Bob Costas Goes One-On-One With 'Paterno' Author Joe Posnanski on the Next 'Costas Tonight'

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August 28th, 2012

via press release:


Bob Costas Goes One-On-One With “Paterno” Author Joe Posnanski on the Next “Costas Tonight,” Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
90-Minute Show Includes Costas’ Full November 2011 interview with Jerry Sandusky from Rock Center with Brian Williams with Never-Before-Seen Footage from 10-10:30 p.m. ET

“Costas Tonight” Originates from Studio 8G at 30 Rock and Airs Wednesday, August 29, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network


“I believe that Joe Paterno should have done more. I’ve told him that to his face directly. I said ‘you’re Joe Paterno. You’re just expected to do more.’ I don’t believe he was involved in a cover up. I don’t believe that he did this to protect his legacy. I understand that others do.” - Posnanski

“I have no qualms with the Louis Freeh report, he had his goals and his role in this thing…but I believe the report is very incomplete.” – Posnanski on Louis Freeh Report

“What I come away with is what a complicated life it was and what a big life it was.” – Posnanski on Paterno’s life

“That’s not the story, that’s not the book. I wasn’t going to write THAT book. Somebody else can if they want. I wrote the honest book, the book that I believe is true.” – Posnanski answering his critics that he wasn’t hard enough on Paterno

NEW YORK – August 28, 2012 – Paterno author Joe Posnanski, who spent months in State College, Pa., both before and after the Penn State scandal writing his book on the school’s former head coach, will join Bob Costas, a 23-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s preeminent interviewers, on the latest edition of Costas Tonight, a 90-minute program, to air tomorrow night, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Following Costas’ one-on-one with Posnanski, Costas Tonight will feature the entire interview – including never-before-seen footage – that Costas conducted with convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. That interview aired exclusively on Rock Center with Brian Williams on November 14, 2011.

Posnanski, an eyewitness to history, spent months embedded within Penn State to write Paterno, and had unprecedented access to the head coach before, and then after the scandal broke at the school.

About Costas Tonight:

Costas Tonight builds on Costas’ long and storied career as an interviewer from Later with Bob Costas and Costas Coast-to-Coast to his acclaimed HBO programs, On the Record and CostasNOW. Costas Tonight originates from Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

# # #


Costas: “You had to have an opinion. You were closer to this than most of us. Do you believe that Joe Paterno was a principled man, not perfect – flawed – but a generally principled man, who in his old age and his inattention simply neglected what he should have done, which is still a pretty serious charge? Or do you believe the more serious charge, much more serious charge, as leveled by Louis Freeh, which is that he, along with others, but he is the major figure, that he knew essentially what was going on and he actively and knowingly covered it up?”

Posnanski: “You know my own personal opinion, which I will share with you, is not as important as the reader’s.”

Costas: “Is that a dodge, though?”

Posnanski: “I’m not going to dodge because I will answer it. But I think it’s really important, if I say what I think, that does influence…I wrote in the book and I believe that Joe Paterno should have done more. I’ve told him that to his face directly. I said ‘You’re Joe Paterno. You’re just expected to do more.’ I don’t believe he was involved in a cover up. I don’t believe that he did this to protect his legacy. I understand that others do. I’ve read the Louis Freeh report several times. I know what’s in it. I think its missing things. I think there were a lot of people he didn’t talk to. I also believe that this is such an emotional topic that if people look at the facts that I presented, they can absolutely go to that conclusion.”

Costas: “Without getting bogged down in the particulars, this is the essence of Louis Freeh, former FBI director‘s report. The conclusion: In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, Paterno, among others, but again Paterno is the figure that the public gravitates toward here, repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from authorities, the university’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public. If that is true, as Freeh concluded, it is indefensible.”

Posnanski: “Absolutely”

Costas: “You don’t believe that though.”

Posnanski: “I don’t believe that, no. I honestly don’t. I honestly believe that what Louis Freeh did, and I have no qualms with the Louis Freeh report, he had his goals and his role in this thing.”

Costas: “Well if you don’t think that’s true, you must have qualms with his report.”

