The Wheat From The Chaff In The Alternative Media
I don't think it is difficult to identify the untrustworthy and non- credible "alternative" websites and radio shows. One need only look for a couple of glaring "red flags" that give these folks away:
1) Does the website and/or radio show consistently feature provably false information, and/or guests who are undeniable charlatans and liars? We're not talking here about someone making an editorial mistake and unintentionally presenting bad information, or providing a forum to someone who turns out to be less than credible. We're talking about the websites and/or radio shows that have over many years consistently presented guests and/or information KNOWN to be non-credible and/or outright dishonest. And little or no attempt is made to illuminate the audience on the false or bad information.
2) Do/does the personalities/personality behind the website and/or radio show spend a large amount of their time attacking other alternative media outlets, with little or no substantive basis? Do they make self-aggrandizing claims of being the only one who can provide the truth, calling everyone and his kid sister a "disinfo agent" or con artist? This is not to say that all criticism of "alternative"
personalities is unwarranted -- a number of dishonest figures should be, and have been, exposed for their charlatanry. But more than a few "alternative" figures consistently attack their "colleagues" in a highly emotional, immature, and often profane manner, with little or no basis in fact.
I'm sorry to say that some of the most popular "alternative" websites and/or radio shows consistently wave at least one or both of the above "red flags," with no apparent negative effect on their popularity. It is not a revelation that the most listened to, supposedly "alternative"
radio show in the world, Coast to Coast AM, developed and maintains its massive fan base largely by presenting guests and information that have little or no credibility or integrity. One of the most popular guests in the shows twenty year history has been self-styled "futurist" Gordon Michael Scallion. For reasons that are not easy to identify, Scallion developed tremendous notoriety in the 90's for his supposed ability to foretell future events. But as I've pointed out in more than one previous essay, Scallion's actual ability to predict the future is abysmal, or non-existent.
In September of 2005, I composed a piece documenting just how poor Scallion's "hit rate" really is, dating back over ten years. I was compelled to do this after Scallion appeared on Coast to Coast AM and apparently tried to take credit for having predicted the terrible flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina. As I pointed out, this was incredibly disingenuous, particularly since Scallion predicted in 1994 that before the turn of the century, earthquakes and tsunamis would ravage the ENTIRE PLANET, Japan would be completely swallowed by the ocean, and the U.S. would be forced to re-structure itself as 13 COLONIES. And oh, by the way, a few years after Scallion offered the
prediction: "50% of Florida will be inundated," he apparently bought real estate in the Sunshine State valued at over a quarter of a million dollars (I received a fax of the property transaction record with Scallion's name on it). I attempted to get a response from Scallion through his website on this small "problem," and to date, none has been received. And I sent the information to the Coast to Coast people, but they were apparently not bothered by it enough to cease featuring Scallion as a guest. (This full expose may be read here: http://www.ufowatchdog.com/absurdscallion.html)
On February 4th, 2007, Scallion was again featured on Coast to Coast AM, to promote his new book "Notes from the Cosmos." I didn't listen to the interview (which was conducted by Art Bell), but according to the Coast to Coast website, Scallion "conceded that his timeline for predicted earth changes was off, though he still believes they will take place--..." (The full recap may be read here:
His TIMELINE is off, eh? I'm sorry to be cynical, folks, but if you believe that, I have some real estate on the lost continent of Atlantis to sell you (a portion of which old Gordo' predicted would be discovered nearly a decade ago).
Given what we know about Scallion -- his astonishingly poor "hit ratio" dating back over TWO DECADES, and the real estate he apparently purchased in an area he had forecast as doomed -- it is fair to wonder what kind of talk show producers and hosts would repeatedly and deliberately EMPOWER the man to make more money off of his books and newsletter, while never conveying to the audience just how lacking in credibility he is.
On "red flag" number one, Coast to Coast has been as guilty as any popular radio show in the history of broadcasting. And on "red flag"
number two, Art Bell (the show's original full-time host) was guilty on many occasions, perhaps most notably when he labeled the Jeff Rense website, Rense.com, "anti-semitic," and referred to 9/11 skeptics and investigators as "wingnuts." And his unbending devotion to his most dishonest and least credible guests was (and is) a tad perplexing. For instance, frequent Coast to Coast guest Sean David Morton (another self-styled future-teller with a "hit rate" close to zero) filed a "libel" lawsuit against Royce J. Meyers III (owner of the website
Ufowatchdog.com) after Meyers wrote a series of devastating essays on Morton's claims about his own background. The suit was thrown out, and Morton was ordered to pay Meyers' legal fees (a reported sum of $16,000). Bell then provided a soapbox to Morton to discuss the matter, and offered no invitation to Meyers for a rebuttal. (See Sean David Morton, Put Up or Shut Up, http://www.ufowatchdog.com/sdmchallenge.html)
In my opinion, Coast to Coast AM's track record, established by Art Bell and placidly maintained by George Noory, clearly demonstrates that the shows producers and hosts have no real interest in conveying truth to the listening public, nor do they have any apparent compunctions with presenting information that is bad, fictional, and/or totally useless. The subjects discussed are (again, in my opinion) almost totally lightweight, with the occasionally featured Alex Jones being the closest proximity of a hard-hitting guest (I say this as a fan of Alex Jones.) A visit to the Coast to Coast website rewards one with countless pictures of orbs and faces in trees and weird cloud formations and other "data" that cannot by any means that I would agree with be described as meaningful or even entertaining. I'm sorry if my comments offend the show's fans, but if you are angry with me, I would like to know what justification you can offer for a media personality EVER presenting information that he KNOWS to be distorted, useless, or completely false.
