Gene Morrill is a 57-year old man who was just convicted in Virginia of soliciting sex from a minor online. Prior to his sentencing, he defended his actions by stating that he was once molested by Bigfoot. This has prompted the world to wonder: IS IT TRUE?
Luckily, crack journalist Jessica Weinstein of local ABC affiliate WJLA was on the scene. First, she interviewed “folks at the gas station,” who expressed disbelief and called Morrill an “idiot.” Stopping at nothing to cobble together a complete, factually correct story, she then contacted Matthew Moneymaker of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO). As an aside, the BFRO are the guys who fell for Penn & Teller’s totally phony bigfoot sighting filmed for an episode of Bullshit.
Moneymaker helpfully informed professional news reporter Jessica Weinstein that though Bigfoot has been spotted in New Hampshire where Morrill claims he was raped, there has “never been a report of physical contact between a Bigfoot and a person.” Jessica Weinstein’s in-depth journalism has shed some doubt over this previously credible claim. Well done Jessica Weinstein, traditional media spokesperson.
With all that Pulitzer-worthy journalism, is there anything that Jessica and her cohorts missed? Not really. Just, you know, the entire point. I know I don’t have my own cameraman and microphone and ABC affiliate, but just for fun I’ll imagine how I might have approached this story.
A 57-year old man is convicted of soliciting sex from a minor. Immediately, we can suspect that something might be wrong with him, psychologically. To excuse or defend his behavior, he claims he was raped by a mythical animal in the woods. It reminds me of the way a child might deal with a painful experience — by turning it into metaphor, confusing it with fantasy. Maybe Morrill was sexually molested by a monster in the woods. Maybe it was a monster that we can prove exists. Maybe we should consider that, before we run off to ask the expert opinion of an Internet “researcher” who can confirm a sick man’s deluded fantasies. And hey, while we’re at it? Maybe a gas station isn’t the best place to find “folks” who are trained in psychology.
I’m not in any way excusing Morrill’s behavior. He was convicted of the solicitation charge, and he’s facing a lot more. And I’m not saying we can’t laugh at people who take their Bigfoot obsessions seriously. I’m just asking that we ask for some actual journalistic integrity from our newscasters, and save the sideshow for the circus.