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George Knapp: Media Coverage of the Paranormal

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posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 12:40 AM
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First of all I’d like to thank you for joining us here at ATS, and as Spider said, please make sure your tin foil hat is securely fastened and your seatbelt buckled.


My questions have to deal more with why the mainstream media doesn’t cover the subject of UFO's or any other paranormal subjects more than it does. I have seen brief news reports of sightings of UFO’s and crop circles on the local news channels, but they are usually followed up with a joke and treated more as a curiosity.

What would you consider the largest obstacle in covering this subject or any other paranormal subject in mainstream media? Is it a matter of credibility and how the general public perceives these subjects, or is it because of some other reason? Can you tell us what a story needs in order to be reported on the news, and is there any restrictions from outside sources on reporting a story like this?

Thanks for your time.




posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 02:10 AM
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My belt is buckled and my tin foil hat has a fresh coating of lemony Pledge.

To my knowledge, there is no hands-on government-imposed censorship of the mainstream media concerning UFO/paranormal topics. I realize that a lot of people suspect this to be the case, but it's not true as far as I can tell--not overtly, anyway. No one came to our TV station and warned us to stay away from anymore stories about Lazar, 51, and UFOs. The decision to cover this was ours alone, although we certainly did catch a lot of grief over it---and still do.

Basically, it boils down to credibility and verification. Most UFO tales are pretty wild and cannot be proven to a high degree of certainty, if at all. The proponents are often troubled people, true believers, overly zealous, and lacking in anything that comes close to solid evidence or info. Dan Burisch comes to mind.

For a reporter, the professional risks are very real. I know this as well or better than any MSM reporter in the country, and I'm not boasting by any means. There is never a shortage of news stories to pursue, not in this town anyway, so if a journalist has a choice between covering an interesting or important story that does not carry the same kind of potential stigma, or jumping into the deep end of the UFO pool, it's not a tough choice. The grief doesn't come from the government---not directly anyway. Nor does it come from the general public, since there is still a high level of interest among regular folks. Instead, it comes from fellow journalists. For some reason, reporters, broadcasters, and columnists who have never covered the topic are anxious to heap scorn and ridicule on any of their colleagues who DO give it some attention. That's been my experience, anyway.

There is an arugment to be made that this is not entirely accidental. We know about the recommendations of the CIA's Robertson panel back in the early 50's. The panel suggested that a debunking program be initiated to strip UFOs of their aura of mystery. The so-called 'laughter curtain' or ridicule factor was born at that moment and continues to this day. People who see UFOs or take them seriously must be nuts. It just so happens that a heck of a lot of them are nuts to begin with, which makes it all that much easier to dismiss the subject. UFO proponents who make outlandish claims are eager if unwitting participants in this effort. For a reporter, there is nothing but risk in covering UFOs. What journalist wants to cover the same story as the Weekly World News? No one ever landed a network job or big city TV contract because they broke a UFO story. An opposite result is far more likely.

One other factor is that there is a staggering learning curve when it cmes to UFOs. You can't just run a Google search and get a handle on the field. It's too big and too complicated. It takes a lot of time. For most reporters, it is far easier to tackle something else.



posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 08:57 AM
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Thanks for the reply George, and for the answers you gave, I suspected as much. I would think the overall factor in either covering a story or not depends on whether the audience is interested and the ratings of the show.

Would you say the people in the Las Vegas area are more interested in the subject of UFO’s due to the Roswell story and Area 51?

Did you ever cover the Prophet Yahweh story when he claimed a large UFO was going to park above Las Vegas and show it self last year? Obviously he was a fraud, but I wonder how the people in Las Vegas reacted.


Originally posted by GeorgeKnapp
One other factor is that there is a staggering learning curve when it cmes to UFOs. You can't just run a Google search and get a handle on the field. It's too big and too complicated. It takes a lot of time. For most reporters, it is far easier to tackle something else.

I think this is true not just for the journalist, but also for the general audience. I believe you can go even further and say this applies to any conspiracy related subject. The more complicated a subject is, and the more it is contaminated with disinformation, the less people are interested.

Thanks again for your time.

[edit on 8/3/2006 by Hal9000]



posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 09:20 PM
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There is an arugment to be made that this is not entirely accidental. We know about the recommendations of the CIA's Robertson panel back in the early 50's. The panel suggested that a debunking program be initiated to strip UFOs of their aura of mystery. The so-called 'laughter curtain' or ridicule factor was born at that moment and continues to this day.


Just wanted to add to this. I'd have to research the name, but one of the Robertson Panel members wrote a (verified) letter that actually supported that this effort of (g-sponsored) ridicule was going on even a couple of decades later, regarding a Walter Cronkite special on UFOs.

