Travel Channel Has Fox News Pundit and Ancient Astronaut Theorist Investigate JFK Conspiracies
In the news today, the internet is salivating over a mysterious box containing drawings of extraterrestrials as ancient mythological figures. The drawings by Daniel Christiansen date from the 1930s to the 1980s and are obviously influenced by pulp science fiction illustrations. Christiansen illustrates material related to Chariots of the Gods and The Spaceship of Ezekiel and yet somehow we are meant to see this as independent confirmation of ancient astronauts, according to internet posters, because Christiansen claimed to have encountered an alien and… believed really hard in ancient astronauts? Frankly, I can’t fathom why the art, made largely after Chariots (1968), almost entirely after the Bible-UFO movement of the 1950s, and absolutely after “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926) should be evidence of anything.
But let’s talk instead about the latest cable television attack on the concept of credibility.
The Travel Channel has a new series called America Declassified in which a group of journalists investigate “mysteries” of American history, with a focus on conspiracies. So far this does not have anything to do with ancient history, but the first episode (which aired Sunday night) did feature a prominent appearance by conspiracy theorist, ancient astronaut believer, and Ancient Aliens pundit Jim Marrs, proving that it doesn’t matter how extreme your ideas, or how racist or anti-Semitic you are in expressing them, cable TV is happy to have you as long as you’ve been on before. (See also: Glenn Beck, working on a new deal to bring his online channel to cable for 24 hour conspiracy theorizing.)
The program had conservative Fox News pundit and former CIA officer Mike Baker investigate JFK assassination conspiracies with an assist from Marrs. Baker, interestingly, isn’t just a Fox News pundit but also the president of Diligence LLC, a company that benefited financially from its strategic partnership with firms working with the U.S. government during the occupation of Iraq in 2003. (Baker left the firm in 2004 and rejoined in 2009.) As Baker investigates government conspiracies, I’m going to guess that few will involve anything so provable as where U.S. government money goes when it enters the world of “private contractors.”
The program offered nothing new but instead rehashed old ideas about where a second shooter could have stood. Lacking the courage of their convictions, the producers failed to bring Baker’s segment to anything resembling a conclusion, causing me to wonder exactly what the point of the segment (one of three in the hour) was supposed to be. It existed entirely to imply sinister conspiracies without presenting much, if anything, in support of them. Among the conspiracies, the show claims that witnesses who contradicted the Warren Commission report were “mysteriously” killed—by whom they do not say. The show then contradicts its own narrative of all-powerful conspiracies by interviewing a witness who contradicts the Commission’s findings and yet somehow is still living. (She claims she did not see Oswald in the Texas School Book Depository stairwell right after the shooting, when he should have been descending the stairs. Memory, being as fallible as it is, makes it impossible to know if she remembers events in the right order—For example, Pres. George W. Bush thought he remembered seeing the first plane hit the World Trade Center on TV early on September 11, 2001, even though such footage wasn’t available until much later.)
Baker was overly taken by a plaque on the Texas School Book Depository stating that Lee Harvey Oswald “allegedly” shot Kennedy from the sixth floor. He implies—but does not assert—that this is the conspirators’ confirmation that the official story is a lie. If that were the case, they had a funny way of doing it. (Conspirators love leaving clues in broad daylight for those “with eyes to see.”) The plaque was put up on March 29, 1981 and was written by a known individual—Shirley Caldwell. The wording reflected the discomfort of the state of Texas with identifying any site in Dallas with the assassination; there had been a massive battle to get Texas and Dallas to put up any sort of historical marker in Dealey Plaza in the 1960s and 1970s. The plaque used a legalistic wording reflecting the fact that Oswald had never been formally convicted in a court of law and therefore was only alleged by the government to be the assassin.
The show depicts the plaque after its recent vandalism. Someone has been carving around the word “allegedly” ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination. The plaque was restored and repainted this week.
All of that is neither here nor there because the outrageous part of the show was the inclusion of ancient astronaut theorist Jim Marrs alongside actor, comedian, and UFO and conspiracy buff Richard Belzer as “experts” on the Kennedy assassination.
