John Greenewald of The Black Vault posted nearly seventy pages of communications from the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General detailing internal communications in the spring of this year about UFOs and the lead-up to the release of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s UFO report. The released documents cover the period from February to May 2021, and much of the text is redacted. However, one thing stood out: People in the Pentagon were deeply interested in how elite media covered the UFO issue. Defense personnel shared articles from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Politico, and CNN. While the released documents don’t indicate how Defense officials reacted to the news coverage—the released emails are bland and intentionally vague—the fact that the news stories planted by Lue Elizondo and Chris Mellon in the runup to the report’s release were circulating among government officials suggests that I was right to push hard to get a strong counternarrative published in an equally elite publication, The New Republic. Greenewald’s documents cut off in early May, before my New Republic piece ran, but I know it circulated in at least some government circles.
There is no new episode of Ancient Aliens tonight, which is a relief to me, since previous episodes from this season have been nothing but repackaged reruns. It seems that viewers are noticing, since each episode for season seventeen has seen a ratings decline. After hovering around the one million viewer mark, last week’s episode fell to just 810,000 viewers, with only 130,000 in the 18-49 demographic. Slightly more young people actually watched the 12 AM rerun.
In Plain Sight: An Investigation into UFOs and Impossible Science
Ross Coulthart | HarperCollins | July 2021 (Australia) / Oct. 2021 (U.S.) | 281 pages | ISBN: B08VYR4DZ6 | $17.99
Until this summer, Ross Coulthart was best known as a correspondent for Australia’s 60 Minutes and the winner of several prestigious journalism awards for his reporting on issues such as human trafficking and organized crime. He left Channel Nine and 60 Minutes following a round of cost-cutting a few years ago, claiming that journalism was full of “type A” personalities who were “barking mad.” And for reasons he never made entirely clear, like so many men of a certain age—what Australia refers to as those receiving superannuation and we call the AARP crowd—he suddenly developed a passionate desire to return to an adolescent interest in the paranormal. The result: what Coulthart claims is a two-year “investigation” into UFOs, a subject that he says first caught his attention as a teenager in the late 1970s, though he claims to have disbelieved at the time. And like many products of a late-in-life conversion, the result, In Plain Sight: An Investigation into UFOs and Impossible Science is less a serious analysis and more of a book report on the last works of the leaders of the faith. It also serves as an application for Coulthart to join Leslie Kean and George Knapp on the lucrative UFO speakers’ circuit, a “serious” journalist with paranormal conclusions.
I gave an interview to Salon about vaccine conspiracies, UFOs, and the deep history behind modern conspiracy culture. Be sure to check it out on Salon's website.
Last week, viewers fled Hunting Atlantis, with the show's ratings falling even as its lead in, Expedition Unknown, gained viewers. Last Wednesday's episode drew just 605,000 live plus same-day viewers, down 45,000 from the week before. The demo collapse was worse. Only 90,000 adults 18-49 watched. By contrast, Expedition Unknown rose significantly, to nearly a million viewers. It's clear: Viewers aren't into Atlantis.
Another discontented viewer of cable pseudo-documentaries was none other than Erich von Däniken, the Chariots of the Gods author who is feeling a little ignored these days, as his protégé Giorgio Tsoukalos reported:
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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