Whitley's Journal

The Problem with The Press

By Whitley Strieber Copyright (c) 1999, Whitley Strieber

Next week, the book I have written with Art Bell, The Coming Global Superstorm, will be published, and I am about to suffer from the same press torments that have dogged me since I published Communion. I am routinely punished for writing that book, either by false and unfair reviews, or by being ignored. Despite the fact that Communion is a book of questions, it is taken to be a claim of alien contact, and I am viewed as a proponent of something akin to a false religious belief. I am hurt as much as possible short of legal limits in order to limit my impact and, in the best of all possible worlds, destroy me.

But many of the very people publishing the lies about me or intentionally ignoring my work know the truth perfectly well. They know that the UFO phenomenon is real and that the visitors are probably aliens.

That there has been an organized effort to discredit me seems probable, and I can offer a certain amount of evidence that it exists, and that it may originate with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I have no direct evidence of this origin, but I certainly can show that there is a high probability that the press has been used against me.

I refer, in particular, to the Sunday, June 11, 1995 issue of Parade Magazine. In the "Personality Parade" column of this issue a story was published to the effect that I was an "admitted" epileptic and that I had temporal lobe epilepsy. The piece appeared exactly a week before my first book on the UFO subject was released. It was extremely damaging to me, as it called into question not only my veracity, but the credibility of my entire book. Sales were vastly damaged, as a result.

I wrote Parade in protest, and received a correction in the same column on July 11. I also wrote the National Epilepsy Foundation. Their director of public relations, Peter Van Haverbeke, replied that my name did not appear on any list of celebrities disseminated by the Foundation, contrary to Parade's statements. He stated that he had "relied upon my recollection of the discussion and information concerning you in the book "Seized."" But this book contains no statement from me that I had any such disease. On the contrary, the only statements I have made about this refer to the extensive series of tests I took to determine whether or not I had it, which I published in an appendix to Transformation.

On investigation, I discovered that Carlo Vittorini, the ultra- conservative Chairman and Publisher of Parade, has a deeply patriotic connection to the Air Force. I was unable to gain any information about why I had been singled out in this particular way at this particularly inopportune moment.

However, I wish to state here and now that I have been led to believe that I am once again to receive this treatment. The New Yorker has been particularly mentioned as the venue for the next planted story, timed to coincide with the publication of The Coming Global Superstorm. We shall see.

Why does the press lie about UFOs? Or, more to the point, why are so many otherwise intelligent people so ferociously protective of their ignorance that they will not even examine the facts, let alone report on them.

This isn't -- I don't think -- due to any particular conspiracy, but rather to social factors that are an inevitable side effect of two things: 1 the 50-year long press commitment to the idea the UFOs are nonsense; 2 the flow of former intelligence personnel into the press and media.

The fact that intelligence personnel retire into the press is nothing new. Many of them leave their agencies having spent their careers writing about economics and international politics. If they have been field agents, they may bring with them excellent news sources. There is nothing illegal or even wrong about the fact that this flow of personnel occurs. However, intelligence personnel who are not privy to real UFO information (and this includes anybody who is not directly involved in the situation) have been led to believe that the secret intelligence community accidentally created a form of social hysteria back in the early fifties when it covered up the flight of secret aircraft by spreading false reports that they might be alien spacecraft. This lie apparently began to be spread as a result of a story that appeared in the New York Times.

On January 13, 1979, the Times published a story entitled "CIA Papers Detail UFO Surveillance." This story asserted that declassified documents confirmed that the government was deeply concerned about UFOs. In Studies in Intelligence (semiannual unclassified edition, #1, 1997, p. 78) it is reported that CIA Director Stansfield Turner conducted an internal survey to determine if the claim was true. Deputy Director for Administration Donald Wortman reported that there was "no organized Agency effort to do research in connection with UFO phenomena."

Turner apparently also expressed his displeasure to the Times, and offered the explanation discussed above, that the whole affair had been triggered by well-intentioned but unfortunate attempts by intelligence personnel to conceal the flight of secret aircraft.

The result was a profound hardening at the Times against any reports of UFO activity at all, except to debunk them. This has subsequently become so institutionalized in the general media that few reporters have seriously explored the issue in years. Instead, they rely on an explanation that is demonstrably not true.

Indeed, a fantastically distorted situation now pertains: the press is ignoring blatant physical evidence not only that UFOs are real, but also that some kind of bizarre intrusion is taking place into our very bodies. If there are aliens here, then it is even possible to speculate that they may be using fragilities within our own social institutions to prevent us from responding to their presence in a way that might impede their activities.

