On Monday night, the Travel Channel began airing reruns of the 2013-2015 H2 network series America Unearthed, and I’ve heard from several people contacted by the show’s former production company, Committee Films, that they are currently exploring a revival of the series and are looking to book guests for future episodes. The week-long multi-hour airings of America Unearthed seem poised to test the waters of viewer interest for a future revival. America Unearthed was hosted by self-described “forensic geologist” Scott F. Wolter, an expert in concrete, who explored alleged “mysteries” in the United States for evidence that Old World peoples colonized the future United States prior to Columbus on behalf of a vast conspiracy centered on the claim that the Knights Templar guarded the secret that Jesus Christ was not God but rather the father of a line of European nobles, culminating in the Sinclair family, America’s rightful god-kings.
The Travel Channel bills the show as Wolter’s efforts to unravel a conspiracy imposed from above: “He uncovers compelling theories that predate the official ‘discovery’ of the New World and finds evidence of the great lengths people have gone to cover up these mysteries.” Notice that they frame the “discovery” of the New World in terms of European arrival.
Episodes of the series have been reedited into two-hour blocs and given new titles different from their original H2 run.
Over the past few months, the Travel Channel rebranded itself Trvl and has increased its volume of Eurocentric anti-historical programming. Last month, Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox claimed that Native Americans were sub-humans who were hybrids of normal humans and non-human cannibal giants. In October, the network aired Lost Amazon: Project Z, which claimed that South America had been settled first by a lost race of Caucasian giants, reducing one of the show’s cast members to tears of joy at the thought that white people were the first inhabitants of the Americas.
While show host Scott Wolter is not himself racist, America Unearthed fits into this milieu with an episode devoted to investigating whether Europeans were the real first Americans, an episode asking whether the United States is the royal patrimony of Northern Europeans who colonized it in the Middle Ages, and an episode in which a guest professes admiration for Confederate sympathizers’ efforts to expand slavery and white minority rule across Mexico and the Caribbean. In large measure, such insensitive claims made it to air because the production team relied on uncritically on outdated nineteenth and twentieth century material.
At some point, it starts to look like a pattern.
It certainly seems as though the Travel Channel is trying to remake itself as a junior knockoff of the History Channel, particularly in the wake of the loss of its most popular series, Expedition Unknown to sister network Discovery. It is especially surprising that the network would take on a modestly rated H2 castoff, but doubly so since Wolter’s America Unearthed earned a rebuke from he Smithsonian for its false claims about the Bat Creek Stone and his allegations of a Smithsonian conspiracy against the American people, and Wolter’s follow-up series, Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar, earned condemnation from UNESCO for ethical lapses, prompting Wolter to declare the United Nations’ cultural organization biased against Americans. For a network whose highest rated show is currently Mysteries at the Museum, it seems odd to purposely air a show that undermines the work of museums.
I asked the public relations director for the Travel Channel for comment, but as of this writing, she had not responded to my request.
Ratings for the rebroadcast of America Unearthed were released overnight. Just 475,000 people tuned in. The numbers seem bad, in line with the puny showing for Legends of the Lost, which finished its run with fewer than 400,000 viewers, but the numbers are a significant improvement over the same time period last week, when the Travel Channel prime time lineup failed to rank in the Nielsen ratings and the channel saw its highest ratings all day for afternoon reruns of My Ghost Story.
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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