On last night’s installment of the new NBC Monday night show “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” legendary sportscaster Bob Costas held a phone interview with former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you know that Penn State has been embroiled in a huge scandal involving allegations of child abuse and rape – and Sandusky is the focal point of those allegations. Eye witnesses claim to have seen Sandusky engaging in sexual intercourse with underage boys, a charge that Sandusky currently denies.
Evidence so far points to a cover-up within the Penn State program, and the fallout has hit legendary head coach Joe Paterno, as he was fired late last week.
Last night, Sandusky appeared on the program for an exclusive interview with Costas, and the results were pretty shocking. The interview began with Costas pushing Sandusky to declare his absolute innocence –
Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?
Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. But – so if you look at it that way – there are things that wouldn’t – you know, would be accurate.
Sandusky continued to deny the charges and refute eyewitness accounts that point to his guilt. Eventually, Costas articulates what most people were thinking at the moment:
How could somebody think they saw something as extreme and shocking as that when it hadn’t occurred, and what would possibly be their motivation to fabricate it?
You’d have to ask them.
It seems that if all of these accusations are false, you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about.
I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t think that these have been the best days of my life.
And the transcript really doesn’t do the interview justice. Costas was masterful. He tackled a delicate issue with class, but he didn’t back away from the explicit details of the allegations. He pushed Sandusky to volunteer more information at the right times, and he presented logical followups to some of the unbelievable things coming out of Sandusky’s mouth.
I can’t declare a man guilty from a interview. Sandusky will get his day in court. He is innocent until proven guilty. But man did that interview fail to help his cause. The written transcript doesn’t show how bad it was for Sandusky. He sounded awkward, hesitant, and made critical pauses before answering questions. You can check out the full interview below:
It’s truly tough to watch.
Twitter provides some good commentary, as people everywhere were shocked at what they were hearing:
Listening to Bob Costas interview with Sandusky. Sick to my stomach.
Just heard a segment from the bob costas interview w/ sandusky last night. Really wish I hadn’t…truly sick to my stomach. So sad.
Just to be clear, news outlets, I’m not sure what Sandusky did with Bob Costas last night would be best considered “maintaining” innocence.
After hearing the Bob Costas interview with Jerry Sandusky that creep needs to go to prison ASAP
Many from the sports and broadcasting fields praised Costas for his work during the interview:
http://t.co/u5BUsucx – great job, Bob Costas.The 17 seconds that nail Jerry Sandusky as a child abuser.
Bob Costas Superbly handled phone interview with Jerry Sandusky tonight. Most disturbing content possible handled with great poise.
Bob Costas was absolutely brilliant conducting that interview with Jerry Sandusky.
Anybody see Bob Costas interview Jerry Sandusky? Great job Bob.
Here’s hoping Bob Costas’ interview of Jerry Sandusky is being viewed in journalism classes around the country today. Absolutely nailed it.
Costas appeared on the “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC this morning to discuss the interview. He said that it was a last minute thing, that he was supposed to be interviewing Sandusky’s lawyer only. Right before the cameras started rolling, Sandusky’s lawyer asked Costas if he wanted to talk to the man himself.
Costas said that he was thinking that wasn’t a great idea. ‘I wonder from your standpoint whether that’s the smartest thing to do, but at the same time, sure,'” Costas said. “…We pivoted and made it an interview with Sandusky.”
As far as the court of public opinion goes, Sandusky did little to help his cause. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.