Fueled by a series of stories in the New York Times, the legacy media have recently piloted their often painfully conventional craft into largely uncharted territory with extensive coverage of the mysterious phenomena known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
While certainly a fascinating subject, the timing of the Times’ UFO articles (and “teaching activities,” apparently meant to help educators convey the gravity of the Times scoop to elementary school students) raises questions and deserves scrutiny. For one thing, the fact that the U.S. government has studied UFOs and tried to find conventional explanations for UFO sighting reports is not actually news. And while the recent Times reporting included an interesting video (you may want to watch it here, as clicking all of the Times links in this article may get you booted beyond their pay-wall), as I’ve previously noted elsewhere, neither is the fact that many historical UFO sightings by seemingly credible witnesses have been extremely bizarre in nature and remain unexplained to this day.
Though impressive at face value, however, revelations from the Times’ recent UFO stories are perhaps overshadowed by aspects of the news outlet’s reporting methods that require additional explanation than by any unexplained phenomena whose mysteries they solve.
Claims by one of the Times’ reporters about unidentifiable alien alloys being held in Las Vegas, for example, have come into question. And then there are questions about the framing of an interview with former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo, who reportedly ran the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” (AATIP) featured in the original Times report and was one of its major sources.
Jeff Wise of New York Magazine notes that “reporter Ralph Blumenthal makes it sound like the Times scored an exclusive by getting Elizondo to open up to them,” implying “that Elizondo feared the repercussions of leaking sensitive information for the first time,” when in reality by the time he spoke to the newspaper, Elizondo “had left government and was promoting the launch of a new venture called To the Stars … Academy of Arts & Science, a website that is trying to crowdsource donations to study paranormal phenomena.”
Wise adds that prior to Elizondo giving his interview, “To the Stars’ main shareholder, former Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge, had previously promoted the venture on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.” DeLonge’s name and that of his group, along with that of recently retired Nevada Senator and former leader of the Senate Democrats Harry Reid, who reportedly made the initial request for funding of the AATIP, has also come up in the Times’ recent coverage of UFOs.
You would be forgiven for not knowing that a former member of a famous pop-punk band was a major UFO enthusiast whose efforts aimed at government disclosure on the topic were deemed worthy of coverage in the New York Times. Yet DeLonge’s name has also come up in other slightly unexpected places in the not-so-distant past — specifically, in the leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta controversially released by Wikileaks shortly before the 2016 election.
In one email exchange with Podesta from early February 2016, DeLonge discusses a plan to “launch the story with NY Times with Doc Trailer in a week,” (although no New York Times story mentioning DeLonge’s UFO projects seems to have appeared for at least four months afterwards). Podesta himself apparently describes this as his and DeLonge’s “secret plan,” while DeLonge writes that his multi-media UFO disclosure project, going under the title “Sekret Machines,” “is about changing the cynical views of youth towards government,” and tells Podesta how he hopes to “brand you much more when this all comes out as a man that the youth can trust and rely on.”
DeLonge and Podesta exchanging emails is in itself not so surprising. Podesta’s own interest in UFOs has previously made headlines in major mainstream media outlets. Yet another exchange between the former Blink-182 member and the Clinton campaign chairman is somewhat striking in its tone.
Taking such a deferential attitude towards an obscure, if powerful, Democratic Party operative like John Podesta might seem fairly unremarkable if coming from a low- or mid-level party donor attempting to curry favor. Yet coming from a former pop star reputedly worth tens of millions of dollars, DeLonge’s approach seems odd. DeLonge and Podesta are known to share an interest in UFOs, and Podesta would seemingly have enough to gain from DeLonge’s celebrity name recognition, just as DeLonge would from Podesta’s government connections, that such groveling wouldn’t be necessary.
A potentially important consideration, however, is that all is not always what it seems when it comes to the disinformation-laden topic of UFOs.
