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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

OT: ‘Paterno’: A Relentless, Failed Defense of Penn State’s Disgraced Coach - Allen Barra

This has been a Hot Topic on the site for quite a while.

“This book,” writes Joe Posnanski in the introduction to his already controversial biography, Paterno, “is not a defense of Paterno.” Yes, it is, and relentlessly.

Last year, Posnanski—a former Sports Illustrated writer who now contributes to a soon-to-be-launched website called Sports on Earth—was given a substantial contract by publisher Simon & Schuster to move to the Penn State campus and write a full-length biography of Paterno. At the time, Paterno was the beloved man who’d won more games than any other college football coach in history. The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and Paterno’s sudden death, of course, forced the author to change the tone and focus of the book, and the result, Paterno—the title is as generic as Penn State’s uniforms—seems to have been rushed out before interest in Paterno died out altogether. (His statue outside the University’s football stadium has already been removed.)

Hat tip to numerous people in the other thread.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM | 75 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: football, joe posnanski

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   1. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4214976)
Wow, just like death and taxes.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4214979)
Must every Posnanski thread turn into a Paterno discussion?
   3. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4215007)
Must every Posnanski thread turn into a Paterno discussion?


That's a nice piece of business.
   4. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4215008)
Another thread on Posnanski and his Paterno hagiography? The original one is only a week old and looks like it's doing just fine.
   5. Jim Furtado Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4215020)
Believe it or not, most people don't come here for the discussion. Now, I like reading the discussions but for the visitors who don't, but who might be interested in the topic, I have provided this link. I am quite certain that scrolling past this post will be very easy for you.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4215021)
This will just get hijacked by Mets fans anyway.
   7. Lassus Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4215022)
Our hijacking powers have really waned in the past few years.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4215024)
His book is littered with statements about the game that simply are not true.


I haven't read Paterno, but I did read Barra's bio of Yogi Berra, and it was filled with more factual inaccuracies than any book I've read this side of David Myhra's atrocious books about German aircraft...
   9. God Posted: August 22, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4215031)
The book may be garbage for all I know, but this review is garbage too. My favorite part is where he says Posnanski doesn't know anything about college football-- just a couple of paragraphs after Barra claims Paterno was the all-time wins leader before the start of the 2011 season.
   10. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 22, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4215052)
The book may be garbage for all I know, but this review is garbage too.
This.

It's a screed. It's closer to a Fire Joe Morgan (Fire Joe Posnanski?) takedown than an attempt to offer an objective review of the book -- and I say that without saying that I necessarily disagree with any of the many opinions and guesses and subjective judgments that Barra makes.

*As a book review*, this is an embarrassing piece of work.
   11. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 22, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4215085)
review any ESPN writings (and other outlets I'm sure) and Paterno was already the winningest major college coach. Robinson's Grambling didn't count,

thus Nike donated to the library in his honor in Jan 2011

or "Major college football's winningest coach is wrapping up his record 45th season on the sideline." in Nov 2010

I thought it was bullshit at the time, but everybody's favorite white granddaddy had to win the prize already in case he couldn't make it back.

ETA: & as a book review, going after the failings of the biographer are entirely fair game.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4215125)
Yep, not much of a review although the book sounds pretty much like what I expect at this point (Not sure I noticed "the other thread" or I've let it go and see no reason to find it now). Anyway, there's still plenty in the review that makes Poz look pretty bad here even ignoring Barra's anger.

The most annoying bit about the review is that, the Sandusky horror aside, Barra writes as though the other things Paterno did were beyond the pale. And perhaps they should be but the other stuff he raises is pretty much just standard issue college athletics. He intervened with the Uni's justice system to try to keep his players out of trouble? I doubt there's a single coach anywhere who hasn't tried to do that under the circumstances. He had a pissing contest with a Uni pres who wanted him gone after 2005 ... again standard practice. That Paterno won says a lot about how screwed up Penn State University was but it doesn't really tell us much about Paterno* and university presidents and academics complaining about their lack of control over athletics is a campus cliche. As far as I know, Dean Smith was an honorable man but there's no way a UNC Chancellor was ever gonna try to fire him and Smith would have won the battle anyway.