Time itself has lent conviction to the notional concept that UFOs are nonsense. Like true believers in all ages, it does not even occur to members of the modern press to question what has become an ironic and bizarre superstition: the superstition that UFOs are NOT real.

Since 1979, the press has done more than ridicule UFOs, it has proactively fought against the dissemination of public knowledge, as exemplified by the Parade article discussed above. Because of that article, thousands of people were led away from Breakthrough, never to see the provocative nature of its contents, or-more importantly-to realize the importance of its implications for their lives, their freedom and the future of mankind.

In general, without doing any research at all, reporters and editors act from a set of assumptions about the phenomenon that is in general and in detail, entirely false. The problem is endemic, ranging from the august newsrooms of the New York and London Times to the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly, right down to the smallest local newspaper.

An example of this occurs in a recent issue of a small local magazine. It reported on a speech I gave before the Mind/Science foundation in San Antonio, Texas. I showed some videotapes, including a video sequence taken by NASA on the last day of mission STS80 that shows extensive UFO activity in and above the atmosphere over South America.

This is probably the most extraordinary and convincing UFO video ever made. It has even been the source of internal discussion within NASA, and a decision has been made, if any serious reporter ever questions it, to claim that the objects observed represent craft deployed as part of two onboard experiments that were executed during the mission. In fact, both experiments had been retrieved before the video was made, and the activity of the objects seen in the video was so interesting to NASA that efforts were made to zoom the camera in order to keep them in range as a rendezvous was enacted among three of them. However, if it is ever necessary, the plan is to spin the story out of existence with the false claim detailed above. But so far no reporter of any stature has even bothered to question NASA about the video, so the issue remains moot.

The local magazine reporter, however, had to say something about it, as it formed the central content of my lecture. The way she chose to dismiss the evidence in the video was absurd, but her editors must have believed it, as they published it. She evidences a lack of even the slightest understanding of basic astronomy when she states "some objects hovering beyond the limits of the atmosphere were probably satellites or asteroids." This ridiculous statement reveals the fact that she not only doesn't know that asteroids are deep space objects, she is unaware even of the fact that satellites cannot "hover," but must travel in orbits. These objects show no evidence of orbital motion. Indeed, one of them moves along on a straight trajectory, and is marked by evenly pulsating lights, indicating that it is not a piece of tumbling debris, but an object operating some kind lights. It meets up with two other objects, none of which are in any kind of orbit. And all the while, NASA's own camera struggles to follow its movements, indicating a high level of interest on the part of the observers.

The reporter then goes on to discuss a video I showed made by a child in Sao Paolo, Brazil, which shows an object moving about over the city, even dropping down below the level of the apartment balcony from which the filming was being done and passing low over the streets. She makes the statement "it was achingly obvious that object was radio controlled, but I admired the quality of the hoax." This statement is not only arrogant but ignorant. The reporter is willing to make a value judgment without the slightest attempt to investigate something that she assumes must fit her preconceived notions.

But she has no more idea of the physics of balloons than she does of satellites. Because of its proximity to other nearby objects, the size of the device can be measured. It is a little smaller than a basketball. If it is a hoax, then it has to be a balloon because it has no airfoil. Since it cannot fly, it has to float in the air. But what would happen to a balloon the size of a basketball if you put a motor, a radio transceiver and batteries in it? Not even the secret intelligence community possesses devices light enough to be carried by a balloon with, at most, a eighth of an ounce of lift. A balloon that small could hardly lift a few paperclips.

The journal that carried this asinine story admittedly is not an important venue. It is one of those little local free publications which seem to be supported largely by pornography advertising. (Its back pages are choked by ads that say things like "Kinky? Meet Hot Locals by Phone.") One cannot expect quality reporting in such a magazine, and normally I wouldn't bother to address its commentary at all.

However, in this case what the little local throwaway has published is nothing less than an exemplar. Its story exemplifies virtually all of the reporting in general media on the UFO question, most of which is no less ignorant. This reporter did no investigation because she felt that since UFOs ipso facto do not exist, there was no reason to. She allowed her preconceptions to overtake her reason. This response defines the attitude of the whole of the press regarding this very mysterious and unexplained phenomenon.

Another example comes from the New York Review of Books which in 1998 published a review of Confirmation that said not one word about the contents of the book, or even that there was evidence presented in it. The review was entirely an act of character assassination against me. What's more, to my knowledge, no other newspaper in the country published a review of Confirmation. My other books had been reviewed extensively. But they were not quite so dangerous as confirmation, because they were mostly anecdotal. Confirmation, with its plethora of evidence, was too dangerous even to acknowledge.

