Tuesday, April 10

Ganim's & Levinson's Lack of Ethics Exposed in Final Scenes

The fact that the final scene of HBO's Paterno shows Ganim fielding a call from the 1976 accuser exposes her work and Levinson's film as unethical. 

Ray Blehar

April 10, 2018, 11:04 AM EDT

In the final fictional scene of HBO's Paterno, crime and courts reporter Sara Ganim (Riley Keough) is shown fielding a phone call from the 1976 accuser in her Patriot News office.  The point of the scene is to convince viewers that Joe Paterno knew about Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children for decades and did nothing about it.

While Director Barry Levinson described the movie as a fictional treatment, he also stated that it was based on things that actually happened.  While it is true a complaint was made claiming an incident occurred in 1976, Ganim, Levinson, and HBO's attorneys knew or should have known that the allegation was unsubstantiated based on a statement released by Penn State and other publicly available information.

Ganim, Levinson, and HBO's attorneys knew or should have known that the 1976 accuser, like all the other claimants, signed a settlement from Penn State University (PSU) that included the following language stating that the University did not admit the allegation was valid:

The legal team of Feinberg Rosen, who conducted the settlement process, described it as nothing more than a financial negotiation where the claimants, unlike others who sue for damages, had no evidence of long-term economic loss or physical harm.

"This is a market-driven process.  Plaintiffs will demand one thing, defendants are willing to give up another. My job is to present them with facts that can justify them meeting in the middle."

Feinberg Rosen's reference to market-driven specifically meant that claimants after 2001 were paid the highest based on the idea that their alleged abuse could have been prevented.  Claims prior to 1998 were paid the least because there is no evidence supporting that PSU officials had any inkling of Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.

Again, information about the claims process in the public domain and Levinson, et al, had to know they were on thin ice to use any evidence outside of those things vetted in a court of law (i.e., Sandusky and Spanier trials) as content for the movie.

1976 Accusation

HBO's attorneys knew or should have known that information arising out of the claims process was dubious at best.  However, the attorneys, Ganim, and Levinson could have reviewed the salient details of the claim and easily determined it was not legitimate.

First, the 1976 claimant (John Doe 150) alleged that he Sandusky digitally penetrated his anus while he was in a crowded shower room at a Penn State football camp.  That alleged attack not only goes against Sandusky's method of operation, but the method of operation of almost every other known serial offender.  Serial offenders do not commit crimes overtly or in the full view of others.  If they did, they wouldn't be committing crimes very long.  Anyone who believes the 1976 accusation lacks common sense.

Next, campers at PSU sports camps do not shower with coaches in the football locker room.  They return to the dormitories and shower there.  The latter is also a common practice that would be familiar to most who attended a sports camp on a college campus.

John Doe 150 also alleged that he told several players about the attack and they did nothing.  That left him with no alternative but to go to Paterno.  As such, he had to make the trek from East Halls to the other side of campus to find Paterno's office in Rec Hall (i.e., the basketball arena).  That's where the nail hits the coffin for John Doe 150.

When asked if he found Paterno in a sports facility, he responded negatively.

There was no legitimate excuse for Ganim, who was familiar with the PSU campus and covered the Sandusky trial, not to recognize that the 1976 claim was fraudulent and advise Levinson against using it in the movie.  However, if the 1976 claim wasn't used to establish their wishful thinking that Paterno had decades of  knowledge of Sandusky's abuse of children, then alternative was to use the 1971 claim.

And they undoubtedly knew the 1971 accusation was even more fraudulent than the 1976 claim.

1971 Accusation

Ganim, who has broken no stories of significance since moving to CNN,  learned in July 2016 of the 1976 accusation from press reports regarding the Penn State University v. Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association (PMA) lawsuit.  Desperate to be relevant again, she apparently seized on the opportunity.

According to a television interview, Ganim stated she had been told about the 1971 allegation sometime prior to the release of excerpts of PMA claims.

Ganim's 1971 accuser made the outlandish claim that he was hitch-hiking as a 15 year-old when he was picked up by Sandusky, plied with drugs and alcohol (by a well known teetotaler), then violently assaulted and raped.  The story then became even more incredible when the accuser stated he told his foster parents about the attack -- and instead of calling the police, they forced him to call Paterno directly at his University office (Paterno's home telephone number was always listed in the telephone book).   

