Author and journalist John Luciew

Newsmaker Interviews
Thursday, April 5th

Author and journalist John Luciew talks about the HBO production, "Paterno." with WILK's Sue Henry.  Luciew's book, "Hear No Evil," is the basis for the movie, starring Al Pacino.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

And on a Saturday I would say many people. Will be watching this representation. For turn now on HBO. Because some many of you must have been intrigued by the story. Possibly a horrified. Or maybe defensive I mean ran the gamut we all agreed. Here to help us on this topic is John Lucy who. Wrote the book hear no evil and he wrote it very quickly quell this was sent occurring so John welcome to our show. Thank you do you just to the Evelyn Wood school of speed writing. Well you and blues decades of working in the print to newspaper business you get back and I also have. Tend a couple of fiction mysteries too. So that really prepped me for. When it came time when the editors that need to turn all of our reporting. That we had done on the Jerry sandusky. Scandal into an e-book. That would literally be available bull for Christmas of that year veteran back in. 2011. And remember it was November when all of this was exploding. But we turn to work turn that around and turned it into sort of an e-book of sort of be if you know bit the part of the scandal that that we are required the newspaper research into the grand jury investigation. And then a little momentous events. That bit unleashed. When that indictment was announced. You know in early November 2011. That led to Joseph Paterno is on ceremony at ouster as head coach after all those legendary years. And in this case sent many of the elements of the story proves sometimes the truth. Is indeed stranger than fiction action that your newspaper than Harriet the Harrisburg patriot news. He had to reporters to cover spores she had reporters who covered government affairs. And now than you had 24. Year old. Reporter I I young journalists Sara asked. Began who was the the catalyst for all lists of coming to the surface and as as you write about. In a piece that appeared recently in Harrisburg patriot. So I had been working this story earlier in 2011 and drips and drabs of network coming out. But it didn't seem to. Reach critical mass until November or can you probably download the background of how. You're newspaper. Got involved in this coverage and broke this story wide open. Okay absolutely yes Eric in them. What the Penn State student and then she went to work for. The Centre daily times writing big college. And she like a lot of people have heard all these rumors surrounding Jerry sandusky because there had been rumors surrounding him for years. Just a you know his dealings with kids. Bullies from the second model which was his Lou that try to help sort of trouble bigger kitsch. So if you heard the rumors and she's sorted and looking into them what she was working for the Centre daily times or she's been looking into things. Or body a year when she decided the interview with the patriot news it turns out we have heard those same rumors and we were looking in good things to. She have a line on one of the victims which turned out to be. The boy in Lock Haven who was the catalyst for the grand jury investigation. Other reporters that the patriot news had a line on another victim. And doing this interview due process. Both sides were also feeling each other out on what they knew about the sandusky scandal. Actual and so we're sure she hired in early 02011. She's given unlimited time to sort of work on this story by. Editor David Newhouse. And by march she had uncovered enough that we started publishing stories. That there was this grand jury investigation. To people like Paterno were port kept applying that it was focusing on Jerry sandusky and his. Alleged abuse of children and willow there was information from at least one or two of the victims that we had. Oh I just applied through you know just basically gumshoe reporting. But we publicist stories in March but they're virtually ignored Paterno goes on to win his 409 victory. Except the college record. But weeks later that indictment from the grand jury is. It inadvertently released online. The online court records system so be it we won't we publish this story. And see that he is Paul the end. The next day to be booked. And by Monday of that week. Penn State in happy valley is waking to the or because of all the implications. Of this scandal not the least of which is what people like Paterno. About grand Spaniard the president. Curley and Schultz the the athletic director in the security director knew and when did they know about send us these abuse. Some of which was taking place. Inside the football building collapsed building in even in. Lose the football oh hours a bit of all places because I didn't ask even though he retired as a coach in 1999. He was granted access all of these Penn State facilities. Pro life and he was bringing boys from the second mile. Thinking. He's introducing them to heal the discipline to college and you know what they could aspire to you know in their future. But here it really ruse so he can abuse these kids so that is the unbelievable story that it was uncovered. And that and that and that and that basically. Penn State like never before. It's so amazing John that when this did come now or earlier and Tony eleven it was that was kind of. Neither response and then of course. Everything blew up and it was really big news Oliver though the world. Who. There on the active Friday when when Nasser types and Huskies name into I am guessing it's what the pacers just aren't ever. We need there. When that happened because that must have been some moment when she. New that this was gonna come down. Yeah that was almost surreal because she sees fit with our guys. She south in the newsroom it's it's. He's been indicted and then where everybody crop to run an NN we're then it disappears. And they actually