Good Day New York Fox 5 and Grief Vampire Matt Fraser

Susan Gerbic

I just can’t understand why morning TV shows give free publicity to grief vampires such as Matt Fraser. The hosts laugh and have a good ol’ time as if this is just a jump-house of frivolous fun bubbles. They think that people communicating with the dead is as normal as a six-toed cat. Kind of weird but still not a freak of science.

Matt Fraser’s latest morning show appearance was an interview by Good Day New York Fox 5 hosts Rosanna Scotto and Lori Stokes. Fraser is a fast talker, and he managed to get a lot into this nine-minute thirty-three-second interview. Host Scotto asked him a pretty hardball question: “When did you realize that you had this gift?” Seriously, Scotto? You are supposed to be a reporter. This is all just so frustrating, but let’s break it down.

Let me mention first that in September 2019, I wrote an article about another morning TV show interview with Fraser. That interview ended with the host, Shannon Miller, bursting into tears as Fraser said her grandfather was standing behind her. Fraser said her grandfather was in the military, something about water, and Miller was just looking at old photos of him. This was all very correct. I know it was correct because we found the photos on Miller’s Instagram page.

Now onto the Good Day New York commercial for Matt Fraser.

Unique in this appearance was that Scotto brought up the New York Times article by Jack Hitt. Scotto asked how Fraser proves to the skeptics that he is the real deal. Quick-witted as usual, Fraser had an answer (almost like he was prepared for it). He said that he “loved the article” and that the reporter (Jack Hitt) had a “life-changing experience” at the show he was reporting on. The reporter could not find him hot reading the audience, so the only alternative (according to Fraser) was that he was in contact with the dead.

Well I’ve read the NYT’s article, and this depiction of Hitt leaving the show as a believer and saying “there is something to this” isn’t quite what happened. Hitt talked about the emotion in the room, the desire for people to want to be in touch with their family.

The audience was with her; our grief held her. We were all wrapped in rich, old memories of aching pain. Maybe dead spirits aren’t real. But these emotions were. My exhausted father waking up early on his Saturday off to watch cartoons with his little kid.

And for more details you can read Kenny Biddle’s account of the whole Operation Peach Pit experience here.

As an example, Fraser throws out to the reporters and to all the employees in the room that a person who died in a car accident was trying to come through right then. He asked Scotto and Stokes if it was their person. They didn’t seem to know of anyone, but that was fine; Fraser and the hosts just skipped right over it. If they had connected to someone who had died in a car accident, then it would have been a very big moment. And it could have been a hit for nearly anyone; there are a lot of camera people, producers, audio, and so many more in the studio. A loud gasp from a producer off camera would have been a great live TV moment. Fraser took a swing that was just air, but he tried. If he had connected, it would have been undeniably a strong card to begin with. Being a well-rehearsed cold reader, he just pushed past the moment and moved right on.

Fraser moved on to his reading and addressed Stokes by saying that he is getting a “grandmother stepping forward … someone you were close to.” Stokes acknowledges that she had a grandmother who had died. Well considering Stokes’s age and that she had two grandmothers, it is pretty likely that one or both have died. Without skipping a beat, Fraser says that he is seeing her (the grandmother) holding a baby and wants to know if that was from a miscarriage or a “soul that passed over.” Stokes acknowledges that there was a baby that died before her father was born (which gives Fraser the information that it was her paternal grandmother). Fraser says that the grandmother wants to tell Stokes that the baby is with her in the afterlife.

So, if we stop here and think about what Fraser said, we know that the odds are very high that at least one of her grandmothers has died. Lori Stokes’s father was Louis Stokes, a Democratic Member of the House from Ohio who was born in 1925 in Cleveland. Stokes states on her Instagram page that her father and his brother went “from poverty to power.” What’s the likelihood that a poor African American woman living in Cleveland in the 1920s would have a miscarriage or a child that had died young? Consider the odds of any woman of any era having a miscarriage. Pretty darn high odds. If this had not been a hit, then Fraser might have either told Stokes to ask her family or said Stokes’s grandmother hadn’t wanted to talk about it at the time, which is why it wasn’t public knowledge. Alternately, Fraser could have just moved on with something else. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker that the woman would be reconnected with her baby in the afterlife, and there is no way to know if that is true or if it is something that glibly falls out of Fraser’s miles-a-minute-mouth.

Stokes and Scotto gave this information from Fraser a big wow, and Stokes said, “not too many people know that quite frankly.” But really, what was there to know? It could be true of almost any female.

This next statement is fairly odd but sort of specific sounding. “In heaven she has her muumuus on. She always used to have her housecoats on.” Stokes laughed and confirmed this saying “kind of, I had forgotten about that.” This could be just one of those generic statements where the cold reader throws out something hoping it will stick, and in this case it did—kind of. Possibly her grandmother did speak to Fraser and in the few seconds she had to communicate with her granddaughter she wanted to tell her about how she is wearing comfortable clothes in heaven.