Posnanski: “He didn’t talk to Tim Curley; he didn’t talk to Gary Schultz; he didn’t talk to Joe Paterno; he didn’t talk to Jerry Sandusky; he didn’t talk to Tom Harmon; he didn’t talk to Mike McQueary. He didn’t talk to any of the major players in this and I think, I understand why he went to those conclusions, and he did, but I believe the report is very incomplete and I do believe that as things come out, it’s going to emerge that some of the people who wrote some of the emails and so on are going to say that everything has been misspoken.”

“My feeling again is, and I’m really not looking to dodge because there are so many things that we don’t understand and hard to know, but I have many of the same facts that I reported on my own that are in the Freeh report – he jumped to conclusions that I cannot jump to. I mean, I jump to definitely there was a sense that Joe Paterno knew more than he suggested; there’s definitely a sense that Joe Paterno should have done more. But the cover up, the idea that he was actively following it, these sorts of things, I think they’re still, to me, they’re still up in the air.”

# # #

Costas: “Here’s a passage from your book: ‘as I was writing this book, the line before the time and the line after the time became clear. Before November 5, 2011, it was very difficult to find anyone willing to say a truly bad word about Joe Paterno. After November 5, it was far more difficult to find anyone willing to say a good word.’ And I think, and this is understandable, that to a lot of people that the nature of these crimes was so heinous, and the idea of inaction is so unfathomable that anything less than complete unequivocal condemnation is interpreted as somehow insufficient concern for the victims or the severity of the crime. That made your assignment to parse the good and the bad more difficult.”

Posnanski: “Very difficult. And I knew when this book came out, and like I say I’m very, very proud of it, but I knew when this book came out that it was going to get hit pretty hard by that group of people. I tried to make it as fair as you know. You’ve read it. There are many, many things about Joe Paterno in here that are not flattering – even long before Sandusky. It is as fair and honest of a book as I could write but it doesn’t hide from the fact that for 50 years people considered Joe Paterno a saint, and that for 50 years he was sportsman-of-the-year and he was considered the best thing about sports. We all know that.”

Costas: “Or among them.”

Posnanski: “Or among them. But people would write those words, ‘The best thing about sports is Joe Paterno.’ And suddenly that was gone, completely gone and in many ways rightfully so. But it’s not like those 50 years didn’t happen. And I think even mentioning those years, even talking about that time, for exactly the reasons you say, some people just don’t want to hear it.”

# # #

Costas: “Obviously there has been mixed reaction to the book. Among the reviews we’ve seen so far, this is the most extreme, Paul Campos at, ‘Paterno is a disgraceful book and a minor literary crime. To say Posnanski botches his journalistic and literary opportunity is akin to saying that the Titanic’s maiden voyage might have gone more smoothly.’ Let’s concede that that’s at one end, what criticism somewhere towards the middle of that, do you concede correct or fair?”

Posnanski: “I kind of felt like those guys in Spinal Tap there when you were reading that review. I think this is a book that as people get away from this, and are less emotional about it; they’ll see what I was trying to do in this book. I think that some people see it now, fortunately. But I think as time goes on and as people get less emotional about it, a lot of people who have written reviews, frankly, came in with the same opinion that they went out with. I’ve been, as you know, taking a lot of hits long before the book came out.”

Costas: “(According to public opinion) the only acceptable take is that Paterno was fully culpable in the most extreme interpretation, and that he was, prior to that, a fraud and a hypocrite and this doesn’t just invalidate the good he may have done, it exposes that good as a fraud.”

Posnanski: “Exactly, and I think that’s what certain people wanted. That’s not the story, that’s not the book. I wasn’t going to write THAT book. Somebody else can if they want. I wrote the honest book, the book that I believe is true. I believe that I had better access than I’ll ever get again for a book and I believe that I used it as well as I could.”

Costas: “What did you come away thinking? What is your bottom line on Joe Paterno?”

Posnanski: “I think really what I come away with is what a complicated life it was and what a big life it was.”

Costas: “Do you view him as a good man who made a tragic mistake, be it of omission or commission? Or is he less of a good man because of that mistake?”

Posnanski: “It’s somewhere in the middle. That’s a tough one. I don’t want to dodge it. I think he did a lot of good in his life and I think he did make a tragic mistake.”

Costas: “At his best, was he a good man?”

Posnanski: “Definitely. At his best, I think it’s too long and too distinguished and too many achievements to think that it was worth nothing.”

