Pensacola Sheriff Reported To Abandon Claim of Ritual Wiccan Blue Moon Cult Killings – National Media Silent
At the beginning of this month, there was a nationwide media frenzy over reports from Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan down in Pensacola, Florida that three people had been ritually murdered by Wiccans as part of a Blue Moon ceremony. The evidence available to journalists gave significant reason to doubt the allegations, but most journalists who wrote articles on the story failed to address any critical questions, and most new editors simply chose to pass on sensationalist wire reports word for word. Self-appointed ritual murder expert Dawn Perlmutter jumped on the bandwagon without even going down to Pensacola to investigate the crime herself, saying that, if Sheriff Morgan said it was a ritual murder, then by gum, that’s what it was.
The result: Huge numbers of people believe that a ritual murder of three people was perpetrated by one or more Wiccans. They now believe that ritual murder is part of the Wiccan repertoire.
Yesterday, one local TV news reporter, Debbie Williams, published an article on her station’s web site explaining that, although Sheriff David Morgan’s officers have interviewed one person of interest three times, no one has been ruled out as a suspect or person of interest in the case of the triple murder of Voncile Smith, Richard Smith and John Smith. That means the Sheriff’s office doesn’t have enough evidence to warrant even targeting single person as a suspect in the crime.
One little line in the new article is devoted to the claims of ritual Wiccan murder that grabbed national attention: “Sheriff David Morgan calling it a ritualistic killing and going as far to say witchcraft was involved. He has since backed off that claim.”
So, Sheriff David Morgan no longer claims that this triple murder had anything to do with a ritual, by Wiccans or by anyone else. The allegations of a ritual Wiccan Blue Moon blood cult turn out to have been total rubbish.
Nobody in the national media is reporting this development.
The result: Huge numbers of people still believe that a ritual murder of three people was perpetrated by one or more Wiccans. They still believe that ritual murder is part of the Wiccan repertoire, and think that they have evidence.
Fear-mongering fakes like Dawn Perlmutter are partially to blame for this, but there will probably always be charlatans floating around the edges of society, pointing at people and shouting “Witch!” The greater responsibility rests with American journalists, who have allowed their profession to degrade largely into the chasing of clicks through the publication of sensationalist nonsense. They’ve become happy to release provocations, but don’t do the work of following through in a serious manner on these stories, to check facts and communicate to readers when provocative stories aren’t what they at first appear to be.
Journalism needs to develop some rituals procedures of its own. Prime among them must be the practice of staying around after opening a story with an explosive article to report what actually happens in the aftermath of the blast.