Have you seen the bombastic YouTube video that J. Hutton Pulitzer put out as the first effort from his and Scott Wolter’s new XpLrR company? (Or, as Wolter capitalizes it, Xplrr.)
I was struck by the fact that Pulitzer marked his account YouTube with his old Treasure Force logo—and still features “Expedition History” as his video highlight. Branding! I wonder who did the opening and closing graphics? They seem professionally done, so they can’t be Pulitzer’s own work, and they clearly came from a different source than the amateurish video that they were dropped into. The closing graphic looks embarrassed to have been forced into a silly contortion after Pulitzer dropped it in and decided to use one of the “fancy” transitions in his video software.
I mention the video because it focuses on Oak Island, Pulitzer’s obsession and the reason for his effort to claim that a modern souvenir sword was actually a Roman-era artifact lost by a Classical expedition to Oak Island. Given that this is Pulitzer’s major claim, and that Oak Island has been not just his justification for “investigating” history but also his claim to television fame, I would have thought that he and his new business partner Scott Wolter might have discussed the subject. But on his blog this week Wolter essentially cut his partner off at the knees by admitting that Pulitzer is full of it:
First, I have not read anything other than cursory information about the sword. Therefore, I cannot weigh in intelligently one way or the other. However, I don't give either side of the argument any credibility until it can be definitively established the artifact has a clean chain of custody and provenance. Until that happens, opinions expressed either way are meaningless.
Now, he is of course wrong: The chain of custody is irrelevant if analysis demonstrates that the sword is not ancient. Logic alone would therefore refute the claim. But the broader point is that Wolter and Pulitzer don’t seem to be coordinating on even the most basic level. He said he doesn’t give Pulitzer “any credibility”! So far, it looks like Pulitzer gained Wolter’s “credentials” and TV “credibility” while Wolter got access to … what exactly? Presumably Pulitzer’s deep pockets. What a joke.
Indeed, yesterday afternoon Hutton Pulitzer and Scott Wolter released another podcast in which they obsess over the H2 network as part of what seems to be their plan to provide episode by episode commentary on America Unearthed. This podcast went all the way back to the pilot of December 2012, but it highlights what Pulitzer gets out of the partnership: TV credibility. What’s interesting to me is that A+E Networks, the owner of History and H2, once ordered me to cease and desist selling a book that didn’t feature any of their intellectual property for fear of “confusion.” How long will they let these two complain about History while using the History logo on their products? Indeed, if the podcast is attempting to make a profit for their business by creating a 39-episode enhanced guide to America Unearthed by the host of the show—not criticism of it, which is protected by law—this skirts dangerously close to the kind of “confusion” that A+E Networks alleged that I caused. It really seems like Pulitzer and Wolter are trying to piggyback on the History channel, right down to the use of the History color scheme in their own XpLrR logo.
In the podcast, Wolter again accuses the U.S. Park Service of working to suppress the truth about the Maya, and he claims that “academics” met in secret with the Park Service to stop them. “I don’t know what those discussions are, but clearly it had to be something like that,” he said. Wolter also repeats the conspiracy theory that the Smithsonian excavated Native mounds to “cleanse and sanitize” them of pre-Columbian European artifacts. He adds that there is a “sacred paradigm” that Columbus was the first European to reach America. “Nobody was here before Chris, so it’s our sovereign right to take this land,” he said. This is (a) wrong because no one though Columbus was first since the 1820s and (b) American nationalists proposed all manner of ancient European colonization efforts specifically to justify taking Native American lands. For example, Andrew Jackson—a president of the United States—argued that the existence of the lost, presumably white, race of the Mound Builders proved that Native Americans were late interlopers who could justifiably be removed from their land to “restore” it to white people.
Even though the podcast was supposed to focus on the question of whether the Maya visited Georgia, the two men devoted most of the podcast to rhapsodizing about the exploratory prowess of white men. Pulitzer’s conservative views are on full display when he asks his listeners—twice!—to cover their ears, apologizing that he needed to use the word “vagina” in quoting an archaeological description of a Nova Scotia petroglyph. Moments earlier he had no trouble describing the sexual prowess of men leaving “genetic evidence” of their cross-continental explorations among the “beautiful women.”
Near the end, Pulitzer segues into a rant about the need to preserve monuments to Confederate generals, which blindsided Wolter, who wasn’t prepared for the political rant. Pulitzer said that because he is Jewish he spends a great deal of time researching anti-Israel leftist academics, which is how he discovered, or so he says, that a group of archaeologists and anthropologists want to remove a Confederate monument from Stone Mountain, Georgia. The carving was made more than a century ago by the artist behind Mount Rushmore, and it served as the site of the founding of the modern Ku Klux Klan. In 2013 a petition was circulated to destroy the monument as racist, but the state of Georgia denied the petition on the grounds that it would violate Georgia law and would be destroying art history. In 2015, the NAACP proposed removing the Confederate flag from the site, but the legislature voted it down.
Pulitzer alleges that anthropologists and archaeologists banded together “over the Thanksgiving holiday” in 2015 to push for the destruction of the monument, which conflates the 2013 and 2015 events and seems to equate the NAACP with archaeologists. I am not aware of an anthropological organization that called for the destruction of the monument. He later amends this to “activists” which included some professors.
Wolter is baffled by Pulitzer’s claims and had difficulty understanding why Pulitzer mixed this up with a separate allegation that university professors refused to “display” Israeli artifacts over Israeli treatment of Palestinians. I had a hard time figuring out what Pulitzer was talking about. Indeed, the largest collection of Israeli artifacts in the world is set to go on display in Washington, at the new Bible museum founded by the people behind Hobby Lobby and designed by the same guy who worked on the Creation Museum. I finally realized what he was talking about when Pulitzer claimed, McCarthy-like, to have a list of “every” anthropologist and archaeologist who opposes Israel. He is referring to a resolution before the American Anthropological Association to officially boycott Israeli academic institutions over alleged human rights issues. The proposal is currently being voted on, and results will not be released until after voting closes on May 31.
The issue is political, but Pulitzer frames it as an effort to suppress Israeli—by which he means Biblical—history in favor of Palestinian—by which he means Islamic—views. Wolter, unaware of what Pulitzer is talking about, agrees that academics are trying to suppress the “truth” about the Bible, particularly the reality behind the life of Christ. “I can understand why people would be resistant for religious reasons, for political reasons, for territorial reasons. But that doesn’t make it right,” he said.
Wolter concludes with the dumbass claim that the Observatory at Chichen Itza is “strikingly similar” to the Newport Tower—even though they don’t look anything alike—because they contain “small windows”!
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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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