Why Another Jerry Sandusky Interview Is a Bad Idea
Wow, Jerry Sandusky apparently doesn't want the media circus around him to end anytime soon.
Wow, Jerry Sandusky apparently doesn't want the media circus around him to end anytime soon. As the Harrisburg Patriot-News is reporting, the alleged child molester at the center of the Penn State scandal wants another crack at a TV interview. The suggestion comes from Sandusky's own lawyer Joe Amendola, and NBC's Bob Costas and The New York Times's Jo Becker, the last media folk to go one-on-one with Sandusky, are small potatoes compared to the names of interviewers being dropped this time around. The catch to the interview now: it will include former Penn State coach's wife, Dorothy “Dottie” Sandusky. "The couple is considering speaking together publicly after the new year, Amendola said — either to Oprah Winfrey, 60 Minutes, NBC’s new Rock Center, or to ABC’s Barbara Walters," says the Patriot-News. (His first interview was with Rock Center with Brian Williams over the telephone.)
Keep in mind that at this point, the chance to see Sandusky (and his wife) sweat it out on TV is speculative. However, let's give the former Penn State coach a gentle PSA about why he should never, ever do a another Hail Mary attempt like speaking one-on-one with a journalist ever again.
Another interview will kill him in the court of public opinion Though we don't have a good way measuring it, we'd venture to guess that Sandusky is among the most hated public figures out there right now. Could another interview hurt him anymore? Probably not, but it'll likely just reinforce everything we already think about him. In both his November 14 interview on NBC and his December 3 interview with The New York Times, Sandusky couldn't help but awkwardly pause before denying that he is sexually attached to (when asked by Costas) and had molested any boys (when asked by Becker). Anything less than an emphatic "no" to questions like that is skewering yourself. We imagine that Sandusky would get plenty of coaching before his next interview, but if he gets his way he'd have to take the heat from an interviewing heavyweight like Walter Barbara. Not an easy task.
Another interview risks hurting him in the court of actual law, too After his NBC interview, we noted that Sandusky may have implicated himself in misdemeanor child sex abuse and also may be unnecessarily biasing his yet-to-be-chosen jurors by being a terrible interviewee. Those risks of self-incrimination and jury-pool tainting would still be there with a post-New Year's Day interview.
And people might not like Sandusky's wife after an interview either The thing that differentiates this potential Sandusky interview from the first two are that his wife might sit down with him for this one. This is likely a move to portray Sandusky as a red-blooded heterosexual family man, but it could easily backfire against his wife, Dottie. That's because she herself has been implicated in ignoring Sandusky's alleged rapes. In the second grand jury report on Sandusky released earlier this month, a "victim testified that on at least one occasion he screamed for help" in the Sanduskys basement while being assaulted, "knowing that Sandusky's wife was upstairs, but no one ever came to help him." By maybe knowing that Sandusky was a rapist and doing nothing about it, Dottie could easily become another focus of ire like Mike McQueary, a colleague of Sandusky's on Penn State's coaching staff, was earlier. And if Dottie Sandusky's past statement is any indication, her rhetoric might just fan the flames currently engulfing her husband. In her only other public statement to date from December 8, she said "We don’t know why these young men have made these false accusations, but we want everyone to know they are untrue." Finding fault with the alleged victims: Not a best PR strategy.
But the overarching thing we're wondering with this story, if it holds water: Why is the media willing to court such a heinous character as Sandusky. (Heinous whether he's found guilty of rape or not, since he's publicly admitted to showering with boys, after all.) The answer of course is ratings, but come on, media folk, you're making yourself look ridiculous when you try to land these interviews.