*That Paterno apparently wanted to hang on until he was 102 says a lot about Paterno.
   13. Buzzards Bay Posted: August 22, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4215321)
When will we see the analysis of the 2nd Mile part of the equation
How may Penn State and 2nd Mile be best viewed
the criminal synergy is the combination of both institutions and their trappings
   14. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4215391)
I've been trying to figure this out for a few months:

I'm a Joe Posnanski defender.
Posnanski is a Joe Paterno defender.
Paterno is (tacitly) a Jerry Sandusky defender.
Jerry Sandusky is a child rapist.

Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.
   15. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 22, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4215393)
I don't doubt that Posnanski really believes every word he wrote in the book. Hell, at times I'm tempted to squint real hard and believe it, because Posnanski is such a good writer and such a respectable person.
   16. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4215400)
Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.

Spend much time hanging around playgrounds? wading pools?
   17. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: August 23, 2012 at 03:39 AM (#4215505)

Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy?


Nah, by events out of his control this book morphed into needing to be something he couldn't write - a takedown of Joe Paterno. Since he couldn't write the book that needed to be written, he wrote this middling piece which will make no one happy. I feel for him, this book will leave a large permanent stain on what was a pretty solid career. And again, it's not really his fault, it just sort of happened to him.

Believe it or not, most people don't come here for the discussion.

Really? I go months without ever clicking on one of the links.
   18. Dan Evensen Posted: August 23, 2012 at 07:27 AM (#4215530)
Really? I go months without ever clicking on one of the links.

Me as well. Actually, I go through a lot of threads without even posting. The banter is amusing.

Seriously -- RTFA is a set phrase for a reason. I feel like Primer was always about the discussion and never about TFA.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 09:22 AM (#4215595)

Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.


Hmmm. Let me consult the guidelines first.
   20. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 23, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4215602)
Really? I go months without ever clicking on one of the links.

Seriously? There are many a thread that I don't click the link, but I still read it at least a third of the time.
   21. bunyon Posted: August 23, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4215605)
I feel like Primer was always about the discussion and never about TFA.

To those of us who post a lot, this is true. I suspect there are quite a few people who don't use it that way and never post.


Also, I find I tend to click through baseball links. It is a good clearinghouse for baseball news. Links to things like Paterno I never click on. I find there is less discussion in the purely baseball topics but often good links and what few posts there are are good. I think BBTF has tried hard to move chat style stuff out but we all just keep thwarting them. (evil laugh).


Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.

Joey, ever spend any time in a Turkish prison?
   22. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 23, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4215619)
Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.
I am also a fan of Joe Posnanski's writing. I've found his writing, and especially his blogging, to be the work of a thoughtful and interesting guy.

I think, though, that good decent guys who are good writers can make huge mistakes, and this book sounds like one. Barra's got his hatchet out, but he's also found a very good place to swing it, and he's making contact. As I posted in the other thread, the stuff where Posnanski uses anonymous quotes to smear Vicky Triponey and distort the underlying story is entirely unethical. I expect that sort of thing from all the shitty sportswriters, not from Posnanski.

Robinred and others have argued that Posnanski was the wrong guy for this because he wants to see the best in people and write about their virtues and their triumphs. The really concerning parts of the review, then, were the parts where Barra demonstrates that Posnanski ended up so blinded by JoePa and Penn St football that he distorted evidence and smeared good administrators who tried to get Paterno's out-of-control program back under the authority of the university.

This is the relevant section. Vicky Triponey, Dean of Student Affairs, attempted to do her job and discipline football players who were committing crimes, starting fights, and breaking rules all over campus. Joe Paterno fought this attempt to restore control over the football program, and backed Triponey down until she resigned. And Posnanski tells the story thuswise, per Barra:
In a disgraceful bit of deflecting responsibility away from Paterno, Posnanski tries to taint Triponey's reputation: "One close friend of Paterno wondered, 'Don't reporters know how to use Google?' If they had, they would have found that Triponey's time at Penn State was not without controversy, including well-publicized clashes with the student government, the campus radio station, and fraternities." Too bad reporters can't Google the name of the anonymous close friend who said this and failed to mention that dealing with controversy is precisely what Triponey's job was all about.

Posnanski closes out his chapter by quoting a player: 'If it was up to that woman"—Triponey—"they would have thrown me out of school and let me rot. That's how she was. ... But now I'm a father, and I have a child, and I have a good job. I owe that to Joe Paterno. He wasn't perfect, but he believed in me. When nobody else did, he believed in me." Unfortunately, the player, like the Paterno friend who suggested Googling Triponey, is unnamed by Posnanski.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4215640)
Posnanski tries to taint Triponey's reputation: "One close friend of Paterno wondered, 'Don't reporters know how to use Google?' If they had, they would have found that Triponey's time at Penn State was not without controversy, including well-publicized clashes with the student government, the campus radio station, and fraternities."


