This is for all of you haters out there who kept insisting this rather tall, awkward writer would never amount to anything. Oh, yeah? Well, I made the Weekly World News.
You have to understand, Weekly World News is the Holy Grail of tabloid journalism. They're the crazy folks who gave us the "Bat Boy" series of stories, the "Dick Cheney is a Robot!" shocker, and my particular favorite: "Elvis dead at 58." (Oh, sure. Everybody and his dog was doing the "Elvis is still alive" stories, but only WWN thought to kill him off a second time, 16 years later. Pure genius.)
Weekly World News is basically the National Enquirer, only without all that journalistic integrity. Whereas the National Enquirer would run stories like "Late 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini had planned to divorce, begging his ex-wife to reunite," the Weekly World News would spin it more along the lines of "Late 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini realizes he's gay and hires space aliens to kill his wife, but in a cruel twist of fate the assassin's ray gun missed its intended target and killed the Tony Soprano actor instead."
See what I mean? WWN makes the National Enquirer look positively New York Times-ish by comparison.
So imagine my excitement when Weekly World News editors seemingly stole my story.
Last week, WWN ran a story by someone named Tap Vann under the headline "BIGFOOT SKULL FOUND." The article talked about how an Idaho scientist named Ralph Barnkopf stopped by the West Coast offices of Weekly World News to show off a Bigfoot skull he found in the woods outside Boise.
Saaaay, I wrote a story about a Bigfoot skull, too. My article talked about how a Utah private investigator named Todd May stopped by the offices of the Standard-Examiner to show off a Bigfoot skull he found in the woods near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.
And the similarities between this tale of two Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) don't end there. Because, clearly, one of us lifted entire quotes from the other's story. Quotes like ...
WWN STORY: "I was looking for some fossils," the 69-year-old "semi-retired" anthropologist told WWN, "and I was kind of drawn to something in the ground." It was a rock, sticking up out of the dirt. "So I went and dug it out, and you couldn't tell what it was 'cause the head was face down; all you could see was the back of it," he said. "But when I dug it out you could see the face, perfect."
S-E STORY: "I was looking for some fossils," the 49-year-old "semi-retired" private investigator explains, "and I was kind of drawn to something in the ground." It was a rock, sticking up out of the dirt. "So I went and dug it out, and ..." Well, you get the idea.
Ooh, how eerie is that? A 69-year-old "semi-retired" anthropologist and a 49-year-old "semi-retired" private investigator just happen to have the exact same experience -- right down to the very words they use to describe their discoveries. Several other quotes in the two stories were verbatim, including the final paragraph of both. And on top of that, WWN photoshopped the dickens out of Standard-Examiner photographer Nick Short's portrait of Mr. May.
How does one explain such amazing coincidences? Well, if we were to reduce it to dueling headlines, the Standard-Examiner would probably go with something like: "Unethical tabloid rag plagiarizes S-E Bigfoot story.
And the Weekly World News' take?
"Anthropologist, private eye corroborate concrete existence of Bigfoot."
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.