On Saturday, as the nation paused to mark the twenty years since the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center, former Pres. Donald Trump and his son, Don, Jr., offered color commentary on a boxing match in Florida between 44-year-old Vito Belfort and 58-year-old Evander Holyfield, the latter replacing Oscar De La Hoya, hospitalized with coronavirus. The younger Trump had promoted the surreal event with a Twitter tweet and video promising viewers that he would use the match to ask his father about Area 51 and the real U.S. government secrets about space aliens. He did not.
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.
Since losing his Travel Channel TV series, former America Unearthed host has been on a downward slide into the depths of conspiracy culture in search of revelation and relevance. Because he no longer has a media platform, I haven’t been covering his antics as much as in the past, but because he is a former three-time cable TV show host and likely to return to TV in some capacity in the future as the demand for filler content grows among streaming services, it’s worth noting some of the extremes Wolter embraced in his latest podcast interview.
It has long been obvious that Harvard’s Avi Loeb wants to be a UFO guru. Not only has he parlayed his minority opinion on the artificial nature of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua into a book deal, but he has inserted himself into the media frenzy over UFOs and publishes regular dispatches in Scientific American speculating in his amateurish way on the morals and ethics of humans and aliens. In recent weeks, he publicly volunteered to lead a government inquiry into the nature of flying saucers and took a slot headlining the Contact in the Desert paranormal conference. His UFO interests have now reached their logical peak with the launch of his newest initiative, the Galileo Project, a UFO investigation conducted through the auspices of Harvard’s and the Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics.
Note: This piece first ran in my Substack newsletter earlier this week.
Over the past few months, Extraterrestrial author Avi Loeb has tied himself more and more to the UFO community as he builds his brand as the astronomer most willing to entertain the possibility that aliens are visiting Earth. He appeared on the TMZ UFO special to speculate about military UFO videos as evidence of alien contact. He is headlining the Contact in the Desert conference of ancient astronaut, UFO, and paranormal charlatans, and he said in a podcast last month that he is in talks with wealth patrons about heading a team to investigate UFOs.
Diana Pasulka is consistently infuriating. The American Cosmic author is persistently half-right in her analysis of UFOs as a quasi-religious movement, correctly understanding how UFO belief systems parallel those of decentralized religious traditions but faltering time and again in showing too much faith in the truth claims this New Age religion passes off as science. A case in point is this week’s essay in Religion Dispatches in which Pasulka alleges that the recent government UFO report has transformed UFO belief through the validating holy baptism of government approval.
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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