Posnanski has lowered himself so far that at this point I seriously wonder whether this "close friend" is him.

As to the unnamed player, it is bogus to cite an anonymous player without any way for people to check the story to see just what the facts were.
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4215649)
As to the unnamed player, it is bogus to cite an anonymous player without any way for people to check the story to see just what the facts were.

However, virtually all sports journalists do this virtually all the time.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4215654)

it is bogus to cite an anonymous player without any way for people to check the story to see just what the facts were.


If you could check the facts, wouldn't that almost certainly kill the purpose of granting the anonymity?

Mind you, that's not a defense of the practice, as I hate anonymous sources of all stripes and don't use them. But if you do guarantee the protection, then you can't drop enough clues that guys like us could ID the individual with a little detective work.

   26. CrosbyBird Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4215657)
Seriously? There are many a thread that I don't click the link, but I still read it at least a third of the time.

I couldn't put an exact number on the links I click through, but I'd say it's much, much lower than that.
   27. robinred Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4215670)

Robinred and others have argued that Posnanski was the wrong guy for this because he wants to see the best in people and write about their virtues and their triumphs.


That is part of it. It is also my opinion that Poz is not a deep research kind of guy and therefore not the guy to do a really good bio in the first place. Jason Whitlock is not a writer that I like, and his early attacks on Poz were excessively mean-spirited IMO. But his snarky comment that this book was intended in some respects to be a Poznian extension of Tuesdays With Morrie was, while an oversimplification, in some ways likely accurate, particularly in view of the original Fathers' Day 2013 release date.

So, I think Poz was in bad shape here three ways:

1. He is not a researcher.
2. He was tight with the Paternos.
3. He is not a hard-nosed, investigative reporter type, which this story needed--and still needs.
   28. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4215677)
One close friend of Paterno wondered, 'Don't reporters know how to use Google?' If they had, they would have found that Triponey's time at Penn State was not without controversy


Also, Google is a good way for Coach Paterno to learn what sodomy is.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4215681)

Also, Google is a good way for Coach Paterno to learn what sodomy is.


Though I advise against clicking on "Images."

   30. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4215693)
they would have found that Triponey's time at Penn State was not without controversy


And from all I've read, she's the one person at Penn State I'd have wanted to call had McQueary brought the news to me.
   31. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 23, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4215696)
Though I advise against clicking on "Images."

Ahhh, I've got santorum on my eyeballs!
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: August 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4215711)
they would have found that Triponey's time at Penn State was not without controversy




And from all I've read, she's the one person at Penn State I'd have wanted to call had McQueary brought the news to me.


This close friend of Paterno's anonymously tries to insult her credibility and Poz just regurgitates it uncritically. And being involved in "controversy" is not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. Maybe Poz should have researched her time there himself instead of just spouting the Paterno side by default.
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 23, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4215727)
This close friend of Paterno's anonymously tries to insult her credibility and Poz just regurgitates it uncritically. And being involved in "controversy" is not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. Maybe Poz should have researched her time there himself instead of just spouting the Paterno side by default.

I just don't think there was time/inclination for this kind of research once the book went from hagiography to an "objective account of a complicated man." Writing is hard and that kind of u-turn would take a lot of time. The publishers have to be ecstatic about this turn of events even if Pos is squirming, though.
   34. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4215765)
Does this mean I am a defender of child rape, just because I think Joe Posnanski is a good writer and, based only on his writing, a decent guy? Sometimes it feels that way.

Joey, ever spend any time in a Turkish prison?


Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
   35. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4215798)
That is part of it. It is also my opinion that Poz is not a deep research kind of guy and therefore not the guy to do a really good bio in the first place.


Research, Smesearch. Posnanski showed absolutely no interest in learning anything new about this that didn't favor Pateno. What "deep research" is needed to ask Paterno a series of well thought out questions about what he knew about Sandusky? If Paterno didn't answer, or feigned a lack of knowledge, or sugarcoated things as expected, fine, and then ask some follow up questions until it's clear he's given you all he's going to give you - and then explain to your readers what efforts you gave towards that end. But at least ask the questions. Other than a single contrived exchange Posnanski apparently had with Paterno, it seems that there was absolutely nothing.

