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Media Continues To Fail Rape Victims As The Today Show Gives Airtime To Jerry Sandusky & A Shady Documentarian

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jerry sanduskyI realize that The Today Show has been going through a ratings slump as of late. I know that Matt Lauer is on a magical image revamp tour and desperate to catch up with Good Morning America. But seriously, giving airtime to a rapist like Jerry Sandusky and a documentarian with some shady history and motives doesn’t seem like the best way to earn back any goodwill.

This morning, The Today Show aired their “exclusive” interview with Sandusky, advertising that it was the first time the convicted child molester spoke out since his sentencing. Except, their exclusive interview wasn’t really conducted by any respected journalist. It was done by conservative filmmaker John Ziegler for a project he titled, “The Framing of Joe Paterno.”

For a little perspective, Zielger’s previous projects include Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted and Blocking the Path to 9/11, the latter of which explores a widely criticized docudrama that attempts to blame Bill Clinton for the attacks on September 11th.

Zielger has been an outspoken defender of Joe Paterno in particular, and has recently been advising Steubenville football coach Reno Saccoccia, who according to texts from the case, knew about his players’ crimes and did nothing to report the teens to the police. Most tellingly, even Joe Paterno’s family doesn’t support Ziegler and doesn’t want to be associated with his work or his interviews with Sandusky. They released a statement through their attorney saying,

“The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording. Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate.”

What’s more, Scott Paterno tweeted, ““If John had a credible way to exonerate Dad, why would we oppose it? Think about that.”

In their rush to get an “exclusive,” The Today Show traded their credibility and ignored basic ethics. They gave a voice to those who seek to marginalize sexual assault crimes through misinformation and prejudice.

Administrators at Penn State are still being prosecuted for their role in covering up Jerry Sandusky’s abuse. John Ziegler told Matt Lauer that he was just trying to give Joe Paterno “his day in court.” But that case is still being made. And what’s more, Ziegler is using tactics that even Paterno’s family doesn’t want to support.

It’s worth noting that while everyone is arguing over Ziegler’s history and Sandusky’s new responses, there are victims of this case still trying to move on. The unnamed Victim Number Two, whose assault is a central part of Ziegler’s argument that Sandusky’s case was mishandled, released a statement through his attorney to The Today Show.

“Jerry Sandusky is a convicted child predator giving interviews from prison. Our clients, including Victim 2, have heard enough from Jerry Sandusky. They are focused on healing and holding Penn State accountable for choosing to protect Jerry Sandusky and themselves instead of protecting children from years of horrific sexual abuse.”

I suppose it’s just another sad and disgusting example of the ways that our news media will focus on defending or giving a voice to the perpetrators of sexual assault, trading respect for the victims for a momentary ratings boost.