Earlier today, Pittsburgh radio show host Mark Madden went on WEEI in Boston and passed along something that's been dancing around the internet and flying into our inbox ever since. You can listen to the audio above, but the comment in question is right here:
"I can give you a rumor and I can give you something I think might happen. I hear there's a rumor that there will be a more shocking development from the Second Mile Foundation—and hold on to your stomachs, boys, this is gross, I will use the only language I can—that Jerry Sandusky and Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors. That was being investigated by two prominent columnists even as I speak."
Well. Now, there are at least three reasons to approach this rumor with a dose of skepticism, and not just because it's a rumor about reporters reporting on a rumor:
1. In the spirit of many talk-radio hosts, Madden is a professional troll. He would be the first to admit that. He is known around Pittsburgh for being a provocateur. Listening to him after a Steelers game, I once heard him say that when the Steelers lose, "It's good for business"—precisely the kind of talk that gets the average yinzer knucklehead to keep listening and call in. He often says things just to say them, just because he knows people will react. He was a columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the early aughts, but he supposedly left after being asked to tone things down. None of which is to cast aspersions—it's only to say that Madden is happiest when he's the furthest guy out on the thinnest limb. He also moonlights as a wrestling announcer.
2. The mere fact that Madden wrote about the Sandusky case in April does not necessarily make him a special authority on the case. A lot of other media outlets wrote about the grand jury investigation. (The Patriot-News did, for instance, which prompted our own post.) Madden said "ruh-roh" a little more loudly than others, and he deserves kudos for that, but that doesn't make him an oracle.
And now one reason there might be something—something—to this. Here's a text exchange I had with a journalist in Pittsburgh:
Him: FYI, he ain't bluffing here.
Me: How do you know?
Him: I don't know for sure. I just know he is confident in what he has.
Me: He's also a professional troll who loves attention. He's going on radio stations all over the country today.
Him: Separate his on-air persona with journalistic chops. Mark was a hell of a reporter. Don't dismiss him.
Me: We have the audio of his comments. He calls it a rumor.
Him: Fair. I know Mark well. I just have a very strong feeling he's not bluffing here.