In case you’ve been hiding under a rock today, the NCAA handed down its judgment against Penn State this morning. Use your Google machine to find the exact punishments if you don’t know them already; the only thing I’ll mention about that is that the NCAA did not hand down the death penalty, just as I predicted last week.
What’s more interesting is the coverage being given to Joe Paterno’s family, which continues to deny that the former head coach had anything to do with the massive cover-up alleged in the Freeh report. The pull quote running on ESPN’s bottom line today is this:
The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.
I suppose, in the interest of fairness and intellectual honesty, I have to acknowledge the possibility that the Paterno family is not full of shit.
That done, what in the fuck is happening here? What possible justification could there be for paying the slightest attention to what these people have to say?
Maybe if the Paterno family were advancing some sort of plausible counter-story about how Joe Paterno could be innocent in this affair I would feel differently. Maybe if the Freeh Report had found that Paterno looked the other way I could believe an argument that he simply didn’t know. But that’s not the world we live in. The Freeh report found not only that Paterno knew what Sandusky was doing, not only that Paterno failed to report Sandusky’s crimes to the proper authorities, but that Paterno actively conspired with other top university officials to hide Sandusky’s behavior and protect him from exposure. In what universe could Freeh have been that wildly mistaken?
Instead of providing that plausible universe, the Paterno family is simply saying, “trust us, he didn’t do it, the Freeh Report is entirely wrong.” And that’s what makes this “side” so much more unworthy of coverage than all the other bullshit sides of issues that should be settled. At least the climate change denialists produce junk science that conforms to their views. At least evolution denialists make appeals to tenets of the dominant religious faith in this country. But the Paternos? They remind me of nothing so much as this classic Family Guy cutaway gag.
Parties with an obvious bias and conflict of interest, making statements that fly in the face of all evidence with no attempt at a plausible counter-narrative, getting coverage in the national media as though their point of view has any validity. Some disagree, I guess.