Hocking Loogies at UFO Journalism

Hocking Loogies at UFO Journalism
Meanwhile, in other news …

     Uhh, yeah. It’s a little hard to concentrate on The Great Taboo right now. Cities on fire like it’s 1967 again. Coronavirus body counts surging into six digits. A new business initiative celebrating Elon Musk. These are things we can’t ignore.

But as time passes, we’ll come to see them as variations of familiar themes. And when that happens, we will find ourselves confronting something genuinely unprecedented, a room-sized gorilla beginning to break its social quarantine, the implications

Billy Cox

By Billy Cox
De Void
6-1-20

incapable of being wished away. And for that, we can thank the increasingly engaged Fourth Estate – mainstream and outliers alike – in its accelerating quest for clarity. And the blades of inquiry are getting sharper.

Three weeks ago, in what hopefully signals the beginning of old-fashioned deadline competition, Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick at The War Zone scooped the New York Times, by a single day, on the results of a FOIA for UFO incident reports collected by the Navy Safety Center. Both teams of reporters were attempting to acquire official paperwork behind the 2015 “GoFast” and “Gimbal” encounters videotaped by pilots assigned to the USS Roosevelt. Instead, the fishing expedition landed eight previously unknown reports logged by Navy pilots operating along the Eastern seaboard over a 10-year span.

Significantly, records from the Roosevelt encounters were not included. Wonder why? That’s called red meat.

Steven Greenstreet at the New York Post has been circling back into the archives to fill in the gaps of missing history. Most recently, his video chat with physicist and Pentagon UFO research consultant Dr. Eric Davis strayed into terrain that clearly made Davis nervous. So nervous, in fact, that a portion of the interview was deleted from the original clip shortly thereafter.

In the redacted portion of the exchange, Greenstreet wanted to know more about the controversial “Core Secrets” notes that Davis is alleged to have made during his conversation in 2002 with just-retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Thomas Wilson. In a bombshell of a revelation, the notes indicate Wilson was still pissed about being denied access to a classified program involving The Great Taboo.

Confronted by Greenstreet, Davis held firm to the no-comment stance he assumed when the 15-page transcripts hit the Internet last June. But for the first time, he confirmed the source of the material. “They were leaked out of (Apollo astronaut) Ed Mitchell’s estate,” Davis told the Post, “and there’s nothing I can say about it.”

Unless, maybe, the media keeps pushing.

In fact, a few newsies have grown so tenacious that Luis Elizondo, the retired Army counterintelligence agent who set events in motion in 2017, tells De Void he wishes he’d met one of those journos before leaving the Pentagon to go public with the UFO material.

“I told him, I said dude, if I’d known you four years ago I probably would’ve hired you to come onto AATIP,” Elizondo says, alluding to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which studied UFOs for the Defense Department a decade ago. “He’s got sources that I would’ve gone to my grave thinking there’s no way in hell anybody will know who these people are. But he did.

“And you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Elizondo is referring to researcher Tim McMillan, who has singlehandedly converted Popular Mechanics from a featherweight on UFO matters into a formidable critic. In February, the former police lieutenant latched onto the DoD’s amateurish inability to get its stories straight concerning Elizondo’s duties with AATIP. As a result of McMillan’s reporting four months ago, the Pentagon felt compelled to admit that, yes, the subject of McMillan’s inquiry was, in fact, an information manager for unspecified Special Access Programs.

Well, probably sooner than later, Elizondo predicts, the DoD will produce a more accurate version in order to avoid having to send people to testify under oath. And that, he says, will prove once and for all he’s been on the level since jump street.

“The truth keeps coming out, whether they like it or not,” he says from southern California. “At first it was like, no, you’ve got the name wrong, it’s ‘Advanced Aviation.’ No, it’s not, it’s ‘Advanced Aerospace.’ Then it was ‘But AATIP was never about UFOs.’ Yes, actually it was. ‘Well, the videos weren’t legally released, they were classified.’ No they weren’t, and here’s the documentation that proves it.

“I’ve got no agenda other than to tell the truth. Everything I’ve said can be proved through documentation. You can’t keep a lid on this forever. The Department of Defense realizes the landscape is changing because people are FOIAing the hell out of ‘em now. And the last thing you want to do is get caught red-handed lying to the American people – there are laws and rules against that.”