But that doesn't mean that members of the press did not read the book. The press is vulnerable. They know that they are wrong, and that the day will come when they can no longer deny the truth. Proper policy would have them repairing the damage now. But instead, they are doing everything they can to make their situation-already bad enough-untenable.

Recently, the New York Times published a story about an auction of the possessions of the 37 people who committed suicide during the Heaven's Gate calamity. A photograph of some of these possessions was published with the story. Prominently displayed were the spines of two of my books, Communion and Transformation. The implication-unstated- was clear: Whitley Strieber's ideas were part of the reason that these people died.

The truth is that they died because of their own superstitions, which were founded, as superstitions always are, in ignorance. The ignorance of this tragic little cult stemmed from the fact that the lack of scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon is causing it to give rise to all sorts of loopy beliefs.

Science does not investigate because it is afraid to: foundations dare not support such research, and few scientists care to risk their careers on it, knowing that they will become the butts of brutal and possibly ruinous press ridicule.

The press needs to face the fact that it is, as an institution, more responsible than any other for the state of affairs that exists now. The press is the self-appointed enforcer of ignorance and superstition. If anybody killed the Heaven's Gate 37, it was the press.

In large part, the press works against knowledge of the UFO phenomenon by ignoring it. Between September and November of this year, for example, parts of the United States experienced the most extensive wave of UFO sightings in history. But this was not reported at all, not a word of it. So the public had no idea that it was even happening. (This gives the lie, incidentally, to the shibboleth that press reports generate UFO sighting waves. Even with the press in a state of silence, the waves obviously continue.)

There can only be one reason to refuse to acknowledge the existence of unwanted evidence: that the evidence cannot be refuted. Gone are the days when the press could say that no credible evidence of UFOs exists, and no professional has ever made a sighting report. Indeed, Dr. Paul Hill, who was an aeronautical engineer at NASA from 1939 until 1970, and who retired with an Exceptional Service Medal for Outstanding Scientific Leadership, had some extraordinary UFO sightings. You could hardly find a more qualified professional, but when his book, Unconventional Flying Objects, was published posthumously in 1995, it received exactly the same treatment that my books and Dr. John Mack's books and the books of almost all careful or credible UFO researchers have been receiving since the early nineties: it was almost totally ignored by the press.

The fact is that the press has been laughing about UFOs for 50 years, and has been wrong for 50 years. That is now obvious even to a casual observer of the evidence. What the press has chosen to do is to pretend that the evidence doesn't exist or, as exemplified by the story in the local throwaway, to dismiss it by the use of silly assertions that are without the slightest grounding in scientific reality. As an institution, from the highest journal to the lowest, it is becoming apparent that the press lacks the moral strength to admit its error.

Reality is this: UFOs are something real, the abduction phenomenon is in some way connected to their presence, and Whitley Strieber and the other close encounter witnesses and researchers are not liars. As a group, we deserve an apology from the press. We have been lampooned and humiliated and lied about enough. There are hundreds of thousands of us witnesses, and hundreds of good researchers, and our collective experience represents a deep, rich source of information about this provocative unknown.

Central to the problem is secrecy, and in this sense the press is not entirely responsible for the situation. Of course it is also possible that aliens are the cause of the observations being reported. If so, then perhaps the assertion made by T. B. H. Kuiper and Michael Morris in their April, 1977 Science paper "Searching for Extraterrestrial Civilizations" that aliens if they came here would be extremely secretive is correct, and all of our confusion stems from this. If so, then the alien presence itself is the original wellspring of the bizarre situation that presents itself, of an enormous social institution devoted to the discovery and publication of information, refusing to deal with what is almost certainly the most important information in history.

The one thing that is not true about this information is what the press takes as gospel: that there is no mystery, that the whole phenomenon represents nothing but the silly season imaginings of a gullible public raised to fever pitch by expert hucksters and professional liars who need to be punished.

In denying the UFO phenomenon, the press is making a foolish mistake that it has made many times in the past. At the beginning of this century it was editorializing to the effect that people who believed in heavier than air flight were idiots. This was because such flights had never been accomplished, and 'what we don't know, isn't.'

If there are aliens here, then what is being reported by witnesses about their activities must in some way be true-if not regarding the detailed content, then certainly in respect of the raw facts that can be ascertained from the physical evidence.

Here are those facts:

UFOs are capable of being recorded on videotape, and some of the very best of this videotape has been made by professionals both on the ground and in the space shuttle. But how many members of the press have ever studied these videos or engaged in any attempt to authenticate them? Instead, they have continued to pretend that the videos do not exist, or responded to them in a silly manner.

