New York Times Still Soft on UFOs, Lets Blumenthal and Kean Deliver Pro-UFO Propaganda in Feature on the "Truth" About History's "Project Blue Book"
Since the New York Times turned over prime real estate in the nation’s most prestigious paper to UFO believer Leslie Kean and credulous former Times reporter Richard Blumenthal to reveal the existence of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program, the paper of record has taken a noticeably soft stance on UFOs and ancient astronauts. The paper has delivered a series of articles casting ancient astronaut theorists and ufologists in a positive light, and this week they did it again, giving Kean and Blumenthal space to spin opinionated pro-UFO propaganda in the guise of telling the “true” story behind the History Channel’s Project Blue Book TV series, based on the 1960s-era U.S. Air Force investigation of flying saucers and centered on its lead investigator, J. Allen Hynek.
Since this week I had an extra blog post reviewing Project Blue Book and sat through two hours of Ancient Aliens, and my son has an ear infection, I will make only a brief blog post today to report the results of the Nielsen ratings for this week’s premiere of Project Blue Book. The program had a disappointing debut, fumbling 1 million viewers from its Curse of Oak Island lead-in. The show had 2.2 million viewers, with a 0.43 rating in the 18-49 demo. This compares unfavorably to Curse of Oak Island in the preceding hour, which attracted 3.2 million viewers and scored a 0.8 in the demo—all while airing against Pres. Trump’s prime time address in the Eastern Time Zone. Blue Book, which did not have presidential competition, returned remarkably low numbers given its extensive promotion across television, extending even to a fake newspaper wraparound on last Sunday’s New York Times.
In Brief: "To the Stars" Tells Investors about Alien Metals; Plus: Hindu Scientists Make Absurd Claims about Stem Cells and Dinosaurs in the Vedas
In the 1950s and 1960s the United States Air Force undertook an investigation into the UFO phenomenon known as Project Blue Book to determine if UFOs posed a threat to national security and to examine the evidence for UFOs. The study ended by concluding that there was no evidence that UFOs were spaceships from another world. This did not stop generations of ufologists from imagining that the Air Force had masterminded a conspiracy to suppress the truth about flying saucers in pursuit of nefarious agendas. The ufologists’ worst fears were dramatized in the 1990s in the 1960s-set X-Files rip-off series called Dark Skies, which sent its main characters into the heart of a government conspiracy to suppress the truth about space aliens in Cold War America.
Compared to years past, this was a rebuilding year for the fringe. Most of the major figures on the fringe sat the year out, preparing for bigger things in 2019 and beyond, and those that were active either failed to produce their promised results, delivered results that failed to meet expectations, or spent their time teasing revelations yet to come in 2019, or whenever they need a cash infusion. There was no major fringe history bestseller this year, and the wannabes in the category came from small presses and consequently received little or no media attention outside dedicated fringe sites. The new fringe pseudo-documentaries that made it to air either muddled through their middling runs or failed outright. The reason for the decline in the fringe was easy enough to see: The fringe had gone mainstream in 2017, and the continued presence of conspiracy theorists and fringe thinkers in the upper ranks of the Republican Party and the Trump Administration lessened the demand for pseudo-history. These sorts of claims tend to be more popular as counterprogramming.
You might have seen the recent spate of publicity surrounding Bob Lazar, a UFO lecture circuit regular who became famous a nearly thirty years ago, in May 1989, when Las Vegas TV reporter George Knapp interviewed him about the U.S. government’s alleged UFO research at Area 51. Over the years, Lazar’s claims have expanded into a baroque narrative encompassing U.S. government research into 10,000 years of alien involvement in human affairs, but his personal credibility has suffered from revelations that his alleged alma maters have no record of him, something he calls a conspiracy to discredit him. Now Lazar is the subject of a new documentary from the same team that brought us Hunt for the Skinwalker earlier this year, and following much the same format, including clips from old Knapp interviews. The film has occasioned borderline credulous write-ups in a number of mainstream publications, including The Daily Beast and the British tabloids.
Before we begin today, I will report the Nielsen ratings for Megan Fox’s Travel Channel series Legends of the Lost, which debuted on Tuesday. It tanked. Bad. Fast national ratings, which will be adjusted slightly for DVR viewing in the coming days, indicate that 429,000 people watched the show live, making it the 76th ranked cable show for Tuesday. The show was in a bad spot because of its timeslot, 8 PM to avoid airing opposite the cable leader in the category and across all shows, The Curse of Oak Island, on rival History at 9 PM, a show that attracts 3.3 million viewers—1% of all Americans, not just America’s 100 million TV households. Legends, however, failed even to rival the Curse recap special that aired opposite it and easily defeated the dull Travel attempt to attract the same audience.
Regular readers will remember George Knapp, the investigative reporter at KLAS-TV in Las Vegas who is closely connected to the story of billionaire Robert Bigelow’s search for interdimensional portals and UFO-driving poltergeists at Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. Knapp has covered UFOs for several decades and is a frequent guest host on Coast to Coast A.M., the paranormal overnight radio show. Knapp recently appeared in Hunt for the Skinwalker, a documentary making use of footage from an abandoned documentary project he started about the ranch decades ago but put on hold at Bigelow’s request. In reviewing the documentary and subsequent radio appearance, I criticized Knapp for agreeing to receive secrets about the Skinwalker Ranch investigation and for keeping those from the public for two decades, and Knapp is hopping mad about it, saying that I don’t know my “ass from a hole in the ground, certainly not about investigative reporting.” The crux of the argument is that Knapp is adhering to his employers’ formal ethics policies, while my concern is for the consequences of the decisions that he has made.
Every once in a while, I’m just not feeling up to writing a lengthy blog post. I have a stack of new books I’ve been asked to review, but none of them has really captured my imagination. Only one seems really worthy of a full-length review, but I’ve been struggling to get it read. The reason for that is sort of funny, really. It’s a beautifully designed coffee-table book about horror movies, but they printed all of the text in black against dark red and dark blue pages, and in the time I have to read after my son goes to bed at night, my eyes are too tired to strain to see the text. There isn’t enough contrast unless I flood the page with light, and that much light in my eyes that late makes it hard for me to go to bed after I’ve finished reading for the night. I also have an advance copy of a new book claiming that Biblical stories of ancient Israel all took place in Egypt and can be confirmed by archaeology, but I am having difficulty bringing myself to care. Too much of our country’s public life is devoted to finding new ways to “prove” the Bible true. The book isn’t out until 2019, so I might manage to plod through it at some point.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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