Disclosure lite

The New York Times (article | PDF), Washington Post (article | PDF), Politico (article | PDF), and any number of major network news outlets did a remarkable thing last week. Almost simultaneously. They reported – without the usual smirks, giggles, eye-rolls or leaving of last words to debunkers – the Pentagon’s admission that it spent $22 million during the period 2007-2012 studying UFOs. Retired Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who secured the funding, most of which was awarded to billionaire Robert Bigelow (controversially one of Reid’s larger campaign contributors), has said he’s proud of what the program accomplished. Mainstream media coverage has included military cockpit video, pilot interviews, and unambiguous references to “metal alloys and other materials … recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena” (New York Times).

Let’s recap:

  • Government acknowledgement of the existence of the phenomenon.
  • Government acknowledgement that it has spent tens of millions of dollars studying the phenomenon.
  • Mainstream media outlets discussing the above in serious fashion.
  • Existence of material evidence reported, although exactly what that evidence is, how it was recovered, and where it is now are not revealed.

All that’s missing here to round out UFO lobbyist Stephen Bassett’s most conservative Christmas wishlist is a Pentagon press conference during which the evidence isn’t dismissed as misidentification of the moon.

Startling though the acknowledgements and the non-tongue-in-cheek reportage might be, however – and they definitely are startling – the most encouraging aspect of what happened last week is the implicit complicity of corporate America. It’s corporate America, after all, that owns the media and corporate America that runs the government, so the fact that straight-faced mainstream coverage continues tells us that Big Brother, at a minimum, doesn’t disapprove. A welcoming nod from the gatekeeper, you might say.

Here’s from Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent (2002 edition): 

In sum, the dominant media firms are quite large businesses, they are controlled by very wealthy people or by managers who are subject to sharp constraints by owners and other market-profit-oriented forces, and they are closely interlocked, and have important common interests with other major corporations, banks, and government. – p. 14

New York Times editor Max Frankel (said) in an interview that “we’re an establishment institution, and whenever your natural constituency changes, then naturally you will too.” – p. 203

So while still short of big “D” Disclosure, last week’s Disclosure-lite seems clear indication that the establishment’s market-profit-oriented priorities have changed enough to permit journalists and scientists to investigate and report on the phenomenon without undue fear of ruining their careers. And even if this brave new paradigm is, at its point of origin, nothing but a massive click-bait maneuver, the effect of it will be the same: a more informed public, a more civil discussion, and maybe – no harm in hoping – something approaching the truth.

Listen to The New York Times December 18, 2017 edition of its podcast, The Daily. (mp3)