Debunking the First of Freeh’s Overarching Faulty Premises
David J. Paterno
More than four years have passed since Penn State’s Board of Trustees’ (BOT’s) Special Investigative Counsel (SIC) purchased a report from Louis Freeh. While that report contained some good recommendations – especially regarding the size and makeup of the BOT - many scholars have pointed out its shortcomings and its unsubstantiated claim that four employees, including Joe Paterno (JVP), behaved with malicious intent.
My family continues to petition and ask PSU leaders to read and evaluate for themselves how little Freeh’s conclusions about JVP are supported with any facts. More confounding than the lack of facts are several overarching premises contained in the Freeh report that set the tone for his unsubstantiated claims. By allowing such false premises, the reader is set up for accepting unsupported conclusions.
The first faulty premise is that JVP “controlled everything / knew everything that happened at PSU.” This premise conflates Power with Popularity.
There is a huge difference between Power and Popularity and if we are not careful, we can forget how very different these things are – especially with respect to running a large institution like PSU. Freeh chose to ignore this clear difference - and in fact, equated them as being the same to vilify JVP.
This matters because it is one of several incorrect overarching premises of the Freeh Report, which gives Freeh’s conspiracy theory illegitimate credibility in falsely damaging our alma mater’s reputation.
Yes, “conspiracy theory” because it is – at best – a stretching hypothesis that four men were involved in a conspiracy to conceal and cover up criminal activity.
Until PSU comes to terms with the damage they have done by accepting the incorrect opinion of Louis Freeh, they will not be able to recover some of the greatest qualities of PSU’s history that could be, and ought to be, leveraged into its future.
Joe Paterno was popular. He was well known, widely respected, and influential.
Was he an all-powerful man controlling everything at PSU as Freeh suggests?
Not even close.