As a reporter who covered the Sandusky criminal trial, Ganim was well aware that Sandusky was an acquaintance offender and of his method of operation.  Therefore, she also knew that 1971 accuser's story didn't fit with those characteristics.  She also knew that a state trooper didn't find his story credible.  

From the article:
The trooper told CNN that he does remember on the day of Sandusky's arraignment, talking to Victim A, and thinking the story seemed too crazy to be believed."

"Who is going to believe that Joe Paterno would do that? Honestly," he said
The part the trooper likely found incredible was that Paterno and another man allegedly told the boy they that "Sandusky had done so many good things" and they would "call the authorities" to get him to stop. 

In 1971, Sandusky was a new assistant coach and had not yet founded the group home he would call The Second Mile -- a fact mentioned in Ganim's column.  As such, there was he had no track record of good works and wouldn't have been vehemently defended by Paterno, who had gotten rid of other assistants for far less serious transgressions.

Her column persisted in attempting to prove that the accuser was an actual victim because he had received a settlement from PSU, which she knew or should have known didn't hold any weight of credibility.  
However, her column completely fell on its face when it resorted to using a mentally imbalanced man, Bernie McCue, as the corroboration for the 1971's accuser's story.

McCue was well known in State College for his erratic behavior, especially writing obscenities on magazines and newspapers (with a red pen) then putting them in the racks at restaurants and businesses for others to discover. He had a special hatred for Joe Paterno, as evidenced by his handiwork (shown below) and had a history of erratic and criminal behavior.

Ganim's corroborating source was Bernie McCue, a well known Paterno hater.

McCue was arrested in 2006 for two counts of harassment and again in 2012 for a single count of harassment with no legitimate purpose.

In August 2013, McCue penned a letter to the daily Collegian suggesting that Penn State remove "Peachy Paterno" ice cream from the shelves of the Berkey Creamery.

McCue appeared movie Happy Valley (2014) carrying out a one-man protest at the Paterno statue (as pictured above).  This scene was featured exclusively in the New York Times to promote the movie. OnwardState (OS), a publication well known to Ganim due her ties to PSU, slammed Happy Valley in a movie review, in part, because it featured McCue.  In its review, OS reported it was one of the most widely watched shows on Netflix.

Was Ganim oblivious to all that?  Only if she lived under a rock.

In October 2014, he was observed driving by the Student Book Store in downtown State College yelling obscenities out the window of this car while giving the middle finger to a crowd of people who were signing 409 placards to honor Joe Paterno.

After the NCAA restored the vacated wins of Paterno on January 16, 2015, McCue wrote another vitriolic letter to the Collegian demeaning Paterno.

All of these things happened before Ganim's story featuring McCue went to print.

After going to print, he was arrested again for disorderly conduct and using obscene language and gestures.  At the ripe old age of 80, McCue was again arrested.  This time it was for disorderly conduct and engaging in fighting.

McCue died September 1, 2017 and his obituary includes some rather interesting details including that he had no wife or children, was the resident manager of two rooming houses, tutored students, had an unpleasant experience as a high school teacher, and -- wait for it --  took a hitch-hiking vacation to Maine.

All of the evidence above was available to Levinson, HBO's attorneys, and Ganim prior to the release of the film.  Unless they are completely gullible fools, there was no excuse for them to consider that  the 1971 or 1976 allegations had merit.

To show the last scene of Ganim fielding a call from the 1976 accuser and not, at a minimum, dedicate a screen stating that the 1976 allegation was never proven was an ethical lapse.


  1. I thought the story of the 1976 accuser was well after Ganim left the Patriot News for CNN. So that's another inaccuracy.

    Too, I thought the 1976 accuser never commented publicly. Ganim did publish an interview with the 1971 accuser, who was also unbelievable.

  2. Lost among all the movie reviews, Will Hobson of the Washington Post has an in-depth article on "What did Paterno really know about the Sandusky scandal at Penn State?" I thought it was fair and more complete than much such reports.

    It was also printed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.


  3. OMG you people are so stupid. Yes the movie was not 100% accurate. So what? It is obvious Paterno knew what was going on and did nothing. How can you back a pedophile just because he was a good man otherwise? There were in-accuracies with the titan movie as well, but it still sank.