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So why isn’t the media—which was so quick to call for the head of the missing 16 year-old girl—jumping down Michael Schreck’s throat? How much did the search for Schreck cost? How come the media isn’t howling for answers?

Good questions. This story didn't smell right even while he was missing. Wonder what it's all about?

Posted by BD | May 23, 2007 10:02 AM

It's different when 16 year old girls go missing than when 47 year old men go missing. Maybe it shouldn't be, but it is. Such is life.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | May 23, 2007 10:02 AM

So what you're saying is, It’s Time For Somebody Somewhere To Do A Story on Michael Schreck.

Posted by another open letter to "the media" | May 23, 2007 10:08 AM

No, what I'm saying is...

A teenage girl stages her own disappearance, a massive search is launched, and then when she's found safe and sound at Northgate Mall--well, as safe as you can be at Northgate Mall--there are calls for her head, for her family to pay for the search, etc.

An adult man--a man who should know better--goes missing under very suspicious circumstances, a search of the same size and scope is launched, and then he emerges with a barely credible story. And... we're not even going to pester him with questions? No one calls bullshit on his story, or insists that he should pay for the search?

Shouldn't, at 47, the missing running ostensibly know better, and be held to a higher standard?

Posted by Dan Savage | May 23, 2007 10:15 AM

I think anyone who goes missing and comes out of it alive, regardless of the reasons sans kidnapping, should have to pay at least part of the cost of the search since THEY were at least partially at fault for getting "lost" in the first place. As for legal persecution, I don't really care.

Posted by monkey | May 23, 2007 10:20 AM

look, can't a guy disappear for a weekend for a meth-fueled gay sex orgy without everyone making such a big deal about it?

Posted by el ganador | May 23, 2007 10:21 AM

Dan, Must I keep reminding you: YOU'RE THE MEDIA! Guess I must.

Posted by Black Rose | May 23, 2007 10:25 AM

The disappearance of a pretty white woman inflames our emotions. The disppearance of an average looking 47 year old man does not. Also, we're more cynical now. In 2002, people believed in the Great Leader and his ability to lead the nation to victory against Al-Qaeda allied Iraq. In 2007, all but a third of the country is acutely more aware that people lie, and hey, we're embroiled in economic decline, an endless war, growing fascism, a militant Christianist movement, and America Idol. Who has time to care?

Posted by Gitai | May 23, 2007 10:28 AM

The debate of charging people for search and rescue is quite animated. The argument is that if you charge anyone, you should charge everyone, since the decision process is virtually guaranteed to produce lawsuits by those charged with a bill. And if you charge for rescue, it will detract some who really need it from seeking rescue.

I live in Issaquah, and am super pissed that time and money was wasted on this bonehead. He is either a faker or mentally ill- I was out in the rain on Sunday, and there's no way he would have survived for three days out there unconscious.

I would like to know what really happened, but only out of a mixed sense of outrage and voyeurism. He and his family really don't have to tell us anything. If my wife disappeared this way, I wouldn't hold any news conferences after she got back.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2007 10:29 AM

Plus, the guy seems like an asshole when you meet him.

Posted by Angry Andrew | May 23, 2007 10:30 AM

Yes, but we're not the media that crapped its pants over the missing girl in 2002. And, hey, I did post about this. But I'm wondering if Jamieson, et all, are going to give this middle-aged man the same drubbing they gave that teenage girl. And if not, why not?

Posted by Dan Savage | May 23, 2007 10:31 AM

Was the missing teenage girl attractive? That could be part of it right there.

Also, bring 16 is still being a child, and the media loves a missing child. So do I, too. Until they're found, I mean.

Posted by Jason Josephes | May 23, 2007 10:51 AM

Take a deep breath, Dan. We only just heard this morning that he is alive.

Give it a couple of days. Or at least 24 hours. See if the media doesn't jump down his throat.

You might be right about the media giving him a pass. Or you might be wrong. I think it is a little early to be leaping to conclusions.

