Journalist Peter Bergen, probably best known from his appearances on CNN as a national security analyst, launched a new podcast through Audible today, In the Room with Peter Bergen. The high-profile new podcast aims to cover national security issues and today’s three-episode launch includes an episode on flying saucers—because, of course you need UFOs to draw interest. As you might expect, the podcast includes interviews with the usual suspects, including Alex Dietrich, Chris Mellon, Mick West, and Seth Shostak, as well as New Yorker writer Gideon Lewis-Krauss. It also has nothing of value to say about UFOs, as evidenced by its reliance on Lewis-Krauss, whose only connection to the UFO “mystery” is writing an article about it. But, hey, that’s enough for a lifetime ticket as a UFO “expert”!
Bergen’s podcast is primarily a rehash of what others have written about UFOs. Primarily, it summarizes Lewis-Krauss’s New Yorker piece from a couple of years back, Leslie Kean’s and Ralph Blumenthal’s faulty New York Times pieces since 2017, and the book Mirage Men, with a sprinkling of debunking from West and Shostak. The largest part of the podcast is devoted to summarizing Mirage Men and the allegation that the U.S. federal government created UFO conspiracy theories, fabricated documents, and pressured the media to debunk claims of space alien UFO pilots. Bergen doesn’t bother to think too hard about this. His only comment is to incidentally note that “there isn't any official confirmation that the U.S. government ran a disinformation campaign that accidentally inspired the X-Files,” before reminding listeners that Mirage Men author Mark Pilkington makes “a good argument.”
It’s an even-handed summary to the point of becoming actively useless. Without some indication of what to believe or which claims are more credible, everything becomes equally probable to listeners who lack detailed background knowledge.
Merely summarizing other people’s work isn’t the worst media sin, but Bergen remains remarkably uncritical and incurious as he discusses UFOs. He never challenges his guests, asking no tough questions, and simply accepting everything they say at face value. Chris Mellon literally claims space aliens are flying through our skies, and Bergen offers not a word of pushback, treating the statement from someone he notes “served in the Pentagon during the Clinton and Bush administrations” with the same blasé indifference he affords to Mick West’s detailed explanations of debunked UFO videos. “His explanations are pretty heavy on math,” Bergen complains of West.
The only time Bergen shows a bit of spark is when he reveals how deeply his perceptions are shaped by the New York Times and The New Yorker, two elite publications that he implicitly trusts, to the point of credulity. As a member of the media elite, his approach is that of the elite media, being above it all, a disinterested observer who doesn’t need to think too deeply. The half-hearted, half-assed approach In the Room takes probably reflects Bergen’s own lack of interest in a subject he is clearly covering for the clicks. “Now I'm not really a sci-fi guy,” he says at one point. “This, honestly, is just not a topic I spend a lot of time thinking about.”
Perhaps he ought to have spent a little more time thinking about it. With no particular purpose in mind beyond profit and no effort to discern truth, his rehash of rehashes contributes nothing of value but does manage to muddy the waters by treating space aliens as a coequal explanation, despite the insistence down the line, from independent scientists to the Pentagon team in charge of UFO analysis, that there is no evidence whatsoever of space aliens on earth.
5/16/2023 04:15:26 pm
"Merely summarizing other people’s work isn’t the worst media sin"
Lewis-Krauss is a scatterbrain
5/16/2023 04:50:05 pm
His UFO article was 13,000 words about nothing.
5/17/2023 12:56:16 am
"...there is no evidence whatsoever of space aliens on earth."
5/17/2023 02:04:58 am
You see, Jason, you ARE aware of what sells, or you wouldn’t say Bergen was.. The weird thing is, you obviously love delving into the ufo topic, and your critiques are fun and hilarious. You don’t have to be a publisher [i was] to note you have a ufo-skeptic fan base, and broad and fun take on the subject, some great takedowns of personas, and some wry humor…in other words, WRITE A UFO BOOK, and go fo a times best seller. Dean? The only topic you probably love more than Dean is UFOs. Only one of those two topics sells in the way a publisher wants.
5/17/2023 03:51:19 pm
Do you imagine that in the past twenty years I've never tried? It is very difficult to sell a skeptical UFO book; indeed, a publisher once asked me if I could change my mind to write one from a pro-alien point of view. And, historically, UFO books don't sell all that well. The new crop inspired by AARO and the Congressional hearings won't come to market until later this year, so I'm not sure how well it will hold, but the general consensus among publishers is that they want an astronomer, rocket scientist, or TV personality to write them--not me.
5/18/2023 01:38:33 am
That's what publishers do. You need to get self-published on PDF.
5/19/2023 09:14:45 pm
Sounds like the publishers want Travis Taylor.
5/23/2023 12:37:52 pm
I have a short reminiscence for you.
5/25/2023 01:14:34 am
5/17/2023 06:15:19 am
Sounds like Netflix where they've released a documentary claiming that Cleopatra was a Sub-Saharan African.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/21/2023 03:02:48 pm
... But did any of them ever manage to bust their brothers?
5/23/2023 12:57:32 pm
Hi Graham -
5/25/2023 01:28:52 am
@Senior Dwarflord Grondine:
5/17/2023 04:45:19 pm
To those who have read a few books on the topic of aliens it is obvious that both positive and negative aliens have been involved with Earth and humanity for a long time. Now the question is does alien-denialism benefit positive or negative ones?
5/18/2023 09:09:36 pm
I take issue with your premise. It's not obvious at all. Although I'm told Ancient Aliens theorists say "Yes!"
5/20/2023 06:05:33 am
Have you read any books on the topic lately? What was the last one?
5/25/2023 08:05:47 pm
The question is....
5/19/2023 04:29:41 am
Why didn't the aliens help to defeat the Spanish in Central and South America ?
5/19/2023 06:10:34 pm
"THE QUESTION IS....
5/20/2023 06:09:49 am
The Prime Directive might be the reason.
5/24/2023 04:34:27 pm
Annabel, you think the aliens adopted Starfleet rules from Star Trek ?
5/25/2023 07:02:32 am
It is the other way around. Star Trek is based on real life.
5/25/2023 07:48:03 pm
5/19/2023 10:05:43 pm
Contrary to what others propose, t’was alien ufo crashes that caused the Younger Dryas Impact issues. There are craters, just can’t show them to you. Caused the megafauna extinction, just don’t tell the bison and bears. Also, the radiation from a heretofore undiscovered radioactive element caused the gamma ray/C14 effect The craft plowing through the glacier unleashed a tsunami of cold water into the Atlantic Ocean that screwed up the natural currents.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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