Mitch Perry Report 7.13.12- the darkness of the cult of personality

In the aftermath of the report released yesterday by former FBI Director Louis Freeh about the child abuse scandal within the Penn State University football program, even ardent supporters of Joe Paterno are taking a different perspective of the legendary coach today - as they should.

But though most of the nation knew nothing about the actions of Jerry Sandusky until last fall, we all knew that Joe Paterno had accumulated vast amounts of power over the decades in "Happy Valley." Or do you not remember how he was asked to resign by officials with the university after the 2004 season - and told them, "no thanks." So they turned tail and essentially said, okay, whatever you want, Mr. Paterno. He stuck around for eight more years, until he was fired as the scandal broke last year.

That anecdote reminds me of a passage I read in Douglas Brinkley's memoir of Walter Cronkite last night. Basically, Cronkite had a terrible performance at the GOP Republican Convention in San Francisco in 1964, as Brinkley reports:

With Cronkite usurping interviews, refusing to encourage (Eric) Sevareid, and rejecting some floor reports, he began, as Roger Mudd recalled, "swallowing up great chunks of air time for himself." Being an air hog might not have been bad if Cronkite had been at his broadcasting best. He wasn't.

The upshot Brinkley writes is that CBS President William Paley brought in the news executives at CBS to ask "What the hell happened to Walter?" He was told that Cronkite had "resisted" doing less and "spreading the load" to other reporters. They told Paley simply that "Walter is Walter," refusing to hold him accountable.

Paley ultimately did, taking Cronkite off covering the Democratic Convention a month later.

It was a low point in his career, but he obviously recovered and learned from his errors. The point? He was held accountable. Maybe it's a crude example and pales in comparison to the horrors at Penn State, but the point is is that Joe Paterno was considered too big to fail, if you will. There are companies in Tampa and around the country where fear of offending larger than life employees ends up hurting the organization. And Penn State will suffer for a long time to come from this scandal.

Okay, on to the news. We were on the conference call yesterday where the Obama election team attacked Mitt Romney wondering how long he actually served as CEO of Bain Capital.

Embattled Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner isn't backing down at all in his fight to save his job. Turner spoke to us on Wednesday night and says if it comes to skills, he's by far the best candidate for the job. Of course, that's not all what registered Republicans will judge him on when they go to polls next month.

CL also spoke the other night with Pinellas House Republican Jim Frishe, campaigning for the first time in his life in South Tampa in his race against Jeff Brandes.

And Centro Ybor is back on the market, in case you're interested.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.