I am going to make a few notes here about yesterday’s New York Times article by Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal about the government’s UFO investigation program. I wasn’t planning to write anything today, but these notes will primarily serve to remind me when I do my year in review that this happened.
As many of you have seen, Blumenthal and Kean continued their series of puff pieces fluffing To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science that just happen to come at key moments in the company’s annual schedule, such as this month’s airing of Unidentified, To the Stars’ flagship series. That show has seen a massive downturn in the ratings this year, falling to just 834,000 viewers last week and virtually no media coverage. Blumenthal and Kean continue their dubious practice of interviewing To the Stars officials and hangers-on, this time Luis Elizondo, about government UFO investigations without revealing his financial stake in the outcome as a To the Stars employee and History Channel UFO investigator, and Eric Davis, an associate of To the Stars executive and longtime UFO fantasist Hal Puthoff.
That dubious effort to deceive Times readers aside, the piece contained very little that wasn’t already discussed in previous pieces. The news peg was Sen. Marco Rubio’s free gift to TTSA in the form of a requirement that the U.S. intelligence agencies produce a report about UFOs, a measure that made it into the final defense authorization bill yesterday.
The majority of the article merely recycles previous articles, with a few quotes from Rubio added for spice. There is almost nothing to say about the content except to note that Times editors forced Blumenthal and Kean to be more explicit about clarifying that UFOs still have no scientific evidence to support the notion that they are from another planet or another dimension, or have crashed: “No crash artifacts have been publicly produced for independent verification. Some retrieved objects, such as unusual metallic fragments, were later identified from laboratory studies as man-made.”
Late on Friday, Reid issued a statement on Twitter basically accusing Kean and Blumenthal of misrepresenting his views on aliens and forcefully denying their reporting:
So why write about it? Oh, right: They really want to believe. Kean is a cheerleader for TTSA and has a side business lobbying for UFO disclosure. Blumenthal is currently writing a biography of John Mack, the psychiatrist who became an investigator of alien abduction claims, eventually concluding that he found them to be credible. The book is due out next year and is titled The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack, painting Mack as a martyr who suffered for the truth about aliens.
In fact, Blumenthal and Kean want to believe so badly that the print version of the article had to be corrected this morning after the reporters wrongly alleged that Reid had claimed that the U.S. government retrieved and studied a crashed extraterrestrial vehicle: “Mr. Reid said he believed that crashes of objects of unknown origin may have occurred and that retrieved materials should be studied; he did not say that crashes had occurred and that retrieved materials had been studied secretly for decades,” the Times dryly noted without apologizing for the rather extreme error.
In comments posted to the online version of the article, Blumenthal said that he and Kean were looking into the so-called “Wilson documents,” apparently false notes supposedly made by Eric Davis of conversation with former DIA official Adm. Thomas Wilson in 2002 alleging that the U.S. government possesses a crashed Roswell flying saucer and have reverse-engineered its technology. Blumenthal said that he finds Davis “credible.” Adm. Wilson denies that Davis’s notes are anything but UFO fan fiction.
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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