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.
Just a week prior, the Times took money from the History Channel for a wraparound advertisement for Project Blue Book that appeared draped over editions of the Sunday New York Times. It promoted the series with fake newspaper articles about UFOs.
Blumenthal and Kean have longstanding connections to the UFO community that that Times has steadfastly refused to disclose to its readers. Kean, for example, is the author of a UFO book, was also the head of an advocacy group lobbying the government for UFO disclosure, and authored puff pieces about how Tom DeLonge’s UFO-and-media company, To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, is “world-changing.” (It has produced nothing of note in its 15 months of existence.) The Times presents her as an objective journalist.
In the pair’s latest article, they present a potted history of the real Project Blue Book and its predecessors, but they lard it with the kind of opinionated, pro-UFO views that are starkly out of place, even in the Arts section of the Times, where opinion is to be expected in reviews. The article is framed as a first-person critical review, but is presented as objective historical fact.
Blumenthal and Kean commit sins of commission and omission in attempting to depict the UFO phenomenon as frightening, dangerous, and indicative of unearthly powers invading our planet.
The authors begin by describing UFOs as an objective threat to national security, calling them “an apparently technological phenomenon that was beyond human control and was not Russian, yet represented an unfathomable potential threat.” Not to be overly pedantic, but the reams of government files on UFOs amply demonstrate that they were fathomable, with documents laying out potential responses to nearly every possible explanation for flying saucers. The authors exaggerate here to give UFOs more weight than the record shows they received.
The article carefully and systematically presents nearly every scrap of documentation in government files where some official or another speculated that flying saucers came from another planet, but the article systematically omits nearly all of the massive trove of documents that conclude that this speculation is incorrect. In favoring the minority view so heavily, the authors paint a false picture. While it is true that some Air Force officials, overly credulous of eyewitness reports, speculated on origins outside of the Earth, it is also true that the FBI believed in 1947 that UFOs were largely imaginary and that the extraterrestrial hypothesis had been invented by editor Raymond Palmer to promote the “Shaver Mystery” stories in Astounding Stories: “Raymond Palmer, [Kenneth] Arnold’s employer, was from the start ‘exploiting’ the appearance of the flying discs,” an FBI memo reported, “possibly to enhance the appeal of Shaver’s stories. It is possible, therefore, that the entire flying disc theory was conceived by Palmer and Shaver” (redactions restored). This answer satisfied J. Edgar Hoover, and the Air Force actually shut down the FBI’s debunking of “flying discs,” taking over the investigation and systematically working to keep the UFO story alive in the 1950s and 1960s, a period when documents show that American and Soviet operatives used UFO stories as cover for Cold War military testing and espionage. In sum, the authors deceptively omit alternative explanations to promote a single hypothesis: that UFOs are spacecraft from another world.
The trouble is that the people they are interested in didn’t actually believe that.
Blumenthal and Kean discuss J. Allen Hynek, the scientific mind behind Project Blue Book and a believer in UFOs, but in describing flying saucers as interplanetary spacecraft, they omitted a key piece of data essential for understanding Hynek’s role in the UFO world: Hynek did not believe UFOs were spacecraft from another world—at least not most of them. As he told Jacques Vallée, he had come to believe that flying saucers were actually poltergeists from another dimension. Blumenthal and Kean emphasize their “research” into the Pentagon’s 2007-2012 UFO investigation program, run in conjunctions with contractor Robert Bigelow and subcontractor Hal Puthoff, a longtime friend of Vallée with whom he jointly developed the interdimensional poltergeist hypothesis in the 1970s, and they similarly omit that Puthoff helped direct that program toward investigating UFOs as poltergeists from other dimensions, a belief that he had inculcated in Bigelow’s team. (Team members have openly discussed this in the media.) This information is extremely relevant to evaluating the “true” history of UFOs when the government operatives in charge literally thought they were chasing ghosts.
To see the relevance, consider this paragraph from our authors:
When Blue Book closed in late 1969, the Air Force flatly lied to the American people, issuing a fact sheet claiming that no U.F.O. had ever been a threat to national security; that U.F.O.s did not represent “technological developments or principles beyond the range of present day scientific knowledge”; and that there was no evidence that they were “extraterrestrial vehicles.”
And how do they know it was a lie? The only way to prove that this is a lie is to believe that UFOs are spacecraft rom another world, and that isn’t within the range of available evidence. Nor did Hynek or Puthoff agree with those claims—since both though UFOs to be interdimensional ghosts. So even if you accept the crazy-quilt beliefs of those men who infected the government with extreme UFO beliefs, your conclusion cannot be that of Kean and Blumenthal, since the cuckoo-bananas belief shared by those investigators revolved around poltergeists, not starships.
Our authors conclude that the U.S. government is still hiding the truth about UFOs:
Scientists may know more about the behavior and characteristics of U.F.O.s, and are closer to understanding the physics of how the technology operates, according to A.A.T.I.P. documents and interviews. But the government still makes every attempt to keep investigations and conclusions secret, while denying any involvement to American citizens.
Parsimoniously, one might argue that both things are true: The government investigates reports of UFOs, but because they are neither spaceships nor space ghosts, they are not actually suppressing the “truth” about space aliens or poltergeists, no matter how many officials believe otherwise. After all, a not insignificant percentage of high-ranking military officials are Evangelical Christians who believe in the Rapture is coming. Their belief, however, doesn’t make it true, even if some government officials think it.
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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