Let me remind you that Jim Marrs recently asserted that ancient astronauts founded the conspiracy responsible for controlling world governments and that the New World Order worships ancient aliens as gods. We are supposed to trust Marrs’s views on the Kennedy conspiracy after he concluded that the evidence for a global cult of ancient-alien-worshipping politicians is “compelling…almost overwhelming,” including his allegation that aliens orchestrated 9/11?
Is there anything that disqualifies someone from appearing on TV?
So, we have the Travel Channel, owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, which operates UKTV in conjunction with BBC Worldwide, a company funded through the British government. It is showing a program starring a man who makes money selling intelligence and security services to world governments, including America’s, but is at the same time investigating conspiracies involving those governments. He then interviews a man who believes that an alien-Jewish conspiracy is planning to institute socialism after the collapse of civilization next year. Together, they are supposed to have reopened the Kennedy assassination.
Oh, and Jim Marrs is published by HarperCollins, a division of News Corp., which until this spring was also owner Fox News Channel, Baker’s favorite media outlet and the way he catapulted to fame. Today, Fox News is part of 21st Century Fox, but both companies still answer to Rupert Murdoch.
Then, to tie it all up in a ribbon, the production company behind the show, Indigo Films, is responsible for such other gems as Psychic Espionage, Secret UFO Files, Roswell: Final Declassification, America’s Psychic Past, Vampire Secrets, and America’s Loch Ness Monster. It’s no stretch to say that the independently-owned company makes much of its money from “alternative” and “conspiracy” programs it sells to cable channels, including History, Travel, and Discovery. In fact, you might even call these conspiracy programs an industry of their own.
Yup, that’s about par for the course on cable television—but this is one conspiracy I’d like to see exposed: how government and corporate money funnels to interrelated publishing and broadcasting groups that in turn hire the same few pundits and authors to feed us the same few conspiracy theories every few months for a steady, regular profit, and in turn impoverishing public discourse.
11/5/2013 05:10:56 am
Maybe it's like "Mockingbird," the classic government media intrusion, come full-circle back to the future...now. The government feeds us.
11/6/2013 12:00:14 pm
Anyone who will look at a map of the parade route can see that the block where Kennedy was shot was the worst possible place to do so, which leads to the conclusion that it took place there because Oswald, who was known to take shots at people, worked there.
11/6/2013 03:52:00 pm
There is one thing that you're right about Gunn... It is not logical that Oswald acted alone. His SOLO actions were completely and totally ILLOGICAL. Which should not be a shock because we know for a fact that the man was mentally ill.
11/7/2013 04:48:06 pm
Right, the perfect sort of fellow to frame. He may have thought he was on some sort of mission to thwart the assassination, like a bit part helping the FBI, or whatever. Just enough to get framed. Some think he himself was supposed to be shot right way, but managed to make it to the theater. He didn't shoot JFK.
11/5/2013 07:19:24 am
This is similar to the show Unsealed: Alien Files...which, according to the synopsis of the episodes I've seen aired, is covering the same territory as Ancient Aliens. For example, episodes titled "Alien Plagues", "Aliens and Presidents", "Alien Gods of Egypt", etc., are offered. It seems there's no end to the propagation of shows that expound on the same, tired, old subject matter.
11/5/2013 08:19:04 am
Sounds more legitimate than America's Book of Secrets.
11/5/2013 01:57:20 pm
With schools in the US no longer even making a half-hearted attempt to try to teach critical thinking, results in the dumbing down of America. Those who have no serious critical thinking skills seem to love this sort of garbage. I know you have stated that H2 wants a "higher" demographic and all, but I seriously think the majority of those who watch this conspiracy type shows are the ones who don't think very often. Thinking hurts their heads you know. Yes, headaches can be nasty, but take two aspirins and get some rest. Then, learn to think for yourself. Why trust these conspiracy types any way? Why should we believe what they say? Where are their sources? Always they claim that their sources must remain "in the shadows" as they "fear for their personal safety" or some such excuse. I call BS on them unless they have real proof. Same goes for "America Unearthed", "Ancient Aliens" and the rest of that type of show. And they ARE just shows, with little proof, ever. Speculation is all they offer, oh, and questions, always questions.