Posted by SDA in SEA | May 23, 2007 10:54 AM

yeah...just wait. This shithead will get his. When I saw the headlines of the paper this morning I knew for sure this dude was up to something. Hmmmmm.....

Posted by Rotten666 | May 23, 2007 11:00 AM

Dan, aren't you the editor of a newspaper? Can't you sick one of your reporters on the story? If you guys are afraid to come out to Issaquah, I can give you directions. We won't infect you with our Eastsidedness.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2007 11:01 AM

@13: He came home Monday evening, and I heard yesterday that he was alive. In our ADD news culture, that's a long delay for the pounce.

Posted by Aislinn | May 23, 2007 11:02 AM

Well Dan, the thing is, when a pert 16 year old girl goes missing it’s a media sensation. Think Natalee Holloway. The public mind goes to images of virginal nubile pubescence being brutally violated and raped, mutilated and dismembered by an unhinged psychotic man. When a past his prime 47 year old married man goes missing it’s not a media sensation, it’s a curiosity. Think… a, well, you can’t really come up with any one as the prototypical example because no one cares enough to remember their names. The public mind goes to images of joggers being hauled off a trail by a mountain lion, or crumpling over from a heart attack, or just skipping out on their wives. You see, the public may actively worry about the girl (and immediately conjures up frightening images of her male assailant), but is at best curious about the man (and wonders “what” happened, not “who” did it). The “Media” (or at least the more commercially successful elements there of) know which story to run with, to milk, and to rehash and who to pillory when it turns out to be a scam.

That’s not to say I don’t think there is a story here (of a very base tabloid sort) for an investigative reporter to uncover. Do you have any of those on staff? Just not sure you can count on it to be very titillating. No obvious emotionally appealing victim…

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | May 23, 2007 11:07 AM

It hasn't occurred to them yet.

It's only been a couple days since he resurfaced. Plus, he went as far as to fabricate a whole story, which will buy him some time before someone gets aorund to telling the gullible rubes that inhabit our fine city that he's full of shit.

Posted by Gomez | May 23, 2007 11:09 AM

The angle to the Stranger story could be sort of a Stepford Wives / Invasion of the Body Snatchers "See how suburban consumerism drives people insane."

Even better- figure out if he's a commuter! Then you can blame it on the commuting culture. Show that tearing down the viaduct will reduce this sort of thing.

It's not titilation, but it would sure sell in the city.

Posted by Big Sven | May 23, 2007 11:11 AM

It's like the Michael Bolton character in "Office Space" ... Mr. Schreck had a perfectly fine last name until a Hollywood studio came along and named a giant cartoonish Ogre after him ... how could you help but be depressed about that?

Posted by D Huygens | May 23, 2007 11:13 AM

Sixteen-year-olds of either sex like attention. When a 16 year old goes fake missing and it turns out to be bullshit, the assumption (and it’s a fair assumption) is that the kid was trying to get attention. When a 47 year old dude goes fake missing the assumption is that he was up to no good, had no intention of being reported missing, panicked when he was reported missing and was simply unable to come up with a viable cover story. Or at least those are my assumptions—and I’d expec them to be yours. Your ECB-like throat-clearing here seems a little out of character.

Posted by Judah | May 23, 2007 11:13 AM

I think the media pretty much jumped on this story too. It was everywhere. Covers of both dailies for days, all over the TV news. It was covered as if he were a teenage girl. Now that he's back with a fishy story about where he was... isn't it only fair that we cover his return as if he were a teenage girl?

Posted by Dan Savage | May 23, 2007 11:20 AM

Dan, Your new found obsession with teenage girls is kind of unsettling...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | May 23, 2007 11:27 AM

"The cost of the search for Schreck was negligible,[King County Sheriff Sgt. John] Urquhart said. It involved about a half-dozen deputies who would have been on duty anyway, he said, and the other searchers weren't being paid.

"It wasn't enough that we'd tabulate it," Urquhart said."

