Exopolitics:  Was Seeing Believing?

February 11, 2005
Stephen Bassett

Laughlin, NV – Peter Jennings, the last anchor standing, instructed his company, PJ Productions, in 2004 to create a documentary (really news special) on what he would call UFOs and I would call extraterrestrial-related phenomena. Actually, the original focus was “extraterrestrial life,” and to their credit they refocused onto the phenomena being examined by thousands of researchers and activists since 1947. Eventually it was titled Peter Jennings Reporting UFOs: Seeing is Believing and aired on February 24, 2005 for two hours in opposition to Survivor, The OC and The Apprentice – three of the highest rated programs on network television. It was sweeps week. The irony of this special about a reality the government of the United States still denies airing against “reality” programs selling a contrived reality to a public which increasingly can’t tell the difference, was difficult to miss.

And so it was that ABC News made its first significant contribution in many decades to the issues this magazine presents. There had been a few guest appearances on Nightline by a researcher here and there (Bruce Maccabee, Stanton Friedman). There was the legendary Disney generated documentary in 1995, but this was not associated with the formidable news division. And, of course, how can we forget the infamous March 30, 1997 appearance  by Lee – I made it all up, but I’m a science fiction writer, that’s what I do – Shargel on This Week with David Brinkley?

It was the 21st Century, government witnesses were emerging from every direction, disks (daylight and nighttime) had been seen and video recorded all over Mexico, press briefings were taking place at the National Press Club, polls were returning 50% positive responses on ET presence (and 80% negative responses as to government veracity on the subject), huge and slow moving black triangles were being seen all over the world, former French government officials (COMETA) had issued a report calling for the United States to stop stalling a proper investigation and exposition of the known facts, the UK government was dumping classified documents into the public domain, Laurance Rockefeller had tried to convince Bill Clinton to be the “disclosure president,” Hollywood was cranking out movies and television series with one kind of extraterrestrial or another in leading roles. The 10-hour series, Taken, was notable. War of the Worlds is up next. Who could blame the ABC television network from wanting to climb on board?  The saucer was leaving the space port.

If you think ABC and Peter Jennings just learned there were unusual objects in the sky and jumped on a story, think again.   Here are some things you didn’t know.  More awareness effort has been directed at the ABC News division than all the other networks combined, including Fox (to its credit, Fox has been responsive). Paradigm Research Group, the Disclosure Project and others have approached ABC News repeatedly over the past 15 years. Much of this was aimed at Nightline with Ted Koppel.   I met with producers at Nightline; passed on information, books (Day after Roswell), tapes (Out of the Blue); made offers to set up meetings with government witnesses; sent dozens of press releases; and more. Dr. Steven Greer met with top ABC News producers on several occasions.

Immediately after the May 9, 2001 Disclosure Project press conference at the National Press Club was completed, the 4-hour video compilation of witness testimony was walked directly over to Ted Koppel’s office. He was given the tape, viewed a portion and was asked to consider program segments with these witnesses. That night I received a phone call from my contact requesting the names of six of the best witnesses for ABC News to check out for possible guest appearances. This request was passed on to Dr. Greer. Six witnesses were selected and passed back to ABC News.

In time I learned the first witness selected for vetting was retired FAA administrator John Callahan, witness to the events surrounding the 1986 Japan Airlines flight 1628 sighting over Alaska. It was the late summer of 2001, seven months into a new Republican administration badly in need of a legacy building issue, and it was difficult to suppress a rising expectation of a media breakthrough.   On September 11 this optimism, the witness vetting process and any media momentum collapsed upon itself like the towers in New York.

During the intervening years it has not been easy to insert the issues of exopolitics and extraterrestrial-related phenomena into the political arena. But the issues surrounding extraterrestrial-related phenomena haven’t gone away for many reasons, not the least of which being because the extraterrestrials haven’t gone away.  Sightings continued unabated, public awareness continued to grow and countries other than the United States engaged the issues, i.e. Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

Peter Jennings did not produce and present a documentary to his network about extraterrestrial-related phenomena for a few ratings points. They did the special because they are behind the curve on this issue and they know it. They are playing catch up with Fox New and the Discovery, TLC, History and A&E cable channels and they know it. That said, the people, evidence and theories pertaining to this subject are still confined to an intellectual ghetto fostered by a government which still declares there is no there there. What to do?  They ran it right down the middle with no small amount of skill.

Here is a simple exopolitical assessment of the Peter Jennings UFO special. The first hour was a nice present to the UFO/ET research/activist community. The fundamental question of unresolved anomalous phenomena was reinforced. Government incompetence (though not government conspiracy to hide) was charged. A call for more investigation was made. Intelligent and fair representations of unusual sightings, witnesses and researchers were made. The skeptibunkers’ usual silly counter explanations were given without enhancement or endorsement. What was not to like about that hour of prime time?

The second hour was a present to the government of the United States and the corporate defense contractors (some of which own major media entities) still faced with the daunting problem of ending a 57-year truth embargo and coming out looking good on the other side of disclosure. Three things were accomplished during this hour, which were quite significant.  First they tied the matter of a government “cover-up” to Roswell.  Second, they debunked Roswell with prejudice. It was quite remarkable. Peter Jennings suddenly lost all objectivity and pronounced Roswell a myth. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Roswell was myth, and by extension the idea of a government “cover-up” was myth.  Peter says so.  Wow!  Third, they attempted to shape the public perception of the contact/abduction issue by pitting Budd Hopkins, the “artist,” against skeptical Harvard University professors while leaving out Harvard trained and connected researcher, the late Dr. John Mack, and Temple University associate professor David Jacobs.*  Why did they do this?

I have no idea. Just kidding.  Here, in my opinion, is why they took this approach. The following two points are absolutely critical to understanding the government dilemma and past actions. First, the inside management group (MJ-12, Council of the Majority, whatever they’re called) have always considered Roswell the greatest threat to the truth embargo. That is why they have invested so much effort to counter the developing public awareness. They moved to block Congressman Steven Schiff, backed and published two books, publicly put forward three different explanations, held a press conference at the Pentagon to announce one of these explanations (it was so silly even the Pentagon reporters laughed it off), and more.  Outside of Roswell the government position is “what ETs” and “go away.”

Second, the matter of abductions, whether conducted by extraterrestrials or military, is THE most explosive exopolitical issue.  It is a huge public relations (and possibly legal) problem embedded in any disclosure scenario.

ABC News put the government on notice. The message was this:  this is news, and it is no longer possible to pretend otherwise; we are putting you on notice we are going to do more specials on this subject; we are giving you some maneuvering room.

ABC got twice the viewing audience it normally gets for that competitive time slot. In a weaker slot the audience might have exceeded 20 million. You can bet your Roswell souvenirs the other networks took notice. The business of America is business.


* Budd Hopkins has been treated this way before, and I truly hope Budd hangs around long enough to receive an apology from everyone who owes him one – not a small number.

Relevant Web links:

Disney’s 1995 Documentary: www.hedweb.com/markp/disney.htm
JAL 1628 Sighting (1986): www.ufoevidence.org/topics/JALalaska.htm
Peter Jennings Reporting UFOs:  www.abcnews.go.com/Technology/Primetime/story?id=468496
Pentagon Roswell Briefing (6/24/97): www.defense.gov/transcripts/1997/t06241997_t0624asd.html
Disclosure Project NPC Press Conference:  www.disclosureproject.org/npcwebcast.htm