Whatever works, obviously ...
|By Billy Cox|
UFOs and Nukes author/independent researcher Robert Hastings was understandably torqued recently when someone told him he needed to check out an episode of History Channel’s “Hangar 1,” the Mutual UFO Network’s cable television platform for alerting a new generation to its sprawling database. Actually, no, check that, the episode in question aired on H2, History Channel’s second-tier programming subsidiary. Actually, no, check that, it was more like a three-minute clip, not an entire episode. Anything longer than three minutes and your audience is flipping channels.
In contrast to the Atlantic magazine piece that broke the 50-missile shutdown story, in which authorities said weapons access went dark for just under an hour, Hastings dug around and discovered base personnel who told him, confidentially, control of the ICBMs wasn’t fully restored for nearly 26 hours. Furthermore, witnesses – who ultimately included civilian and law enforcement operatives – reported UFO activity in the vicinity during that time frame, specifically, the overflight of a large cigar-shaped object. Hastings published his findings in 2011, then contributed a followup to the MUFON Journal in 2013.
Hastings bailed on “Hangar 1” after getting his fill of H2's opening episodes' fidgety, hyper-produced sensationalism. After all, he was assembling his own documentary on the nuke/UFO controversy in order to retain editorial control and keep it from becoming, well, another “Hangar 1.” So when he finally watched “Hangar 1’s” spin on the Warren incident, Hastings nearly blew a gasket . Because there was MUFON Executive Director Jan Harzan uttering these scripted words: “Two missile technicians came to MUFON anonymously and reported these objects being seen before and during the actual missile shut down.”
“You know, there’s a guy out there, Jason Colavito, who I don’t agree with very often because he’s a debunker,” Hastings tells De Void. “But when he jumped on Hangar 1 for creating fraudulent documents to make the show sound more official, he absolutely nailed it. This is how low they’ve sunk, saying this is from the MUFON case files without giving me a word of credit. Legally, I think I’m within my rights to contact an entertainment attorney about intellectual theft.”
“Absolutely, Robert should’ve gotten credit for that,” Harzan responds. But it’s complicated. He says “Hangar 1” producers requested everything MUFON had on UFOs and nuclear weapons. The 46-year-old research group complied, and included the Hastings’ MUFON Journal piece in the data dump. “Nowhere in the article does it say Robert isn’t a member of MUFON,” offers Harzan, “so I think the writer just made that assumption. Certainly it wasn’t an intentional omission on our part.”
“Hangar 1's” first season was a critical flop, but it drew the numbers; in fact, the suits were so pleased, they scheduled season two – which ran April through June this year – for a slot in the History Channel rotation itself. But according to Harzan, as a result of season one’s accuracy problems, he told History he needed a MUFON review board to preview each episode to minimize mistakes. Among those sentinel panelists is MUFON communications director Roger Marsh, who also says Hastings should've been credited, but adds that not even prior solves everything.
“There are three groups involved here,” he says. “There’s us, we’re the content providers. There’s the production company, which puts it all together. And then there’s the network – they’re the ones putting out the money and they’re the ones who tell us what they want.” Consequently, says Marsh, MUFON doesn’t always get what it wants. “We don’t need a lot of old stories about Roswell, or Area 51, or alien bases on the dark side of the moon. We have enough good cases over the last five or six years that nobody ever heard of, and those are the ones we’d rather see more of.”
For example, a 2000 incident over southern Illinois in which squad cars from multiple law enforcement agencies gave chase to a triangular UFO made national news. Thanks to recorded chatter between cops, this encounter has become a familiar re-enactment staple on UFO themed shows. Years ago, Marsh found a new witness, a now-retired assistant fire chief who saw the same object, same evening, cruising the skies in next-door Missouri. He had never given an interview until Marsh came along. “To me, putting a new witness in the story was what made it exciting,” he says.
Marsh reviewed what he thought was the final cut and gave it a thumbs-up. When the show aired, however, the fireman’s testimony had been edited out. But Marsh's disappointment was mitigated by a payoff he describes as “huge.”
“When the last two [second season] episodes aired, my phone was ringing off the hook. We got dozens and dozens and dozens of calls about cases I never heard of.”
Bottom line: the dilemma – suspect show quality versus growing eyewitness feedback – is apparently a tradeoff MUFON can live with.
“I really think season two was better than season one,” Marsh says, “but it’s all on Hollywood terms -- it's a medium that's very sexy. and you just have to get used to it. If you’re a stickler for details like Robert is, then it’s just not going to work for you.”
There must be some planet out there where sticklers for detail get a better deal than "Hangar 1."
Continue Reading . . .
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