have that seen the movie. In the movie. You know they they kind of distilled the patriot news about this Sarah and David knew the executive editor so it really where you put your thoughts sort of a news roomful of editors reporters or sort of doing other aspects of of the stories especially when the scandal broke and it. And botanical reached out into the conspiracy of silence among the top brass at Penn State. But get that scene and then there was almost heroic you're almost like who gets really see what I just saw them and of course a bunch true and then. Because of that breach they rushed. What Shanda the end of the process he actually made ballot without you know within hours. And but but it touched off. That Italy is being felt of that grand jury indictment the word but language that whole matter of fact way they describe the sexual abuse of these boys. Was so chilling. Bit there was no escaping it you know from anybody. At Penn State and did you see that and having your jaw draw with with whom see it in black and white really just. There was an old looking away at that point. And they had attempted to hustle lamented that arraignment and hustle back out without you guys know on about and I DHL owes John the culture. Of protective nest to some of these individuals and as as reporters and an editors and and photons. Eat you must've been astonished at still with these words in black and white which you guys have seen there would still be an attempt. By. Even law enforcement again I'm in an out of there without any ado you know. Not only get him in and out of there but in the indictment. At least Curley and Schultz were also mentioned. You know I spent sort of milling about this. So and then the for the first instinct of Graham's senior in Penn State. Was to put up he wrote a statement out supporting them and defending them. So together there was this big east or in denial would you know in interment you know that the crisis communications. And the PR disaster that this became for Penn State which is not a case study. But some communication classes at Penn State still by the end of this day. The fact that they were better prepared for this because everybody knew the grand jury was was meeting because some of those guys. World war testified before we have the story in March but yet this still managed to protect everybody's. But I surprised and happy valley. The is showing the fact that they had no strategy for how to deal with this. You know the PR disaster in the media. International media to be swarming the campus by. Tuesday of that week. It is absolutely. Our our remarkable moment and Eamon in Albania. The me that did Joseph Paterno had just said notched up. This historic win in his career in India one history. And then his his. Fall from grace. And you know John because Europe and you live in in Pennsylvania. For so long I mean just the name Joseph Paterno. Gave such reverence you know and I'm saying because of being his commitment to university. His. Fostering. Of young men into. What what they call student athletes which I guess doesn't happen everywhere. He is sense of philanthropy. To Penn state university. Itself it was as though he could do no wrong so I think there was a reticence. Actually. Two to do something about this right. Oh absolutely I mean. He rebuffed glimpse senior. I think it was back in 20042005. Because you know program had all along the hard times and the record wasn't what should have been. Spaniard comes over the paternal toppled saying hey we think you might wanna retire. He says no did out in. You know he keeps his position and it and that and the point of the ball and I think just to stop the fog has one of the better seasons. You know so he he had the power. At Penn State. And you don't because he had that PR image of being doing everything by the book and education matters and let's graduate these kids. He uses that power with an edge. So another words. He he. He is what any challenge to him. He used that power is sort of beaded tactic he used that power to. To really try to control the media coverage of him equal ordered those you know the beat reporters that. The covered him and when the questions might get a little too uncomfortable. There was an edge to him that many reporters would see. I'll be here and sort of snapping back and and beat those sort of too aggressive coverage in the butt but all that came crashing down when that for the treatment. Up and down and especially when Penn State was on its heels PR wise. And they needed to make. Some bold move that would shield them. Appreciating the pool gravity of the scandal but also trying to turn the page and move on. And the biggest thing that they could do what the fire Paterno and they did it over the phone literally. You know he beat that they can't cover with a double that call this number he called it. He said it was you know 32 conversation you're fired and that was and that that's in the movie as well. Absolutely incredible and then of course they had did this their press. I. Know what to call lists scram is the best way I I guess I could describe it because they were going to have a press conference. Come with the that the board vice chairman John Surma. Meaning to the media they had. The media shut out of the room where the that was gonna happen that never makes the media happy and then they had a run in there. And as chairman speaks and you know the members of the board. Are seen in a photograph from that from your own newspaper. Liquor rogues gallery behind them it's just incredible. You have to look they all have those storm bases like the old Soviet Politburo you know we're all just. Have the poker face is going on and you can tell it uncomfortable for everybody and so begin by announcing span yours. Ouster. And almost. Give the paternal ouster as an afterthought. But that's what triggered an plot because that he believed to be meeting had gone on so late. By the time they and now the Paterno firing you know it's it you