Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day From The Mobile, Alabama Leprechaun

I'm Feeling Lucky: Mobile's biggest Internet celebrity, the Crichton Leprechaun, made an appearance in this doodle by Sarah Grube
(WPMI-TV)A still image from the 2006 news report by WPMI-TV15 about an alleged leprechaun sighting in Mobile's Crichton community shows a crude sketch of the supposed creature.

The Crichton Leprechaun -- also widely labeled the Mobile Leprechaun -- has gone "viral" on the Internet, and Wednesday night it attracted the attention of a panel of pundits on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor." Panel members, including host Bill O'Reilly, discussed whether a Mobile TV station's report about an alleged leprechaun sighting in the Mobile community of Crichton can be considered racist.

O'Reilly presented the 2006 news report by Mobile NBC affiliate WPMI-TV15, which lives on in cyberspace perpetuity thanks to its easy availability on such Web sites as and Google Video. O'Reilly's show played the WPMI report in a segment called "Did You See That?" -- in which "we bring you video you make have missed, video that has some kind of edge to it."

The WPMI report, filed by reporter Brian Johnson, featured interviews with several unidentified black residents of the community describing or speculating about a leprechaun that reportedly had been spotted in a neighborhood tree.

"It looked like a leprechaun to me," an unidentified man said in the WPMI report. One resident gave the TV station a crude sketch of what the leprechaun supposedly looked like.

"It could be a crack head who got hold of the wrong stuff. And it told him to get up in the tree and play a leprechaun," said an unidentified woman in the 2006 report, who apparently wasn't buying into the notion there really was a leprechaun in the tree.;;'

...Jane Skinner told O'Reilly, "We have to lighten up." Skinner likened the Leprechaun story to an "I saw Elvis in my grilled cheese" story and suggested the station "played this as 'this is fun' a couple of days before St. Patrick's Day."

She added, "Then it went viral. ... It's gotten more than 10 million hits. It's gotten so far on YouTube. People have sent it around. There's a Web site now. You can buy T-shirts, kind of making fun of the guy you see on your screen there. The leprechaun himself has a MySpace page that somebody set up."

Courtney Friel, a correspondent who was on the O'Reilly show, said on the program that the leprechaun video is one of her favorites.

She said, "This was an actual news story that aired on a real station. And look, it's not racist because the reporter, Brian Johnson, was black. One of the anchors tossing him the story was black. Half of Mobile's population is black."

In Mobile today, WPMI General Manager Shea Grandquest said he wouldn't be surprised if someone, somewhere was still talking about the leprechaun report years from now. It has taken on a life of its on because of the Internet exposure, he said.

"It's one of those quirky stories that has caught on," Grandquest said. "The story was fitting to the occasion. It was Saint Paddy's Day." [This story comes from by Mike Brantley on 30 June 2009, in an article entitled, "TV's Bill O'Reilly asks: Is Crichton Leprechaun news story racist?"]

Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama


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