Return of the little green men
CBS goes retro during blown interview with USAF boss
Excuse me, miss? Would you follow me to the CBS studio? I think I’ve got a scoop for Gayle, Tony and Vladimir.
One might think a TV network mired in third place for morning-audience share would get the message: What you’re doing ain’t working. Bemoaning the news division’s shrinking resources won’t cut it – competitors are up against the same wall. But trying to work fresh ideas into familiar themes won’t cut it, either, if you’re wearing the same worn-out thinking cap you brought to the rut in the first place.
Last week, “CBS This Morning” illustrated the point by unveiling The Idiot’s Guide To Doing Things Bass Ackwards. In a segment marking the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, Gayle King, Tony Dokoupol, and Vladimir Duthiers had a chance to make serious headlines during a studio interview with USAF Secretary Frank Kendall. What they served up instead were leftovers that haven’t changed recipes since Bill Murray was singing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
Let’s set the stage:
As growing numbers of viewers are beginning to realize, the USA has a UFO problem on its hands. More specifically, the USAF has a UFO problem on its hands. Responsible for policing the nation’s skies, the Air Force has been collecting tons of related data for decades. But since it was the Navy UFO videos that got outed by the NY Times nearly five years ago, the Air Force has been content to hang back and watch the sailors take all the heat for not bringing the intruders to heel. In fact, the Air Force hasn’t said beans about its own role in the UAP drama that’s grabbed the attention of Congress.
So here’s America’s top dog at the Air Force, the guy everyone’s been wanting to hear from, trapped on stage with three elite network journos. He’s Mister Resume, which includes assignments as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Tactical Warfare Programs in the SecDef’s office, and he was Vice President of Engineering for Raytheon. You remember Raytheon. Immediately after the NYT posted the F-18 UFO vids, Raytheon released a statement suggesting its ATFLIR targeting camera “might be the system that caught the first evidence of E.T. out there.”
‘What’s wrong with little green men?’
Midway through the 7-minute chit-chat, Tony Dokoupol has the right impulse but no idea how to execute it. As he approaches Kendall with almost apologetic qualifiers, King and Duthiers try to soften the blow with light-hearted interventions.
Dokoupol: “Mr. Secretary, I’ve got a genuine question about UFOs, not as, like, little green men and aliens —” blow-softening chuckles from King/Duthiers “— but the idea that there could be some sort of technology out there …”
King, referring to Kendall’s nonverbal off-camera response: “He said ‘I’m gonna take a sip of water!’”
Duthiers, to Dokoupol: “You got the secretary to laugh and smile for a moment there, so I think that’s a good question.”
King, extending the jocularity: “What’s wrong with little green men?”
Dokoupol (finally): “I mean, there’s military video of aviators who’ve seen things that cannot be explained, right. And there’s an active investigation. I think the worry is not that it’s little green men but that it’s another country with technology that we’ve not seen before.* So, from where you sit, are UFOs a real issue?”
Kendall: “Um, to be quite honest, not for me.” Because people like you never ask me about it. “I have real threats that I worry about every day, and they’re severe threats.” Not like the shit that flies circles around anything we can put in the air. “And I’m aware of – I don’t have direct responsibility for investigating these phenomena.” Not my problem — get it? “Uh, I’ve looked at the reports, I’ve seen what’s been there, there are things we haven’t been able to explain.” And you can howl at the moon for those reports. “But I think the important thing for us to do is do some real technical investigation of what they are and try to resolve these.” Maybe farm it out to NASA or the Navy.
Then Gayle King swoops in to rescue the Air Force Secretary from Dokoupol’s rude provocations. “I’m curious,” she says, “about what you really do worry about?”
Kendall snatches the life preserver and goes off on “China, China, China.”
It’s for your own good
And that was pretty much that. And since the USAF has faced no repercussions for opting out the UFO discussions, is it any wonder that the Navy, just last week, appeared to follow suit? In a FOIA reply to Black Vault researcher John Greenewald, the Navy decided to declare its entire UFO video inventory off-limits to American taxpayers.
Claiming their release “would harm national security,” Navy FOIA manager Gregory Cason argued that circulating UFO vids “may provide adversaries valuable information regarding Department of Defense/Navy operations, vulnerabilities, and /or capabilities. No portions of the videos can be segregated for release.”
None. Nothing. Zilch-o.
Which means, of course, that if Navy bureaucrats like Scott Bray and Ronald Moultrie are forced to appear on the congressional stage again like they were in May, next time they won’t even have to bring the kind of crappy footage they underwhelmed us with back then to prove they weren’t asleep at the wheel. So now they’re pushing back on the most bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill.
Coupled with the USAF’s successful strategy of obstinate silence, the Navy’s latest move suggests the Pentagon is closing ranks and drawing a hard red line in the sand around its UFO images, which connect with people in ways that charts, graphs and computations simply cannot. Maybe the end game is to keep stalling in hopes that the mid-terms might usher in enough new uninitiated faces to dilute the momentum now underway for UFO transparency. One thing is clear. The pols pushing for accountability will need all the help they can get from the media, which may or may not be up to it.
CBS “60 Minutes” broke new ground with its UFO coverage in May 2021, but that was, well, May 2021. The network morning crew obviously didn’t get the memo and, as they say in showbiz, you’re only as good as your last act. So, in testing my powers of clairvoyance, I’ll make a prediction.
“CBS This Morning” will score a live interview with Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, formerly the top intel guy with U.S. Space Command, now the just-appointed director of the Pentagon’s spanking new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office to address UFOs. A producer will cue the “X-Files” score and the graphics department will roll out the segment with clip art of a classic 1950s-era flying saucer, or maybe even a mug shot of Gort from “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”
“Dr. Kirkpatrick,” one of the morning crew begins (I’m not able to figure out which one), “we know you’re not out there chasing little green men.” Blow-softening chuckles from the set. “But no, seriously, if you had a preference, do you think the U.S. would be better off if we were struck by Chinese missiles or Russian missiles ..?”
* (Actually, no, that’s not the worry expressed by Congress when it added more stipulations to its Intelligence Authorization Act budget request for 2023. Lawmakers instructed the Pentagon to pass along to “appropriate offices” reports of objects “that are positively identified as man-made after analysis,” which “should not be considered under the definition as unidentified aerospace-undersea phenomena.”)
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