--NBC Sports Group--

  • brutony

    I wish people would have left Joe Pa alone while he was alive! Joe didnt rape any young boys, Joe told the authorities on him, the powers thst be decided not to press it further-that wasnt Joes decision! BTW, why did all this come out now, and not 10 years ago, when the alleged incident first happened? I never heard any reason of why?

  • babmainst

    Sandusky was a know person in the Penn State showers. Sandusky was parading many boys into the showers, … many, many times. People talk, guys talk, football players talk. For Joe Paterno to have this stuff going on directly under his nose, in his building, by his offices, in his showers, by his ex assistant coach of 30 years, by his business associate, in his town, on his campus, … ??? I do not care if Joe hated Sandusky or if he was in love with Sandusky. Why does Joe Paterno need the DA, or PA Child Services, or for anyone to tell him about the blatantly obvious activities going on in his domain. Football coaches know exactly what happens in their showers, … unless you are so old that you are definitely out of touch, out of the loop, not up on current in-your-face events, … like you should have retired years ago. I wonder how Vince Lombardi or my old high school coach would have handled matters. The instantaneous man-to-man, face-to-face screaming assault on Sandusky would have been impressive. The shock & rage over the abuse to the children would have been so overpowering that the sanctimonious football ambitions & the Penn State rules & guide lines would have been lost completely.

    I am convinced that Joe Paterno had turned a blind eye to Sandusky’s habits & sexual abuse a long long time ago. If we dig long & hard enough we may finally find proof that Joe knew or suspected for 10-20 years (Scott Paterno appears incapable of sanitizing all the evidence, … but he did a good job so far). I’ve played sports & have been in men’s showers for over 40 years. You do not have a Sandusky action in the showers with out being noticed by many, a lot of many. Two or three witnesses opened up to investigators but we never heard from the other 10 – 20+ witnesses that saw Sandusky in action & did not say a word. To say Joe Paterno got a raw deal is indicative of deep seated irreversible denial.

  • indynittany

    I’m still awaiting Posnanski’s book, but I’ve been following these events as closely as anybody. The only reasonable assertion is that Paterno was framed to deflect attention away from Gov. Tom Corbett and his ties to The Second Mile.

    babmainst, you don’t have a clue. Paterno said that Sandusky fooled a lot of people and the more I learn, the more I believe that to be true.

    The Freeh report is a complete hatchet job. It’s summary bears no resemblance to the body of the report. The PSU board of trustees should resign immediately. Tom Corbett should be indicted. The complete lack of due process in every facet of this saga should be a red flag to anyone in this country who respects the rule of law.

    Posnanski has to sell books. I get that. It will take a while for the real truth to get out there. The press can’t simply reverse itself, it hasn’t the humility or integrity to do that. But, in time, Joe’s reputation will be back to where it belongs.

  • Melissa

    Let’s hope this interview is more about real and honest journalism, than driving ratings by twisting quotes from the book and comments. National media- please do your job!

  • Scott E Phillips

    I am looking forward to the book and to this interview. I have seen Costas’ work for a very long time and have always enjoyed it.

  • quint

    The Posnanski book is a complete whitewash. Joe Paterno admitted to the Grand Jury that he was told about “something sexual” being done to a child. Paterno admitted that he waited over a day to tell anyone because he “did not want to interfere with their weekend.” He admitted that he never considered calling police. Paterno lied under oath when he said he did not know of a previous incident involving Sandusky.

    Paterno is damned by his own words…because by his own words he revealed himself to be a sham and a fraud, and a liar who did not practice what he preached.

    If Paterno was willing to lie to a Grand Jury under oath, why would he not hesitate to lie to Posnanski?

  • Kilty

    Paul Campos’ mind was made up about Paterno and the “grand conspiracy” long before he read Posanski’s book (assuming he even did). A Michigan fan who spends much of his time posting on a particular Michigan football message board, Campos has been writing hit pieces on Paterno since last fall. Why a law professor of all people would be ready to string a man up before the facts are established is anyone’s guess, but that’s what you have with Campos. His review is worthless.

  • Ralph Hahn

    @Scott E Phillips: I’m not so interested of the subject matter (ENOUGH already), but I’m just jumping in to say that I think that Bob Costas is the best interviewer on television.

