Disgusted.

I don’t know how much you know about hoarding, and honestly if I had to have a bumper sticker about my association with hoarding, it would say, “Everything I know about hoarding I learned from watching Hoarders on A&E.” That’s kind of wordy, so I’d probably have to buy a Hummer to fit my bumper sticker.

But what I’ve learned from watching Hoarders, which is really a documentary series on the pathological collecting behavior, is that it is a psychological problem. It is a devastating, life-destroying, family-destroying behavior that needs treatment — years and years of treatment to overcome, and even then, like drug addictions and alcohol addictions, there’s always the chance of relapse. These are mentally ill people. They don’t want to be like they are, but they don’t know how to NOT be like they are, and anyone who suffers from OCD or depression or mental illness can probably relate to that feeling.

Just save this ONE newspaper. And this one. And this one. And before you know it, you’re buried under six tons of newspapers. I have watched episodes in which a woman who regularly attended church and put on the appearances of normalcy, saved all of her urine and feces in jars and lived among tons and tons of trash in absolute life-threatening squalor. When her pastor learned of her living conditions, he wept.

I saw a man hoard hundreds and hundreds of rats when he couldn’t emotionally deal with his wife’s death.

I’ve seen families torn apart and hoarders choose their hoards over their children’s safety and well-being.

It take psychiatrists, therapists, “extreme cleaning specialists” and professional organizers to help a hoarder overcome their behavior. It is not a switch a hoarder chooses to flip.

So I’m just disgusted. Absolutely beyond disgusted with KDKA and Marty Griffin that they would choose to shame a hoarder in this way.

Marty Griffin: “Sir, do you have any intention of leaving, sir? Any intention at all of leaving? No, sir? What is going on in here, sir? Can you tell us at all?”

Now, first, this hoarder needs to leave. I agree. Like many hoarders, he will be forced to leave when the authorities come and take him away. What he is doing is illegal, staying beyond his lease, damaging property, and staying beyond the request to leave.

I get that. This situation is for the authorities, his family, the landlord, and hopefully the owner to work out. It’s her property. It’s her money.

This is NOT for KDKA to get involved in and say, “Look at this man. Look at him. Shame on him. Shame on his hoard. Shame on his junk. Look how he lives like an animal. What are you doing in there, sir? What’s going on in here, sir? Can you move your hand a bit so our viewing audience can see you for the animal you are? Does this shame make you want to leave? ”

What was accomplished here?

I think news stories should serve one of several purposes and I can’t see what purpose this story served other than to shame a troubled, mentally ill man.  At least the show Hoarders has the approval of the hoarder and the goal of course is to HELP the hoarder, which they do by providing treatment, continuing therapy, cleaning, hauling and more, for free. Sure they’re serving our reality-age voyeuristic desires by showing us what they do, but at least the troubled people are helped. Families are saved.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s shows like Hoarders that made Marty Griffin and KDKA think this was okay. Maybe we created this monster.

But what was the point, KDKA? Was it to persuade us to action? Well, I can’t imagine a news report is going to make a judge or police force move any faster. Are we the people going to grab our pitchforks and torches and run that man out of that apartment? If you wanted to incite his family to action to help him, there are ways to do that OTHER than shoving a camera into his face and asking ridiculous questions.

Marty talked to the county health department who indicated they’ll have a plan of action by tomorrow. Was that before or after Marty filmed the man? If it was before, then WHY GO FILM THE MAN? If it was after, then WHY AIR THE FOOTAGE AND THE STORY?!

Were you hoping to shame him into leaving? Shaming a hoarder will not make him stop hoarding or leave his hoard any more than shaming an alcoholic will make him stop drinking.

It wasn’t an entertaining story. It wasn’t useful in any way. It didn’t teach my anything. It didn’t explain to me what purpose it hoped to serve.

It was shoddy journalism that accomplished nothing other than giving Marty Griffin a chance to stand up on his tall, self-built pedestal and shove a microphone and a camera down into the face of a desperate man sitting sadly at rock bottom.

I’m absolutely disgusted and it’s a sad day when a journalist disgusts me more than a man living among 6 tons of garbage.