-from this morning's Seattle Times

Posted by Roboti | May 23, 2007 11:28 AM

I'd like to be covered like a teenage girl.

Posted by JC | May 23, 2007 11:29 AM

Uh, no. Because, see, teenagers are wards of adults. So when a teenager goes missing, they’re actually missing from someone’s custody. When an adult goes missing, it’s possible that the adult just decided to leave without telling anyone and that is part of an adult’s prerogative. It’s not necessarily a good idea, but the basic assumptions of the situation are different. Also, adults have financial resources that teenagers don’t, so, again, the givens of the situation are different. It’s much easier, from a practical standpoint, for an adult to just get on a Greyhound and leave than it is for a teenager. And so on. Applying some kind of weird fairness doctrine ignores the fact that the legal and financial realities of being a teenager are different from those of being an adult-- the tendency of the press to hype certain stories notwithstanding.

Posted by Judah | May 23, 2007 11:30 AM

I think if he's making up stories he should go for the completely fantastical:

"I stumbled into an alternate reality, where I could take rapid transit from Issaquah into Downtown Seattle, where I spent the weekend frolicking on the open, highway-free waterfront, and cavorting in the Seattle Commons park, while later riding the monorail out to West Seattle, to watch as President Gore gave an update on his successful Global Climate Change Act."

Posted by el ganador | May 23, 2007 11:35 AM

I feel like if Jennifer Wilbanks had to pay restitution, then people who similarly stage their disappearances should also. It's about lying to the cops.

Posted by Andy | May 23, 2007 11:40 AM

I thought I read a story in the P-I yesterday about this very topic. Or was it the Times? Oh heck, I just can't remember what I read in that two newspaper town!

Nevertheless, stories have been written.

But how much more can you do? The guy wasn't caught standing in line for a soft pretzel at the mall. He wasn't caught doing anything, in fact. So should a journalist, who is most likely fairly busy in the first place, waste more time on some guy's personal life?

Granted hundreds of people helped search for him and money was spent as well. Answers are deserved - but really, what more can be done?

Should a journalist stand on his door step every day for a week? A month? A year?

Every day I read the Slog and other places that claim that one issues isn't as important as another and that there are "far more pressing things" taking place that should be covered.

... I think this is one of those cases as well.

Posted by Sam | May 23, 2007 11:43 AM

@25: FTW!

Posted by Gloria | May 23, 2007 11:53 AM

C'mon: has no one heard of a 'Mid-life Crisis'?
I don't care about the truent teenager, the dippy disappearing runner, the color of Sanjaya's g-string, or how many babies Brangelina is up to now.

Posted by white_mans_burden | May 23, 2007 12:07 PM

Paranoid PARENTS are a great demographic, that's probably what you could chalk it up to. Stories about peoples kids - THIS COULD BE YOUR KID! stories, that sells. Just like that rediculous Emo story that was posted above.

Posted by Dougsf | May 23, 2007 12:29 PM

..although, we never did get to the bottom of that fishy Elizabeth Smart story.

Posted by Dougsf | May 23, 2007 12:32 PM

On the day he returned I heard a KING (I think? might have been KOMO) news anchor say something like "blahblahblah hiker has been found. But is his story real?" Then cut to commercial. I didn't pay strict attention to the report, but from what I recall they reported the hiker's story about what happened and then interviewed a surrival expert who said something about how it'd be uncomfortable to live that long without food, but it'd be nearly impossible without water. So there was some skepticism in the reporting but they didn't blast him in a heavy-handed manner or demand he pay for the searches. (I didn't hear anything about the missing man drinking muddy water, so either they didn't know about that at the time of the report or I wasn't paying attention when they mentioned it.)

Posted by Kristi | May 23, 2007 12:41 PM

I think either 1) his gay lover picked him up for the weekend 2) he spent the weekend partying in a SeaTac strip motel room with some underage black girls or 3) he was kidnapped by aliens and anally probed.

If anyone lets him out of the house without a locator beacon/GPS from this day forward, he should have to pay his own rescue costs.

