The first segment describes the July 2019 internet joke asking readers to “storm” Area 51 in the hope of seeing the aliens rumored in UFO circles to be housed at the secret Groom Lake Air Force facility, using news clips provided by NBC News. The FBI visited event originator Matty Roberts asking him to report any attendees who had been “radicalized.” Roberts turned the event into a festival called “Alienstock,” but when the talking heads talk about “efforts” to “scale down the rhetoric,” the narration uses anti-government rhetoric (they say visitors “refused to be intimidated” for example) and blames the government for stopping a citizen revolt, carefully ignoring the fact that the show’s own talking heads, including Giorgio Tsoukalos, took to social media to tell their fans not to break the law by trespassing on the Groom Lake base. “I do not condone anarchy,” Tsoukalos said at the time. Tsoukalos went on to say back then that Area 51 “isn’t the place” where any alien evidence could be found. Somehow, however, that conclusion became inoperative as soon as the show decided to spin an hour out of thirty-year-old Area 51 conspiracies. Tsoukalos is a producer on the show, and yet he appears here (albeit only once, in a clip clearly taken out of context) in an episode premised on the exact opposite of what he claimed on social media to believe.
The second segment traces the history, real and fictional, of Area 51. Jeremy Corbell, the filmmaker who made bad documentaries about Skinwalker Ranch and self-described Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar, travels to Groom Lake with Nick Pope to film an on-location segment for the show. Corbell has a financial interest in Bob Lazar, who has a financial relationship with the publisher of his autobiography, To the Stars Academy, which in turn has a financial relationship with both Ancient Aliens talking head Moulton Howe and the History Channel, which producers TTSA’s flagship show, Shameless… er, Unidentified. It’s all very incestuous, with everybody making money in a big daisy chain, or perhaps circle jerk depending on how much you think they are simply pleasuring themselves.
The third segment deals with Lockheed Martin and a UFO sighting reported by the head of the company’s Skunkworks, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, who went on to scout the location for Area 51. The second director of Skunkworks, Benjamin Rich, invented stealth air technology, and we get some hearsay from a colleague that Johnson offered a deathbed confession about UFOs and super-advanced technology. Then the show dips into the almost certainly false claims made by Bob Lazar, which the show has already covered on many occasions, including a June episode based on the same Corbell film recycled here for this episode. But that has to wait for a commercial break.
The circle jerk gets another dick when George Knapp gets added to the mix in the segment derived from Corbell’s film. You’ll recall that Knapp attacked me in an interview a year ago. Knapp, who recently launched his own UFO news site under the auspices of his employer, Nexstar Media Group, made his name in ufology by promoting Lazar’s outlandish claims in 1989 on KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, and once again it’s worth noting that Knapp wrote a book about Skinwalker Ranch at the behest of Robert Bigelow, who took government cash to study UFOs and space ghosts at Skinwalker Ranch and whose team members now work for TTSA, a company that I remind you has a financial relationship with the History Channel. Knapp also secretly lobbied then-Sen. Harry Reid to give Bigelow more cash by helping feed Reid UFO info and facilitating communication between Reid and Bigelow. Knapp and the ex-senator now have a regular series of conversations about Reid’s UFO interests. The segment includes footage from Corbell’s Bob Lazar documentary, which the show is promoting directly with repeated references to the documentary, by name, over and over.
The fifth segment talks to a former Air Force pilot named David Fruehauf who claims to be able to corroborate some of Bob Lazar’s claims. Fruehauf only speaks about the details Lazar gave about how government workers commuted to and from Area 51, and when he begins speaking about UFOs, it is obvious that he has no actual firsthand experience about UFOs but is instead arguing that if Lazar got the commuting details right, then he must be right about space aliens. That’s illogical. Ultimately, while skeptics contend there is no evidence Lazar worked at Area 51, it really doesn’t matter since someone who worked there could lie as easily as someone who didn’t, maybe even easier. (Alternately, he could have gleaned key details from people who actually worked there.) Some conspiracy theories are presented to suggest that the Pentagon is trying to discredit Lazar, but he has done a good job of that on his own over the years. He pleaded guilty to pandering, underwent bankruptcy, and started a company selling nuclear material only to have that company plead guilty to several criminal charges.
The final segment returns to the Area 51 “Storming” and repeats material from the first segment before suggesting that the gathering of UFO enthusiasts last September is the start of a “social movement” that they hope will grow year after year into a major mainstream global festival and protest movement. Gee, I thought that’s what Ancient Aliens’s AlienCon was for. The show expresses hope that the “next generation” of UFO researcher will come out of the movement, thus perpetuating an endless cycle of ignorant grifters demanding a “disclosure” that will never come. Nick Pope says that “a new generation” must “demand answers” from the government. If they really believed that, they might try running for office and gaining power, but apparently that is a bridge too far, more unrealistic than imagining that a shitty History Channel talking head show might change the world through speculation.
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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