The Psychology of Irwin M. Fletcher

by Todd McFliker

I present the psychological evaluation of Mr. Irwin M. Fletcher.  The middle-aged Caucasian was employed as an investigative reporter for several years with the Los Angeles Times, writing under the byline “Jane Doe.”  In 1985, Mr. Fletcher, a.k.a. Fletch, uncovered a story about the LAPD, naming Police Chief Karlin, with a ‘K,’ as the number-one drug-smuggler on the beach.  And I don’t mean Robitussin.  At the same time, Fletch became a fast-talking master of disguise to uncover businessman Alan Stanwyk’s murderous scheme to flee the country and bask in the sun while landing the Police Chief on the front-page.  Working under wraps to expose exactly who was behind it all was not easy.  He didn't shower much.

I have reviewed Fletch's personality, strengths and briefly portray his character when he is at his best, under pressure.  He rarely thought ahead, the professional simply flew with the moment, quickly analyzing and taking advantage of any opportunity available to assist his article or talk himself out of sticky situations.  Irwin’s instinct and faith in his own genius was boundless.  Seeking the truth, Mr. Fletcher’s numerous personas adopted cynicism, wit and memorable disguises, including a roller-skating monk and a homosexual shepherd. 

Fletch's strongest point was the firm belief in his mission and the complete dedication to journalistic integrity in the eye of the public.  Using the Jane Doe pseudonym, he also had the ability to appeal to and arouse the sympathetic concern and protectiveness of each “victim” he encounters for information.  Hearing Fletch’s daily dialogue from twenty years ago, such as “I saw my pimp today,” makes doctors stop and question, "Is this man sincere in his journalistic undertakings or is he just goofing off?"  For example, was the female partner he was capturing on cassette tape truly supposed to believe that he was not recording their sexual experience?  “No, never, never,” he persuaded, but refused to provide further details to the psychologists.

These are aspects of Fletch that we should never lose sight of when evaluating his hold on the media industry.  At times, it seemed almost inconceivable that the wise-cracking newspaper reporter could be sincere, and have such important accomplishments in his career.  It was astonishing how he could so easily con the average-Joe on the street.  Similarly, there was nothing to it when the writer persuaded his boss, Frank, to buy him a ticket to Utah.  The employer was merely bribed with a convincing argument as to the story, along with an enticing offer for a gift of some new deodorant. 

Exactly how Fletch’s piece would come together was rather vague in his mind.  But his did not concern Fletch, as an "inner voice" communicated to him the necessary steps to uncovering a drug-smuggler’s numerous crimes.  In each and every field of his job, he possessed a keen appreciation of his role as a journalist, utilizing his tactical genius.  Fletch used uncanny timing of his one-liners, as was the case when he splurged on a set of novelty teeth, and created the aerospace-engineer supervisor, Gordon Liddy.  He was merely fishing around Stanwyk’s work, Boyd Aviation, to investigate his story.  At times, Irwin’s intelligence was astonishing, devoid of all moral sense, as was the case when Gordon Liddy insisted on pliers and a set of ball bearings.  He ordered a couple of workers in the hangar not to tell him his business.  “It’s all ball bearings these days,” convincing the two men of his authority.  Even in a very complex situation, Fletch discerns what is possible and what is not.   
Fletch did not blush when he stood up and interjected an ad-libbed speech before an award banquet, while being surrounded by a team of dirty cops.  Thinking quickly from the stage, new “Father of Internal Bushings” delved into his past with the crowd, reliving the childhood trauma of his favorite babysitter, Marge.  The woman was dismissed following a near-fatal overdose on alcohol and sedatives.  But Marge’s success spending two or three weeks at Trembling Hills surely paid off, as her sobriety has influenced the journalist.  Also, it is coincidental that the ceremony Fletch interrupted was in honor of Fred “The Dwarf” Dorfman.  Fred Dorfman is the name of Kent "Flounder" Dorfman's brother in 1978’s Animal House, Irwin’s favorite film.

"When I first met Fletch, his quick wit had impressed me.  Like when he pulled rank on an older gentleman by creating the mattress-police who randomly check houses for proper tags under the beds.  But as time went on, he appeared to me to become unreasonable and overly convinced of his own infallibility and greatness," explained Dr. Rose Rosen, Ph.D.  "When a man gets to the point of identifying himself with Don Corleone, discussing Moe Green from the Tropicana, as well as his sons, Michael and Freido, then he is ripe for an insane asylum.  And I am yet to find a company that actually leases out rubber gloves, with an option to buy."

