If you have lately gotten the feeling that UFOs are just popping up everywhere, you are not entirely mistaken.
Things began to heat up on UFOland a week or so ago, when rumors began to circulate about a CBS’s 60 Minutes segment dedicated to our favorite Fortean mystery –what’s ironic is that many of these rumors were spread by the same people who ended up being part of the TV segment, but we’ll get back to that later. 60 Minutes is one of the longest-running and more respected news program in American television, so the fact they finally deigned themselves to pay attention to those pesky flying saucers, which for a long time were regarded as cable TV fodder, is kind of a big deal.
Probably the last time the major networks showed a similar interest in the subject –Oprah and late night talk shows notwithstanding– was in May of 1966 when Walter Cronkite (the most trusted news anchor in the country) ran a special CBS report called UFOs: Friend, Foe or Fiction? in which the skeptic tone was set heavily on ‘fiction’:
Two years later, the Condon Report’s conclusions gave UFOs its coup de grace as a subject worthy of serious consideration, and the big networks were all too happy to stop wasting precious airtime showing grainy photos, and listening to the testimony of citizens claiming to have seen things in the sky they couldn’t explain. Until now…
The UFO Super Sunday began earlier in the day, with CBS Sunday Morning running a segment reported by their correspondent David Pogue, who not only interviewed Leslie Kean –one of the authors of that (now historic) New York Times article of December 2017 which got this whole new UFO trendiness rolling– but also all-time skeptic Seth Shostak from the SETI institute was given the chance to show his smartass smirk, and repeat the same old tired arguments of why the only aliens worth considering, are the ones who use antiquated technology even ourselves consider obsolete by now (analog radio) to transmit messages to civilizations so far away, there’s no possible chance to engage in any meaningful interaction with anyone in the Cosmos within our lifetimes; but hey, at least it would be nice to know they were out there… for a while… until they blinked out of existence!
Four personal takes from the clip:
- Somebody tell Pogue we are not in the 1990s anymore, and there’s no need to show clips of Hollywood films every single time you talk about aliens –at least he didn’t play the X-Files music (thank God) so there’s that.
- The removal on Jeremy Corbell’s watermark when they decided to show the ‘pyramid’ video. Hey, if it’s ‘unclassified’ government information, then don’t treat it like your personal property!
- SETI’s Jill Tarter’s shocking behavior during a recent astronomical conference, when she showed her vitriol towards her colleague Avi Loeb; who has recently gained a lot of popularity due to his unconventional ideas about Oumuamua, the first official interstellar object entering our Solar System –Psst! Nobody tell Jill that Avi is scheduled to speak at the UFO conference Contact in the Desert, or she’ll blow a gasket.
- The ETH still reigns supreme as the go-to exotic explanation for UFOs, even among researchers who’ve been long enough in the field (Kean) to be aware of its many problems, and alternative possibilities.
The two segments run by 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker later were, in contrast, far better in tone and content. Yes, the producers felt compelled to focus on the same Navy sightings we’ve been discussing ad nauseam since 2017, so for people who have been paying attention to these stories for the last three years there were no shocking revelations; but the silver lining was that Fravor’s wingman during the Nimitz encounter of 2004, Lieutenant Alex Dietrich, has chosen to speak on the record for the first time.
Some personal takes from the clips:
- Elizondo insisting that the US Government has already said UFOs are real. This is a somewhat debatable argument because it relies on how you interpret what a UFO is or isn’t: If you stick to the literal definition, then yes –the Pentagon admits they cannot identify some of the objects tracked by their fighter pilots or other military personnel; but that conclusion is not so different from those reached by the Condon report and even project Blue Book. Also, despite how much they try not to use the ‘A’ word, that is exactly how the majority of the people will interpret his remarks (remember that investigators like Leslie Kean remain quiet promoters of the ET hypothesis) even though that is something the US government has never admitted –and probably never will.
- Elizondo insisting on always appearing on camera wearing heavy-duty boots and a military cap while carrying a heavy camo backpack –as if he’s ready to go into action at any moment’s notice– reminds me of how Bob Lazar always insist on wearing science-related t-shirts during interviews to remind us he’s a legit scientist. We don’t see Fravor wearing Navy caps or putting a US flag on his jacket lapel for the camera, do we?
- Whitaker mixing the FLIR1, Gimbal and GoFast video with Corbell’s ‘pyramid’ video and saying “the Pentagon doesn’t know what any of these are” is very misleading and confusing to the public. Apples and oranges, Bill…
- Without the testimony of the pilots, nobody would pay any attention to these crappy videos, which seemed to have been deliberately edited to remain ambiguous. The same thing applies to any ‘leaked video’ which has surfaced so far. Furthermore, the fact that there are UFO entrepreneurs insisting on muddying the waters with videos or questionable quality and provenance, promoting them as ‘real UFOs’ just because the Pentagon is forced to admit they are ‘real’ videos/photos of objects observed during military operations, doesn’t automatically transform these grainy blobs into ‘transmedium vehicles’ or ‘pyramid craft’.
- Ryan Graves stating that for a while he and his companions were encountering unexplained objects “every day for a couple of years” has sent ripples on mainstream and alternative media. Will new military witnesses come forward in the months or years to come to corroborate this unsettling claim?
