CBS investigative reporter Armen Keteyian has gotten no shortage of criticism after hyping an exclusive interview with Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary on Tuesday, which turned out to be a bland 24-second encounter. To give just two examples, Dr. Saturday called it “the most oversold interview ever,” while Awful Announcing collected the thoughts of disgusted reporters and wrote that it was “an embarrassment for the network, for the CBS Evening News, and for Keteyian.”
Well, Keteyian happened to be on with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday morning, and he strongly defended the interview. (Listen to the audio here.)
“Criticize or whatever you want, but I can tell you that my job is to stay on the story or in front of the story,” the veteran reporter said. “And if ABC or NBC or CNN or ESPN had that moment with Mike McQueary, they would have played it just like we played it.”
The story of how Keteyian wound up on McQueary’s porch was longer, but probably worth repeating.
“It was one of those things where a lot of little pieces had to fall into place,” he said. “It was hard to find Mike’s address. Josh Gaynor — who’s a producer here — Josh went up to the door. It turns out that it was the household we were looking for. Mike’s wife came to the door. We were just basically gonna leave our cards in hopes of talking or meeting with Mike in the future.
“And then when Josh saw Mike in the house, he welcomed me up to the house, and I went up there and we were able to convince Mike to come to the door. And he wanted to speak out on the porch away from his wife, and that gave us an opportunity to talk. And then I just said to him, look, we’ve got a camera here, would you mind if we at least documented the fact that I was at the house? And he said it was ok.
“And then I said you know, I have a microphone, can I ask you just how you feel? And he said ok. So those were the questions. And look, I could have gone in a lot of different directions, but I’ve done this a long time, and I know when to push the accelerator down and when to leave it off. And that was not the time to hassle Mike McQueary. And I just left with what I had.”
So then he was asked how he happened to find the house in the first place.
“It’s a hard house to find; you really have to kind of know your way around public records and things to find it, and we just got lucky,” Keteyian said. “I mean, we went there, we had been knocking on a lot of doors, we just hit it at the right time, at the right place. And we had been talking to family members, I’ve been really working that side of the story very very hard. Mike knows who I am and respects my work. That helped.
“And to be able to just get out on the porch and talk to him even off camera, just to get a sense that I could then say I saw Mike McQueary today and he told me….And when Mike allowed the camera to go on, I was frankly surprised, but I wasn’t gonna turn it into a moment that would have eliminated future considerations with that family....”
“Most of the off-the-record stuff was strictly me trying to drill down into what he did, when he did it, what his feelings were, what he did after the game, where he was he, death threats. Mike wasn’t gonna go there, so I just decided, let’s go in a different direction here. And I didn’t feel like I needed to pressure him at that point in time.”
All of which, frankly, is more interesting than anything McQueary said on camera.