So Paterno told him, "I should have done more," and Posnanski didn't bother to ask the obvious follow up questions of "What do you mean by that? What, specifically, do you wish you had done instead? Should you have called police? Made sure that Curley or Schultz did it? Worked to see to it that Sandusky was stripped of his access to the facilities? Why, specifically, _didn't_ you report McQueary's account to police, or see that that was done? What reasons, specifically, did you have for allowing this man to operate on your campus for a decade following this? Etc etc."

Posnanski apparently followed up with not a single question, and frankly the entire exchange feels manufactured because Posnanski didn't give us one iota of information from that exchange that was different from what Paterno said in his public statement.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4215804)
This close friend of Paterno's anonymously tries to insult her credibility and Poz just regurgitates it uncritically. And being involved in "controversy" is not necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. Maybe Poz should have researched her time there himself instead of just spouting the Paterno side by default.


Yes.
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4215820)
The most annoying bit about the review is that, the Sandusky horror aside, Barra writes as though the other things Paterno did were beyond the pale. And perhaps they should be but the other stuff he raises is pretty much just standard issue college athletics. He intervened with the Uni's justice system to try to keep his players out of trouble? I doubt there's a single coach anywhere who hasn't tried to do that under the circumstances. He had a pissing contest with a Uni pres who wanted him gone after 2005 ... again standard practice. That Paterno won says a lot about how screwed up Penn State University was but it doesn't really tell us much about Paterno* and university presidents and academics complaining about their lack of control over athletics is a campus cliche.

I didn't read the review and I am not going to (I am reading Poz's book right now) but what Paterno DID do that was beyond the pale was to support, if not encourage, the bigoted basketball coach Rene Portland who openly discriminated against lesbian players as a matter of policy. And in fact she did so for many years after Penn State had adopted an anti-discrimination policy partly in response to complaints about her bigotry. Paterno responded to her eventual resignation with a "she did a great job". I'm waiting to see how Poz deals with this issue -- according to the index Portland comes up on pages 189-190. Not a good sign.

Also, in the absence of this scandal, letting Paterno stay on made sense from an academic perspective. At that time Spanier already had the BoT in his coat pocket, but the negative attention would have been huge, even at a time when Paterno's reputation had waned considerably after 4 out of 5 losing seasons. Why not just let the old man run out the clock? It made sense to me at the time and as someone who didn't care about football and was glad to see it getting less emphasis, I had no problem with it. And of course, when the team resurged the next season, the entire issue went away. While this proved to be a miscalculation, I can't blame Spanier for not sticking his neck out.
   38. The District Attorney Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4215834)
I just don't think there was time/inclination for this kind of research once the book went from hagiography to an "objective account of a complicated man."
I'll point out, though, that Poz has made it very clear that this book is to be taken as his complete statement on Paterno and "everything I have to say is in there". So, although I suppose you could use that excuse for him anyway, he has requested that you not...
   39. robinred Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4215841)
Research, Smesearch.

You are addressing the second and third points I made, rather than the first one. Quoting myself:

2. He was tight with the Paternos.
3. He is not a hard-nosed, investigative reporter type, which this story needed--and still needs.


Those are the reasons he didn't grill Paterno. Poz was sitting at the table with a dying man that he admired, in the dying man's home. That is not the set-up, nor is Poz the guy, to follow-up with a bunch of tough questions given that context.

The point about research was not directed that much to the ethical and moral issues; it was directed more to the nature of the project. The book that IMO Poz has the skills to write was a year "embedded" with The Great Man and his family, soaking up the local color and the culture, and reporting on what he saw and heard. Had the bio gone ahead in a non-Sandusky universe, it would have made a ton of money but IMO probably not gotten great reviews.

As it is, well, you can see that as well as I can.


   40. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4215848)
The most annoying bit about the review is that, the Sandusky horror aside, Barra writes as though the other things Paterno did were beyond the pale. And perhaps they should be but the other stuff he raises is pretty much just standard issue college athletics.


I think you missed the point, which is not that Paterno was a monster (Sandusky horror aside), but rather that there was a clear pattern and narrative of flaws, a narrative that Poz utterly missed. Poz thinks that the scandal is an isolated incident, whereas Barra thinks that the scandal sheds light on the rest of Paterno's life, and not only that, but that Poz wrote this angle into his own story without even realizing it.
   41. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4215853)
I just don't think there was time/inclination for this kind of research once the book went from hagiography to an "objective account of a complicated man."