- The ‘UFOs=Threat’ angle keeps being played out. Of course, this is a tricky bingo card with an expiration date, because if the public and government officials put two and two together, they might say something like “wait… so you’re telling us that for years you’ve been encountering things that show capabilities far exceeding our most advanced planes… but we are all still here?”. Maybe the aliens are good sports and are waiting for us to develop technology advanced enough so that we can prove to be a worthy challenge… before they wipe us all out.
- Lieutenant Alex Dietrich is a very compelling witness, and it’s good to see she finally decided to come forward with her testimony publicly –she first appeared anonymously on History’s Unidentified. Sharing the sense of vulnerability she felt when encountering the ‘Tic-Tac’ object because both her plane and Fravor’s were unarmed sounded very sincere. Taking into consideration other military encounters from the UFO literature (like the famous Tehran ‘dogfight’ of 1976) one wonders how differently the events would have unfolded, if these two Navy pilots had decided to engage with this object as if it were an enemy aircraft…
- Bye bye Tom DeLonge: to continue forward with ‘the mission’ (whatever their mission’s real goals are) Elizondo and Chris Mellon parted ways from the former punk rocker last December, thus making To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTS/AAS, or as we used to call it, TiTS&AASs) as irrelevant as MUFON; which is probably the reason 60 Minutes never even bothered to mention it; they also don’t need to use the Navy videos with the old TTSA watermark either, since versions without the logo became readily available once Elizondo admitted TTSA had no copyright ownership over them (like he originally intended when he got them unclassified). And even though Tom keeps shouting from his soapbox that none of the recent developments could have happened without him, he should have realized by now that he’s been thoroughly Bennewitzed (for further information on Paul Bennewitz and his confusing dealings with Intelligence agents, we recommend reading Saucers, Spooks & Kooks by Adam Gorightly).
- Chris Mellon assuring Whitaker that these objects “are not one of us” solely because of his lofty position within the Bush and Clinton administrations. This, of course, goes counter with the work of UFO historians like Richard Dolan who have tried to document the murky spiderwebs of the US government’s black projects, in which the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Without going into conspiracy thinking –which tends to be more counterproductive than it is useful– Mellon may have been a big poohbah in the Intelligence world, but he was never part of the Military brass, and he does not seem to have any connections to the secretive corporations which allegedly are in possession of the ‘real goodies’: physical materials. The fact even the military pilots do not entirely discount the possibility they could have been the unwitting guineapigs in the testing of some secret experiments should not be taken lightly.
- Mellon admitting he was the one who leaked the videos to Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal for the New York Times article. And now Mellon and Elizondo are reportedly involved in the new HBO TV series based on Leslie Kean’s best-selling books about UFOs in 2011. Wheels within wheels…
- No inclusion of skeptic voices like Mick West, or even Tyler Rogoway, who wrote a most-excellent article for The Drive on how the stigma of UFOs could have been used by foreign powers to conduct surveillance activities on US soil and US-controlled waters. Rogoway also went into detail on how there are technologies that can fool radar systems into showing blips that are completely fictitious. And the possibility that there are even technologies which may employ high-powered lasers in order to produce plasmas that can behave in peculiar manners should also not be overlooked.
- Whenever will we see official Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough in front of a camera, discussing this issue and the reasons she keeps insisting Elizondo had nothing to do with the AATIP program –or ANY current Pentagon personnel for that matter?
- 60 Minutes’ use of a rather blurry version of the infamous ‘Batman balloon’ photo. Was this a deliberate decision to make the object more enigmatic when there are sharper versions out there?
- No mention of Robert Bigelow’s involvement into all of this, as if the AATIP program hadn’t had a much weirder precursor with AAWSAP, which was a contract awarded to Robert Bigelow’s BAASS. What’s the point of mainstream investigative reporting, if they don’t bother to dig deeper than where bloggers and online news outlets have already gone?
- Marco Rubio making the rounds once again in UFO-related news. Isn’t there anyone else in the Senate or Congress willing to go on the record about this subject? Will the UFO ticket be enough for Rubio’s presidential aspirations in 2024?
No doubt there will be many more major networks willing to give UFOs a shot now that CBS gave it their seal of approval, and I’m sure there could still be a number of ‘surprise leaks’ coming our way before the highly-anticipated UAP Task Force report is released next month.
Here’s my unsolicited advice to the UFO community: Curb your enthusiasm. The rumors through the grapevine is that the report was issued to just one or two hapless investigators within the government, who had no resources or extra time to put it together –not to mention no cooperation from other branches of government. My own personal suspicion is the report will amount to just enough to satisfy the Senatorial mandate that prompted it, acknowledging that over the past few years there have indeed been incidents leading to suspect the use of drones or high altitude balloons by foreign adversaries, which would demand stronger cooperative efforts between the different branches of government to deal and share information with relation to these sort of ‘exotic’ cases; followed by a few paltry paragraphs that won’t get into any details, suggesting that a low percentage of those cases are very difficult to explain with conventional technologies or natural phenomena.
…Or maybe it will be the complete opposite, and the world will be pushed into a Copernican revolution overnight, who knows! What I do know is that by bracing for a disappointment you will have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Also, remember that Disclosure will not be dictated by anyone country; it needs to be acknowledged by all the countries of the world, and substantiated with indisputable evidence (remember when Dubya tried to convince the UN Security Council that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction?). But, as Ezra Klein pointed out in his excellent op-ed for the New York Times, if climate change hasn’t managed to join the world together on a common goal, what chance do UFOs have?
Not even Oprah is that powerful.