Crop circles are a genuine unknown. Contrary to the lie promoted by the press, they are not made by pushing crops down with boards, but rather by an unknown process that measurably changes the cells of the plants themselves, a process that has been clearly identified by Dr. William Levengood beyond a shadow of doubt. Dr. Levengood has published papers in the peer- reviewed scientific press that put an end to idiot assertions that the circles are made by drunks marching around with boards on their feet. But the press continues to claim this, even engaging in elaborately constructed hoaxes of its own to "prove" its false claims.

Cattle mutilations are also a very genuine unknown phenomenon. This is proved by the fact that the cuts made on the animals cannot be duplicated by any known means. But the press ignores this issue-except to laugh about it. However, laughter may not be the best medicine here. The fact is that material derived from the tissue of cattle can be used for growing human body parts, as is in fact being done in our own laboratories right now.

This gets to the next issue. Again and again, people bring back from their close encounters tales of having their bodies penetrated in various ways, and semen and eggs apparently being removed. The way the press deals with this can be summed up in the throwaway's closing line about me: "I find it hard to believe," the author wrote, "that contact will come in the form of alien probes being jammed up some fantasy writer's butt."

In fact, my description of this experience in Communion, which occupies only a few lines, has become the centerpiece of the press response to Whitley Strieber. The event happened, and it was as hard to bear as you may imagine- humiliating, painful and extremely frightening. The press has used my suffering as a means of holding me up to ridicule, in a collective act of grotesquely childish cruelty far more unpleasant than the intrusion itself. It reveals a level of psychological infantilism on the part of the reporters and writers involved that is very disturbing. If the visitors ever emerge so plainly into public that they must be faced, do we want these wretchedly unformed and inadequate people to be the ones to tell us what it all means? I don't think so, but I also don't know how to avoid it.

A number of people, me included, have found strange objects embedded in their bodies, objects that we call implants. They have been studied scientifically, and various reports about them are readily available. In some cases, they are very far from being explainable. There is even one object that returns a spectrogram that suggests that it is iron, but is invisible to x-ray. In reality, there is no question that these objects represent a scientific unknown. What is not unknown about them, however, is what at least some of them may do. A number of the objects have magnetic fields. It is also true that magnetic fields can be used to disrupt brain function- that areas of the brain can be turned off by the correct application of magnetic fields. Again, this is not open to dispute. It is a laboratory reality.

So, this is the picture that emerges:

Somebody appears to be here, and they are doing something in the crops of England and other countries that may involve a form of communication. But we are making no effort to understand it. Instead, the press spews out lies about it that keep scientists from even looking in its direction.

Our visitors take material from cattle from which media could be derived that could be used to grow human organs and body parts-as is being done experimentally by us right now. They also take sperm and eggs from human beings. This entire process, as disturbing and provocative as it is, is routinely dealt with in the press in a foolish and infantile manner, with snickering, crude cartoons and rough language.

The result is that our culture is wide open to whatever is being done to us. And understand, I don't necessarily know that the alien hypothesis is the correct one. Maybe something else is doing these things. But the fact is that they are being done. They are real.

Whoever has engaged in the activities that have created this pattern of evidence obviously might be extremely dangerous to us. Certainly one thing is true-they are enacting a policy of some kind that is intimately connected with our physical lives, and we urgently need to know what that is.

We need to know who is doing these things and we need to know why. Right now, by its policy of denial, the press has placed itself squarely against human understanding.

By using ridicule and character assassination, the press demands that the society as a whole marginalize anybody who asserts that any of the above facts are even real, let alone a problem.

And the society complies. I know. I am sitting here on the margin right now being ridiculed and rejected when I should be accepted for what I am: a writer who has brought back a perfectly legitimate description of what his own experience was in facing a very real unknown, and done some perfectly adequate investigation of the phenomena that might have caused it.

If our visitors are hostile, then the press has served as their tool. By its actions, it has effectively prevented any coherent political or scientific response to them. And they have used our passivity and ignorance to penetrate our world.

I would like, at this point, to reprint a letter from the book Anne and I edited, The Communion Letters, that was published-to no notice and no reviews, of course-in 1996:

"In 1976 I was vacuuming my living room floor at about noon. Suddenly I felt quite ill and thought I was going to vomit, so I sat down on the couch to see if the sick feeling would subside. I then saw that I was not alone; there were three strange little people standing alongside the couch, just looking at me. I froze with fear, as I had never seen anything like them before, not even in the movies.