  • Allie

    Why would someone with the credentials that freeh has, make a knee jerk decision, he didn’t. He took almost a year to complete his investigation and had nothing to gain by his report. When someone as educated and has his impressive background comes out with a different report I’ll think about believing it.

  • BrooklynKid

    I’m only halfway through the Posnanski book Paterno and it’s by far the best book written on Paterno to date. There isn’t a whole lot of new information but as someone who has followed the life and career of Joseph Vincent Paterno for nearly thirty years I thought I’d known everything that there was to know about the man. As I turn each page I’m reading some of the same stories but now with much more exquisite attention to detail. The book is going to reconfirm to Paterno fans who have always believed in him that he is exactly who we thought he was. A damn fine man. Not a God. Not a saint. Not what the media has tried to make him out to be for the better part of half a century. Just an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life. A man driven by his obsession to succeed and the ideals that you should always do what’s just and fair. When the media thought that Joe’s life work didn’t measure up to the unworldly expecttions that they had built for it they tried to tear it all down. But people like Bob Costas, who is a Syracuse dropout, forget one thing about Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno’s legacy is not 409 wins, not a bronze statue, not a football stadium that seats 110,000 fans, not 5 Undefeated Seasons, not 2 National Championhips, none of those things are Joe’s legacy. Do you know what Joe’s lasting legacy is Bob Costas? WE ARE!!!

  • Diane

    Obviously Joe should have done more, and so should have hundreds of others. To know about Joe and how he lived his entire life should factor in when determining the true intent of his action/inactions. First, he is being accused of cover up, but this needs to play out in the court of law, not by the media or the paid opinion of the Freeh investigative. By the way, has anyone looked into Freeh’s reputation? You should. He has been a part of several alleged cover ups and has also had a couple of his investigative findings overturned due to lack of evidence. Hum. If you still believe that he did what he did to protect PSU football, think again. First, if he truly wanted to cover up, why tell anyone? Why was Mike McQuery not involved in the cover up afterall be was the eye witness?? It is easy to assume things when the media did such a poor job reporting this story. Once you dig a little into Joe’s life and then put yourself into his (at the time 75 year old shoes) then you can maybe see a different side of this story. Also – to comment on Joe’s lying about knowledge of 98 incident. First, there is still no concrete evidence of his knowledge or extent of his knowlege. He was Not sandusky’s boss at the time! , people are treating him as God assuming he knew all. I ask those same people if their coach/boss/teacher etc. knows everything someone is doing?!! Lastly, before using the Freeh report as the gospel, please ask why Curley, Shultz, McQuery, and several other key players were not even interviewed and why it is still okay to call it a comprehensive investigation. The evidence is not there to support the assumptions.

  • Jen

    Check with local authorities and schools about how to handle abuse of children. They will tell you that it needs to be reported to the proper chain of command and that the person reporting it should not interfere. Why do so many people think that Joe Paterno should have done more? Sandusky WAS NOT an employee. At the time in PA you had to WITNESS the abuse to report it to police otherwise it’s hearsay. McQueary alone needed to go to the proper authorities (police). In addition, the State College police will tell you that if a crime happens on PSU property it’s the Campus Police that need to be in charge. They said as much with the plane that flew over the stadium, not their jurisdiciton.

    Shame on Bob Costas for once again going for the sensational. He obviously has his opinion and wears it on his sleeve. Why not do some journalistic homework and find out what the laws were at the time of the incident and exactly what Paterno should have done. He should have looked into whether the Campus Police or State College Police had jursidiction (it was the campus police). It was apparent that Bob Costas only read the conclusion and not the entire report. IF HE HAD bothered to do so he would see many glaring incosistencies.

  • Jen

    To those who think Freeh has an impressive background please do your homework. He accused the WRONG person for the Atlantic Olympic bombing, the Waco, Tx fiasco, he himself has been under investigation for cover ups while at the FBI. He has been plagued with issues just look and you’ll find them. Time Magazine did an article on some of this.

    His “investigation” took way less than a year and key people were not interviewed. The millions of e-mails and the interviews the investigators had to slog through should have taken way more time than mere months. Read the full report and you’ll find errors and inconsistencies. The report had to be updated already because of an error. So factual? Not so much.