know born on you know 11 o'clock. And lose the cattle needless to say a lot of the college students had spent a few hours in the bars. They see it on TV in immediately pour out into the streets and begin this sort of war I it. Over Paterno firing. Back whose national ones CNN and cable channels. And the anchors are saying wired these kids are writing over football coach. Getting fired. When the real scandal the real tragedy. Is all these kids who were abused. You know under the nose of the of this venerable institution why are why don't they care about that and it gave. The whole. Football culture of Penn State this. This grotesque. Image. Of the football out with kids don't and this became the national media. Damnation. Of Penn State so went from being sort of the program that did everything right. For the program that blindly warship football but law. And then of course the real I've seen John of what Joseph Paterno. And is a pajama bottoms and his ex wife and in inner house co. Posting. A media press conference outside their house and then it turns into we are Penn State which again eat cannot. He cannot write this kind of content this and the some really happens. If all really happened. And you know obviously in re in real life do you want this miss. Of melancholy there because. Easily 84. And and everything that he had done even though their world was a hard edge to Paterno and and and he could wield power with the best of them. There what this. Grandfatherly. Quality that he especially with this but with the students. And Paterno though remember they kept up ahead of every game Paterno built so there was this wisp of melancholy and emotions to see this guy sort of fired in the unceremoniously. And and so you know and the Penn State revved up. But he does turn around before he goes in and say hey let's may be pray a little for those victims. And then he turns around than than they do the country begin in the pumpkin farm one last time. And then disappears behind the door at 4 o'clock photographer Joseph Harman whose. Photograph Paterno thousands of times that was the last photo the effort took the Paterno. Because he'd be diagnosed with aggressive cancer just weeks later. And be dead by a January you 2012 so that I mean it was it was it was literally Shakespearean. Moment Lion in Winter for sure. Absolutely and I guess you assess seen the movie. That HBO as a debut yes. We look at the T make it available pedal I've been a group of but screened it a week ago and but she know that Paterno is unbelievable. Short time you know even even among people who covered Paterno. For decades worth it seemed like you're watching Paterno. On screen and it's actually use. And this sort of but daughter wearing you know 84 Europa but performing you know either you could kind of tell he's past his prime and maybe even a little. Confused. It's a little bit of the drama of the film of his. It is Paterno trying to remember exactly what he did know about Jerry because he had that that the personality that could tune things out. And if he was focused on football secret to and other things out and not want to know that the tells you go to meet so. It really is it I think it's really well done but don't look the part that studies Paterno. And the inner workings of the paternal family at this wasn't exploding commute. Where the real drama. Of the dramatization. Of this lives. A man. Elvis Presley's granddaughter plays young Sarah hunt. Yes I think in the yeah. Yesterday and and it's funny because the Sahara. Had other opportunities to write books and do other things with her experiences with this. But when not HB I think it was Barry Levinson at the project's first. And then eventually wand up and HBO and it. You know how movie project there's a gestation period. But she was contacted the cheap but a comparable with. Barry Levinson of up and her fame and course HBO. And she served as the paid consultant on this. And they wanted to fill out. The journalism side of the story Drew Carey. Through Sarah and her characters so she's literally this second build character in the story in other words. The actor who portrays served our Riley. Something and hurt me it makes its second build the actor yeah she's the second build actor in the big. But Sarah will tell you I interviewed her. Earlier this week. That she doesn't really see the movie as. That's finished as sort of elected journalism. Story like spotlight that won the Academy Award group opposed that was out earlier this year because a lot of the reporting. That she did in tracking down those original. Victims. And getting the grand jury sort sources of what was going on in the grand jury you that he is that. Happens. But for the time period of the movie which really begins with Paterno giving his borrow money win and then the indictment giving. Prematurely released right after. Bringing everything down so. She's she's the main character in the movie that social or going back to the victims after. The indictment is is it out and look the fact that there may have been a cover up is revealed. And and she doubly sure with the victims. What she said was her most important. Part of this story was the victim themselves because without them and what about the bravery of you know. Of of saying that I was abused in this horrible embarrassing way by this. Football. Great sandusky. The music on the story. So prepare it via the fact that the victims could be an integral part of this. Side of the story that that was important. John Lucy picks are taking all this time this morning with us what it would've been fascinating part of our our history in numb. Your book cure no evil is the basis for a which was so put out in December of Tony eleven. With great speed and now in very daft deathly and I appreciate the fact he took the time to death. Thanks for having me and oh everybody watches in sort of make up the relying on. I'm on the whole the whole scandal. I like you said that like a true newspaper person take urgent.