Penn State Scandal: Bob Costas Lauded for Jerry Sandusky 'Rock Center' Interview

10:31 AM PST 11/15/2011 by Rebecca Ford
NBC

The NBC sportscaster was praised for his composure and tough questions during Monday’s interview with the former Penn State coach.

NBC's Bob Costas got the first interview with former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, which aired on Brian Williams' Rock Center on Monday night.

While many viewers said that they were disturbed that Sandusky, who has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against children, would do a phone interview and get the media attention, critics and TV experts couldn’t help praising Costas’ performance. Sandusky, 67, is free on a $100,000 bond.

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While the interview could have gone to an investigative reporter or anchor, it was instead given to Costas, a sportscaster for NBC. His performance was praised for asking the tough questions and keeping his composure during one of the most controversial interviews in recent history.

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“The tone put this interview into a special category. Over nearly ten minutes Costas managed to be: prepared without being formulaic or rigid, polite without being nice, and skeptical without being prosecutorial,” wrote The Washington Post’s news media op-ed editor Eric Wemple.

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“There were a couple moments when Sandusky’s answers clearly prompted disbelief from Costas. Instead of declaring his position on the matter, Costas packed it into a question,” added Wemple.

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“It's hard to fathom why Sandusky would agree to this interview, let alone give such baffling and (nearly) incriminating answers,” wrote The Atlantic’s Dashiell Bennett. “There seems to be no benefit to his legal case and he's certainly didn't help his cause in the court of public opinion.”

“Most of those who saw the interview were unsettled, but full credit must be given to Costas for asking tough questions and not sugar coating any of the issues at stake,” added Bennett.

“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,” wrote HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall.

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“A good reporter and interviewer can do wonders with a phoner -- and the kind of focus and intensity Costas brought to the table Monday night,” wrote David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun.

If anyone knows a good interview, it would be Oprah Winfrey, who praised Costas on Twitter, writing, “Anybody see Bob Costas interview Jerry Sandusky? Great job Bob.”

Ben Grossman, Editor-in-Chief of Broadcasting & Cable wrote on Twitter,  “If Matt Lauer decides to leave Today when his deal is up next year, Bob Costas just filed his resume tape tonight if he wants the job.”

“Holy crap, Bob Costas is A BEAST in this Sandusky interview! He'd be a terrifying prosecutor,” wrote Sadao Turner, director of new media for Ryan Seacrest Prods, on Twitter.

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“Bob Costas a total pro interviewing alleged child molester Sandusky. Tough Q's, focused follow-ups. Costas should moderate Prez debates,” wrote Paul Begala, CNN contributor and former counselor to President Bill Clinton, on Twitter.

“What an interview by Bob Costas of Sandusky on #RockCenter . Despite sick subject Costas held his emotions & got important answers,” wrote NBC News' Luke Russert on Twitter.

Watch video of the interview below:

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