Penn State Saga: Most Noteworthy Moments in Jerry Sandusky Coverage

Maria Elena Fernandez picks the week’s most striking moments in the coverage of the Jerry Sandusky and Penn State saga.

Even people who don’t follow college football have been compelled to follow the Penn State saga, which gets more complicated and disturbing as details of a possibly decades-long, heinous coverup continue to unfold. As if the alleged grooming, abusing, and raping of children by a trusted father figure weren’t horrific enough, the institutional failure to protect children—that is, for adults to simply do the right thing—suggests a shameful conspiracy may be slowly unraveling.

The Daily Beast picks the most striking moments in the week’s TV coverage of the story.

Penn State and Nebraska Football Teams Pray

Before last week’s game at Beaver Stadium, Nebraska University assistant coach Ron Brown led both teams in a prayer. The players knelt down together, arms to shoulders, some with tears in their eyes, as 110,000 fans silently looked on. It was the first game Penn State would play in 46 years without Coach Joe Paterno, and one that they would lose, but nothing that happened after kickoff would stand out as much as one man’s invocation for healing:

“There are a lot of little boys around the country today who are watching this game. And they’re trying to figure out what the definition of manhood is all about. Father, this is it right here. I pray that this game will be a training ground of what manhood looks like… May the truth be known, may justice be known. May you protect the victims…”

Although most were touched by Brown’s gesture, veteran political journalist Jeff Greenfield saw the irony in it, as evidenced by his tweet: “Moment of silence for the children at Penn State? Why not? Just about everyone who might have saved them was silent for more than a decade.”

Bob Costas Interviews Jerry Sandusky

In the biggest “get” of the week, Bob Costas was just as surprised as anyone when Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer offered to have the accused pedophile call in for an interview on Rock Center With Brian Williams. Of course, Costas took the call. The exchange was as revealing as it was uncomfortable to watch.

The most noteworthy moment came when Costas directly asked the retired Penn State defensive coach if he is sexually attracted to underage boys and Sandusky repeated the question, hesitated, and then rambled: “Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?... Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.”

NBC has now released an extended version that shows what prompted Costas to ask that question. In the phone call, Costas had already asked Sandusky if he is a pedophile, which he denied. Costas then asked: “If you’re not a pedophile, then what are you?”

Mike McQueary Gives a Non-Interview to CBS

After Bob Costas landed the Jerry Sandusky exclusive, the rest of the media were left scrambling to come up with the next play. You can’t blame CBS News for going after the person that could turn out to be the most valuable player in this tragic saga—Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary. According to the grand jury report, McQueary said he saw Sandusky raping a young boy in the locker room showers in 2002 and chose to call his father and Coach Joe Paterno the next day—instead of the police. McQueary, who has taken a beating in the press for his failure to act more aggressively, wrote in an email revealed this week to an unknown source that he did, in fact, talk to the police, and stopped the situation. No media outlet has been able to corroborate this new version of his story.

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The day after Sandusky spoke to NBC, Armen Keteyian showed up on McQueary’s doorstep, hoping to land an exclusive. McQueary essentially said he could not comment. But that didn’t stop CBS from promoting the segment, “Penn State Assistant Football Coach Mike McQueary Speaks for the First Time” in a press release.

The most that Keteyian got out of McQueary was that he and feels like a “snow globe.” Whatever that means.

Jon Stewart Reacts to Sandusky Interview

Leave it to Jon Stewart to be the voice of a nation. The Daily Show host took Sandusky to task on Tuesday night for his NBC interview, calling him out for being a defensive coordinator who could have “coordinated a better defense.”

Of course, Stewart had much to say about Sandusky’s rambling answer in the way that only he can.

Anderson Cooper Talks to the Mother of Alleged Victim 1

Victim 1 is known as such in the grand-jury report because it was his allegations that launched the Pennsylvania attorney general’s investigation—not because he is believed to be Jerry Sandusky’s first victim.

Victim 1 was a member of The Second Mile, the charity that Sandusky founded to help children with absent or dysfunctional families. The boy met Sandusky in 2005 or 2006, when he was 11 or 12, according to the grand jury report. Victim 1 sometimes stayed at Sandusky’s home, where the coach fondled and forced him to have oral sex on a number of occasions, the report states. Victim 1 testified that other boys stayed at the house and Sandusky gave him a number of expensive gifts and took him on outings. Victim 1 also testified to the grand jury that Sandusky, who was a volunteer football coach at the boy’s high school, routinely took him out of class and sometimes out of the school.

Anderson Cooper interviewed the young man’s mother on CNN on Wednesday night. She told Cooper that she had been noticing changes in her son for a while and that he was refusing to take Sandusky’s calls. But she said it all came to a head one day when she received a call from the school. When she met with the school guidance counselor and principal, they told her that her son told them there was a problem with Sandusky “and he needed to tell somebody or it would get worse.” The mother told Cooper that she asked them to immediately call the police and they refused, warning her to consider the “ramifications.” The principal told her that Sandusky “had a heart of gold,” she said. The mother then took her son to a local child welfare office, which launched the investigation.

Cooper also asked her how they reacted to Sandusky’s interview with Costas.

AC360 Talks to Attorney Jeff Anderson

Attorney Jeff Anderson told CNN’s AC360 on Thursday night that his office has been flooded with calls from more boys and young men claiming that Jerry Sandusky also abused them. Anderson said he is vetting all their stories, and he potentially will represent more than 10 new victims.So far, he has agreed to represent one young man who called him after watching Sandusky’s interview on NBC.

“He felt a mixture of fury, despair, and fear and he shared with me that fury, despair, and fear and said that 'When I heard him say that he had not abused or raped or violated children, I knew that he had not only violated me but he had put a dagger in my heart, salt to the wounds, and deeper wounded my soul than I had ever realized,'” Anderson said. “And he then knew he had to do something more and made the call and urged me to carry it forward and speak with and for him.”