"Two of them were short and fat, about four to four and a half feet tall, with broad faces and enormous black eyes, but with only a hint of where a nose or mouth might have been, almost like a pencil drawing. They had wispy bits of brown hair at the back of their heads, and they didn't have blue suits on like the ones you described in Communion; instead, they were wearing brown shrouds. These, I knew instinctively, were the workers. The other was female, thin and about five feet tall. She wore a black shroud and had black wispy hair at the back of her head. Her face was very elongated, with huge, dark, piercing eyes, and once again just a hint of where a nose or mouth would have been.

"The tall thin one started to speak to me with her mind, and told me I was to go with them. I answered with my own mind that I wouldn't go. Somehow, telepathic communication seemed perfectly normal at the time, and I felt quite comfortable communicating that way. This doesn't mean that I wasn't frightened--I was beside myself with fear. She kept saying, 'You must come with us,' and I kept refusing. She then said I could go free, and I got up off the couch and crawled along my hallway to the front door. When I got there, they pulled me back with their minds until I was on the couch again. They let me go again, and the result was identical, except that this time my husband was standing at the front door. I clung to him, and I will always remember how the sweater he was wearing smelled.

"They pulled me out of his arms and back to the couch and once again told me it was useless to fight, as I had to go with them. The two workers seemed to be busy doing something all the time this was going on, but I have no idea what it was. The next thing I was aware of was the sound of my husband's car pulling up to the house. I heard him come through the front door and down the hallway, and at this point, I noticed that the visitors were gone.

"When my husband walked through the door, I didn't believe it was him at first; I thought it was another trick. It took me about fifteen minutes to really believe that they were gone and that my husband was home. My next shock came when I found out it was 5:30 p.m. It seemed like it should be 1:30 p.m. at the most. I wonder, where did that time go?"

There is only one reason that we do not know the answer to that question: the press has prevented us from knowing. If it had honestly reported on the UFO phenomenon, science would have picked up on the mystery years ago. Study would have begun. By now, we would at least know whether or not anything dire had happened to the gentle schoolteacher and grandmother who wrote that letter.

If there are indeed aliens here, then it is the press that allowed them to overpower and kidnap this woman and have their will with her. Of course, public policy in this area is also terribly inadequate, but if the press had pressured government by exposing its various cover-ups and lies, policy would be far, far more developed.

It is the responsibility of the press to expose government secrets when they are being wrongfully kept, not to use the secrecy process itself as a crutch to conceal its own mistakes. But this is exactly what has been done. When the New York Times in 1979 ceased to investigate the phenomenon as a genuine unknown, it committed one of the primary journalistic sins of history. The rest of the press, worldwide, followed its lead down a dangerous path of lies by statement and lies by silence that nobody now seems strong enough to abandon.

That the government's response to the UFO phenomenon is secretive is well known. In July of 1999, a prestigious committee of French military officers and scientists addressed the issue of UFOs in a document entitled "UFOs and Defense: For What Should We Prepare?" After presenting a series of cases that completely demolished the notion that UFOs are not real, they questioned the reason for American secrecy. And they asked what ought to be a burning question, in view of what is being reported about the activities of our visitors: what should we do to assert a human response? By doing nothing, we serve their own policy, which is quite clear. It is to penetrate our very bodies themselves under conditions of extreme secrecy, and do extremely disturbing and provocative things to us without informing us.

The response of the press was predictable. This report was written by prominent scientists and military personnel. Even to acknowledge its existence would open the door to the burning question that the press cannot dare to face: if credible individuals like these think UFOs are real, then why doesn't the press investigate? So the press did not report on it, not anywhere in the English speaking world. This is what I mean when I say that they commit lies of omission.

By its policy of denial, omission and lies, who does the press serve? The answer is plain enough. The press, by its every action, works in the service of whoever entered that schoolteacher's house and dragged her off into the unknown. And by keeping everything secret in the first place, so does government.

An awful spectacle thus presents itself. The visitors are able to operate as they do because the press lies about their reality and the government keeps their secrets. So the people, innocent of their peril, remain entirely passive and entirely available.

We the people have been offered up as sacrificial victims, and those of us who dare to speak out are ridiculed and persecuted.

Who does the New York Times or the New Yorker or the London Times or any journal of influence work for? My correspondent has already told you: "She wore a black shroud and had black wispy hair at the back of her head. Her face was very elongated, with huge, dark, piercing eyes..."

Whether they know their true master or not, the fact is that by denying the reality that is confronting us, the press has become its servant.

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