The Other J.
11/5/2013 07:38:13 pm
Although I don't disagree with your larger point, I will take exception to the sweeping statement that schools don't even make half-hearted attempts to teach critical thinking. For a decade that's exactly what I did in classrooms at the college level while running a writing center and managing a staff of 40 who did that every day all day. My wife does similar work at the high school level.
The Other J.
11/5/2013 07:39:18 pm
11/6/2013 06:03:24 am
I assume that's why there are college graduates who don't know that there's such a thing as the Aurora Australis, much less what it is.
11/7/2013 07:10:37 am
Speaking as a recent graduate of a teaching program, there's another factor most people never have any CLUE about, particularly when blaming "the schools," by which most of them really mean "the teachers." I understand that in MOST fields, what you find when you get out of school and into the real world isn't the same as what you had in school. However, MOST fields don't teach you to do wonderful things like differentiated instruction based on students' learning styles, abilities, and skill sets, and then send you out in the real world where a book is put in your hand and you're told to be on x page on y date and OH WELL if the kids didn't get it in time.
The Other J.
11/5/2013 07:40:22 pm
The Other J.
11/5/2013 07:42:43 pm
(No idea how that last bit got posted twice. It wouldn't let me post at first and threw up a warning that I had to wait a bit, and then doubled that last bit. Ah, tech.)
11/5/2013 10:15:09 pm
Um, Dude. I woke up on the morning of 9/11/2001 and turned on the TV to SEE live repeat footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center Building. They carried it ALL DAY long, so I am not sure what you mean when you say footage wasn't available till much later. They were shooting live when the 2ND ONE hit for pete's sake.
11/5/2013 10:17:35 pm
shoot, or are you talking about the 2nd one? Now you have me confused. 8 )
11/5/2013 10:18:57 pm
shoot now I am confused. did I see them rerunning the 1st one that morning or were they showing the 2nd one? Someone refresh my memory, did they have video running that morning of the 1st one?
11/5/2013 10:30:07 pm
The second plane was shown hitting live and then rerun throughout the day. Footage of the first plane wasn't available until a French film crew's video was broadcast (I believe first on CNN) after 11 AM. They happened, by coincidence, to have been filming firefighters at the time. You can review the raw network footage of 9/11 broadcasts on YouTube to confirm.
11/6/2013 12:20:44 am
I was working as a online editor at CNN in DC on september 11th. I was called into work and got there at around 10am and joined in the mess and confusion that was going on. One of the things I was doing that morning was recording footage coming in of Satellite feeds. We received the footage of the first plane hitting the building at around 10:45 that morning and aired it about 15 minutes later.
11/6/2013 01:07:59 pm
Thank you for sharing that, Matt.
11/6/2013 02:54:06 am
Why did the government change the way they do business, interacting or NOT interacting with other federal law enforcement agencies, soon after 911? Because it became known that the NSA did not share information in a way to stop the assault. Frankly, our government knew it was going to happen. "Bin Laden Determined to Strike America" just a few weeks before it happened. Yes, it was allowed to happen. We didn't cause the buildings to collapse, as some nuts believe, but we very obviously let it happen.
11/6/2013 03:41:13 am
Gunn I can say with first hand knowledge in being in the newsroom at CNN that day and the day after, at no point did anybody try to control the news we were pointing out. We had tons of high ranking people in studio and on satellite that were just as surprised, shocked, saddened, and angered as everyone else was. Believe what you will but no one was controlling the media that day not even the producers (who were scrambling and struggling to figure out what was going on like the rest of us).
11/6/2013 10:39:25 am
Okay, but what about the student spies trailing the bombers right up till the end? What about the cheering by fake Arabs? Check it out.
11/6/2013 11:34:31 am
I can only speak for some small gatherings in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that were in fact cheering as they were watching the news. That was not staged it really happened. I edited several of those clips after receiving footage from both AP and Reuters. It was not very surprising/ Most of the reactions we aired from around the world were ones of shock and sadness.
