I have made a lot of mistakes during this process of trying to correct the historical record about what really happened at Penn State regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal. I have also been right about a lot of issues which no one else has had the guts to say. One thing is for sure however, I have never lied. I am a lot things, good and bad, but anyone who knows me at all knows that “liar” is not on the list of legitimate descriptions.
So, as I have been brutally and unfairly attacked by major outlets in nearly every way, almost exactly as I predicted days before I went on the Today Show (an appearance on which I almost bailed at several moments in the days just before the appearance, including when I was getting out of the limo to enter the studio), the one hit piece that I wish to respond to at this time is from “Onward State” because it accuses me of being a liar.
It also does so, much like the vast majority of the gutless media, without even having the courtesy to speak to me first and claims that I concocted an entire scenario to hide the fact that I wanted to “out” victim of child sex abuse.
Here is the story of what really happened with regard to the use of the name of Victim 2 in the McQueary episode.
First, you need to understand that Victim 2 has already “outed” himself on this story (this concept, much like the difference between defending Joe Paterno as opposed to Jerry Sandusky, is apparently very difficult for the media to comprehend). He wrote a letter to the editor in his own name (as a 24 year old married member of the Marine Corps) which was published in multiple newspapers in May 2011, after the allegations first surfaced, in which he strongly backs Jerry Sandusky.
At this point, he is effectively a “public figure” on this story and has no right to anonymity after he turns into a victim. The proof of this reality is the story of Matt Sandusky who did exactly the same thing and is always referred to by his name.
I even spoke to a current U.S. Congressman with a strong media background, and a nationally famous sports journalist, and both them agreed with my take on this. Jim Clemente, the “Paterno Report” sex crimes expert, with whom I was in constant communication both before and after the Sandusky interview, also told me that it was legitimate to do this, though he also warned me that I would be criticized for it.
So, it was my full intention to reveal his full identity when I went on the Today Show and that this would be the headline from the appearance (the media, as stupid as they are, always needs to be fed what the headline is going to be).
Everything was going according to plan until Friday when the Today Show bizarrely promoted the planned Monday event as if it was Jerry Sandusky who was doing an interview from prison. This understandably provoked victim rights organizations to object to the interview even happening. This also caused the narrative to be immediately set in a very negative direction.
Then late on Friday I spoke twice with a Today Show producer for a “pre interview.” During those discussions I mentioned that it was my intent to name Victim 2.
In a previous conference call with Matt Lauer I had strongly implied I was going to do this and there was no objection raised. So I was stunned when the producer seemed freaked out by this concept. It was obvious that she didn’t have the full background on the story in order to understand why this act was perfectly legitimate and when she objected I made it clear that I was willing to not say the name as long as I could provide the important details of the story.
Unfortunately, this producer became so worried about the conversation that she set off alarm bells at the Today Show and things started to unravel in an immediate downward spiral. On Saturday, it looked as if the Today Show interview was off as the changed circumstances (the interview would now be taped early Monday morning and my website would not be overtly promoted) didn’t seem to benefit either party. My gut told me that I should cancel the interview entirely, but out of misplaced loyalty to others involved I decided to go ahead with it.
When I arrived in New York, the parameters of what I was allowed to say were still becoming even more restrictive. Even as I was getting of the car to go into the studio I was being given new, completely absurd, restrictions from the NBC corporate suits with regard to what I could say about Victim 2. I came within a whisker of getting back into the car.
I wish that I had.
The interview itself was incredibly frustrating on several levels, but I was extremely proud of how I handled it. “Live” with Matt Lauer and with five people from NBC’s legal department watching me like a hungry hawk, I somehow threaded the needle like a world-class surgeon and somehow got the primary gist of my argument across. I humbly submit that no one could have handled it better under the circumstances.
One NBC producer was so incredibly impressed that he couldn’t believe that I had forced the NBC suits to review the tape several times before finally concluding, like a NFL officials reviewing instant replay, that my feet had just barely stayed in bounds. Even the NBC corporate lawyer seemed shocked that, when he looked at the tape, I had somehow pulled it off. I should mention that Matt Lauer actually handled this situation extremely well, backing me up as much as I possibly could have imagined.
While I was not happy with the content of the appearance (it was not focused on the things I actually wanted to talk about), I did think that I was well positioned to reveal all about Victim 2 that night at www.FramingPaterno.com after my appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan show. However, in the limo on the way to the studio, Jim Clemente suddenly called me to ask that I reconsider my intent to name Victim 2 because he had heard the man was upset by this prospect.
This put me in an extremely difficult position. First, Jim, despite all the enormous time we had spent together on the phone over the past month, had been unable, in spite of what he says was his best effort, to keep Scott Paterno quiet during all of this (Scott had emailed me to say, in what would turn out to be a lie, that as long as Jim was on board with what I was doing that he would refrain from comment). Now, he was essentially asking me for a favor to not do something that he previously said would be appropriate. My first reaction was to say, “go f—- yourself” (though I don’t think I used that exact language).
Then, after my slugfest with Piers Morgan, I thought about an alternative plan that might work for everyone. I told Jim that I would hold off on identifying Victim 2 if the man simply called me, totally off the record, and explained why he felt he was in need of special consideration. Jim thought this was a decent plan and said he would look into it.
How this got spun by TMZ (with whom I had done a live interview on Monday explaining my position on this) into me “threatening” Victim 2 unless he participated in my documentary is beyond my comprehension. Here I was trying to be sensitive and instead I am getting accused of being a complete jackass (numerous attempts for me to have my response be aired by TMZ went unresponded to).