I think this is totally accurate. Poz probably also figured that, after a million reporters descended on Happy Valley to cover the scandal, there was no point in his doing all of that legwork. He had a unique and privileged angle - his access to Paterno - so that was what he was going to work with. Unfortunately, as Ray points out:

What "deep research" is needed to ask Paterno a series of well thought out questions about what he knew about Sandusky? ... Other than a single contrived exchange Posnanski apparently had with Paterno, it seems that there was absolutely nothing.


He apparently does not take advantage of his privileged access in any important way. That's a major failure.
   42. robinred Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4215857)
whereas Barra thinks that the scandal sheds light on the rest of Paterno's life,


This is a key point. A skilled biographer weaves a narrative and sees patterns over time. Caro is very good at this, among other things he is good at.

But doing that takes research, time, and distance from the subject. ISTM Posnanski had none of those things WRT Paterno.
   43. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4215860)

I think you missed the point, which is not that Paterno was a monster (Sandusky horror aside), but rather that there was a clear pattern and narrative of flaws, a narrative that Poz utterly missed. Poz thinks that the scandal is an isolated incident, whereas Barra thinks that the scandal sheds light on the rest of Paterno's life, and not only that, but that Poz wrote this angle into his own story without even realizing it.


Yes.
   44. bunyon Posted: August 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4215862)
Ahhh, I've got santorum on my eyeballs!

We have a contortionist in the house.
   45. Greg Franklin Posted: August 23, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4216053)
Well, this thread may veer from OT to ONT after all. Sandusky-slayer Bob Costas will interview Poz on his NBCSN interview show Costas Tonight. Air time is Wednesday, August 29th, 9 PM ET. [link]
   46. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4216727)
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4216740)
Re #46, I'm not completely understanding this quote from the Salon piece:

This fact [that Paterno, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz were aware of the 1998 investigation] is crucial because it explains why, less than three years later, these four men allegedly decided to cover up Sandusky’s rape of a 10-year-old boy in the Penn State football facility showers. All of them must have known that if they reported this crime, their knowledge of the previous allegation would come to light — and that they might well lose their jobs as a result. So it would seem they decided to protect their careers rather than any of the children whom Sandusky subsequently raped.


I presume he's arguing that they would have lost their jobs because they continued to allow Sandusky to operate on the campus after 1998.

Ok, fair enough. Although the one problem with smearing them all completely with that is that from the email evidence in the Freeh Report, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz had decided to report it to state authorities as part of a three-pronged plan, until Paterno, essentially, talked them out of it.

Spanier, actually, appears to be just letting the other three make the call. In fact, he appears not even to want to be involved in confronting Sandusky, which is one thing they had decided to do, and he leaves that to Schultz/Curley.
   48. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4216747)
Salon review by a law professor bludgeons Posnanski with the Freeh report.

That is a stinging review. It points to another reason I have no interest in the book--there is no possible way Pos had time to incorporate the Freeh report which is a pretty massive whiff on Pos' part. I don't know if they didn't know the timing of the release or what, but the attempt to complicate Paterno's culpability in the wake of that report is massively unfortunate.
   49. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4216773)

I agree with Ray in #35 and I'm still not sure what kind of research was needed that Pos is incapable of doing. Sure, before the scandal came to light it required true investigative reporting to get it out there, but at this point I suspect the vast majority of information we are ever going to get on Paterno's involvement is out there. Sandusky's trial happened, Paterno is dead, I guess there's the Curley/Schultz trials (or is it going to be one trial) and the inevitable jailhouse interview with Sandusky which will come down the road, where we might learn something new or at least get another side of the story; albeit from people who will have questions about their own credibility.
   50. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4216790)
46 is barely a review of the book, but reading it I still get the sense that Pos's greatest failing is not his Paterno apology or his failure to weave the scandal into the rest of the narrative, but simply this: he was granted unprecedented access to Paterno while the biggest story of his life was happening, and Pos was unable to make anything at all out of it.
   51. robinred Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4216810)
I agree with Ray in #35 and I'm still not sure what kind of research was needed that Pos is incapable of doing.