This is not a small matter, given the extraordinary reach and influence the show has on alternative media. As a former co-host of a popular late night show in a medium/large market (the Ground Zero show, hosted by Clyde Lewis in Portland, OR) and having worked for years behind the scenes trying to get smaller, GENUINELY alternative shows more broadly distributed, I can tell you that most station programmers offer one of two responses when approached about a program that is even remotely similar to Coast to Coast in style and content: 1) We already carry Coast to Coast and don't need anything similar; or 2) I've heard Coast to Coast, and don't wish to carry anything like it on my station.
So on "red flag" number one, Coast to Coast is, in my opinion, the worst and most damaging offender. If you do not agree with me, that is fine, but the reasoning behind my opinion is well documented, and, I think, totally reasonable.
On "red flag" number two, I don't think I need to enumerate any specific examples -- the guilty parties are not exactly subtle in their approach. A handful or two of unfortunately VERY popular alternative personalities have spent an enormous portion of their public lives calling people names, making baseless accusations, and pounding their own chests like rabid gorillas. As many others have pointed out, this has always been very prevalent in the "9/11 truth movement," with a number of "researchers" continuously accusing their "colleagues" of being paid government disinformation agents, and/or con artists. These seemingly troubled individuals sing a one- note siren song: "PAY NO ATTENTION TO ANYONE BUT ME!" If this style of "presentation" is appealing to you, I dare say that a visit to a qualified mental health specialist is in order.
It's one thing to question a person's credibility with solid, factual evidence. For example, the aforementioned Royce J. Meyers III at UFO Watchdog has conducted a number of exhaustive investigations into some of the least credible "alternative" figures, and to my knowledge, no one to date has successfully demonstrated a SINGLE FACTUAL ERROR in any of his exposes. In my opinion, Meyers is performing a good and necessary service to the public. But it is something quite different to spend most or all of one's time attacking one's "competitors," usually with no meaningful supportive evidence that they've done anything wrong. Author Judy Andreas wrote a particularly relevant piece on this problem some time back, entitled "Backstabbing and Name Calling Weaken The Alternative Media," http://www.rense.com/general69/bstab.htm
I have followed the alternative media closely for the last 13 years, contributing as an essayist, occasional radio show guest, and former radio personality. I've come to feel very comfortable with a number of alternative news services, and consider them reliable presenters of much (but not ENTIRELY) good information. These include talk-show host Jeff Rense's rense.com (to which I have contributed over one hundred essays over 7 years), Michael Rivero's whatreallyhappened.com, Alex Jones' prisonplanet.com, Rayelan Allen's rumormillnews.com (which I have been contributing to as an agent for about three years), Theresa De Veto's surfingtheapocalypse.com (which provides a forum for members of the general public to post a wide variety of information), Henrik Palmgren's redicecreations.com (a visually very appealing site with a broad variety of stories, and an internet talk show), and UFOwatchdog.com (perhaps the best database of genuinely skeptical and balanced writings on the UFO subject anywhere on the internet.) Of course, there are many other fine alternative news services on the net that I've omitted -- I've just listed the ones that I habitually visit out of personal fondness and a sense of trust.
I'm sure that most or all of the above news services has at one time or another carried a story or presented information that later proved to be inaccurate. And I find plenty of the material they present silly or uninteresting. But I've NEVER ONCE seen any of these sites display either of the "red flags" that would make me uncomfortable. As far as I know, they have never KNOWINGLY and WILLFULLY presented false information, nor have they have engaged in baseless personal attacks against their colleagues/competitors.
If you care about the issues with which alternative media are concerned, you should choose carefully and soberly to whom you give your time, readership, listenership, and/or money. If you view certain members of the "alternative" scene as misleaders or abusers (and as I stated, I believe the guilty parties are easy to identify), do not provide them tacit assistance. More than anything, they fear anonymity.
Stop giving them attention and they'll be forced to retreat into darkness and isolation, an appropriate place for one to wrestle with his own inner demons.
POSTSCRIPT: The full 64 minute documentary film "Thunderbolts of the Gods" can now be viewed for free on Google video. In recent months, it had been posted without permission or consent by two different unauthorized sources. Now, the unauthorized versions have been removed, and the Thunderbolts group has posted the film themselves.