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Penn State University on Saturday paid tribute to Joe Paterno, its late and now-disgraced football coaching legend. As it marked the 50th anniversary of his first win, Mike Wise has decided to disclose how a man he knows very, very well was a victim just like the kids abused by Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky.
A former Washington Post sports columnist and New York Times reporter, Wise is now a senior writer for The Undefeated, ESPN’s look at the nexus of sports, race and culture. He covered Sandusky’s sentencing four years ago for The Post and alludes to how “I was traveling with a man I’ve known a long time and he quietly reviewed the story of what happened to him, some 40 years ago when he was 12. He thought about his family betraying him the way the Penn State ‘family’ betrayed those boys.” (The Undefeated)
When he was 12 years old in Red Bluff, California, he reveals, an uncle who was a magician coaxed him into taking off his clothes and running from his grandfather’s shed to a nearby mobile home for $1. “When it was time for bed, the uncle asked to sleep in the back room with his nephew, a screened-off porch area adjacent to the main home. His grandfather, parents, aunts and uncles obliged.”
“Over several hours, the boy was pushed to ‘explore his sexuality’ with an adult male relative, who at the time was 36 years old. He felt guilt and shame, but his uncle kept pressing the matter, eventually molesting and sodomizing him. The boy was confused. He had not yet experienced physical intimacy like that with anyone.”
Yes, Wise himself was the man he alludes to being with that day in the Pennsylvania courtroom. He felt guilt and shame and hid the victimization for years. He contacted the uncle with a letter 20 years later but there was no response. When he told other family members, they blew him off, saying, yeah, there was always something odd about the uncle.
For sure, there were elements of the magician-uncle that members of the family loved. There were children he made laugh and did not harm. “This was their cognitive dissonance,” Wise writes. “It helped them cope with the fact that their brother had stolen other young boys’ souls. It’s the same kind of cognitive dissonance the Penn State alumni and fans, all in deep, sad denial, need to coax from themselves to cheer for all the good Joe Pa did for everyone.”
“It’s not up to the Penn State community — the unaffected fan in the stadium’s third row — to decide how Paterno’s legacy should be treated,” Wise writes. It’s not up to his widow, Sue Paterno, who persuaded the university to have this weekend.”
“It’s up to the men who were molested. They get to decide.”
Experts clash about whether New York bombings were terrorism
Sebastian Gorka, one of Fox News’ favorite terrorism experts from the Institute of World Politics, was beckoned this morning for “Fox & Friends” duty, with his bass voice and occasionally apocalyptic air in fine form. “You don’t usually set off pressure cooker IEDs on the Fourth of July, and I think the Fourth of July was a while back. Of course it’s a terror attack.”
CNN was more ambiguous in a back-and-forth with Phil Mudd, a former CIA counterterrorism official. As co-host Chris Cuomo (whose brother Andrew, the governor, was predictably talking tough) declared that “common sense tells you somebody’s doing this to affect our way of life….it’s terrorism.” Mudd demurred and said “terrorism requires a political motivation, and I don’t know the motivation of the individual. Let’s assume, for example, a male lost his girlfriend and wanted to blow up the block…I have no idea, so I can’t tell you this was an act of terror before I know what was in his or her mind.”
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was largely on birther autopilot. “Outrageous racist trope,” said pundit Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the department of African-American studies at Princeton. “Its aim and purpose was to block the success, the efforts of the Obama presidency. Then to suggest, ‘here, put it to rest’ was Orwellian.”
The shortest fact-check ever
On the subject of Donald Trump’s unceasing lie about Barack Obama’s place of birth, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday, “It wasn’t like he was talking — no, Jake, it wasn’t like — it wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then.”
This was despite Tapper making it quite clear that Christie was full of it. It prompted The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler to include in his “Fact Checker” feature, “This is why Americans hate politics. A sitting governor goes on national television and when he is called out for an obvious falsehood, he simply repeats the inaccurate talking points over and over. This will possibly be our shortest fact check ever.” He then destroys the Christie claims. (The Washington Post)
As we ride the pollercoaster, a cautionary note
As of last evening, The New York Times “Upshot” political model was figuring, “Hillary Clinton has a 73 percent chance of winning the presidency,” even as some polling showed things tightening sharply. Over at former Timesman Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, the boss was suggesting “waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her ‘bad weekend’ to other subjects.” (FiveThirtyEight)
Meanwhile, Joe Scarborough had this to say on “Morning Joe.” “I think the bleeding stopped with Hillary Clinton, I think we’ll see it in the polls a week from now. The hair on the back of my neck is telling me this.” Mark Halperin was not so sure, nothing the Trump polling surges every time some act deemed terrorism has played out.
Blocking the blockers
“The Adblock Plus crowdsourced hacker militia can’t keep up with Facebook’s disciplined army of engineers.” (TechCrunch) Facebook declared it would find ways around ad-blocking software, but Adblock Plus figured out how to circumvent that gambit. The blocker boasted about how the giant had been foiled.