Crazy or not, Irwin’s rapid thinking has resulted in the frequent outwitting of his adversaries.  The result has been the uncovering news breaking stories and maneuvering out of sticky situations along the path.  For example, “Fletch created people out of thin air to gain pertinent information, such as the phone number to Alan’s realtor in Utah, Jim Swarthough,” explained Frieda, secretary to Comanche Indian and F.C.C. representative, Mr. Poon.  Fletch also impersonated a government employee in order to steal a convertible when running from dirty cops.  He justified the maneuver to an unwilling passenger, as well as to himself, by mentioning the massive amounts of recent changes in the law.  In fact, Irwin questioned “car-theft” as a crime in an emergency situation.

Nevertheless, the getaway helped Fletch build up the myth of his own infallibility which both law enforcers and news readers benefited from.

Fletch had the capacity for evaluating his surroundings, picking up valuable clues from others in order to foresee and uncover Alan’s final plan.  For instance, he immediately made note of his environment while investigating Mr. Stanwyk’s country club.  Jane Doe thought quickly and charged his lunch order, a $400 meal of Lobster Thermador, drinks and a steak sandwich, to an obnoxious member of the club, Ted Underhill.  When questioned by a waiter, Fletch retorted immediately, “It’s alright.  He just stepped out for his urinalysis.”  Also, when caught off guard by Mrs. Stanwyk, Fletch instinctively adopted a new persona with a beautiful Scotch/Romanian name, John Cocktoston.  Fletch’s behavior in 1985 was justified on the grounds that he must report the truth, and successfully create whatever characters necessary for doing so.  These are mere examples of some of the man's outstanding abilities that enabled him as one of the top investigative reporters in the industry.

With time, Fletch’s associates in the L.A. newspaper recognized his superior capacities. To this day, they admire and respect his extraordinary journalistic integrities, particularly the influence he has over strangers.  Not only did his boss claim to have never doubted Fletch, but one coworker even claimed the writer as her “Hero.”  Irwin later explained that he earned the impressive title at home, dressing up as Little Bo Peep.  But he assured the psychologists that his role-playing was nothing of the sexual nature.

Since retiring from the newspaper industry in the early 1990s, he has been making numerous, but unsuccessful efforts to try out as a power forward for the NBA’s Lakers.  He was merely following his high school guidance counselor’s advice, as Fletch is actually 6’5, with afro 6’9.  And when a TV anchor asked the Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about Irwin’s performance on the court, the NBA’s three-time ‘Most Valuable Player’ had nothing but positive feedback.  “Well, Fletch has been great,” Kareem answered.  “He's super-strong.”

Fletch has always been drawn to basketball, as opposed to baseball.  On top of listening to the Beatles’ White Album  and owning children’s books about elephants, some of the journalist’s earliest childhood memoirs consist of Los Angeles’ Baseball Summer Camp with Tommy Lasorda, where he was consistently ridiculed by other kids for his given first-name.  “Don’t say Irwin,” he still insists, with the exception of wet, married women.  In fact, one camper named Ted Nugent, sat and watched as his Doberman viciously attacked the young Fletch.  Ironically, the canine’s name was “Love.”  To this day, the man cannot love a dog more than five or ten minutes, tops. 

Towards the end of his career, Fletch drafted an article on the offshore betting taking place in the Himalayas.  It was a smaller piece, but he still made top-dollar, as the writer refused to have his wages garnished.  In vital matters, the Jane Doe alias has always been far from unmindful of the success story he left to the following generation of newspapers reporters.  Whether it is uncovering dope-dealing cops and homicidal Police chiefs, portraying a master of reporting, medicine, airplane mechanics, tennis or professional basketball, Fletch truly defines grace under pressure. 

To come: Extremely shorter write-ups on The Psychology of Carl Spakler, Greens-Keeper (Caddyshack), The Psychology of an International Spy; Fat Bastard (Austin Powers), The Psychology of an X-Con in Arizona (Raising Arizona), and The Psychology of Ruprict (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).