As it turns out, Jim’s contact did not, as he had implied, actually have a connection to Victim 2 and so that plan went nowhere. I didn’t know this until Tuesday afternoon. At that point, after another sleepless night and having already done about three hours of radio interviews, I was extremely conflicted.
I then went on Kevin Slaten’s radio show at 4:20 pm eastern time to discuss the dilemma I was in. Kevin urged me to keep the article as it is and publish the full name. I knew he was right and that I certainly didn’t owe Jim Clemente (thanks to the Paterno fiasco) much of anything, but I was still not feeling right about it. Contrary to popular opinion, I am actually a very caring person.
Then I was reminded about what the New York Times did with “Victim 1” before he was known as Aaron Fisher. They had basically “outed” him through his biography without using his name. After much consideration, I decided that this might be the best way to go since I knew that the key document itself would provide so much information about him that he would be effectively “outed” anyway.
I spent the next several hours trying to rework this extremely long column to exclude references to his name. This was not nearly as easy as it sounds for several reasons.
First, I kept experiencing all sorts of computer issues which, through my own incompetence, delayed the process quite a bit. One of the biggest problems was that, in an effort to protect his name, I had to change several of the actual documents which proved our case and replace them with the original Word files which were given to me by a former advisor to Sandusky (which I was able to manually redact myself). What neither me nor my webmaster realized at the time was those files, when viewed on a mobile device, revealed Victim 2’s name in the title of the document. I also had to get my video editor to bleep out all the references to the name in the audio file of the Sandusky interview we had panned to use.
Another factor here was that, for a number of reasons, I literally had not had a total of more than ten hours of sleep in the previous five days and I had only eaten a blueberry muffin and cup of coffee that entire day. I was fried by every definition of the word and I did a lousy job of finding all of the references to Victim 2’s name (I honestly don’t know how many I missed but it appears to have been at least two first names and a last name).
I didn’t want to wait much past early evening to post the article and so I stupidly posted the column before I should have. Almost instantly, former Penn State football player Andrew Pitz texted me, at 7:51 p.m., to say, “Dude, you idiot. Take the story down.”
It took several minutes for me to understand what the heck was going on but Andrew alerted me that the new Word documents had Victim 2’s name in the title on his mobile device. Minutes later it became obvious that I had missed a couple of mentions of both his first and last names in the article itself.
I immediately tried to enter the edit mode of the website to fix the problem with the article (I had no idea how to fix the documents as my webmaster had handled that) but I could not get in to that section on my computer. At first it appeared that we just had a ton of traffic from people trying to access the article, but that didn’t make any sense to me. It quickly became apparent to my webmaster that his entire company was under a massive cyber attack. Here is the proof of that for those who absurdly think I am making that up.
This caused enormous problems which, assuming the attack was related to the issue of protecting victim 2’s identity, was the definition of irony because it actually prevented us from doing exactly what they wanted us to do. In many ways this attack created a “prefect storm” against our response.
First, my webmaster was now unable to help me do the technical stuff only he could do because he was trying to put out a huge fire of a much higher priority. Even more than frustratingly, it caused me to be uncertain as to what was fixed and what was not. This was because when I was finally able to enter the edit mode it appeared as if I was making the fixes but they were not, for whatever strange reason, “taking.” This caused the tweet I sent (which Onward State used, in classic Louis Freeh style, to claim that I was lying) indicating that I had fixed the problem in the “past tense” when, unbeknownst to me, they hadn’t really been fixed. This is why it is a good idea to at least try to speak to someone before you attack them in print.
I spent the next four or five hours skipping a much needed dinner and going absolutely crazy (and I have the texts with Andrew Pitz to prove it and I am sure his ears are still ringing from my frustrated screams when we spoke) trying to fix the problem. We did everything we possibly could. We even killed the original link (destroying any real chance it had to go viral) and thought we put up a “clean” new one, but because of the attack we were essentially flying totally blind. We had no idea what was still out there and what was not.
The notion that I knowingly and purposely left in references to Victim 2’s name because I somehow wanted to “out” him without actually outing him is even more ridiculous than Joe Paterno covering up pedophilia in order to protect a former coach he didn’t like. It just didn’t happen and, frankly, I feel very much like this is a classic example of no good deed going unpunished.
Early the next morning I issued a series of apologies for the many mistakes I had made over the previous couple of days. Apparently, my critics were unimpressed and unwilling to even ask me about what had really happened (or even fully reference my website’s short version of these events).
Thankfully, after I read the outrageous Onward State article, I called Jim Clemente and he offered to tweet that I was telling the truth about what happened. As of this writing, neither Onward State nor the author of the column has responded to repeated tweets from me asking for some sort of retraction.
I fully realize that this story seems improbable, partially because people wrongly think that if you are on the Today Show you have a staff of people working for you who can go get you something to eat when you get too busy or help you proof read an article in a difficult to read edit mode. I can assure you that I am much a one-man band as there can possibly be in situations like this. I can also guarantee you that everything I am saying here is 100 percent true.
What upsets me most about this is (other than being called a liar) is that this “shiny object” on the side of the road has completely distracted from the main point of the article, which is that there is important new evidence which sheds new light on what really happened in this story. Of course we wouldn’t want to focus on that when we can have fun trying to destroy a trouble maker’s character instead. All of this insanity actually proves the entire point I am trying to make about how utterly untrustworthy the media has become.
Of course the greatest irony here is that the rush to judgment that happened to me in this situation is strikingly similar to what occurred to Joe Paterno and Penn State in the Sandusky scandal. Even Scott Paterno would probably agree with that.
This is a response to a staff member’s column that can be found here.