    Did he have an agenda? Of course he did, he was paid $6.5M and given direction as to what to investigate. Maybe the Board of Trustees should let the public know exactly what he what the scope of work was, etc? There should be a contract on that.

  • Scott

    @Allie – For the record regarding Freeh, you are completely wrong. Freeh has a checkered past. He is accused of being involved of a pretty big cover up while at the FBI. He was also hired to conduct an investigation for FIFA, the international soccer body. His report was invalidated and overturned by a judge who said he jumped to unreasonable conclusions and provided inconclusive evidence.
    Finally, Freeh was hired at the very end of November and the report released on July 13th. That’s a lot closer to 1/2 a year than a full year…just sayin… as long as were dealing with facts and not what you wrote.

  • skeptic

    Poznanski is a disgrace. He took $750K to write a big, fat lie about a man of great ambition but indifferent moerality.

    Poznanski says he is closer to the situation and thnks he got the story right. But why wasn’t Sandusky and his perverse activities in the original book? How could Poznanski have missed that if he knew Paterno so well? And if he somehow managed to miss that, which is a huge story, then what other hidden skeletons has Poznanski missed, and that we will only find out about later, either from legal authorities or by a sriter with genuine journalistic integrity?

  • P. Lopez

    Bob Costas, thank you for your team’s work on trying to get to the bottom of all sides of this story. My boyfriend and I read your highlights of this interview and then the comments, and are so astounded that we’re laughing to ourselves. I cannot believe that supporters of Paterno (above comments) are still so insistent in pulling the wool over their own eyes! This is why there are so many idiots elected into public office. Was Paterno evil? No. But he didn’t want to give up his seat of power, bring scandal upon his school or his football program or himself – and THAT fear and cowardice of facing the truth about someone in his midst helped enable a CHILD RAPIST! Did other people neglect to report this as well? Absolutely, yet those are not people who have been continuously promoting the highest of moral standards and ethics AND living in the spotlight educating others on those morals for decades. All deserve punishment, all deserve blame. And Paterno, as great a coach as he was, RAN Penn State and that entire program. Everyone knows that he knew who Sandusky was but chose to cast him out of his eyesight in hopes it would never reflect upon him. The brainwashed fans still trying to tout his legacy are insulting these victims and embarrassing themselves.

  • Pat 51

    A Swiss Court overturned the lifetime suspension of a FIFA official because, they stated, his suspension was based on a flawed report done by none other than Louis Freeh. This occurred this summer. Apparently, Freeh’s work has been proven slipshod. You might also explore the prior relationships between PA Gov. Tom Corbett and Louis Freeh.

  • Les

    What an excellent interview Bob Costas had with Joe Posnanski regarding Joe Paterno. Finally, the conversation takes on an air the searching for the truth, and calling into question the absence of due process throughout the emotional firestorm of the last nine months. Suddenly, we are learning that Joe Paterno may just possibly have not been involved in a “coverup.” But what now, the lynch mob has already put Paterno in his grave…

  • Jack

    Freeh report being investigated, by professional analyst, for intentional editing of e-mails to incriminate Paterno. Pennsylvania Protective Statutes were purposely ignored by Freeh because they point to the fact that Paterno could not have known about the 1998 incident involving Sandusky. This blows the entire case against Paterno and Penn State right out of the water. Professional analyst’s report on the bungled Freeh report has been reviewed by a judge and his reaction was that the analyst’s report is thorough and convinving. Stay tuned. Many heads will roll before this is all over. Governor of Pennsylvania, perhaps, included. Paterno family should sue every reporter, every newspaper and every TV network who slandered Mr. Paterno. They all have a responsibility to know the facts before reporting what they believe is gospel. Money and greed is the name of the game. Too hell with the truth. Beware general public because you could be the next to have your name and reputation maligned by this bunch of self righteous jerks who call themselves responsible reporters of the news.
    ESPN is right at the top of the list of the perpetrators of this big lie. The Paternos should demand an apology from them consisting of a prime time airing of that apology. It should be made to run every day for one year, then every week for one year and then every month for one year. Still, this would not make up for the damage they have inflicted. No, I am not a Penn State graduate. I am one who relies on the media for the truth. Lately I have been very much disappointed with what I have been subjected to.

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