Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jason Whitlock weighs in on Joe Posnanski's "Paterno"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Jason Whitlock is not a fan of Joe Posnanskis book.
  • Jason Whitlock is not a fan of Joe Posnanski's book.
The reaction to former Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski's hefty biography of deceased and disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been mostly bad. Before the book was released, Posnanski was widely seen as an outstanding sports columnist and journalist, who left The Star to write for Sports Illustrated. But the reviews of Paterno make it sound as if Posnanski was being fed prose word-for-word from the subject in order to leave his legacy untarnished by the Jerry Sandusky case.

This 3,000-word review behemoth in The Atlantic lays out why most critics take issue with the book: Posnanski, who was given plenty of access to Paterno, could have been the first reporter to rough up the coach over when he knew Sandusky was preying on children in Happy Valley.

Yesterday, Kansas City's old friend and Posnanski's former co-worker at The Star, Jason Whitlock, unleashed his review of Paterno. Whitlock's column makes it hard to tell if he despises the book or the author more.

"It’s difficult to discern what is most shallow in Posnanski’s book — the reporting, the access or the insight," Whitlock writes. And it gets worse from there.

Among Whitlock's burns on his former colleague:

"Posnanski, the storyteller without ego according to his passionate band of sycophants, is center stage throughout Paterno most often without good reason."


"All the dialogue with Paterno reads as though it transpired during a couple of rushed interviews after Penn State dismissed Paterno and the coach’s family realized it needed a biographer/stenographer to record Paterno’s rationalizations."


"Seriously, most puddles are deeper than Paterno."

Whitlock then takes Posnanski to task for not doing enough digging. He points to a part of the book where Posnanski writes about Paterno's relationship with Penn State's first black quarterback, Mike Cooper. Whitlock says the book didn't feature any quotes from Cooper, and Posnanski writes about him "as though he were dead."

To make a point, Whitlock takes it upon himself to get Cooper on the phone. "On a whim Saturday morning while eating breakfast in a Las Vegas hotel [Ed.: Whitlock is in a perpetual state of eating breakfast in Vegas hotels on Saturday morning.], I tracked down Cooper’s ex-wife, his former boss, a cousin and finally Mike Cooper. "

The former QB wouldn't talk to Whitlock about Paterno. But, Whitlock points out, Posnanski, who lived near Penn State while writing the book, might have had a better shot of getting Cooper on the record.

"Give a motivated journalist a year in Pennsylvania, a research assistant and a $750,000 book advance, and I bet he/she could crack Mike Cooper," he writes.

If you are one of Posnanski's "band of sycophants," or you're just interested in hearing him discuss the book, Rainy Day Books is hosting him at Unity Temple on September 12.

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