Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Biased Documentaries by the Media

Dennis On Camera
By Dennis G. Balthaser
2-14-07

Dennis Balthaser (Sml 2)     Over the years I have enjoyed having the opportunity to share my UFO research with the public through various venues, such as being involved with many film documentary productions, various TV and radio interviews, writing editorials and doing lectures.

Doing lectures, writing editorials and live radio interviews rank as some of my favorites, because the information being presented can be presented in a manner that doesn’t require editing in most cases, since it’s what I like to call “off the cuff” and live. Radio interviews in particular fall in to this category. Agreed there may be some lively discussion from those that don’t agree with my comments during a live radio broadcast but the results of those discussions can usually be quickly resolved. Editorials sometimes initiate responses in both agreement and disagreement, but usually are also resolvable through communication and correspondence. The best part about doing lectures for me has always been the question and answer session following the lecture, wherein I can judge my lecture by the questions that are asked and the dialog that takes place between the audience and myself. Television interviews particularly if for a news service, can go either way. If it’s a live television broadcast, editing will not be needed and the information as presented is “out there” subject to review later if desired.

Television documentaries being filmed for airing at a later date do not fall into the above categories and have become a real problem over the years due to the editing that takes place after the filming is complete, with no in-put for the final version from those that have been interviewed. This is happening much too frequently. I guess one could assume that any coverage is good, but that is not the case in many documentaries I’ve been involved with. Perhaps I don’t know enough about TV show ratings and bottom line profits to fully understand why this is happening all too often. There appears to be an agenda and motive to deliberately produce shows that are biased, on the edge of propaganda and misinformation, for a reason other than disclosing the truth or at least showing respect for those of us that have dedicated our lives and financial resources to finding that truth. Debunkers and critics are an essential part of this research to help us all find the answers, unfortunately the debunkers very seldom come up with new information and many times are given credit in these documentaries for having all the answers. The people responsible for editing documentaries as well as the film crews themselves, many times have no knowledge of the information their preparing for consumption by the general public. They haven’t done their homework and lead you to believe that they’re after the facts and the truth only to find out the story line and conclusion when a show is aired is far from either. The multi-million dollar networks want our years of research for free, consuming many hours of our time to misrepresent us in their final product. That has to stop. I can honestly say that of the several hundred interviews I have done over the years, only a handful were factual and presented the information in a balanced way that the public deserves.

The ABC-TV special with Peter Jennings in 2005 was a good example. The show was heavily promoted as being the truth, which it was for the first few minutes and then went “south” like many other shows and documentaries have, with assumptions and claims that were totally false, allowing too much air time for the debunkers which didn’t permit the information to be shown in a fair and balanced manner.

Sometimes you expect these type results from certain national media networks, because you know their track record from previous documentaries they produced. There are other networks that you expect a more balanced view from, and those can disappoint you also as the National Geographic channel did recently in a show about “The Real Roswell”, which first aired in January 2007.

Last summer I filmed with them here in Roswell for about 6 hours and not once during that time was I told by the film crew that the National Geographic special would obviously have an agenda that would be extremely biased by the time the one hour show ended after the editing was completed. I was also contacted several times by email and telephone requesting additional factual information about the Roswell Incident while the documentary was being prepared. I had a lot of airtime on the show and those that responded to me after viewing the show indicated that I came across honestly and sincerely in my comments that were used. I was thankful for that, but very disappointed with the overall show and factual information unfairly presented.

As examples, at one point in the show they referred to General Roger Ramey, the head of 8th Air Force in Ft Worth as the base commander at Roswell Army Airfield in 1947, when in fact the base commander was Col Blanchard. The Mogul balloon theory, particularly Flight 4, which researcher David Rudiak has proven could not have possibly landed on the ranch was the final word for the documentary, totally ignoring the fact that Russia did no nuclear testing until 1949 (2 years after the Roswell Incident), which was what the Mogul balloon was supposed to detect from high altitude. Major Jesse Marcel’s recollection of the event was linked to Sci-Fi books and movies, not based on his work as the top Intelligence Officer in the military in 1947. Finally most of the witnesses’ testimony shown was taken completely out of context.

The National Geographic channel in the preparation of this documentary did obviously very little homework. Some of the witnesses like Walter Haut, Frank Joyce, George Newling, Major Marcel and his son Jesse Marcel Jr., deserved better than National Geographic afforded them. The same is true for researchers Stanton Friedman, Don Schmitt and myself who gave freely and openly to what we thought would be a non-biased documentary about Roswell, only to be disappointed again.

The debunkers on the show added nothing new and in fact in the case of Michael Shermer, his responses are now predictable, since it’s always the same ---that it’s all a myth. Perhaps he’s the myth with help from the National Geographic channel and other UFO documentary producers. The narrator in fact ended the show with the statement that, “Science now sees Roswell as little more than myth making”.

Of course no Roswell documentary would be complete without the comments from Dr. Seth Shostak of SETI, who continues to live in the stone age hoping to get a “radio signal” from out there, and B.D Glidenberg, both of whom I would question as to their credentials on actually doing research on the subject of UFOs.

I suggest in the future, documentary film producers omit the words like the “Real” Roswell or the “Truth” about Roswell, unless they intend to present it as real or true.

National Geographic---your credibility is at stake and you have a lot of room for improvement. You owe it to your audience to be fair and unbiased.

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