In Anticipation of a Hit Piece….My Full Interview With Deadspin

Submitted by John Ziegler on Tue, 11/27/2012 – 17:34

A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from Deadspin,with whom I have exchanged over 200 email and about ten phone calls since the release of the Freeh Report, told me he finally wanted to do an actual article about me.

He asked me to do an on the record interview and I agreed. I did so because I respect this reporter’s knowledge of the case (which, unlike the vast majority of media members, is actually quite good) and the incredible amount of time we had each put into trying to convince the other that they are wrong about our conclusions.

I agreed to the interview despite having zero confidence in Deadspin’s willingness to write an objective story about anything to do with my side of the Paterno saga. After all, they were the one’s who led the charge early on for his firing, drove much of the false “rape” narrative in the media, and mysteriously got a hold of the Freeh Report’s misleading summary before it was actually publicly released.

While I did not trust Deadspin, I figured that should at least give this particular reporter the benefit of the doubt. However, I made sure that all of the questions and answers were done via e-mail so that there would be a record of the actual exchange.

It quickly became very clear to me that the intent of the story was going to be to discredit me and, by extension, the cause of www.FramingPaterno.com . While I do not know for sure what or when Deadspin will publish their story (I was told today that it would be soon), I have decided to be proactive and release the full transcript of my interview so that people can see for themselves the real intent that Deadspin clearly had, as well as the full truth behind the subject matters which they raised.

I actually think the real value of this exercise is that people will get the full sense of just how corrupt/unfair the media really has become, especially when you go up against them on this particular story (which is why no celebrity media types have had the courage to stand up against the tidal wave). Notice that the alleged reason for the interview/story is the release of our mini movie and yet there is almost no interest in anything having to do with the content of the movie. Instead it is all little more than a fishing expedition clearly intended to find ways to attack me personally for things that are irrelevant, untrue, or both.

The interview  took place via several e-mail responses. For simplicity, I am publishing only my responses (in red) and have included the reporter’s questions which are numbered within each batch.

Here was my response to his first set of questions. As you can see, I clearly already knew where this thing was headed.

 

I must say that I am struck by the focus of your questions being on me rather than on the content of the mini movie. That might be the best backhanded compliment I have gotten so far. You can go ahead and try and kill the messenger, but that won’t work in the long run.

Here are your answers. All I ask is that you be fair (the only reason I am even responding is that I respect your knowledge of the case and the enormous amount of time you have spent discussing it with me) though it is tough to see how that is likely to happen given the nature of the questions. Go ahead and take shots. I get it and I can take it. I certainly hope you will use the full responses.

1. Why have you taken on this cause? What is your goal with it?

I have taken up this cause because I have devoted most of my career to media criticism (my first two feature films dealt with this issue) and to what I see as the death of journalism in this country.

Based on the current factual record, this appears to be the worst case of media malpractice I have ever seen in my life. I am one of those dinosaurs who actually still believes that pursuing the truth is inherently valuable, even when it might be against your own self interest.

My goal here is to first expose the outrageous rush to judgment that was fostered by a corrupt and incompetent media, and then to find out what really happened is this story.

2. How do you make your living? As in, how do you survive? Do your films earn money? If so, how much?

Of the top 1,000 legitimate questions someone could ask me about this project, that one wouldn’t even come close to making the list, but I will answer it anyway.

Thankfully, I am financially secure and, much to the chagrin of my wife, not driven by money. My last feature film, Media Malpractice, which debuted with me on the Today Show, did very well. I own two homes in Southern California with no debt.

Thank you for your concern.As for this project, we are funding it solely on contributions/investments and, to this moment, I have not made a dime from it, nor do I think it likely that I ever will. As I have stated previously, that is not my goal here. If I could get a full film on this story done correctly without making any money at all, I would take that deal in a heartbeat. I am well aware that this project is far more likely to harm my career

than help it in any way.3. How much money is needed to make the full film?

This project is truly unique because of its subject matter. I could easily finish a quality full length
documentary right now (though I would want to wait until the trials were over) with my current funding situation or out of my own pocket. However, because it is very clear that the media will be out to destroy us, this film would need a substantial marketing budget to be able to power through the inevitable media blackout/attacks. I am not sure how much it will take to do that exactly, but it will have to be at least several hundred thousand dollars.
4. Are the Paternos behind this project financially?
Absolutely not. I have spoken extensively to several members of the family but they have not participated in the production in any substantive way. It is quite possible that they never will. I can assure you that, for many reasons, I would never take a dime from them, though I did eat some Peachy Paterno ice cream in their kitchen after Sue Paterno insisted that I try it.
5. Given your past, how do you respond to critics who say you have your own
credibility problems?
So, you are asking me whether I still beat my wife? Seriously? I have no idea what “past’ you are referring to. I realize that I have always been a controversial figure, but my honesty is unquestioned, even by my critics. My credibility in general and on this issue, in a rational world, is bulletproof. I have never even been seriously accused of perpetrating a falsehood which, considering the withering criticism I endured from liberals after “Media Malpractice” is pretty amazing.
In fact, I will pay the same $10,000 I have offered to charity if Curley/Schultz/Spanier are convicted on all charges to anyone who can prove that I have ever said anything blatantly untrue in my 25 year media career.
As for my credibility on this case specifically, I have no ties to Penn State, was adamant before all of this that Paterno should have retired sooner, stand to gain nothing personally, have spoken to more of the people closest to this story than Louis Freeh did (an, unlike Freeh, my “past” doesn’t include any allegations of a wide array of gross ethical violations), and have far more knowledge about the facts of this case than any reporter I have spoken to about this, other than Dom Consentino.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
Here then is the second group of questions. As you can see, they don’t get any better.
This is starting to give me a very bad feeling about where you are heading. I certainly expect that my full responses will used. Here you go.
1. Has Anthony Lubrano contributed financially to the project? If so, what?
Absolutely not.
2. Who are the investors for this film?

