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Jerry Sandusky interview draws fire for NBC 'Today' show amid ratings grab

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NBC’s “Today” show has gotten mixed reactions Monday after airing some audio-only recordings of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, produced from a recent jailhouse interview by conservative filmmaker and talk radio host John Zeigler as part of a larger film project on the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

SEE RELATED: Jerry Sandusky, from prison, says he was misinterpreted: ‘I didn’t violate them’

The campus newspaper was opposed to the broadcast. An op-ed in The Daily Collegian noted, “Where does ‘Today’ go from here? Maybe an apology, maybe an informative piece on child abuse or more. At this point, the damage has been done. To other media outlets — let Sandusky work on his appeal and rot in prison.”

Mr. Zeigler — who has worked on the film project for year and seeks to prove that the legendary Coach Paterno did not deserve to be fired from his job in 2011 following the Sandusky trial — has gotten no support from the Paterno family.

“The release of the audio recording of Jerry Sandusky is a sad and unfortunate development. Sandusky had the opportunity to speak, under oath, during his trial and he chose not to do so. Releasing a recording at this time, nearly a year after he was found guilty on 45 counts, is transparently self-serving and yet another insult to the victims and anyone who cares about the truth in this tragic story,” the family said in a statement Monday.

“The Paterno family would prefer to remain silent on this matter, but they feel it is important to make it clear that they had no role in obtaining or releasing this recording. Moreover, they believe that any attempt to use this recording as a defense of Joe Paterno is misguided and inappropriate,” the family said.

Was NBC’s Sandusky broadcast legitimate? Some media critics think not.

“NBC’s ‘interview’ isn’t really what it seems. Documentary filmmaker John Ziegler — best known for his 2009 film ‘Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected And Palin Was Targeted’ — is the one who secured the footage of Sandusky, and is using it for a new film “The Framing of Joe Paterno,’” points out TV Newser analyst Alex Welprin.

“In other words, while NBC certainly left the impression that someone from the network would be interviewing Sandusky, it is in fact footage from Ziegler and his team, and NBC had no control or say in it.”

Mr. Zeigler, meanwhile, is prepared for criticism, and offered a lengthy point by point rebuttal to any and all questions at his own website.

“I know the media really well,” Mr. Ziegler told ‘Today’ host Matt Lauer during the broadcast.

“I’ve devoted most of my career to analyzing the media, and I personally believe the media in this particular case has an agenda they don’t want to hear what the truth is. This has been a rush to judgment from the beginning and I know I’m going to get attacked from everybody,” The filmaker concluded.

The jailhouse interview featured a denial by Sandusky that he had molested one of the victims.

Noted ESPN sports writer Ryan McGee in a Tweet following the broadcast “140 characters is not enough to express how less of a damn I care about what Jerry Sandusky has to say.”

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