Technically, yes, but lately, laws and rules in this country seem more like suggestions than mandates. Anyhow, Elizondo plans to leave a few more “Easter eggs” for the press to follow when History’s second season of “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” kicks off on July 11. And the former classified ops veteran who was invited in 2008 by then Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper to join the Pentagon makes no bones about it – he consults with his former colleagues about what is and isn’t fair game when he puts stuff out there, whether it’s documentary material or an imminent interview on national media.

“What I’ve tried to do from the start is to destigmatize and further legitimize this topic to advance the conversation, to get the government to admit this is real, while at the same time not breaking either my security oath or the trust of the American people,” he says. “And it’s working. Maybe not as fast as some people would like, but if you look at just the last two years alone, we have collectively come further in this one moment in time than in the 70 years before that.”

Luis Elizondo At the SCU Conference in 2019 - Credit Billy Cox
At the SCU Conference in 2019, erstwhile Army intelligence agent Luis Elizondo acknowledged that UFOs have shown “some strategic interest in our nuclear capabilities.”/CREDIT: Billy Cox
Elizondo says the release of the F-18 videos has created an irreversible momentum, “like a boulder going downhill,” following a path that can, at best, be only partially managed. He compares it to depressing an angled mattress in order to guide the direction of a bowling ball. “If you try to get in front of it,” he warns, “it’s gonna flatten you.”
Nobody wants to get flattened. But the debate is growing so sophisticated that even traditional pillars of American journalism may soon find their reputations pancaked – or deemed irrelevant – by insouciant reporting. Case in point: the May 18 edition National Public Radio’s “1A.”
Amid today’s suddenly target-rich environment, where plenty of insider participants (Eric Davis, anyone?) and military eyewitnesses are speaking on the record, NPR instead gave a platform to guests with bupkis to offer. One of them – Sarah Scoles, author of They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers – prefers to approach the issue with an anthropological filter. The other, utterly marginalized SETI astronomer Seth Shostak, admitted nearly two years ago that his discipline lacks the qualifications to properly assess the UFO conundrum. So public radio wound up delivering a huge platter of empty calories for audiences with the luxury of time to waste.

And then there are the outright curiosities. Take freelance troll Keith Kloor.

Like an Inspector Javert sentenced to purgatory in a never-ending Whac-A-Mole karma, Kloor keeps managing to pop up in mainstream publications in order to hock loogies at UFO journalism. He obviously has no problems scoring gigs. Last year, his byline (“The Media Loves This UFO Expert Who Says He Worked for An Obscure Pentagon Program – Did He?”) appeared in The Intercept, co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald. Also in 2019, Kloor landed a piece (“UFOs Won’t Go Away”) in Issues in Science and Technology, the magazine arm of the National Academies of Science.

Two weeks ago, he popped up again, this time in Wired, with an essay titled “Will The New York Times Ever Stop Reporting on UFOs?” Like the preceding companion pieces, Kloor’s work is the latest addition to the tired UFOs-as-hokum genre, with a fixation on Elizondo’s credentials. And he isn’t afraid to burn his sources to accomplish the mission.

Led to believe Kloor planned an objective discussion on the first detailed independent analysis of the so-called Tic Tac UFO incident captured on video by Navy pilots in 2004, members of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies agreed to delay release of their evaluation to coincide with publication of Kloor’s article for NAS. Kloor had attended SCU’s weekend discussion of those results, prior to public disclosure, in 2019. But when Kloor went to press, he also delivered a swipe at those following the evidence to a conclusion that UFOs represent truly exotic and unknown technology. He characterized advocates of those notions as sensationalists who “seem to be working in the great American tradition of P.T. Barnum.”

In slamming the NY Times’ 5/17/20 article on the eight new UFO-Navy reports uncovered through FOIA as “thinly sourced and slanted” – without mentioning The War Zone’s more comprehensive reporting a day earlier, which published online PDFs of those same Navy reports – Kloor actually thought it was significant that the Times didn’t work Elizondo into its reporting. Implying that the NYT might be having second thoughts about Elizondo’s verisimilitude, Kloor cited his appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News interviews, and how “cable news shows still find him irresistible.”

This is beginning to sound like the flailing envy of a man with a sense that the times are passing him by. Maybe Kloor’s auditioning to be a UFO expert on NPR. There’s obviously plenty of room for that voice. Fortunately for the rest of us, investigative journalism is starting to make That Voice sound more like a plea for attention than a rational argument. The marketplace for new ideas moves on.

Comments are closed.