the bottom of the television screen, the network aired a version of Joe Paterno’s statement made to a group of protesting students who rallied to support him. The ticker version read as follows:
“The kids that were victims, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them.”
That sure does spin a lot easier than what Paterno actually said:
“The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. Tough life, when people do certain things to you. Anyway, you’ve been great.”
But that was just on the ticker. Perhaps it was edited for space, even though ESPN surrounded it with much longer quotes and headlines. Surely a post dedicated to covering the student rally painted a more complete and accurate picture, right?
“Paterno asked the students to say a prayer for the alleged victims, adding that ‘it’s a tough life when people do certain things to you.’
But that’s about all he had to say concerning the charges surrounding his former assistant or his role in allowing Sandusky to avoid investigation or arrest for so long.”
No, ESPN. No, Brian Bennet. That’s not “about all he had to say.” Not by a long shot. How about this: Try reporting quotes in their entirety, even when they make a legendary coach sound unsympathetic and out of touch. Don’t sanitize our reality. You exist to report the news, not make it.
Paterno’s remarks have the feel of an insult. These victims, “or whatever they want to say”, didn’t dream this up. This is not a “whatever” situation. This is crime against children that Paterno helped allow to happen.
Give us the full truth ESPN. We deserve that much.