Hundreds of people who have made small contributions/investments (we have purposely taken nothing more than $1,000 to this point) who want to see the truth of this matter found and told. We have actually stopped actively taking small contributions because, as we have done through out, we only solicit support for very specific projects and every cent has gone directly to exactly what we said it would go to.. Until we are confident that we can take the next step I will not solicit from the grassroots. I don’t make promises I can’t keep and I am not going to take money from people unless I know I can give them what they want.
3. How do you respond to the suggestion that you’re making the Paterno film because it offers you a market of individuals deeply invested in the man who are eager to believe anyone willing to offer a narrative that exonerates him?
I would say that suggestion is coming from someone “deeply invested” in trying to come up with a way to distract from the reality that there is a very good chance that the media got it very wrong in this case. I have already told you that I have not made any money from this, likely never will, and that my career will likely be harmed. What “market” are you accusing me of capturing exactly? The most disturbing aspect of this question is that it seems to imply that no one is allowed to tell the other side of this story because they would inherently somehow be doing something unethical. That is called a circular argument, but I guess it is the best you have here. Good luck with that.
4. Was Franco Harris’s trip to visit Gene Block your idea, or his? Same with that town hall in Pittsburgh: How much influence did you have on making that event happen?
Franco called me and told me he was doing this. I offered to help in any way I could. I put out a press release, notified the schools involved he would be coming, and someone videotaped it for me. That was about it. Oh, we also had lunch afterwards and I think he paid for it.
5. Did you begin work on your first film, Blocking the Path to 9/11, before you parted ways with KFI, or after?
Wow, you are really in the weeds now! I guess it depends on your definition. I started covering that story in August of 2006 and I left KFI in November of 2007, so you do the math. I definitely planned on doing that film before I left. I am sure this fact is very relevant to why Deadspin has claimed that Mike McQueary saw and reported the rape of a child when there is no evidence to support that claim.

 

At this point I called the reporter and tried to explain to him that, despite what Deadspin might like to believe, that I am totally serious and completely sincere about this project and that a hit piece on me would neither be fair nor effective. You will see a reference to Deadspin changing its verbiage on McQueary’s “rape” allegation (basically admitting what they originally reported was false) which the reporter pointed out to me in a follow up email.

 

Thanks for your time on the phone. What follows are your responses. As for Deadspin’s change on the “rape” thing, I am aware of that, but the problem is that the horse had already long left the barn on this story by then. As Franco Harris says in the movie, thanks to that lie “the truth didn’t matter.”

Answers to your last two questions…
1. How do you expect “the media” to be receptive to your film when you’re constantly calling individuals who have done some damn good work on this story “morons”  and “frauds,” etc.? You also behaved this way in several TV appearances to promote your Palin film. Why? What does it prove? How does that help you?
To be clear, the “morons” reference in your question appears to be from an event in Pittsburgh where we debuted the video and I referred to the media in general (not an individual) as being made up of “morons” and “lemmings.” Having worked in nearly every aspect of the media, I  unfortunately believe that to be very true. I am not sure who exactly you are saying I called a “fraud,” but if you are referring to Sara Ganim, I do believe that she did not deserve the Pulitzer prize. She is really a very poor writer and was simply at the right place at the right time.
As for the essence of your question, I know this may be very difficult for people in the media to understand, since to them being on TV is an end in itself, but I really have zero regard for an institution which I think is destroying this country for its own commercial gain. Most people go on TV with the goal of being asked back. I have no interest in that. It is all a big game which I simply refuse to play. Has that been a bad decision career wise for me? I have no doubt that it has been, but my goal is not fame or fortune. I pursue the truth, even when it is against my own self interest. Unfortunately, like in this case, it is often against one’s self interest to pursue the truth at all other costs, especially when the entire media complex is completely invested in the other side of the story.
2. Does your full film offer any solid evidence that Paterno was coached into his grand jury testimony besides Lubrano and Gray really really really hoping that’s what happened? I’m talking something more than hearsay from someone with a vested interest in clearing Paterno’s name whose “word” can’t be independently verified? Does McQueary say this to you directly?
First of all, in the “mini movie,” which is a summary of what a larger film might look like, we did not include all of the back up information which we have for each point we present. Secondly, this theory is proposed in the “mini movie” as a highly plausible alternative theory to others which the media latched onto. The theory that Louis Freeh came up with that Paterno knew about 1998 is simply a theory based on rather flimsy circumstantial evidence. The theory Lubrano and Gray lay out is at least as credible as Freeh’s, and, unlike Freeh’s theory, it is consistent with all the known evidence. I have had five people close to this story come to me independently with exactly the same theory.
Unlike Curley and Schultz, Paterno was not prepped for his grand jury testimony by the Penn State lawyer. His police interview makes zero reference to anything remotely sexual, and he obviously had the most access to McQueary himself. I am also told by a source close to the situation that Curley’s lawyers have direct evidence that such a meeting took place. It should also be noted that, just weeks before his grand jury testimony, Paterno had several difficult public episodes which were well documented and which should bring into grave question any over reading of anything he said during this time period. This is especially the case when he used multiple qualifiers in his testimony and was being asked about a conversation that happened almost ten years prior and which every single person, including the primary witness, mistook for being only nine years old.
Assuming me coming out with this first doesn’t change their mind, It will be very interesting to see what Deadspin finally does actually publish about all of this. I wish I had any faith at all that they would be fair, but, to be honest I really don’t care that much. Just as with this story as a whole, I know what the real truth is and isn’t and that is all that truly matters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s