“Many UFO sightings in the southwest United States during the 1980s were actually secret advanced military aircraft such as the Lockheed F-117 and Northrop Grumman B-2,” notes Elizondo, the AATIP chief quoted in the New York Times story, for example.
While the video published by the New York Times may seem inexplicable, it’s important to remember that “many similarly mysterious UFO sightings in the past turned out to be military prototypes,” writes David Axe of War is Boring. “Maybe aliens really are buzzing Planet Earth. But if history is any guide, it’s more likely the Pentagon’s own advanced aircraft that are making surprise appearances in front of baffled pilots.”
It’s also worth noting past cases such as that of Paul Bennewitz, an Albuquerque, New Mexico UFO investigator who became the victim of an elaborate disinformation scheme to convince him that he was seeing extraterrestrial aircraft rather than conventional (but classified) ones, largely perpetrated by former Air Force officer Richard Doty, who later admitted his involvement, as described in detail in the book Project Beta by Greg Bishop. Or the case of William Moore, a one-time leading “Ufologist” and co-author of an influential book on the now-infamous 1947 incident near Roswell, New Mexico, who admitted at a 1989 UFO conference that he had worked as a government disinformation agent helping to mislead his fellow researchers, including Bennewitz.
Then in terms of the timing of these latest UFO revelations, there’s the fact that while John Podesta may be enthusiastic about UFO disclosure, the extent to which he favors full disclosure about other topics, such as the Clinton campaign’s relationship with controversial firm Fusion GPS, remains more of an open question. His brother Tony, at least, appears about ready to plead the Fifth, as his lobbying organization, the Podesta Group, once considered one of the most powerful in Washington, has reportedly shut down in the wake of revelations that he’s being investigated as part of what is apparently a broad-ranging election interference inquiry by Robert Mueller –though it’s frequently portrayed in the media as solely and strictly relating to Trump administration officials’ ties to Russia.
Of course, no discussion of John Podesta and fringe conspiracy theories would be complete without pointing out that those concerning government coverups of UFOs and contact with space aliens aren’t the only ones to frequently come up in connection with the former Clinton campaign manager. Over a year after the online explosion of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C., pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong was part of a human trafficking ring, based initially on seemingly cryptic terms in Podesta’s leaked emails –such as strange food references, thought to be variations on known code words used by internet pedophiles— local media in D.C. continue to lament the way the conspiracy theory “still dogs the restaurant and its owner.”
The media can continue its enthusiastic coverage of semi-celebrities like Tom DeLonge and John Podesta as they continue their push for disclosure of secrets about the alleged conspiracy to cover up U.S. government contact with extraterrestrials, but it can also be hard to take these people seriously. DeLonge appears to have an unhealthy admiration for Podesta, a man almost 27 years his senior. Given his own fame and financial success (setting aside the question of actual talent) in the music industry, it doesn’t seem to make sense that DeLonge would treat Podesta with such obsequiousness. Even if the worst rumors about Podesta are untrue, what’s definitively known is that he’s a cynical political hack –a “loser” who “ran an arrogant out of touch campaign” that lost the election for Hillary Clinton, in the estimation of Lynn de Rothschild— and it speaks volumes about DeLonge that he would stoop to such fawning flattery of him.
Podesta, for his part, has no problem promoting the Trump-Russia “collusion” theory –which may well eventually be proven conclusively true, though as of yet it hasn’t been, despite much hand-wringing and many months of investigation– while in the same breath denouncing Trump for “pushing crazy conspiracy theories” about his being a pederast. Though not irrelevant to discussion of the most serious accusations made against Podesta, meanwhile, and while they may make colluding with a foreign power to rig an election almost seem tame in comparison, allegations that President Trump has ran in similar circles to the Democratic Party operative are of course largely irrelevant to the question of whether Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin.
At any rate, despite the hype, these latest UFO “disclosures” from the New York Times, Tom DeLonge and company, though initially eye-catching, upon closer inspection seem underwhelming at best — like much about “Russiagate,” actually. At worst, however, there’s the possibility that they’re a distraction from something even more nefarious.