53 Comments

  1. Julie
    February 28, 2012 7:57 am

    In my opinion, its just the way the media is today. They LOVE to focus on the stories that’ll get ‘em ratings, and they don’t care who they run over or humiliate to get them. Remember the story about the Brentwood/Monessen game? Every major station ran that story. On the other side, this past Saturday the Brentwood community (as well as lots of other really great people) came together to celebrate the lives of two people we lost in December to cancer. Drop the Puck on Cancer was an amazing success and raised over $50K for the Duttine-Cavataio Memorial Fund and guess how many news crews showed up to chronicle it? Zero. Every major news station was contacted numerous times about getting some publicity for the event and there was zero interest. Because we all know feel good stories don’t sell advertising. It’s all the crime and the smut and the disease that sells……



    • Dave
      February 28, 2012 12:37 pm

      There were children there in banana suites! It is 2012 and at least two families in Brentwood have raised their kids to think it is OK to be racist. Racist to the point that the rolled banana suites. I’m sorry, but that is news every day of the week. Maybe because of the acceptance of racism in town you live in- banana suite acceptance- you don’t think this is news. To the rest of the sane world, it’s news.

      And yes, hoarders are people too. I have like 500 of them living in my garage.



      • Julie
        February 28, 2012 1:32 pm

        Dave, first of all, I never said it WASN’T news. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t surprised to hear of the allegations, as I know from growing up in the borough that something like that would be possible. The purpose of bringing up the story was to point out that news channels are always willing to jump on the negative, sensationalistic stories with gusto, and yet they ignore the good news, like a whole community pulling together to support two of its families that suffered a horrible loss. This event that no one talked about started out as a bunch of friends who wanted to organize a small street hockey tournament in honor of one of their fallen classmates, who was a lover of street hockey himself. It then blossomed into a full day event with over 50 gift baskets donated by businesses, families, and graduating classes for a chinese auction, as well as a bake sale, spaghetti dinner and a fully staffed kids activity room for the entire day. The gift baskets had things like Kindle’s and signed hockey memorabilia, a flat screen tv, an Xbox, etc….a very impressive inventory! All of this because a couple of alumni wanted to honor and help their friend’s families. Yet we got not one glance from the major TV networks. Because the big story is the bad stuff, never the good. Like I said before, its exactly why I don’t watch the news anymore.



    • Ben
      February 28, 2012 3:26 pm

      Which is why I hope you will pay closer attention to publications like Pittsburgh Quarterly, which try to go in-depth. Pick up a copy.



  2. Butcher's Dog
    February 28, 2012 8:24 am

    Isn’t this pretty much Griffin’s M.O., though? It’s pretty much how he made his reputation and got the KDKA slot, right? I also agree with Julie; the whole 24/7 news cycle (and KD having three hours to fill in the afternoon/evening) has created the demand for this type of product. I usually think it must be a slow news day when we get more of this than anything else.

    If it’s any consolation, the 24/7 cable news channels are even worse. CNN runs constantly at the gym I use down here in SC; they have the entire country to roam to find stuff to fill the time and it shows. Kind of makes you wonder what things would have been like if this system had existed back in “the day”. I’m thinking primarily of the extra-marital exploits of notables from JFK to Mickey Mantle, but I’m sure there were others. What I’m not sure of is that we’re better off now than we were then.



  3. Gina
    February 28, 2012 8:26 am

    It’s sad. I have a hoarder in my family – not the kind that is in danger of being crushed under the weight of the crap. and not the kind that keeps ACTUAL crap and garbage. but someone who has so much stuff in her house that she hasn’t allowed anyone to visit for years. And it scares me because I am really her only relative that is younger, which means that someday it might be my responsibility.



  4. Rick
    February 28, 2012 8:36 am

    This is from a little over five years ago.

    Marty Griffin is a pox on society. He’s Maury Povich given a legitimate outlet. Shame on KDKA for not curbing this self-righteous asshat when they had the chance.



  5. Donn Nemchick
    February 28, 2012 8:44 am

    I continue to wonder how Mr. Griffin can remain on both radio and T.V. – his “game” is very lame and he tends to be overly self rightous. He is unprofessional and rude to his callers, has an obnoxious on air presence, often snorting or bellowing into the mike and having one side on air conversations with his producer “T” which makes for bad radio. I guess Dallas’s loss was our gain – I have my doubts.



    • unsatisfied
      February 28, 2012 4:11 pm

      while perhaps the above is true…..if you can detail his antics this much, you must be listening.



  6. bluzdude
    February 28, 2012 9:00 am

    TV News will never go broke producing stories designed to make their viewers feel superior to the unfortnuate people that end up in the story. Which is sad.



