Moor: Tiger King Is "More Entertainment Than Journalism"

Robert Moor, who once stayed at Joe Exotic's zoo for a week, shared his thoughts on the documentary and exposed some of its flaws 

Zach Gelb
April 07, 2020 - 9:05 am
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If you haven’t watched Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, then surely you know someone who has. The binge-worthy documentary has become a singular force on Netflix, with everyone who’s anyone having an opinion on the infamous Joe Exotic and the film’s misfit cast of characters.

Robert Moor, who stayed at Joe Exotic’s zoo for a week and hosts the Joe Exotic: Tiger King podcast, dropped by CBS Sports Radio to share his thoughts on the documentary and expose some of its flaws (spoilers ahead).

“I think it’s a brilliantly entertaining piece of documentary filmmaking, and I really take my hat off to the makers of it for how much work went into it,” Moor began on The Zach Gelb Show. “I know how much filming they had to do and just the hours and hours of Joe’s footage they had to slog through in order to make this. Having [created] the podcast and [written] a 10,000-word article for New York Magazine, I know how hard it is to wrestle this story, which is kind of a narrative octopus, to try to wrestle it into any kind of cohesive shape. It’s really hard. So I give them credit. That being said, there are some flaws. There are things taken out of context. It’s a bit more entertainment than journalism.”

Moor had two overarching problems with the documentary.

“They seem to have left viewers with the impression that Travis killed himself on purpose,” Moor said. “There’s no indication that I’ve seen that that was an intentional suicide. That was an accident. And the other thing, the biggest thing, is just the way that they edited everything together in the end makes Joe look like he’s innocent, like he was framed for those crimes and he shouldn’t be in prison. Having sat through that trial, I can tell you that’s just categorically false.”

Also, those music videos in the documentary? Yeah, that’s not Joe’s voice, and he’s not actually playing the guitar. The Clinton Johnson Band performed the songs, thus allowing Joe Exotic to lip-sync.

“That’s kind of an open secret, and I’m sure the documentarians knew that,” Moor said. “I’m really surprised they didn’t put it in the documentary. I think it kind of would have chipped away at the portrait they were trying to paint of Joe, which was this kind of mythic redneck hero.”

Moor, who once stayed in a trailer at the zoo, was given full access to Joe and essentially followed him around for a week. By the end of that week, things got, well, pretty dark.

“He was talking quite openly to me about wanting to kill Carole Baskin,” Moor said. “He was saying, ‘I have an AR-15 set aside for this. I never used to dream about seeing someone’s brains on a wall.’ You can hear this in the first episode of our podcast. If you listen to the first episode, you can hear it because he was saying it on the record. I’m saying, ‘Joe, I’ve got a recorder running. Why are you telling me these things?’ He’d say, ‘I don’t care. She has drove me to that point.’”