Fraser explains that the grandmother (who is unnamed; in fact, not a single name is mentioned during this reading) was very religious. Wow! That’s incredible, Matt. Lori Stokes’s father was a leader in the Civil Rights movement alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Do you think they might have been a religious family?

Stokes said that her grandmother had a heart attack right after church. Scotto starts to ask Fraser a question about difficult readings he might have had, but he interrupts her and asks Stokes: “Wait a minute, she had a heart attack right after church?” and Stokes responds that she had just left church. Reverend Jesse Jackson had given the sermon, and she had a heart attack walking down the steps afterward. After a telling pause, Fraser seized upon this statement and—as I’ve seen hundreds of times—said, “Oh my God! That’s crazy, ’cause she is telling me … now it makes sense.” This word play happens rapidly, and Fraser is really good at it, taking advantage of the moment as if he is hearing directly from the grandmother. But there was a story about it in The New York Times.

Fraser looked around the room as if he was really seeing invisible spirits roaming the room trying to get his attention. He said that they are always speaking to him and always around. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, but surely it would make someone go insane. If genuine, a government agency somewhere would have him hidden away working to get secrets from the dead. That would be a dangerous ability.

The morning crew went on to plug Fraser’s new book and then gave the dates for his next live show, and again plugged his TV show Meet the Frasers. Fraser is pretty busy these days; Operation Peach Pit seems to have had no effect on his celebrity. He states that the NYT article helped him get the TV show, but I highly doubt that. It took over a year from the investigation to the publication of the NYT article. And we had already heard he was in negotiations for a TV show before the NYT article was published in February 2019.

I remember Jack Hitt telling me that he reached out to Fraser when he was writing the article, but his mother (who was his manager) would not allow him to speak to the NYT. That’s really odd considering Fraser seems to think that Hitt was a skeptic turned believer.

I guess Fraser is still too busy writing his book, giving readings to morning TV show hosts, doing live shows, and appearing with his family and girlfriend on his TV series to get down to the local police department and go through the cold-case files and maybe solve some crimes. He’s too busy to find missing children in the area. It must be hard work connecting to grandmothers who want to talk about their fashion choices in heaven.

You readers who have been following my investigations of these grief vampires over the years know that it isn’t always about what the medium “gets” but what is missing from the reading. As I said, Fraser never mentions a name—not a single one. Grandma is just “Grandma”; Dad is just “Dad.” What’s up with that? There’s no mention of anyone else in the family. He said that Grandma is watching over everyone, but then, of course, what else would grandma be doing in heaven? There is no advice, no personalized messages from anyone to anyone. Is her son Louis there with her? How about JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.? Those would be some pretty awesome messages if they could be verified as real. Fraser is quick on his feet with his messages, very practiced, and glib. But there is no substance in this reading.

TV morning show hosts Rosanna Scotto and Lori Stokes aren’t to blame for this free infomercial; they are told to keep it light and happy. People are starting their day and don’t want to head off to work or school thinking about war and children in cages at the border. A medium is all happiness and lighthearted fun. Except the result for anyone grieving is most certainly not.

Meet the Frasers is a fun romp in reality-TV land. Fraser’s family and their humor are apparently very fun. I had a man send me a message last week that said he binge-watched the series and then looked up Fraser and found my articles about him. He said he knew it was all a bunch of bunk, but he still had a few questions about the people that Fraser reads in his audiences. I explained that if everyone understood that this was just a fun reality show sitcom and they knew he wasn’t really speaking to the dead, then I would probably have given up on these endeavors long ago. I would be able to spend more time in my garden or tackle the stack of unread books I keep purchasing and never read.

But that isn’t the norm. Lots of people really believe that Fraser is having a conversation with dead people—their deceased family members. Many of these people are lonely, grieving, and vulnerable. Fraser is a good entertainer, but he is not a grief therapist. He isn’t any kind of therapist. He was trained as an EMT, which is likely why he is good at describing end of life experiences. This is not fun and games. It is not entertainment, and the sooner we get this bunk off our morning TV and elsewhere, the better.

Scotto and Stokes are not experts on cold reading; they are professional communicators tasked with providing morning entertainment. They do not have the advantage of listening over and over and over to the audio. They simply move on to the next guest. Fraser’s form of “entertainment” has its own particular language. After a while, you start picking up on the patterns. Once understood, any rational person can learn to watch it for the verbal deceptions inherent in the fast-paced word play. Fraser is good—really good—at what he does, but that doesn’t mean he is speaking to anyone’s dead grandmother, muumuu or not.


Thank you to Mark Edward and the Operation Grief Vampire team. And a special thank you to Debbie, who sent me this interview. She has been following Thomas John and Matt Fraser for a couple years, and she found my articles when looking into them. I often get the question, “Why are people so willing to believe this nonsense?” Debbie has the answer: “When you’re hurting as much as they are, I guess common sense goes out the window because they want to believe so badly.”

Susan Gerbic

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and writes for her column, Guerilla Skepticism, often. You can contact her through her website.