Bob Costas did not pull any punches in his interview with disgraced Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, whose alleged sexual abuse of underage boys has not only made him a national pariah but also ended the career of legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
NBC’s “Rock Center,” the network’s new weekly newsmagazine hosted by Brian Williams, scored its first major scoop when Costas secured the exclusive interview via telephone, Sandusky’s first of any kind since the scandal erupted.
Costas’ segment opened the show, and the veteran sportscaster asked all of the tough questions, starting off by questioning Sandusky's innocence and never letting up from that moment on.
For his part, Sandusky maintained his innocence – despite the mountain of evidence, he remains innocent until proven guilty.
When Costas asked him if he was “absolutely innocent in every respect,” Sandusky admitted, “I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and touched their legs without intent of sexual contact. If you look at it that way, there are things that would be accurate.”
He denied any inappropriate sexual conduct, denied the reports of other individuals, like Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, and said he could not recall the details of certain incidents and conversations.
Costas, who pointed out on several occasions that the sheer amount of evidence makes it hard to believe Sandusky is entirely free of guilt, pushed for specifics on almost every question. He even asked Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, if he would allow the man near his own kid – a chilling but pertient inquiry.
Ultimately, Costas asked Sandusky for his reaction to what has transpired as a result of the allegation, the sullying of his alma mater’s reputation for an alleged cover-up and the potential character assasination of Paterno, a legend.
“How would you think I would feel about a university I attended, people I worked with, people that I care so much about? How do you think I would feel about it? I feel horrible,” Sandusky said.
By the time the interview was done, everyone agreed on one thing – Costas was superb.
“Bob Costas showed you tonight why he is the best sports broadcaster of his generation,” tweeted Sports Illustrated’s Ricahrd Deistch.
“Not only did Costas do an excellent interview, he didn't make the faces everyone else did hearing Sandusky's answers,” tweeted Chicago Tribune business columnist Phil Rosenthal.
The HitFix's Alan Sepinwall wrote in a column, "In this case, though, Costas was damn near perfect. He had all the facts at his command, was ready with the right follow-up questions, and just kept giving Sandusky rope that the alleged pedophile seemed happy to hang himself with."