Now that the Freeh Report has been officially issued and the media has the conclusion they want (verification that their initial premature condemnation of Joe Paterno was indeed justified) I guess we are supposed to believe that this saga has pretty much been closed. However, no matter what the media (the vast majority of which have not even read the actual report) the reality is that the Freeh Report actually "proved" very little and left many important questions completely unanswered.
Here are at least some of the most obvious related to Joe Paterno. Until and unless they are addressed, despite what you have heard, there will still be legitimate doubt as to just how culpable Paterno really was here.
Why did former Athletic Director Tim Curley praise Paterno's "honor and integrity" in a written statement at the time of Paterno's passing? Freeh's entire case against Paterno is based on three vague emails written by Curley. The whole concept of Paterno being part of a cover up presumes he was forcing Curley to lead it. Why in the world would Curley say that about a man who put him in that position, especially when it effectively takes away the powerful legal defense of "Joe made me do it"?
If Curley really decided to change the plan and go easy on Sandusky based a conversation with Joe Paterno, why did he use the word "I" (in four straight sentences) in the now infamous email, instead of "we" or "us" to describe who was behind the decision? Why did Freeh find an email from two weeks earlier indicating that Curley and the head of the campus police were already contemplating coming to he same conclusion before Curley ever said he spoke to Paterno?
Why is it not at least possible that when Curley writes that "coach" is "anxious" for an update on the 1998 investigation, that he means "Sandusky" and not "Paterno"?
If this really was a cover up as Freeh alleges, why was it the worst run cover up in history? Why did Paterno bother to bring his superiors into the loop? Why was the cover up openly alluded to on state owned email servers? Is it not at least possible that they were so relatively open about discussing the issue because they didn't think they were doing anything horrible?
If Paterno was really "all powerful" as his critics like to believe when it suits them, why would he have any fear at all of sending an ex assistant coach he didn't seem to like all that much to the legal authorities? Why was Paterno's note (in the Freeh report) denying a retired Sandusky the ability to bring Second Mile kids to the football facilities essentially ignored?
If Mike McQueary really saw something so horrific that it demanded immediate and dramatic action (like a child being raped in a Penn State shower), why did he misremember the date, month and even year of the episode? Would anyone who really witnessed such a thing ever forget the year it occurred?
If Mike McQueary really saw something so horrific that it demanded immediate and dramatic action (like a child being raped in a Penn State shower), why did he willingly participate in at least one public event sponsored by Sandusky after that episode?
Why did Mike McQueary tell a doctor friend immediately after the shower episode that he hadn't seen anything sexual?
Why did a jury which was clearly predisposed to convicting him, and was simultaneously bombarded by the stories of nine other victims (most of whom came forward after the grand jury presentment), unanimously acquit Sandusky on the most serious McQueary allegation?
Why, if the McQueary allegation (again the only one we know for sure Paterno had any knowledge of) happened in anything like the manner he now claims it did, has the victim passed up a surefire multi-million dollar civil suit against Penn State by never coming forward in any way whatsoever?
Why is it not probable that the victim in the McQueary case has never come forward because the episode never happened in the way that the only "witness" now describes and therefore this person doesn't even realize it was him?
If indeed the McQueary allegation is not what we thought it was, does that not dramatically alter how we should interpret how Paterno reacted to it?
Why is there no realization that Sandusky was very good at getting away with his crimes and that proving a case against him would not have been nearly as easy as presumed now with the benefit of the avalanche of evidence which came to light after the indictments?
What would have happened had Sandusky simply been a weirdo with major boundary issues and Paterno had gone public with a false allegation against a local hero who ran the largest children's charity of its kind in the state? How would the media have treated him and the enormous damage he would have needlessly created then?
Why does the mother of victim #1 (the only actual known victim of sexual intercourse in the original grand jury presentment which triggered Paterno's firing) blame her son's high school coach and not Paterno or Penn State for what happened?
Why have none of the hundreds of other people who could have figured out what a monster Sandusky was (many with far more evidence than Paterno) not been held to nearly the same standard as Sandusky's former football boss?
Is it not possible that so many have sought to crucify Paterno here not because he deserves the bulk of the blame, but rather because it some sick way it makes us feel better about ourselves knowing that even the best among us failed to stop something so many of us could have (including the very same media which originally ignored the story before there was a direct, ratings friendly, Paterno connection)?
Having experienced first hand the breathtaking bias the media has had on this story (interestingly, it was far easier for me to get the word out defending Sarah Palin's 2008 VP campaign with my last movie "Media Malpractice" than it has been to swim against the tidal wave of anti-Paterno coverage), I know that, unless the trial of Tim Curley finally breaks the damn, we will likely never get the answers to these questions, mostly because they will never really be asked. But that sad reality does absolutely nothing to make them any less critical to understanding the real truth here.
Of course, whether the truth matters very much at all any more is very much in question.