Serious, long-term biographical research on Paterno, that might shed some light in what ways the scandal fit into the patterns of his life. Barra pointed this out, but Barra was only working off a few things he knew and on Poz's thin bio work.

Some people, like the Salon guy, are basically ignoring the fact that the book is supposed to be a biography of Paterno, not a true-crime story of the Sandusky scandal. I am sure those books are coming, but that is not the book Posnanski was trying to write.

Posnanski, based on his track record, sensibilities, and output, is neither a biographer nor an investigative reporter. He is an observer, a recorder, an empathizer, a distiller--and, again, a guy who gets close to his subjects and tries to find the good in them. He stated very directly that one of the reasons he wanted to write about the 1975 Reds was to show this generation some good things about Pete Rose, and he openly supports Rose for the HOF.
   52. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4216822)
Posnanski, based on his track record, sensibilities, and output, is neither a biographer nor an investigative reporter. He is an observer, a recorder, an empathizer, a distiller--and, again, a guy who gets close to his subjects and tries to find the good in them. He stated very directly that one of the reasons he wanted to write about the 1975 Reds was to show this generation some good things about Pete Rose, and he openly supports Rose for the HOF.

If I can quote a very wise computer, sometimes the only way to win is not to play.
   53. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4216829)
Serious, long-term biographical research on Paterno, that might shed some light in what ways the scandal fit into the patterns of his life. Barra pointed this out, but Barra was only working off a few things he knew and on Poz's thin bio work.

Some people, like the Salon guy, are basically ignoring the fact that the book is supposed to be a biography of Paterno, not a true-crime story of the Sandusky scandal. I am sure those books are coming, but that is not the book Posnanski was trying to write.


Robinred, I fail to see how the actual book that Posnanski wrote, whatever it was, should not have covered as much of the Sandusky stuff as possible.

No "serious, long-term biographical research" - and what the hell was Posnanski doing by relaying 40 year old stories about all-you-can-eat salads, if not that? - was required to simply ask Paterno et al questions and record their answers. Posnanski showed virtually no interest in this; it's not that he was incapable as you continue to claim, but that he was disinterested.

The book he wrote WAS a defense of Paterno, despite his claim that he was merely compiling facts for the reader to decide.
   54. Nasty Nate Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4216842)
If I can quote a very wise computer...


I sense injuries. The data could be called "pain."
   55. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4216849)
I sense injuries. The data could be called "pain."

Learn, damn you. LEARN!
   56. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4216872)
Salon review by a law professor bludgeons Posnanski with the Freeh report.

Paul Campos isn't just "a law professor". For years, I've strongly suspected he's a BBTF lurker, and possibly an active poster.
   57. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: August 24, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4216879)
Paul Campos isn't just "a law professor". For years, I've strongly suspected he's a BBTF lurker, and possibly an active poster.

Care to explain why you've felt this way?
   58. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4216890)
Accusing Posnanski of straight making up quotes and conversations, which has happened on this thread, is utterly beyond the pale without some evidence to back it up beyond, "We know without a shadow of a doubt based on his performance that Poz is a bad guy, and therefore it's OK to accuse him of making up quotes."

If Posnanski's work here is as loathsome as many seem to think it is, it should be easy to dismantle without unsupportedly accusing Posnanski of the greatest journalistic crime imaginable.
   59. steagles Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4216907)
If Posnanski's work here is as loathsome as many seem to think it is, it should be easy to dismantle without unsupportedly accusing Posnanski of the greatest journalistic crime imaginable.
you've never been in the politics thread, have you?
   60. robinred Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4216910)
Robinred, I fail to see how the actual book that Posnanski wrote, whatever it was, should not have covered as much of the Sandusky stuff as possible.


Exactly. That is one of Poz's problems. As Barra IIRC said, a huge number of people will turn the chapter titled "Sandusky" first. Nobody other than Black Shoe Diaries hardcores gives a damn about the '69 Orange Bowl or JoePa as a tyke in Brooklyn right now; people want to know What Paterno Knew and When He Knew it. Publishing Paterno right now is sort of like publishing a sympathetic bio of Richard Nixon in February of 1975,* and to the extent that people do care about Paterno's life, it would be in relation to his inaction WRT Sandusky.

And the food story...that is anecdotal. Anecdotes play a role in biography, but there is a lot more to biographical research than that. And, one could argue that deeper research would have lead Poz towards something being off with Sandusky even before the whistle blew (I am not arguing that, but one could IMO).