  7. spoon
    February 28, 2012 9:12 am

    My question is if the guy doesn’t have a lease how has he been able to live there without being arrested for trespassing? When I was a renter I saw people getting evicted for not paying rent in 2 months. Doors got padlocked.



  8. P.O.
    February 28, 2012 9:33 am

    Somewhere, someday, someone will punch Marty Griffin directly in the face (hopefully more than once)….. and joy will be felt around the region.



  9. lovesnorthside
    February 28, 2012 9:55 am

    marty griffin is trash, pure and simple. i am embarrassed for pittsburgh when i see him; i am embarrassed for kdka for encouraging his behavior. be it a priest, a murderer or a hoarder, his schtick is the same everytime, sometimes with disastrous results.



  10. PicaU
    February 28, 2012 10:24 am

    This is very, very sad both for this poor man and the state of what passes for journalism these days. I work with Pittsburgh news outlets on a very consistent basis, and can tell you without hesitation that most pander to the lowest common denominator. There are a handful (a small handful, mind you) of news directors, assignment editors and reporters that truly are journalists. The rest are talking heads that follow the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. TV stations here in Pittsburgh are by far worse than our newspapers…grab the lowest hanging branch and run with it. Truth be dammed, we’ll apologize later (if we do at all)…but most importantly, how much controversy did I potentially create??

    Unfortunately, I have to deal with these people, and luckily I like the other parts of my job, but I have refused to continue to watch any local newscast anymore. Sickening.



  11. Julie
    February 28, 2012 10:28 am

    I can’t even remember the last time I sat through more than 5 minutes of a newscast, usually just to see the weather forecast, or a sports story. That’s about all they are good for…and maybe not even then!



  12. SteelCityMagnolia
    February 28, 2012 10:48 am

    I would bet that Griffin will be there with microphone in hand when the health department puts their plan in action, further humiliating a man who obviously has some very serious mental issues.

    I agree, Ginny. This report left me absolutely disgusted. But not about a man living in an apartment filled with trash. Putting someone’s mental illness on public display is nothing more than bullying. Holding a microphone and putting it all on camera doesn’t make it any less so.



  13. bucdaddy
    February 28, 2012 10:52 am

    I think the same about the news value of most of what appears on TV “news.” I mean, you have a metropolitan area of what, a couple million people? Even, for instance, routine crashes and fatal wrecks can’t possibly have a direct impact on more than a relative handful of folks out of those millions. So why are you leading with this story that can’t possibly be of interest to 99.99% of your viewing audience?

    Because you have an hour and a half to two hours to fill, I guess.

    My God, if they ever took just ONE newscast and did a full investigation of some aspect of your city, county or state government, shined a light in a dark corner, maybe it would never get to the point where Pennsylvania is sending the (former) speaker of the House and several of his colleagues to prison.



  14. PA Girl in VA
    February 28, 2012 11:02 am

    The big problem with mentally ill adults (regardless of the illness) is that it is hard to force them into treatment. Unless they have actually harmed themselves or others (or attempted to do so), there is not much their families or society can do. One of the most enlightening, yet frustrating, courses I ever took in college was “Psychology and the Law”, which taught how the legal system deals with the mentall ill; it ain’t pretty.

    I agree that this reporter is disgusting; shame is NEVER a proper tactic to get positive results from another person. Shame only makes people feel worse about themselves and will usually make the negative behavior worse.



    • Cassie
      February 28, 2012 11:29 am

      The huge problem here is that a lot of long term Psychiatric care units are being closed down. Ever since Mayview closed, we’ve been having a huge backlash of mentally ill with no support our outreach. It’s truly sad. We’re not trained nor equipped to take care of them in an acute care setting. Shame on our government for letting the ball drop on those who need help the most.

      Western Psych can hardly handle all the fall back, too. It’s truly sad.



  15. RichD
    February 28, 2012 11:12 am

    We can’t blame the news broadcasts for giving people what they want to see. Shows like Hoarders and stories like this one are just modern day side shows. All that’s missing is the barker encouraging people to see the two-headed snake and bearded lady. The news used to be public service, now it’s a business and this is what sells.



  16. efw_west
    February 28, 2012 11:33 am

    Marty should have been removed from the air after his “story” on the minister that led to a suicided. What a putz that guy is.



  17. Karen
    February 28, 2012 11:43 am

    Marty Griffin and KDKA are disgraceful. Let’s all stop writing on Ginny’s blog, and take our words directly to KDKA management, calling for an end to this type of humiliation, and an end to Marty Griffin. Hasn’t he harmed enough people? Call now! 412-575-2200.



