Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Yes, the New York Times owns the UFO fiasco

Though we've talked about this before in

Extraordinary claims (used to) require extraordinary evidence OR the gray lady and the little green men


There were lots of red flags with the NYT UFO story

 I don't believe we ever stopped for an overview.

Just to recap, this all started when the New York Times hired Leslie Kean, a paranormal true believer with a questionable track record to cover the UFO beat along with the veteran Ralph Blumenthal who presumably was supposed to keep his younger partner in check, a bit like Scully and Mulder, with roughly the same outcome. The result was a run of sensationalistic and badly reported articles. Eventually the stories the reporters were handing in got so over the top that the NYT put the brakes on at which point Kean and Blumenthal went to an obscure publication on their own with hearsay claims of extraterrestrial crash sites and alien technology.

You might think this was as bad as it could get but, just as the NYT had been holding back its reporters from some of the craziness, it turns out that the reporters themselves were doing the same with their source. Once David Grusch hit the interview circuit, the shit really and truly hit the fan. Now we didn't just have stories of interstellar spaceships sitting in warehouses somewhere, we had an international conspiracy dating back to the 1930s and involving not just modern-day countries but the Axis powers and the Vatican.

Grusch elaborated on his claims in a subsequent interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien on June 7. He said that UFOs could be coming from extra dimensions; that Pope Pius XII had "back-channeled" the existence of a UFO crash in Magenta, Italy in 1933 to the United States, the remains of which were kept by Benito Mussolini's government until the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), coordinating with the Five Eyes, procured it in 1944 or 1945; that he had spoken with intelligence officials whom the U.S. military had briefed on "football-field" sized crafts; that the U.S. government transferred some crashed UFOs to a defense contractor; and that there was "malevolent activity" by UFOs.

The smart thing to do at this point would be to completely disavow this clown, but people are too invested. The reporters have staked their reputations on this guy and the NYT, (the paper with perhaps the strongest and most entrenched corporate culture of any major non-partisan news publication, which absolutely hates to admit it was wrong) has spent years ignoring questions about these two star reporters.

As far as I can tell, the paper has taken no serious steps to distance itself from this fiasco and, if we can take Ezra Klein as representing the company line (usually pretty good bet), the paper is approaching this obvious bullshit with the same" just asking questions," "keeping an open mind," "important if true" framing that they previously brought to the hyperloop, crypto and nfts, and the metaverse.

1 comment:

  1. The NYT has more green men problems than you think. Compare this review:

    ("In the spirit, perhaps, of the TikTokkers who eat live cockroaches or whatever to satisfy their viewers, I decided to oblige loyal Shtetl-Optimized fans by buying Quantum Supremacy and reading it.")

    With the NYT review:

    To my chagrin, however, Science (yes, that one, the AAAS one) also messed up and hired a bloke who didn't know anything about either physics or computer science to review it, and said review failed to notice that it was wrong on every single technical detail. Oops.