11/6/2013 10:06:18 pm
Sorry, Matt, but I still disagree with you, and you apparently didn't look up anything about the Israeli student spies. I was hoping Jason would do some digging, but then again, he may not want to confirm what I'm saying. The fake cheering Arabs was right in view of the Twin Towers while they were on fire, from a distance. It was reported and checked out, but the media didn't cover it, just like they didn't cover anything much about the spies, except right at first before it was squelched.
11/6/2013 10:21:46 pm
11/6/2013 11:37:49 pm
Well Gunn I looked at that article and well it is just more paranoid propaganda.
11/6/2013 07:40:32 am
11/6/2013 10:37:01 am
I grew up in a mindset where the people at least recognized that we always had a reason or else made up a reason for going to war. I'm saying either can work, and have worked. I believe 911 was a too-convenient reason for going to war, though of course we didn't go to war for that reason. But the atmosphere of 911 enabled the ease and opportunity of going to war.
11/6/2013 10:46:04 pm
I guess Jason doesn't have time to do everything. Here's something to consider:
11/7/2013 07:28:02 am
Gunn, in my opinion the problem was that no one agency had all the information. Yes, when combing back through everything that we had, right after 9/11 when people were screaming "WHY DID WE NOT KNOW!?" we found that the government AS A WHOLE had all the information. The problem was that the NSA had, say, the piece that said they were going to fly planes into the Twin Towers. The FBI had the piece that said these students look suspicious. The CIA had the piece that said there was going to be a foreign attack on US soil. Other agencies had this and that. But they don't TALK to each other. (My problem with Homeland Security is that instead of FIXING that problem, as they were originally INTENDED to, they've become just another left hand that doesn't talk to the right hand.) There was nowhere that had ALL the information at once up, aside from the terrorists.
11/7/2013 10:10:22 am
Well, I suppose hypnosis does have limited effectiveness, while some subjects don't have a chance:
11/7/2013 11:55:46 am
Gunn, hypnosis CANNOT cause anyone to do something they cannot see themselves doing, so that doesn't remove personal responsibility for one's own actions.
11/7/2013 04:34:10 pm
Yeah, the bodyguard did it. What I'm saying is that the bodyguard knew of the proposed timing...what was to come, with the Sirhan distraction. Some people described how Sirhan has a weird, detached look on his face, like he didn't really even know what was going on, which would be the effects of the hypnotic state.
11/6/2013 03:14:24 am
Mike Baker was always funny when on Greg Gutfield's Red Eye. He had a funny Fox News column back then too.
11/6/2013 08:09:24 am
The Other J.
11/6/2013 11:45:26 am
No worries, man. I probably would have spilled all that in a separate post because I think it's relevant to the "How does Jim Marrs keep ending up on documentary television?" question, but you opened a gate for me to unload. And we just finished a round of conferences, which makes it all the more prominent at this moment.
11/8/2013 03:22:52 am
I've lived in Dallas. In fact every time some one came to visit I had to take them to Daley Plaza. It is somewhat run down and when you get there you are surprised how small the whole area is..the "grassy knoll" is about the size of my front lawn. As for the idea that it was an impossible shot..I have been up to the sixth floor of the Texas School Depository and looked out the window next to the window that Oswald took the shots from. It is an easy shot...a ridiculous easy shot to hit a very slow moving car at most 60 yards away..he had a rifle with a scope and he could shoot. I take my son out plinking with our 22 and I'm not a very good shot and I could have easily taken JFK's head off at that range. Oswald did it..he was a very mixed up and disturbed young man..and he did it alone
11/8/2013 04:48:10 am
I lived there, too and looked out of that window and I agree. It's the one from the grassy knoll that would be difficult. You would have only a moment to take a shot. And why choose, if you could choose anywhere, the one place where the car would be speeding up and not anywhere along several blocks with the open car moving slowly and thousands of office and hotel windows looking out on it. No patsy is needed.
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