Monday, January 11, 2010


There’s been some outrageous reporting and rumor-mongering around Colt’s story. Mythologizing that always happens around an outlaw character like this is entertaining (Colt’s seven feet tall; he’s the spawn of D.B. Cooper and a female sasquatch; he winters in the Pakistani mountains hunting Osama Bin Laden). But bad reporting isn’t.

Many published stories have gotten facts and timelines wrong — no big deal unless you’re into facts and accuracy. The rankest piece of feckless and nearly fact-less reporting I’ve seen so far comes from this article in England’s The Sunday Times. I'd say it was only good for fish wrap, but you wouldn't want to stink up your fish by putting it inside this rag. There’s no byline to the story, which should tell you something. Maybe Rupert Murdoch wrote it himself.

I’ll be posting some of my favorite lines from the story along with some fact-checking by me because I think Colt's story is compelling enough without the bullshit. Here's the first:

“His [Colt's] weakness is pizzas, which he asks to be delivered at the edge of the woods.”

Uh, no. Sure, Colt loves pizza like every other sauce-blooded American teenager, but he doesn’t have them delivered to the woods. Has anyone ever tried asking Papa John to drop off a sausage and pepperoni to the third oak tree south of the bridge? This bunkum is derived from combining the factual story about one of the times Colt got arrested with, I assume, way too much lager.

The Island County police came to his mom’s property looking for Colt during one of his first times on the lam and they found a tent set up under the cedar trees. Pizza boxes were piled in the campsite. The next time they drove down the gravel road in front of the property, they saw the local pizza guy. They stopped him, and when he said he was making a delivery to Colt’s mom, they took the pizza and borrowed the delivery guy’s jacket, which one of the cops put on over his uniform. He knocked on the trailer door, and… whaddayaknow, Colt answered. On went the cuffs.

I asked Colt's mom, Pam, about that night. “I actually told the cops that it had been a good idea,” she said. “I had to hand it to them: They got him that time.”

As a side note related to tasty, tasty ‘za: Somehow a rumor started on Colt’s Facebook site that he’d been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing two slices of pizza. The amount of detail was incredible: “Dude, he didn’t even get to eat it!”

Totally untrue. Colt was sentenced to three years in juvenile prison after he plead guilty to three out of 23 counts of burglary and possession of stolen property — none of which were slices of pizza. The stuff included cameras, jewelry, remote-control toys and computer equipment.

Next up on the BS meter:

“Colt thanks his victims by leaving them notes and cheeky photographs of himself.”

And if you haven't read the full feature story in Outside Magazine yet, check it out. The Ballad of Colton Harris-Moore.

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