EDIT - Was going from memory above, but here's the actual names, backup, etc.

From Wikipedia, but you can find in other sources as well...this was just the quickest...



Panel member Thornton Page would later change some of his more stridently skeptical conclusions regarding the Panel's report, and regarding UFO's in general. In his 1969 critique of the Condon Report, Page would lament the "excessive levity" he brought to the Panel's proceeding, detailing how he later thought the UFO subject deserved serious scrutiny.[3]

Hynek's opinions changed in later years as well, so much that he became, to many, the scientifically respectable voice of Ufology. He would lament that the Robertson Panel had "made the subject of UFO's scientifically unrespectable, and for nearly 20 years not enough attention was paid to the subject to acquire the kind of data needed even to decide the nature of the UFO phenomenon."

Many ufologists argue that the Robertson Panel recommendations were put into effect and the resulting official debunkery relegated the subject matter permanently to the fringe, both in the mainstream media and scientific communities. Also after the Robertson Panel, Project Blue Book was reduced in status and stripped of most of duties of investigating serious UFO cases, which were instead secretly turned over to a newly-formed division of the Air Defense Command. Directives were also issued not to discuss the unexplainable cases with the public and to reduce the percentage of unknowns to a minimum.

Though the CIA's official history suggests that the Robertson Panel's conclusions were never carried out, there is evidence that contradicts this. Perhaps the most unambiguous evidence for the Robertson Panel's covert impact on news media reporting about UFOs is a personal letter by Dr. Thornton Page, discovered in the Smithsonian archives by sociologist Michael D. Swords. The 1966 letter, addressed to former Robertson Panel Secretary Frederick C. Durant, confides that Page "helped organize the CBS TV show around the Robertson Panel conclusions." Page was no doubt referring to the CBS Reports TV broadcast of the same year, "UFOs: Friend, Foe, or Fantasy?" narrated by Walter Cronkite. (Incidentally, this program was criticized for inaccurate and misleading presentations). Page's letter indicates that the Robertson Panel was still putting a negative spin on UFO news at least 13 years after the panel met.

Even later, Randles and Hough note that there was a "CIA memo from 1976" which "tells how the agency is still having to 'keep in touch with reporting channels' in ufology (in other words, to spy on UFO groups." (Randles and Hough, 103)





[edit on 4-8-2006 by Gazrok]



posted on Aug, 5 2006 @ 03:03 PM
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I haven't seen any surveys but suspect that the Las Vegas audience has a higher than average interest in UFOs and that the proximity of Area 51 has a lot to do with it. My guess is that people get kind of a kick in telling Area 51 stories to their relatives back home. BTW, our Tripla A baseball team, which is the primary farm team for the Dodgers, is named the 51s. I was allowed the throw out the first pitch on Opening Day after they made the name change, and the team mascot is a large space alien. So yes, LV residents are attuned to all things ET.

As for Yahweh, I never aired anything but I did look into his background because he kept sending me videos and other materials in hopes that I would give him some air time. I thought it was b.s. from the beginning. However, when one of my competitors took him out to a park and videotapes a dot in the sky above him, it created quite a stir here, so Yahweh made another run at me. I finally told him that I would go out and take his challenge but that if he didn't produce a great big UFO--which is what he claimed he could do--that I would bust him up on the air. He thought about it, then changed his mind and went off on what he said was a 50-state awakening tour, or something like that. I don't think he is the typical UFO shyster who is out to merely make a buck by telling tall tales. My personal opinion is that he has "issues". I will leave it at that.



posted on Aug, 6 2006 @ 01:50 AM
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Oh yes... Prophet Yaweh's issues have issues methinks. The incident with your "competitor" (you are too kind to that young man he has some way to go to compete with Numero Uno
) was some pretty compelling TV if you think balloons are space ships.


Springer...



posted on Aug, 10 2006 @ 03:48 AM
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I don't think the Prophet Yahweh is ever going to make the UFO Hall of Fame And while it is tempting to trash the reporter from the other station who gave the Prophet some fleeting attention, I'm more inclined to cut him some slack. The UFO topic is a tough nut to crack for any journalist. IN the beginning, it's a heady rush because it will always generate a big reaction from the public. Even if that reporter got slightly burned by the experience, it might turn out for the best. The experience might hook him on the topic and somewhere down the line, he might take another stab at it. We need all the help we can get.

As for the discussion about the Robertson report, let me just say that anyone who wants to be a serious student of the UFO mystery and the questions about a government coverup needs to read about those early days. It is all there if you connect the dots. There's a book by Dr. David Jacobs, The UFO Controversy in America, that is a meticulous history of how it all unfolded. I consider it to be one of the five or six most important UFO books ever written. If this topic is your passion, you owe it to yourself to read that book.



posted on Aug, 10 2006 @ 02:21 PM
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Originally posted by GeorgeKnapp
...I consider it to be one of the five or six most important UFO books ever written. If this topic is your passion, you owe it to yourself to read that book.