    • Ben
      February 28, 2012 3:18 pm

      That’s how you do it, Karen! Great idea.



    • Calamity Jane
      February 29, 2012 12:18 pm

      412-575-2249 will get you Marty at KDKA. He gives it out all the time on his radio show.



      • JBE
        February 29, 2012 2:49 pm

        I’m not sure calling Marty is the best idea. He loves the attention. Call the station and complain. Tell them you are turning of their station as long as Marty is on. THAT will drive them to act.



  18. AngryMongo
    February 28, 2012 12:39 pm

    But with shows, like Hoarders, at what point is it more about ratings than helping people? Yeah, it’s pointing out a legitimate problem that plagues a part of our society, and it serves to try to help the people in the stories. At the end of the day, though, it gives us fodder to talk about with our friends and coworkers. It’s titilating. “OMG, look at how much crap they have. I’ll bet there’s a dead cat under that pile of empty Hungry Man boxes!”

    Look at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. That show began sourcing the most dire stories they could find. It was even exposed on Smoking Gun that the producers compiled a wish list of diseases, hardships, and adversities.



    • Trish
      February 28, 2012 7:28 pm

      I bet the unit owner called KDKA. The linked article said she’d been after this guy for a while and she probably thought getting it on TV would speed things up. Stuff like this doesn’t pop up out of the blue and no reporter is going to miss an opportunity. And an eviction notice is news if it’s someone getting evicted because there’s six tons of garbage in the place and the guy has a history.

      Reality shows are indeed the modern version of freak shows. “Look at the hoarder/fattie/poor family whose kid has cancer/’celebrity’ trying to dance or skate or sing”, etc. Everyone seems to love a good trainwreck, and local news has always known this.



  19. Sooska
    February 28, 2012 12:40 pm

    A number of years ago KDKA ran an “investigation,” based on rumors, about the private life of local preacher. It turned out he was gay and having an affair. They decided this was must-see TV for KD Country and outed the guy on local TV. The upshot of this public’s right-to-know was that this poor shamed man committed suicide. KDKA shrugged and said “oh well. too bad. we aren’t responsible.” They should be so righteous about corruption, the recent property assessments and myriad other topics and subject those to an “investigation.”



    • Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
      February 28, 2012 5:59 pm

      I don’t think they actually aired the story. My recollection – and I think the article references this as well – is that the suicide took place while the teaser promos were running and after the suicide, KDKA decided not to run the story. My limited dealings with Griffin have not been good at all. This is why I rarely watch the news, local or otherwise.



  20. Dan (Not Onorato)
    February 28, 2012 12:45 pm

    Yeah…if Marty is going to do shock news, he may as well be in the same category as Springer, Montel and Richard Bey. Yeah I went Richard Bey early…WHAT!?!

    BAH…Get off my lawn!



  21. Kevin
    February 28, 2012 1:32 pm

    What is wrong with this ? I don’t get it. The owner wants her asset back, and the guy trashed it. The man doesn’t even have a lease and he has a history of doing the same thing. And people are upset at the reporter??? Maybe the next landlord doesn’t get burned due to this report. The renter/squatter needs help no doubt, but why is a hard working person going to have to foot the bill? Doesn’t she/landlord deserve to be protected? If using the media to do so gets it done so be it. Maybe this guy can rent a room at Las Velas. The media can be trashy but I do not se that here. This story should make you mad but not for the reasons brought up here.



    • RichD
      February 28, 2012 2:34 pm

      Because the story isn’t news. A tenant getting evicted isn’t news. The landlord has every right to evict him. The only reason it’s news is that the renter has a “hot” problem. If I were getting evicted, the news wouldn’t show up on my doorstep unless I was a hillbilly-handfishin-hoarder with a parasitic twin that was pregnant and didn’t know it.

      To protect himself, the next landlord should check references and do a credit check, not watch b-roll of news tapes.



      • Kevin
        February 29, 2012 8:12 am

        Refereneces and a credit check would not have helped as this guy was allowed to move in by the initial renter after the renter moved out. The landlord didn’t know. I do believe it is a story, regardless of the squatters mental issues since he has a long history of doing the same thing but has not been helped, stopped or assisted while property owners investments deteriorate. Who actually got hurt here? The squatter? No. The property owner, hell yea. I am not defending the reporter, but to hang him and not address the wrongs being done to property owners when there is a history is putting your head in the sand. So he should not be stopped?



