The History Channel Revoked My Press Credentials When I Tried to Review "Project Blue Book"
Project Blue Book stars Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the scientific advisor to the Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigation into UFOs. He is partnered with an Air Force officer played by Michael Malarkey from The Vampire Diaries, under the gruff and hammy supervision of Neal McDonough as an Air Force general looking to quash UFO reports. According to History’s press materials, each episode of the series will dramatize an unsolved case from the Project Blue Book files, alongside serialized conspiracy theory elements. While Robert Zemeckis’s name is attached to the project, the executive producer and writer of the series is Sean Jablonski, who ran Nip/Tuck on FX for six increasingly ludicrous seasons.
History released a screener for the pilot episode to television critics in advance of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, which is currently underway. A+E Networks, the parent company of History, has asked critics not to discuss the material in the Blue Book series screener until closer to the show’s air date. Or, rather, that’s the nice way of putting it.
After I viewed the screener and wrote up a review of the show, I contacted History’s publicity manager overseeing PR for the series, Kirby Dixon, a former fashion model and NBC page and communications coordinator who has been with History for a little less than two years. I wanted to know how long reviews of the show were embargoed since the press site and the screener omitted that important detail. She revoked my press credentials within 30 seconds of me asking how long the embargo runs, a pretty typical press question, and banned me from A+E Networks’ press site.
I have had press credentials with A+E Networks for the better part of a decade, and even during the months when A+E Networks threatened to sue me to protect America Unearthed from “audience confusion” over my critical reviews, they did not revoke my press access. I am dumbfounded that a potential future Project Blue Book review is a bridge too far for them. For most of the past decade, the powers that be at A+E Networks recognized that publicity is beneficial, even when the coverage is critical, since most of the trash they wallpaper their networks with would not otherwise spark online conversation and therefore generate audience interest. In terms of the bottom line, it doesn’t matter if viewers are watching a show because they love it or love to hate it as long as they tune in.
Nevertheless, because I have integrity where they do not, I will honor their restriction, to a point. Since they have released a trailer that gives you some of the flavor of the show, I will share with you the fact that the show is basically Dark Skies, the 1990s-era X-Files rip-off set in the 1960s and centering on the (fake) Majestic-12 conspiracy and their efforts to suppress knowledge of space aliens in the first half of the Cold War. (J. Allen Hynek is a character in both shows.) It is also a shittier version of Dark Skies, with some decidedly uninspired acting, cliché-ridden plotting, and clunky dialogue given over to too much exposition. Conceptually, the show is difficult for the audience to connect with because it lacks a true hero. If the show were to follow the real biography of Hynek he is, for most of the period the show will cover, a collaborator. The concept—UFO conspiracies are real!—does far too much of the heavy lifting.
None of this is anything you can’t pick up from the trailer, but when we are closer to the air date, I will explain more fully why this show is a disservice to UFO skeptics and believers alike, as well as fans of quality television. Let me put it this way: It’s probably important than nearly all of the footage in the trailer is not from the pilot. Indeed, and this is perhaps ironic, there is more material to work with in the three-minute trailer than there is in the hour-long pilot, and one could write a better think piece about the show from the highlight reel than from the first episode.
Sorry, History. I can’t un-see the show.
But I can talk about this: Major corporations are actively promoting pseudoscientific beliefs and profiting from the lies they foist on the public. Project Blue Book may be a drama, but its creator, David O’Leary, told Syfy Wire recently that the show was intended to serve, basically, as pro-UFO propaganda, stating that he wanted the audience to feel that the events they witnessed were “real.” He also said that part of the show’s mission is to depict Hynek’s conspiratorial conclusions several decades later, “One, that Bluebook became a misinformation campaign, a government front used to control the public perception to UFOs. And two, something of intelligence of an unknown origin — and he never said ‘alien’ definitively — but something unearthly, something that is not mankind is flying in our skies.”
Hynek, after leaving the Air Force investigation, ended up working with UFO researcher Jacques Vallée, who was then in a working partnership with paranormal researcher Hal Puthoff, and Hynek adopted Vallée’s and Puthoff’s belief that UFOs are a hybrid physical and psychical phenomenon that pop in and out of our reality from other dimensions and leave behind poltergeists. You know, science.
The History channel is essentially propagandizing for the very worst of ufology conspiracy theories, and they are not alone. It is hardly a coincidence that every major publishing house puts out bullshit books of anti-scientific and anti-rational propaganda. It is also no coincidence that both Taco Bell and McDonalds have employed ancient astronaut theorist Giorgio Tsoukalos as a spokesperson. Over the years, the news divisions of the broadcast networks have loaned out their star anchors to deliver bullshit UFO “documentaries,” most broadcast on cable, to help promote movies and TV series about UFOs.