Hola George,

Would you mind listing the five or six books you consider to be must reads to serious UFO/Paranormal researchers?

Thanks,

Spiderj



posted on Aug, 11 2006 @ 12:02 AM
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let me just say that anyone who wants to be a serious student of the UFO mystery and the questions about a government coverup needs to read about those early days


Words of wisdom... Before the discrediting campaign...it's amazing the amount of info out there during those days....and of course, is still out there today. The history of coverup is pretty easy to trace, name names, etc.



posted on Aug, 12 2006 @ 09:03 AM
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I probably should not have boxed myself in by limiting it to 5 or 6 books. (I have nearly 600 UFO-related titles in my personal library.) David Jacob's book is certainly must reading for a serious student of the topic, but if you really want to know about this field, here's what I would recommend.

Start with everything written by Jacques Vallee. I mentioned previously that I consider him to be the most important and savvy person to ever write about the UFO mystery. Anatomy of a Phenomena, UFOs: A Challenge to Science, the trilogy of Revelations, Dimensions, and Confrontations, Forbiden Science, which is a personal diary of his journey, and best of all, in my opinion, the two-fer of Passport to Magonia and Messengers of Deception. If you haven't read these two, ou don't know diddly about UFOs.

In the category of UFO history/coverups/government involvement, I recommend Above Top Secret by Timothy Good, The UFO Coverup by Fawcett and Greenwood, Donald Keyhoe's Flying Saucer Conspiracy, Uninvited Guests by Richard Hall, The Report on UFO's by former Blue Book boss Capt. Edward Ruppelt, The Day After Roswell by Corso and Birnes, Crash at Corona by Friedman/Berliner, and the Condon Report, which was published commercially as The Scientific Study of UFOs.

Those interested in the abduction scenario have a few titles that are mandatory. The Interrupted Journey by John Fuller, Missing Time by Budd Hopkins, and Communion by Whitley Strieber. I realize that Hopkins has been hammered relentlessly over the years but I had the chance to interact with Budd many times in years past and think he is telling it as he knows it. I consider him to be an honest man who really didn't need the abuse but who remains committed to the pursuit. I also realize that Whitley has also been heavily criticized by all sorts of people, including colleagues whose opinion I respect, but if you can read Communion without being moved...and disturbed...you are tougher than me. Even if it were entirely fictional----which I do not believe to be the case---Communion is an incredibly important book, and on several levels. You've simply got to read it. Abduction by Dr. John Mack and Secret Life by Dr. David Jacobs lend academic heft to the topic and are highly recommended.

Here are a few miscellaneous titles worthy of consideration. Alien Harvest by Linda Moulton Howe focuses on animal mutilations but that is deceptive. It is an ambitious attempt to tie a lot of weird stuff together. Jerome Clark has written a couple of versions of his massive and impressive UFO Encyclopedia---if you have a UFO library, it isn't complete without one. The late Phil Klass was much despised by UFO believers, but his books about the subject were important because they forced researchers to stay on their toes. (UFOs Identified is one of his first. Even if you consider it to be propaganda or disinfo---not an unfair description, in my view---you might want to check it out.)

As a final suggestion, consider this: The Gods of Eden by William Bramley. It doesn't really fit into any category, but it really got under my skin and into my head. Not many people in the UFO field gave it much attention, but it kept me awake for several nights and still gnaws at my brain. If you want a walk on the wild side, and truly have an open mind, see if you can find a copy in your local use bookstore. It's a real mind twister.

Oh, you can also check out Hunt for the Skinwalker by Dr. Colm Kelleher and some other guy. Some people like it. Some hate it. Few people forget it. (Shameless Plug Alert.)



posted on Aug, 12 2006 @ 02:28 PM
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Yeesh that looks like a lot of required reading. That's what I get for asking questions.


Thanks for answering that george. I'm a big jaques vallee fan and Passport to Magonia definitely had an affect on me and my attitudes toward the world of the paranormal.

I also remember reading Gods of Eden by Bramely a long time ago and thought it was interesting though he lost me in places.

I've read quite a few books on the list but will certainly check out the ones I haven't.

As for that skinwalker dude, I hear he's hanging around the ol'ATS ranch nowadays so I'm gonna see what info I can't rankle out of that rube for free before I spend money on his book....hope he doesn't read this.

Oh and since nobody asked, a book I recomend to absolutely everybody who's interested in ufos is "Invisible Residents" by Ivan T. Sanderson.

Used to be hard to find but since amazon came along it's gotten a lot easier.

Thanks again for the great list.

Spider



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