In other words: His story is hinky, hinky, hinky!

Posted by Tlazolteotl | May 23, 2007 1:32 PM

Mick Schreck.

He and his wife Marnie gave the limit to that McGavick fellow.

She's a Christian capitol-C.

He's a commercial real estate developer.

Posted by Dubious | May 23, 2007 2:57 PM

I'm on Dan's side. There is definitely something fishy about this story (a pot farm may be involved?). It's apparent that the Times and P-I have moved on to something else. I hope the Stranger picks up the slack and makes it a cover story soon.

Posted by elswinger | May 23, 2007 3:02 PM

When the media is too quick to jump to conclusions they're pilloried. Now they're to slow for Dan's liking, so they're pilloried.

The timeline is: The guy showed up at 11:30 p.m. Monday, and the news wasn't released until later that night. Too late for the daily papers to do any reporting. So they (and the TV stations) pursue Tuesday, but the family has clammed up and the cops aren't doing squat. So the stories are pretty much the same: "Here's his story, but nobody quite buys it."

Maybe, just maybe, they're trying to dig up some facts before going hog-wild with baseless accusations. After all, you've got the Slog for that.

Posted by bigyaz | May 23, 2007 3:35 PM

I'm with Dan and #37. Mick's got some 'splainin' to do. Plus, the reason given for not making people pay for searches is that they don't want to discourage people who are actually lost to utilize the system. If it is proven that he was not actually lost, then this logic doesn't follow, and he should cough up a fine and an apology to all the people who searched for him.

Posted by phil | May 23, 2007 3:36 PM

People expressed similar sentiments of disbelief, with varying degrees of outrage, about this story yesterday on Seattlest and Metroblogging Seattle.

Still, I'm not exactly sure who he's meant to be answering to other than his own family. Jamieson's howling about Sarah Katherine Roberts was unfair; I don't think that it necessarily needs to be repeated in the case of Michael Schreck simply for the sake of media mistreatment parity.

Posted by josh | May 23, 2007 3:53 PM

ahem: correction: The second sentence in my above post *should* have read "....who are actually lost from utilizing the system."

Or something. You get it.

Posted by phil | May 23, 2007 3:54 PM

#40: "Still, I'm not exactly sure who he's meant to be answering to other than his own family"

Well, for starts, there are the 200+ volunteers who I am sure would have rather spent their rainy weekend doing something else. And then there are the taxpayers, who paid for all of this. (I don't believe the line that the cost was neglible. A helicopter was involved.) Finally, if his story turns out to be false, there are the police to whom he lied.

As someone mentioned above, the "Runaway Bride" was forced to do restitution. It makes sense and seems fair to me.

If he was telling the truth, then I will be a monkey's uncle.

Posted by phil | May 23, 2007 4:04 PM

Schrek was doing what an Issaquaian ogre does best... banging donkeys.

Posted by Gabe | May 23, 2007 4:39 PM

i really really hope it's a guerrilla marketing ploy for the new Shrek 3 movie

Posted by jzilla | May 23, 2007 5:02 PM

I'm hoping that Amy and Seth from Saturday Night Live do a "Really" segment on it. As in, "REALLY? 3 days in a ravine covered in leaves with only the cold cold rain to drink and slugs to eat, and he DIDN'T need medical attention?? Really!"

Posted by matt | May 24, 2007 5:11 PM

Correction to #36: "Mick" Schrek is not the "Michael" Schreck that went missing. Michael's wife is not Marnie; wife is Emily. He's not a RE developer; he's a pharmaceutical guy. It's been in the papers.

Posted by Dubious2 | June 1, 2007 5:37 PM

How do y'all know that it was a meth fueled gay sex orgy or banging donkeys? Maybe he was with that 16 year old girl ..?

BTW - did he retire from running? What's his excuse going to be next time? (there's always a next time ...)

His wife must be pretty embarrassed and I'm sure its going to cost him a lot more than the $1000 bucks he paid toward the search.

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