This week, a man named Matthew Mills interrupted the post-Super Bowl MVP press conference to let the world know that 9/11 was perpetrated by the US Government. News outlets pounced at the chance to interview him, flocking to the internet to locate his web presence. A few ended up contacting a different Matthew Mills, who gamely played along. PJ Vogt talks to the non-conspiracy minded Matthew Mills about his run-ins with the news media. This story originally aired on TLDR -- OTM's new blog and podcast.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: It’s not just the great and powerful who use the occasion of the Super Bowl to snag the ears of the multitude. It’s also the small and the addled, like the guy who seized the mic during a post-game press conference to spout the so-called “Truther theory” that we bombed ourselves on 9/11.
[PRESS CONFERENCE CLIP]:
MALCOLM SMITH: I always imagined myself making great plays, but you never think about being MVP.
MATTHEW MILLS: Investigate 9/11; 9/11 was perpetrated by people within our own government.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: His name was Matthew Mills, and in certain precincts of the media he was a moth to flame that burned brightly for a moment and then poof, was gone! But there were collateral effects. Another Matthew Mills, by dint of his name, came in for some residual heat, as sports radio came calling. He didn’t say he was the other Matthew Mills. He didn’t say he wasn’t either. On the Media’s PJ Vogt got Matt on the phone. First you’ll hear tape of Matt’s moment on WCCO Minneapolis, then Matt talking to PJ, then PJ.
MATTHEW MILLS: Good morning. I am great. It’s a wonderful day to be a Patriot.
[SOUNDTRACK UP & UNDER]
MATTHEW MILLS: And the guy is really super nice, like that good old Midwestern charm.
PJ VOGT: So did you feel a little guilty?
MATTHEW MILLS: I started to feel a little bit like, all right, I got to - I got to kind of come out of this. So they gave me an opportunity. They went to an audio clip, again, from the 9/11 Truther, from the other Matthew Mills. And they came back and they asked something like, I can’t believe we’ve got you on the phone. How’d you ever, get out of, you know, jail or whatever. And I was like, guys, it’s not me. And the guy was like, oh, you punked us!
MATTHEW MILLS: You guys are awesome. You’ve got the wrong Matthew Mills.
RADIO HOST: [LAUGHS] We, we got punked then.
MATTHEW MILLS: A little bit.
PJ VOGT: He wasn’t too mad?
MATTHEW MILLS: He wasn’t mad at all. Kyle, the producer who was also on the air, was not happy.
RADIO HOST: Kyle’s not happy.
KYLE: Yeah, he can go screw himself. [LAUGHS]
MATTHEW MILLS: So then about an hour later, I get a call from WMGC, 105.1 in Detroit, the ESPN affiliate, sports radio, and the guy was just really aggressive. I didn’t like him at all.
PJ VOGT: What do you mean when you say “really aggressive”?
MATTHEW MILLS: “Hey Matthew, what’s up, man? Listen, listen, hey man, love what you’re doing, want to put you on the air.” And he’s like, he’s like, we’re gonna call you back in like 15 minutes, and we’ll do a pre-tape for our, our afternoon drive. And I was like, all right, great.
Now, I’m thinking in the next 15 minutes, this guy is gonna figure it out and I’m not gonna get a callback, right?
PJ VOGT: Right.
MATTHEW MILLS: And he’s gonna do a little more research, says, let me just double check this guy. No, no such thing. So they call –
RADIO HOST: Hey, Matthew?
MATTHEW MILLS: Yes.
MATTHEW MILLS: I just kept rolling with it, and we were on for like probably nine or ten minutes.
RADIO HOST: - in Detroit, how are you doin’?
MATTHEW MILLS: Fine, how are you guys?
PJ VOGT: You played basically the character of –
MATTHEW MILLS: 9/11 Truther Crazy Guy.
PJ VOGT: For ten minutes?
MATTHEW MILLS: Yeah. And they were just like asking the most inane questions, and I was giving more inane answers.
RADIO HOST: And you got your message out, which is that you think there’s a conspiracy involving 9/11, specifically, right?
MATTHEW MILLS: Don’t you?
MATTHEW MILLS: They asked, you know, something about conspiracy theory and how do people control their minds, and I was like, Scientology.
And then they’re like, well, how do you protect yourself from being overwhelmed by all this mind control, and I was like, a helmet.
RADIO HOST: So what’s – since you’re a Truther, what’s the truth?
MATTHEW MILLS: I think you – the truth is you need to investigate. You journalists, do your job better.
RADIO HOST: We’re asking the person who was there.
MATTHEW MILLS: I wasn’t there on 9/11.
RADIO HOST: No, not regarding 9/11, regarding yesterday.
MATTHEW MILLS: Yeah, what about yesterday? It was great.
PJ VOGT: I don’t feel too bad for these guys because I don’t think what they were trying to do was even that good, and I think that a journalist should be careful. But I also feel a little bit bad because I’ve had the job of having to quickly find someone, and if someone wanted to trick me, like if someone wanted me to believe that they weren’t who they said they were, I, I don’t know how I’d fact-check that.
MATTHEW MILLS: You might say, is this Matthew Mills. Yes, it is. Are you the same Matthew Mills that busted into the Super Bowl last night and interrupted the MVP press conference? No, I’m not.
PJ VOGT: They didn’t do that? MATTHEW MILLS: They did not do that.
PJ VOGT: Oh, that’s crazy. Yeah no – I don’t feel bad for them.
MATTHEW MILLS: Not at all. And never mind like – just the grossness of trying to get that person on the air who you know, he’s not necessarily playing on the same level field that we all think we are.
PJ VOGT: If you’re booking him, you want to hear from him because he’s made a spectacle out of himself and because you want to continue that spectacle, not because you want to air his views.
MATTHEW MILLS: Right.
PJ VOGT: And do you feel like you’ve learned something or like that your perspective has changed this week? Or did you have sort of a low opinion that’s just been confirmed?
MATTHEW MILLS: [LAUGHS] I have – I had a pretty low opinion that’s been confirmed, but I also probably think – I found a soft part of my heart for people with really extreme opinions. No wonder they want to try to jump into a press conference or streak across a stage or, you know, whatever. The attention you get right after is apparently huge. I mean, I can’t imagine what the real guy’s email and Facebook and Twitter feeds are like. I’m like the loose change.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: That was filmmaker Matthew Mills speaking to OTM’s PJ Vogt. You want to hear the longer version? Subscribe to TLDR on iTunes, and go to TLDR.onthemedia.org for daily posts.
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