Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 26th, 2008
The online edition of Newsweek has published their version of the Georgia Bigfoot hoax incident and its aftermath, here. (I have not been close enough to a newstand up here in the mountains of NH to see if any of the newsmagazines have the story in their print editions yet.)
First, as an overall observation, what I am finding intriguing is that, according to this media giant’s take on the whole thing, it isn’t the press and news organizations that are having a reaction to this hoax, but that “Bigfoot hunters” who have a bad taste in their mouths from the event.
Calling the story “The Sasquatch Sequel,” Newsweek says the “Bigfoot hunters are still reeling from the latest hoax, but some scientists keep the faith.”
The article’s first sentence sets up the national magazine’s non-reflective view of things immediately: “These are hard times for Bigfoot believers, a human subspecies that includes a fairly hairy collection of fantasists, charlatans, grifters and fools.”
Then the publication quotes from a “a small coterie of serious scientists interested in the possibility.”
The three who are quoted are Jeff Meldrum, Matt Moneymaker, and Loren Coleman, who ironically are the very three people who the hoaxers and Tom Biscardi made fun of in their YouTube videos and news conference. Newsweek probably did not know this, and it is an intriguing sidebar to the history of this whole fiasco.
Jeff Meldrum was quoted as saying: “It’s aggravating that a person like [Biscardi] garners the press because of sensationalism. There are certainly activities that are laughable. But there are also those that are attempting to legitimize a very serious inquiry into the possible existence of a relic population of great ape. This is my odyssey, this is my quest.”
Matt Moneymaker told the magazine: “This kind of stuff discredits what we’re trying to do and has ticked off a lot of people.”
The paragraph mentioning my quotation reads: “‘It very much sets us back, but it also teaches us a lesson and shows us we need to think ahead,’ says Loren Coleman, a zoologist and consultant to such TV shows as NBC’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ and the Discovery Channel’s ‘In the Unknown.’ But Coleman’s Sasquatch-centric Web site, Cryptomundo.com, crashed when it got 5 million hits the hour after he posted a picture of the Georgia creature slumped in a freezer. The next day traffic was up to 13 million hits every 10 minutes, proof that Bigfoot curiosity will not die even if the creature never lived.”
(Needless to say, I would never claim to be a “zoologist,” and the reporter and I talked of me being a “cryptozoologist.” Some copyeditor must have thought “cryptozoologist” was a typo in the reporter’s copy. OMG.)
Despite the following passages, the magazine never self-examines the media:
“Yet because Biscardi had the audacity to promise DNA evidence, photos, and even video of Bigfoot creatures lurking in the woods, some 50 media outlets flocked to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Palo Alto, Calif., on Aug. 15 for the press conference that Biscardi had set up: ABC, CBS, The Associated Press … NEWSWEEK.
“By the end of the day, this latest installment in the Bigfoot saga was the most-viewed story on MSNBC and CNN.com, which carried live coverage of the 45-minute conference that Friday afternoon. But, then, despite the excitement, the proof proved nonexistent. The pictures were laughable. There was no video. And the DNA evidence? It came back possum. ‘It means he’d probably eaten one,’ insisted Biscardi, who at the time had taken the Georgians under his wing but now says he plans to sue them for fraud. Their lawyer says they were the ones who were duped as Biscardi spun their little joke into a national news event.”
Instead, Newsweek would end up concluding “the search for Bigfoot will remain part sensationalist commercialism and part legitimate scientific research,” by those “Bigfoot believers, [who are] a fairly hairy collection of fantasists, charlatans, grifters and fools.”
(I’ll talk some more about this tonight on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.)