Just how bad has the media's coverage of the Penn State University sex scandal been?
According to a new poll created by our friend John Ziegler, 45 percent of Americans mistakenly believe famed football coach Joe Paterno may have actually been involved in the child molestations (picture courtesy AP):
The scientific poll of over 1,000 adults was conducted by highly respected Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research on behalf of Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker John Ziegler. Ziegler is studying the media's impact of the public's knowledge of the Sandusky case, along with four other accomplished writers/researchers, for their new website www.FramingPaterno.com and for a proposed documentary film, "The Framing of Joe Paterno."
Despite being designed for respondents to easily recognize the correct answers of mostly true/false questions, the poll results indicate that only 55% of Americans know that Joe Paterno was not accused of molesting children. Similarly, an incredible 68% incorrectly thought that a description of the little covered Syracuse child abuse case was actually that of the so called Penn State scandal (an astounding 1 % correctly identified Syracuse, despite it being a multiple choice question).
Overall, respondents collectively failed to achieve even close to a meager 60% "success" rate on ANY of eight simple true/false questions about the basic facts of the case. On six of the nine overall "knowledge" questions respondents did FAR worse than if they had simply guessed. The average "correct response" rate for all eight true/false questions was a stunningly low 21%.
Just in case that last sentence got past readers, be advised that on a true/false test, a monkey should get 50 percent right. For folks to get only 21 percent seems almost impossible.
Maybe this is part of the reason: "[O]nly 52% of Americans say that the media coverage of Joe Paterno during the scandal has been fair and accurate."
"This poll may prove our case that the media has effectively 'framed' Joe Paterno by creating a false and ratings-driven narrative about this story," said Ziegler. "This is a classic case of garbage information in, garbage information out."
Ziegler elaborated on a phone call with me saying, "This is the biggest media lynching of our time."
He added, "The media have created almost as much ignorance about the Penn State case as they did about the Obama campaign in 2008."
Supporting his point, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author that first broke this story wrote last November, "Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno did the right thing and reported an eye-witness report of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky in the football locker room in 2002, according to the indictment released this morning by the state Attorney General."
That seems to have been lost in all the subsequent accusations aimed at Paterno.
Readers are advised Ziegler's position is not that Jerry Sandusky is innocent. By no means.
Instead, for this to get the kind of national attention it did and maintain that attention for as long as it did, Paterno represented a far better target.
With that in mind, Ziegler says there is a lot more information that will be coming out in the weeks to come further exposing the media's malpractice on this horrible matter.