Mocking victim of bed bugs? Classy, Good Day Philadelphia, really classy

by nobugsonme on August 9, 2010 · 12 comments

in bed bugs, misinformation

Just when you thought that journalists were getting smarter about bed bugs, check out the mocking comment made about a bed bug victim by the male anchor on Philadelphia’s Fox 29 News, on the Good Day Philadelphia show. It happened during Dr. Mike’s segment today on Preventing Bed Bugs.

In this segment, “Dr. Mike” (Cirigliano, of the University of Pennsylvania) gives an introduction to bed bugs, shows a bed bug feces-stained mattress, issues a warning to college-bound students, and then (at about 2:07 in the video) shows viewers a widely-reproduced photo of a woman with a back and arms covered in bed bug bites. The woman is also overweight, which (I think) will become relevant in a moment.

If you’ve been around the bed bug internets for a while, you will surely recognize the photo in this screenshot from the Fox 29 segment:


The photo is unattributed by Fox 29, but a bit of sleuthing shows it to be a photo of Leslie Fox, who in 2006 filed a lawsuit after being bitten by bed bugs (and suffering a total of 500 bed bug bites) in a large Ellenville, NY hotel.*

Of the photo, Dr. Mike says, “This is a person that had a significant infestation and those are the rash, the little insect bites, and in some people it can cause a significant allergic reaction. Now, the good news, Michael-”

And Good Day co-host Michael (Jerrick) quips, “Is she seeing anybody?” And he laughs.

And there’s a brief, awkward pause. (Mike Jerrick’s co-host Sheinelle Jones and Dr. Mike are both smiling, but the silent pause tells me they’re a bit shocked.)

As these things tend to, the exchange happens very fast – so fast, most viewers probably miss it.   I actually hope I have misheard the remark, until Dr. Mike responds,

“You’re always such a parasite aren’t you?” (And then the trio laughs.)

There are other issues with this report, including the doctor’s comment that bed bugs are “basically just an annoyance” (because there isn’t a “significant transmission of infection” as with ticks and mosquitoes).

That statement shows a serious ignorance about the serious effects of bed bugs on one’s physical, mental, and financial health, and about the consequences of infestations which may go untreated indefinitely when people cannot pay to eliminate them.

But we’ve discussed that elsewhere. (As have the CDC, the World Health Organization [in this publication], and others.)

Here, I simply want to focus on the sheer idiocy of mocking someone whose photo is being used to “educate” viewers about bed bugs.

Now, I realize that morning television (on Fox, no less) is not generally a forum for serious journalism, and also that the channel wants to keep things light and fun during this timeslot – hence all of the joking.

However, I am astounded at the bone-headed, male chauvinist ignorance of this “journalist” who mocks a female bed bug victim. Because she’s 54, female, overweight, and covered in bed bug bites — on so many levels, Michael Jerrick seems to be suggesting — she’s not dateable.

This is insulting and completely inappropriate commentary.  As I said in an email to the Fox 29 Programming Department, this remark insults women, overweight people, and bed bug sufferers: in total, the majority of people in the United States.

It’s not funny, and it makes the network, the producers, and the presenters look really bad.

Shame on Mike Jerrick, and shame on Fox 29 for airing such a comment.

Watch the segment for yourself below:

*We do not know the outcome of this lawsuit, though when news of it broke in March 2006, it was reported that Leslie Fox and her husband returned to stay in the same section of the hotel later the same month; the Associated Press reported the hotel’s lawyer Joseph O’Connor commented in regard to that fact, “The claim for a $20 million injury is not substantiated by her willingness to stay in the same section of the hotel two weeks later.”  Any leads to an update would be welcomed.

1 diebbsdie August 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm

That anchor is the reason people are hesitant to come out about problems with bed bugs. They are afraid they will be ridiculed or made fun of.

He should apologize if for no other reason than karma coming back to exact revenge!

2 Darly August 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I know this is a bit of a side point, but they mentioned in the video and I just wanted to say that the bed bug dorm room protection that he talks about saved my butt. Me and my roommate got bedbug encasements and we didn’t get any bed bugs last year when our dorm had..
Definitely recommend.

3 Ratorja August 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

This whole segment just annoyed me. The anchors don’t really seem to be taking the issue seriously; the way they are speaking seems almost mocking to me. I am HIGHLY offended at the dating comment, not only am I overweight myself, but to make jokes about someone who was willing to share an intimate picture like that for the sake of science is pretty damn low.

I wish bed bugs were “just an annoyance”. Obviously spoken by people who have never had them, or frankly, probably haven’t known someone who has and known what people go through.

Also, the comment about seeing a doctor if you have a rash isn’t necessarily the best advice, because while they might be able to tell you if it’s something else, there is no real way to tell if a bite is from a bed bug.

Thanks for sharing this, nobugs.

4 nobugsonme August 9, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Hi Darly,

Thanks for your comment. The doctor mentions inspecting your mattress before you sleep in a room, which is a good idea in any new bed.

Bed bug encasements can be very helpful. However, they will not prevent you from getting bed bugs. If designed properly, they simply keep bed bugs from getting into (or out of) the mattress or box springs. (More on them in our Encasements page.)

It is important to know that you can still get bed bugs when using encasements. They can harbor on the outside of the encasement (which should be checked regularly) on the bed frame, in furniture or belongings, or in the structure of the room itself.

5 nobugsonme August 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for your comments, Ratorja and diebbsdie!

6 BillyMac August 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Nobugsonme…I have to defend my home town news and Mike Jerrick, who no doubt put his foot in his mouth, but as mentioned above, what more can you expect from the morning news. I’ve been watching this newcast from as far back as when Mike Jerrick was on Fox 29 during his first tour of duty. Having said that…I agree that for the folks involved in the battle of the bed bug, it is no joking matter.I have to agree with Ratorja in that they were making it sound like bed bugs were like flies at a pick nick, annoying! I was glad that it was brought to the attention of the viewers though as we have to pound the message into the community any way we can. Education will help us win the battle, well, one day. I enjoy your blog and wanted to post a quick “light hearted” comment back at ya from Philly.

7 nobugsonme August 9, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Thanks, BillyMac, for your kind words about the blog.

I am not sure this particular comment is defensible, but I do agree with the need for education all ’round.

8 spideyjg August 9, 2010 at 10:23 pm

What a dumbass. I do like the doctor calling him a parasite though. 🙂

9 nobugsonme August 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I agree, Jim.

I was grateful to hear Dr. Mike try and put Mike Jerrick in his place.

10 KillerQueen August 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm

You could tell from the start of the video that the anchor was just looking for an opening to start making jokes. He looks and sounds like a dope.

As for the “doctor” he has no credit with me either and should stick to medicine and leave the subject of bed bugs to the pest management professionals because he sounds like a clueless jerk as well.

I don’t expect people to ask me for advice on cancer so he should do the same. Looks like another doctor with a God complex to me. I wonder if he fixes his own brakes in the benz on the weekends … Lets hope so.

11 KillerQueen August 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Ok, maybe the last part was a bit harsh … Take the car to the shop .. I don’t wish you any harm.

12 Michelle August 10, 2010 at 5:29 am

I agree! Highly offensive and Jerrick obviously has his head up his you know what. As far as going to the doctor for diagnoses? I saw two doctors and was told I had poison ivy!!
The newscasters also haven’t a clue as to what it is like to deal with bed bugs. An annoyance? You have got to be kidding me!!! A pimple is an annoyance, or better yet, that news team is!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: