Reuters reports that “Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky sought a mistrial before his conviction for child sex abuse on the grounds that prosecutors showed jurors an inaccurate version of a bombshell NBC News interview with the former football coach, and the mistake may now form part of the basis for an appeal”:
In response to a subpoena, NBC News turned over three versions of Bob Costas’ NBC News interview with Sandusky, which aired last November on different NBC shows.
One of those versions, which was broadcast on the ‘Today’ show, contained an erroneous repetition of a key question and answer – about whether Sandusky was sexually attracted to young boys, Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general said on Sunday.
The repetition, Sandusky’s lawyers contend, made it appear to jurors that he was stonewalling.
“It wasn’t noticed by (NBC News), it wasn’t noticed by us, but it became obvious when it played in court,” Frederiksen told Reuters.
NBC News spokeswoman Amy Lynn confirmed this account on Sunday.
Before going any further, let me repeat what Ace wrote here:
First — of course Jerry Sandusky is guilty.
That’s not the point here. The point is that the prosecutors relied upon NBC to provide an accurate edit of the Jerry Sandusky interview.
They were burned on that.
The Reuters article above links to a YouTube clip of the interview and notes:
In the Sandusky interview with NBC, Costas asks, “Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?” according to an NBC News transcript.
Sandusky responded, “Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?”
But in the “Today” version, which was played for jurors and is still available on YouTube (here), the exchange was repeated.
The interview was originally aired correctly on NBC News’ new magazine show, ‘Rock Center’ on November 14. The erroneous version that repeated the exchange aired the following morning on ‘Today.’
In a statement, NBC’s Lynn said: “Under subpoena, NBC News turned over three versions of the Costas interview to prosecutors, including the ‘Today’ version with the error in it. Prosecutors used the ‘Today’ version, not realizing it included a technical glitch, and played it for the jury.
“After court that day, NBC News executives had a series of discussion with the prosecutors, and after some internal investigation were able to determine that the glitch originated on ‘Today.’ NBC News executives explained the situation to the court, and Judge Cleland sought to remedy the situation by giving the jury instructions to regard only a transcript of the full interview that was subsequently provided to them, not any audio that was played for them by prosecutors.”
Here’s the video that Reuters links to, preceded by the logo of the person who uploaded the clip to YouTube:
If you missed the interview when it originally aired in November, it is uber-creepy. I felt like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now listening to Col. Kurtz’s radio transmissions. I kept waiting for Sandusky to tell Bob Costas, “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.”
If you don’t want listen to the whole vile thing, click to about 6:40 into the video for the repeat of Sandusky’s comments, or just keep reading, as I’ve created a separate clip to focus in on the material discussed by Reuters, which appears at the top of the next page. Watching it, there’s a weird flash-frame where Bob Costas’ question to Sandusky repeats. I was curious about what the heck was in that frame, so I placed my downloaded copy of the video into a timeline in Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS6 video editing program to freeze-frame it:
At the risk of going full Zapruder, I believe what it might be is a shot of the Today Show control room or some other unlit portion of the set, with a couple of technicians in the background, and someone’s coat on a coat-rack in front of them. I’m calling it a flash-frame, but it lasts a total of six frames in the Premiere timeline. That’s much less than one second. Given that the animated Today Show lower third plays through the flash-frame, I assume that’s why NBC was so quick to determine the incident happened on their end, and wasn’t something a mischievous video clipper inserted, when he uploaded the interview to YouTube. (Update: This minor mystery solved? See update with comment from reader at end of post.)