But “it’s been a month since Facebook broke ABP’s last workaround, and the social network’s marketing messages are still getting through. Despite the fact that ABP’s browser extension gets the final say on what appears on your screen, it can’t build filters fast enough when Facebook has total control over the code it serves.”
“Stop whining about ‘false balance'”
Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone, “One of the main reasons the news media has been dumbed down over the years is because audiences have consistently rejected smart, responsible journalism in favor of clickbait stupidities like ‘Five Things You Didn’t Know About John McCain’s Penis’ and ‘Woman Strips Naked in Front of Police Officers. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.'”
He continues: “‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ crush ‘Frontline.’ And people wonder why Donald Trump gets a lot of coverage?” But, he argues, “It’s not all the media’s fault. This is classic horse-race stuff, and if you’re getting it, it’s at least in part because you spent decades asking for it.” (Rolling Stone)
Twitter’s first NFL foray
“More than 2 million people watched Thursday night’s football game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets for free on Twitter. That was smaller than the digital audience Yahoo saw when it streamed an NFL game, also for free, last October (though Yahoo autoplayed that game on its homepage and most of its properties, including mail and Tumblr, so the comparison isn’t clean at all). It’s also well below the 48.1 million who tuned in to watch the game on TV, according to Nielsen.” (Recode)
Explaining war to kids
Nadine Kaadan, 28, is a children’s author-illustrator in Damascus. She’s granddaughter of a Syrian journalist, and her books were all in Arabic until her latest, her first in English. Why war, kids wonder? Why do they have to be stuck in the house? In a nice BBC on-camera profile, she’s reads part of a story, “‘Tomorrow,’ written during the first year of the conflict in Syria about a little boy who was confused as lives started to change and he stopped seeing his friend and was stuck in the house.” (BBC) Listen to her and wonder about what exactly gives children there hope.
Criticizing a CNN tweet
The conservative Daily Caller went after CNN: “CNN Edits Hillary’s Response To NYC Attack, Removes The Word ‘Bombing’” (Daily Caller) “Removes” it? Well, it didn’t initially mention that sentence of her response in a tweet. “While Clinton and Trump both had similar assumptions about Saturday’s blast, CNN’s Twitter post for Trump’s reaction emphasized his race to call it a bomb, while its post for Clinton’s reaction emphasized her call to wait until ‘we actually know some facts.'”
Joe Scarborough’s inner Andrew Lloyd Webber
He has notions of a Trump-inspired musical, says GQ in a solid profile of a man earning $8 million a year. Influential morning show aside, “He’s turned his fraught relationship with Donald Trump into grist for a nutty new project, a Trump musical…” (GQ)
Lemann on press hypocrisy over regulation
Nicholas Lemann, a cerebral journalist who is emeritus dean of Columbia Journalism School, says, “no industry likes to be regulated, and journalism is no different than any other industry.” During his 10 years in charge of the school, “On every occasion I could find I would say there should be more public broadcasting and more regulated broadcasting. In the United States I never found, literally, a single person who agreed with me ever me ever, among journalists, including the so-called liberal media.”
Lemann’s comments come on a terrific media show, “The Listening Post,” which is London-based on Al Jazeera’s English-language network. For various legal reasons, you can’t get it in the United States, including online. But its latest episode, which is per usual hosted by Canadian Richard Gizbert, is devoted to inspecting what Gilbert considers structural failings in the U.S. media marketplace.
“Journalists are really trained to think that government regulation is OK — except when it applies to journalism, in which case it is an absolute moral wrong,” Lemann says on the show. Alluding to the frequent mess of American media, Lemann concludes, “If that’s what you believe, this is the world you get.”
Arrest in the Dakotas
Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!,” who surfaces in the Al Jazeera piece as a pundit, has had her legal trouble recently noted in Vogue, of all places. It involves protests at North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation over the the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Local authorities issued a warrant for Goodman’s arrest, alleging that she trespassed on private lands. Goodman claims she was acting as a reporter, exercising the right of freedom of the press.” (Vogue)
Guys, the story you quote was a joke
The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald in North Carolina reports “The Clinton campaign has been fairly successful in deflecting the public’s concerns over Benghazi, her unsecured emails and the numerous other scandals that Hillary Clinton has wrought. But the public has heard about Clinton’s frequent coughing spells, and they have seen how she supposedly fell ill and made an early exit from a 9/11 anniversary event. Word has surfaced that she canceled a campaign trip to California.” (Daily Herald)
It then notes how “The Boston Globe even reported that, ‘In Clinton’s inner circle, it is common knowledge that there are times she’s so low-energy that she blanks out for hours. When that happens, she is given to strange mental spells during which she has little or no control over what she says and does. She sometimes mutters things no one can understand.'”
Thanks to Matthew Gilbert, TV critic at The Globe, for bringing to my attention the original Globe piece — a grotesquely obvious op-ed satire by Scot Lehigh. (The Boston Globe)