        • RichD
          February 29, 2012 2:13 pm

          I didn’t see the story, so I didn’t realize it was a sublet/squatter situation, but I still don’t believe it is newsworthy. I think it made it on the news because of the mental issues, not regardless of them.

          An expose of squatting as a whole is news. With the rate of foreclosures, I’m sure it’s a growing problem and it would be helpful to tell people what they could look out for and where to report squatters. I could even see this case being used as a ‘worst-case-scenario’ and would be fine with it.



    • Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
      February 28, 2012 6:03 pm

      It’s an eviction proceeding. Nothing more. It’s not news. Happens every day. The owner has lots of options, including going after the previous tenant who likely entered into an illegal sublet (which I’m surmising because the landlord indicated that she was unaware this gentleman was occupying the premises.



  22. KGC
    February 28, 2012 1:35 pm

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I will continue to say – Marty Griffin is a blow-hard, a nobody, a suck-up with limited knowledge. Everything is “SIGNIFICANT!” as in “This is SIGNIFICANT!”



  23. mike
    February 28, 2012 2:38 pm

    The most depressing thing about Marty Griffin is that he somehow hoodwinked the cutest of all local newscasters, Kristine Sorensen, to marry him. He must have some dirt on her.



  24. Ben
    February 28, 2012 3:17 pm

    Local TV news tends to be bad throughout the country. But, it is VERY bad here. I can’t even watch it. I would not know about this story without this blog because I can’t bring myself to turn on the local news.



  25. celeryan
    February 28, 2012 4:15 pm

    This is an excellent example of why I NEVER watch KDKA news and haven’t for over 15 years.



  26. Linda Grimm
    February 28, 2012 5:36 pm

    I used to listen to Marty but his format was always the same; proud to say I have stopped listening to KDKA radio and now listen to NPR; unbiased and informative for the most part.



  27. Leenyburgh
    February 28, 2012 5:59 pm

    Thank you for ranting against Marty Griffin, someone I’ve had very little respect for over the years. That’s why I don’t watch local news… I read it.



  28. kelli
    February 28, 2012 6:32 pm

    But somehow, KDKA had to be clued into this story – it isn’t like reporters routinely check the eviction hearings. But how? Did the landlord call? The family? Someone thinking “if we contact the media, something will get done?” Part of what keeps people like Marty Griffith going is the public contacting the stations to get coverage for their pet stories. Just like the high ratings for shows like “Hoarders” make make this a hot topic and feed into people like Griffith covering a story like this.

    Also, agreed with the backlash caused by the closing of long-term care facilities. It dates way back before Mayview. A lot of the closures were done under the guise of giving rights back to the mentally ill – without thought or planning of how they can use and enjoy those rights.



    • Calamity Jane
      February 29, 2012 12:27 pm

      The landlord or someone close to the landlord may have a friend or relative inside KDKA. Many stories are pursued/aired because of undisclosed personal connections to “the inside”.



  29. Joe
    February 28, 2012 7:10 pm

    I’m with the majority here. The guy obviously has issues, picking on him like he’s some punk vandal isn’t helping. And, ditto, I’ve always thought Marty was a d**k.



  30. JBE
    February 29, 2012 2:54 pm

    I turned from KDKA to another channel when they teased this story. Marty Griffin has no shame, and KDKA aught to be ashamed for keeping him on the air, especially on the regular news. He is no different than any fake news guy on the radio, spewing venom in one sided, poorly researched, inaccurate rant-fests. I don’t like him, but I get that it “sells.” But to have him on what is supposed to be actual news broadcasts just diminishes the credibility of their entire news team.



  31. JBE
    February 29, 2012 3:39 pm

    ought. KDKA ought to be ashamed. I personally AM ashamed that I spelled that aught. Chalk it up to my disappointment that aughty-aught never caught on as a moniker for the year 2000.



  32. Steverino
    March 1, 2012 9:18 am

    This isn’t surprising. Marty Griffin has to go after ratings to please KDKA’s customers – advertisers. TV “journalism” has absolutely nothing to do with serving the public. It’s all consultant-driven drivel to get eyeballs to watch and the ratings are measured in 15 miinute increments. The more eyes, the higher the advertsing rates.

    I agree that Griffin’s act is all about him, and I can’t believe that he still has a job after the minister’s sucide.