Imagine, just for a second, that it wasn’t ufology but creationism or anti-vaccine beliefs or the flat earth hypothesis that received this treatment. Could you imagine McDonalds endorsing a flat earth conspiracy theory as cute and fun? Could you imagine a network news anchor smiling and giggling while talking about how “wild” the hunt for vaccine dangers was? Could you imagine a major drama series about a government conspiracy to suppress the whereabouts of Noah’s Ark because Americans would panic if they realized God was really real and would spank them? (And lest you think that is an off-the-wall example, there are also declassified government documents about the Ark, just as there are for UFOs.)
Time and again corporations like A+E Networks, NBCUniversal, the Walt Disney Company (a co-owner of A+E), the New York Times Company, the major publishing houses, and many others have shown that they aren’t just passive conduits for UFO beliefs but put their money and their weight on the scales to keep even the shittiest UFO conspiracy theories alive and churning out profits.
7/25/2018 09:59:03 am
"Nevertheless, because I have integrity where they do not, I will honor their restriction, to a point."
7/25/2018 12:26:13 pm
Clearly, you are no fan of Cicero. There are times I wonder why I bothered studying rhetoric.
7/25/2018 01:13:09 pm
Well, if all your conclusions were apparent from only the trailer, it's clear you had already made them. Then you begrudge other reviewers for abiding by the protocols while you put yourself above them. The only thing you've revealed here is your own pettiness. Cicero be damned.
7/25/2018 01:48:36 pm
"it ain't your quest for truth that is putting people off"
7/25/2018 10:30:01 pm
One of the few people - proven to not be an acolyte here - you should listen to among all your slobbering acolytes is Joe Scales. He seems to genuinely want you to be honest and to succeed at what you claim to be up to here. But you argue with him and ignore his advice.
An Anonymous Nerd
7/26/2018 10:48:03 am
An Anonymous Nerd
7/25/2018 07:34:22 pm
[Way to prove them right, by the way.]
8/4/2019 10:09:18 pm
The Blue Planet Project Book reveals that Aliens have been involved in human DNA manipulations throughout most of human existence and have been behind the Adam and Eve experiment that created us. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0991494245
7/25/2018 10:56:15 am
good morning, Jason
7/25/2018 11:03:41 am
_Major corporations are actively promoting pseudoscientific beliefs and profiting from the lies they foist on the public." _
7/25/2018 12:27:13 pm
Fake science is by definition false, for if it were true it would just be science. Are you trying to tell me that you think it's OK to lie to people as long as they close their eyes and wish really hard?
7/25/2018 12:50:21 pm
Is it the same science that maintains that Giza pyramids were built using ropes and pulleys and the builder was Khufu because his name was painted in some obscure location?
7/25/2018 12:52:27 pm
"Hynek adopted Vallée’s and Puthoff’s belief that UFOs are a hybrid physical and psychical phenomenon that pop in and out of our reality from other dimensions and leave behind poltergeists."
7/25/2018 01:19:13 pm
Sure thing, Nick. Here's Hynek speaking at the June 1974 Canadian Conference on Psychokinesis:
7/25/2018 01:19:23 pm
"I'm also amused by the fact that you denigrate Hynek as a scientist, who worked on creating proximity fuses during World War 2, worked on Global Satellite Tracking Systems with Harvard Astronomer Fred Whipple for the International Geophysical Year, was the head of Astronomy at Ohio State and Northwestern, and worked for the Air Force from 1949-1969."
7/25/2018 02:08:49 pm
It seems you and I have different definitions of the words BELIEF vs.THEORY. Hynek said per your cited quote there is at least a "parallel" with documented poltergeist "electrical" phenomena, i.e. lights or power going out.
7/25/2018 12:27:15 pm
Yes. Because science is the methodology that gives you PROOF. If it can't be PROVEN, it is not fact, it is opinion, and opinions are not "truth." The funny thing about facts is that they don't stop being TRUE just because you don't BELIEVE them.
7/25/2018 01:21:45 pm
Exactly. I'm so tired of people equating science and truth. Science isn't truth, it's a method. Science matters because of two opinions, the one based on a decent methodology have more weight than one based on musings and "what ifs".
Yes, science is a method, but not always about "facts" and "proof". Sometimes, you can only falsify with certainty, but not verify with certainty. Then you have to stick to most likely / probable hypotheses. Which is reasonable.
REPLY TO BERTHA
7/25/2018 01:00:47 pm
SCIENCE DEALS WITH FACTS, NOT WITH TRUTH
An Anonymous Nerd
7/25/2018 07:31:56 pm
I'm obligated to tell you to calm down....But I also agree with your point. We should stop saying "truth" when it comes to science, or journalism for that matter.
An Anonymous Nerd
7/25/2018 07:30:08 pm
[[Is science some kind of religion that holds monopoly on truth?]]
