John Ziegler is back. This time on a platform much larger than FramingPaterno.com or the King of Prussia Radisson. In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show this morning, the conservative documentarian released audio clips of his more than three hours of interviews with Sandusky, the first ones the convicted child molester has given since being found guilty of sexual abuse. The footage is meant to back up Ziegler’s claim that Paterno was unjustly accused by “the media” of covering up at least one crime that didn’t necessarily happen. (Ziegler, along with Paterno’s family, claims there’s no proof that Sandusky sexually abused a boy in the Penn State locker room in 2001.)
Here’s one clip NBC featured:
“I don’t understand how anybody would have walked into that locker room from where he was and heard sounds associated that was sex going on like he said that could’ve been,’’ Sandusky said. “I mean, that would have been the last thing I would have thought about. I would have thought maybe fooling around or something like that.
The Paterno family, to Ziegler’s dismay, distanced itself from the interview.
Ziegler also posted more transcripts of the interview on his website. In a post accompanying it, he writes:
As for Sandusky’s overall demeanor and credibility, I must confess that I was impressed. He comes across as incredibly sincere and so remarkably unpolished that the notion that he could have been a super-slick master manipulator (one who somehow couldn’t even manage to properly answer the Bob Costas “are you sexually attracted to young boys?” question) seems almost absurd…For lack of a better way to put it, my BS detector, which is usually incredibly reliable, remained silent for the vast majority of the interview. This means that he is either the greatest liar and manipulator that I have ever run across (which is certainly possible), or there is something else going on here that is contrary to the public perception of his crimes.
More significantly, for the community of Paterno “truthers” who disavow Louis Freeh’s report, Ziegler may have had a key argument of his quashed by Sandusky. The truthers have long claimed that there’s no evidence Paterno was ever notified of a 1998 investigation into Sandusky, as emails referring to him as “coach” could well have been referring to Sandusky instead. Sandusky appears to have disabused Ziegler of that notion, though the filmmaker is cagey about details.
Sandusky not only didn’t tell me everything I wanted to hear about Paterno, he actually, at times, almost went out of his way to tell me things that I did not want to hear (for instance, with regard to the infamous Freeh Report emails from 1998 where “coach” is assumed by Louis Freeh to mean “Paterno”). In fact, he even muttered apologetically to me at one point, “I’m probably not telling you what you want to hear.”
Meanwhile, NBC is being criticized for running the interview as if it was conducted in-house, not by a right-wing filmmaker whose previous efforts chronicled “media malpractice” around coverage of Sarah Palin and 9/11. [Today]