Last week Scott Wolter appeared on Red Ice Radio, a program run by Henrik Palmgren, a Swedish conspiracy theorist. I didn’t say anything about it last week because, as you might guess, I was a bit preoccupied with A+E’s cease and desist order. Now that I’ve had time to listen to the program, I was shocked by how Wolter accidentally revealed some rather disingenuous goings on over at A+E Networks, the parent of History and H2.
Most of Wolter’s interview was a recap of his Hooked X® book and the first season of America Unearthed, which I will not revisit. Below are some of the other highlights along with my thoughts about Wolter’s comments on Red Ice Radio.
Early on in the show, Wolter accused academics of engaging in a conspiracy to suppress the truth. (I know.) But this time he specifically accused academia and skeptics of operating out of a nefarious sense of politics and religious conservatism, which is suppressing Kensington Rune Stone research:
…why these people have no interest in exploring this leads me to believe there is more going on that just stupidity, and quite frankly, Henrik, I don’t think these people are that stupid. I know they’re not that stupid. So why are they acting this way? […] People are going to call me a conspiracy theorist, but I can tell you that in my own mind I think I understand what part of the reason is. Part of it has to do with politics, and part of it has to do with religion because the guys that came over here were fugitive Knights Templar. […] These guys, whose true ideology I think is symbolized by the “Hooked X®,” had every reason to come over here…
Shortly after, Wolter gave away the real reason he ran crying to A+E’s lawyers that I was “copying” his book design. It turns out he has another self-published book coming out next month:
I have a new book coming out in about a month. It’s also a “Hooked X®” book. It’s a continuation of that, but it’s called Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers: Mysteries of the Hooked X®, and this ideology goes all the way back to Egypt, [and] I think people are going to be shocked when they read what I’ve written in my new book, which is a continuation of the old book, but I think they’re also going to go, “this makes sense.”
Since the old book didn’t make any sense, I can’t see how this new one will, though I look forward to hearing how Wolter is going to branch out into Egyptian history. Poor Akhenaton. But guess what: Wolter’s new book, which has not yet been published, has a blue cover with a map of America that looks suspiciously similar to my book cover in that they are not really very similar except in general concept. Could he have copied me? Of course not, but neither did I copy him. Blue happens to be a fairly popular color. His new book also has the words “America Unearthed” on the cover without any indication that the book is not endorsed by A+E. He also uses the America Unearthed tagline in the book description without a word of complaint from A+E. Someone needs to stop him! But, obviously, they never will. Hypocrites.
…theoretically you could lay claim to the entire Mississippi and Missouri watershed to the south and the Red River-Hudson Bay watershed to the north—that’s about half the continent over here. Why am I the first person to bring this up? People say, [sarcasm] why would they go all the way over there? Did you ever stop to think that maybe logic would tell you they did it for a reason? Start using your heads!
OK, let’s do that. The Rune Stone, taken at face value, said that a group of mixed Swedes and Norse were attacked by unnamed people in 1362. It says nothing about claiming any land, and I can’t think of a land claim that begins by urging people to stay away from the bloodthirsty, violent people trying to kill us all.
Next, Wolter returns to his theme that professors are irresponsible assholes as well as part of a conspiracy to impose orthodoxy:
If I do something stupid and I’m ethical (sic) I could lose my job and potentially I could go to jail. OK? What accountability does a tenured professor have? […] They’re basically autonomous; they don’t have to answer to anybody.
That job would of course be concrete structural testing, not Jesus Bloodline speculation. Wolter attended an actual university, worked with professors, and doesn’t seem to understand anything about tenure. But that’s OK because he believes that the internet will save history from domination by professionals: “With the instant transfer of information, this stuff [conventional history] is all going to crumble.” Fortunately, the same internet lets us see what Wolter says on Swedish radio.
Hilariously, and un-ironically, he derides academics for their “arrogance, hubris, agendas, and protecting turfs and the politics of people.” He then reveals how deeply he is saturated in the Dan Brown conspiracy worldview by parroting the plot of Brown’s new book, Inferno, as a deep insight of his own: “I think as a species we are at a critical juncture. We’re at seven billion people right now and growing, and I think everybody who is honest realizes we can’t keep going like this. If we don’t do something about this population problem nature will.”
But here’s the kicker. Last month, I retracted a story after History sent a spokesperson to deny that the network had ever met with Wolter about the religious theories on his program. On background the network denied that they had any knowledge of the religious themes of the show or that Wolter had ever discussed offending any part of the audience. The network made it known that they wanted this story corrected immediately and told me on background that the program came to them from a five minute “sizzle reel” and that no one at the network had screened episodes, had any concerns about its content, or were aware anyone might have any concerns about the content.
Well, I don’t feel the need to honor their background request anymore because it turns out all of that was untrue. How do I know this? Scott Wolter said so last week. Take a gander:
That’s what we’re [America Unearthed] trying to do, get the truth out there and then let the chips fall where they may. […] I give History Channel and H2 a lot of credit because I’ve sat down with, you know, uh, the head of the network, and I looked him in the eye, and I said ‘You guys, you know, this isn’t for the faint of heart. You know, we’re going to be hitting people between the eyes and we’re going to hit them hard. I mean when you start talking about people’s faith, about Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene and all of this. I mean this is heavy stuff, and it’s very disturbing to many people, and we’re not trying to offend anybody, we’re not trying to … I just want to know what happened. That’s where I’m coming from.’ And I said, ‘Look, it’s all hands on deck. You’re either all in or you’re not. Are you guys in?’ And they said, ‘We’re in.’ So I really appreciate that support because I’m sure there are a lot of other networks out there that would say ‘We’re not going there.’ And somebody has to stand up. Somebody has to say it, and what the hell? I’ve got a big mouth. I’ll say it.”
Just as long as no one else with a big mouth calls him out on it.
So, while my original source mischaracterized the meeting as a request for an apology (an error of interpretation), all of the facts—that Wolter met with executives, that they discussed the religious content of the show, and that Wolter expressed that he had no intention of offending anyone—were completely and totally true. Yet History denied all of them. Therefore, we can either choose to believe Wolter, who is clearly self-aggrandizing here, or the History spokesperson. Both can’t be telling the truth, but since they’ve already tried to sue me once, I’ll leave it to you to decide who the liar is.
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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