7/25/2018 12:32:21 pm
"Could you imagine a major drama series about a government conspiracy to suppress the whereabouts of Noah’s Ark because Americans would panic if they realized God was really real and would spank them?"
7/25/2018 01:25:10 pm
At least, it would make for a slightly difference TV series. Noah vs boring aliens!
7/25/2018 01:13:32 pm
"Could you imagine McDonalds endorsing a flat earth conspiracy theory as cute and fun? " Yes, if it sold hamburgers.
7/25/2018 01:16:26 pm
Colavitus contra mundum.
7/25/2018 01:23:23 pm
I literally wrote a book about one of the arts--"Knowing Fear"--covering the horror genre and making a case for its value as part of the literary and cinematic canon. I am hardly against the arts!
7/25/2018 01:33:00 pm
I'm confused here. If the press credential were revoked then wouldn't that mean all bets are off in terms of agreements regarding when to discuss the series? That is, unless there was a formal agreement. But if that was the case, then information needed to be provided on how long the "embargo" would be.
7/25/2018 01:41:27 pm
I'm not a lawyer, but when you view a screener, there are terms and conditions, so in theory they apply regardless of what later happens. The problem is that A+E Networks didn't actually say there was an embargo on the press site and didn't clearly lay out what was permitted.
7/25/2018 02:19:14 pm
Sounds like a sort of ill-defined nodding agreement oriented in their favor. Especially if there are terms and conditions but which omit info on how long before review material can be discussed.
The story you present here is also valuable and could sell to a certain degree, or at least, it is a step towards the necessary counterbalance to crazy messages of profit-oriented broadcasters.
7/25/2018 03:00:38 pm
In 1977, Hynek actually talked about 3 hypotheses that he considered for the phenomenon: These were the Extraterrestrial Intelligence Hypothesis (the ETH remains my favorite), the Extradimensional Intelligence Hypothesis (self explanatory, in my opinion), and the Material and Mental Hypothesis (which I believe fits with Vallee's theory.) This was the best he could do after 29 years in the UFO mainstream. He was hedging his bets.
7/25/2018 03:36:10 pm
Wow, what a fuss. Funny that Jason got in trouble for trying to *comply with* the embargo.
7/25/2018 09:13:03 pm
I'm not sure how tweeting reviews of the show and its acting, writing, and plotting, then comparing the very episode to "Dark Skies" isn't a basic violation of any review embargo.
7/25/2018 11:13:04 pm
A+E did not indicate that there was an embargo on the press site or in the press release. The screener said only that distribution and copying of the screener was prohibited. Most embargoed material has it clearly spelled out, as hundreds of press releases I've received have made clear. I checked with them out of professional courtesy. Neither the tweets nor the above offer thoughts beyond what the trailer and publicly available press releases and press coverage already include.
7/25/2018 11:57:38 pm
"A+E did not indicate that there was an embargo on the press site or in the press release."
7/26/2018 01:13:17 pm
Vox's Todd VanDerWoff posted his thoughts about Project Blue Book on Twitter. Nobody threw a snit fit about it.
7/26/2018 05:00:44 pm
So rather than address your false statements above, you point to this:
7/25/2018 04:00:29 pm
History was probably just stuffy and didn't want someone who wasn't working for a professional newspaper getting a presskit for their show.
An Anonymous Nerd
7/25/2018 07:40:58 pm
I'm disappointed to see that they feel comfortable reaching out to my People (Nerds, geeks, etc.), with this stuff.
7/25/2018 09:51:57 pm
Don't feel like the Lone Ranger, Jason. You aren't the first and you won't be the last to run afoul of the minions of The Mouse. Back in the days when A&E was the Arts & Entertainment Channel before it became A&E Networks, and later when History actually produced historical programs, I enjoyed a pleasant, and profitable, nodding acquaintance with both. Then along came Disney....
7/26/2018 01:41:32 pm
7/26/2018 02:29:17 pm
Jason Colavito is mad because his hate blog is now recognized as a hate blog.
The Last Unicorn
7/26/2018 11:38:22 pm
7/26/2018 06:52:33 pm
I have struggled to log in with my credentials since I was approved and if you click reset password, nothing happens. Their press site is junk over and above the issues you're seeing.
11/7/2018 09:46:12 pm
Now the whole story of the Blue Planet Project is revealed! Discover why the military and Intelligence agencies hated it and why they will really hate this new Blue Planet Project Conspiracy Book!
7/6/2019 06:03:52 pm
Warning! PROJECT BLUE BOOK was a FRAUD! Taken over by the CIA to use as a debunking tool to prevent the KGB from discovering our alien technology secrets we were getting from downed UFOs and captured aliens! The real alien/UFO secrets were released by a government insider in the BLUE PLANET PROJECT BOOK and can be read about here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0991494245
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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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