As to Poz being "incapable" of asking the tough questions, I have given my opinions about this already. Poz is a family friend and is by all accounts a very nice, mostly low-key guy; he was sitting at the man's table in his house while the man was dying. I expect that what we read is as tough as Poz wanted to get with Paterno, and Poz's purpose by his own account was neither to grill Paterno nor to judge him. So "incapable" is not exactly the right word. I would go with "ill-suited" for the task that he suddenly found at his hand.

* And just in case, yes, I get that what Nixon's guys did is nothing like serial child molestation. Hence the "sort of."
   61. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4216918)
Accusing Posnanski of straight making up quotes and conversations, which has happened on this thread, is utterly beyond the pale without some evidence to back it up beyond,


Wouldn't shock me. Posnanski already wrote lies about what Paterno knew back in November, which I've heard you're kind of not supposed to be doing as a journalist either.
   62. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4216926)
If Posnanski's work here is as loathsome as many seem to think it is, it should be easy to dismantle


Uh, it has been.
   63. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4216935)
Care to explain why you've felt this way?

He's written in the past on sabermetrics, and there have been times in the past where I've seen ideas discussed in BBTF curiously pop up in Campos's stuff. He's also famously active in online discussion. He's very much a contrarian ####, I mean that as praise. He fits right in to the BBTF zeitgeist.
   64. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4216942)
I will add re Posnanski that his approach to writing this book has been disgraceful -- he told lies initially and then went underground for months, and appears to have vomited out exactly the disgraceful product that was feared of him -- and if that kind of conduct doesn't basically forfeit one's right to be given the benefit of the doubt as to journalistic ethics, then something is very wrong.

He relinquished his claim to ethical high ground as a journalist with this work product. If he hasn't - if someone can carry on in such a disgusting fashion for the better part of a year as he has and spit out this book and suffer no consequences - then I don't know what we're all doing.

   65. GregD Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4216946)
He relinquished his claim to ethical high ground as a journalist with this work product. If he hasn't - if someone can carry on in such a disgusting fashion for the better part of a year as he has and spit out this book and suffer no consequences - then I don't know what we're all doing.
killing time on the internet instead of doing work?
   66. Lassus Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4216947)
...and suffer no consequences - then I don't know what we're all doing.

What consequences are you looking for?

And before you get me involved in a debate, I agree Poz screwed the pooch, and very badly, on this one. I just found that turn of phrase you used to be very interesting. Are these the consequences, the lost of respect of former fans (not that you were that), the loss of reputation? Or were you looking for something more punative?
   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4216950)
What consequences are you looking for?


I thought I made that clear. "[F]orfeit one's right to be given the benefit of the doubt as to journalistic ethics."

That is, after all, what CFBF complained about in post 58. He seemed aghast that people could possibly accuse Posnanski of lying - despite the fact that Posnanski already lied in November.
   68. Lassus Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4216951)
Ah, ok, gotcha. Not unreasonable, to me. Might not be reasonable, either, but that's a debate I'm not really interested in, either.
   69. JL Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4216961)
He seemed aghast that people could possibly accuse Posnanski of lying - despite the fact that Posnanski already lied in November.

You believe he lied. As others have pointed out in other threads, there are explanations for his initial statements that, while not flattering, do not conclude that he lied.
   70. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4216966)
You believe he lied. As others have pointed out in other threads, there are explanations for his initial statements that, while not flattering, do not conclude that he lied.


Fair enough.

   71. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4216968)
He's very much a contrarian ####, I mean that as praise. He fits right in to the BBTF zeitgeist.


Oh, so it's Harvey. :)
   72. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4216973)
(scribbles in notebook, 'ed insolent 8/24/12, 10 demerits')
   73. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4217033)
If Posnanski ... is as loathsome as many seem to think ...


Did he go to Johnny Pesky's funeral?
   74. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4217034)
He's written in the past on sabermetrics, and there have been times in the past where I've seen ideas discussed in BBTF curiously pop up in Campos's stuff. He's also famously active in online discussion. He's very much a contrarian ####, I mean that as praise. He fits right in to the BBTF zeitgeist.


Also, he tends to sprinkle his writings with phrases like "& Mike Crudale" & "he should have his children taken away."
   75. bunyon Posted: August 24, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4217119)
He's a law professor. Of course he hangs out at BBTF.

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