Dr. Phil Replaces Jack Trimarco with Polygraph Operator John Grogan, Whom Trimarco Called “a Fraud”

The tabloid television talk show Dr. Phil, which debuted in 2002, has long used polygraphs as a ratings gimmick, especially during Nielsen sweeps, a rating period that is especially important for advertising revenue. For years, the show’s primary polygraph operator was retired FBI special agent Jack Trimarco.

Jack Trimarco (1947-2018)

However, Trimarco died in 2018, and for some time after that, it seems the Dr. Phil show did not feature any polygraph examinations. That has changed.

On 29-30 October 2020, the first two days of Nielsen’s November sweeps, the Dr. Phil show ran a two-part episode featuring polygraph operator John Leo Grogan, whom show host Phil McGraw introduced as “one of the most respected polygraph examiners in the country.”

Polygraph Operator John Leo Grogan on Dr. Phil, 30 October 2020

That John Grogan is “one of the most respected polygraph examiners in the country” would have been a shock to Jack Trimarco. In a 7 March 2008 phone call to the Tom Leykis Show, a Los Angeles-based radio program on which Grogan was a guest, Trimarco denounced Grogan as a fraud. AntiPolygraph.org has transcribed that call:

Tom Leykis: Here’s Jack on the Tom Leykis show. Hello.

Jack Trimarco: Hello, this is Jack.

Leykis: I know. I just said that.

Trimarco: [muted laughter]. Well, Tom, I honestly, I haven’t been listening to your show but my, my phone has lit up. My name is Jack Trimarco. I’m a retired FBI agent. I’m former head of the polygraph unit for the FBI in Los Angeles for seven years, former inspector general for the Department of Energy’s polygraph program for two, currently chairman of the ethics committee for [the] California Association of Polygraph Examiners.

John Grogan is a fake. He is not a polygraph examiner. He is quite accurately known as the polygraph parasite. He’s been convicted of twenty-six counts of fraud and had his P.I. license pulled from him, and he simply became a world-known polygraph examiner. It’s all B.S. He never graduated from a polygraph school, and everyone knows him for what he is, and I can’t believe he has the things to go on a radio show, have people like me listen, and expect not to be disclosed.

Leykis: Wow!

John Grogan: I think Jack’s hair dye is getting to him. I have never been convicted of any such thing. What, what—

Trimarco: John, do you still have a P.I. license?

Grogan: Wow. Wow.

Trimarco: John, do you still have a P.I. license?

Grogan: No, but [it] has nothing to do with fraud. Jack—

Trimarco: You know what, that’s a lie, too.

Grogan: Oh, my God! Well, Jack—

Trimarco: Contact your lawyers and sue me.

Grogan: Jack, why don’t you bring in proof to Tom Leykis that I’ve been convicted of one count of fraud, let alone twenty-six.

Trimarco: Twenty-six counts of fraud.

Grogan: [whistles]

Trimarco: The state of California pulled your P.I. license, and you’re violating that by claiming to be a polygraph examiner. It’s complete fraud, John. You’re, you’re an embarrassment to the law enforcement community, and you’re an embarrassment to the polygraph—the real polygraph—examiners of the world. You’re nothing more than a fraud. And you’re about to get burned.

Grogan: Bring in your proof to Tom Leykis

Trimarco: I’ll bring in my proof to the D.A. in Ventura County on Tuesday morning, John. You perjured yourself. You swore under oath about things that you aren’t, and I’m going to get you convicted.

Grogan: Okay, Jack.

Leykis: Well, well, well. Where do you go from there. I’ll tell you what. We’ll take a break, and we’ll figure out where we go from there. You don’t want to go anywhere!

After the call, Grogan dismissed Trimarco as “just another jealous competitor.”

Trimarco was not alone in his criticism of Grogan. In 2007 and 2008, polygraph operator Ralph Hilliard, proprietor of the website PolygraphPlace.com, alleged a litany of wrongdoing by Grogan in a pair of articles respectively titled, “Is John Grogan a Polygraph Parasite?” and “John Grogan – Part II: Imposter? Yes! Swindler? Definitely! Polygraph Examiner? Not by any Stretch of the Imagination.”

Grogan subsequently filed what seems to have been an abortive lawsuit against Jack Trimarco, Ralph Hilliard, and the late Joseph Paolella, a former U.S. Secret Service polygraph operator from whom Grogan had received some polygraph training.

Jack Trimarco was not wrong when he called John Grogan a fraud. But the fact is that all polygraph operators are frauds. Polygraphy is a thoroughly discredited pseudoscience that it inherently biased against the truthful yet easy for liars to beat using simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators have no demonstrated ability to detect.

Showman Phillip Calvin McGraw

Phil McGraw, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, should be embarrassed and ashamed for misleading his audience about the validity of polygraphy, all for the sake of ratings.

TMZ: Dr. Phil’s Moment of Truth

TMZ.com lampoons Dr. Phil McGraw’s use of polygraphs and tawdry topics to boost ratings, comparing his daytime television talk show with the Fox network’s game show, The Moment of Truth. In point of fact, however, the Dr. Phil show’s shameless use of lie detectors as a ratings gimmick predates The Moment of Truth and has been the topic of much discussion on AntiPolygraph.org.