Beam me up

Agendas drive the news

Vanity Fair is now running a story suggesting the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico passed on “a Seemingly Bombshell Report About UFOs” for reasons of journalistic integrity.

The UFO story is, of course, the one with the over-the-top claims from “defense intelligence whistleblower, David Charles Grusch, who has alleged that the Intelligence Community is hiding classified evidence of ‘intact and partially intact craft of non-human origin,'” as New York magazine pretty accurately summarized things. 

I readily admit to being among those skeptical of Grusch’s claims, but the journalists reporting it – Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean – do pack some degree of mainstream credibility, particularly Blumenthal.

He spent most of his career at the Times and headed the newspaper’s coverage of 9/11. And it’s not like the Times has been afraid to put other nebulous stories out there.

This is the newspaper that just months ago ran a story headlined “Out-of-Towners Head to ‘Climate-Proof Duluth” above a proclamation that “The former industrial town in Minnesota is coming to terms with its status as a refuge for people moving from across the country because of climate.”

Not only was there no evidence to support the story’s claim to “hundreds of like-minded new residents…coming from California, Colorado and New Mexico and changing the face of this erstwhile manufacturing town on the western edge of Lake Superior,” the available evidence indicated the opposite.

Duluth’s population has actually been shrinking, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Minnesota demographers expect it to continue shrinking.

Rsearchers from the University of Vermont who actually studied U.S. migration patterns from 2010 to 2020 and wrote a peer-reviewed study of their findings, which was published in December, found that the conventional wisdom that people are moving away from hot cities in favor of cool ones is bunk.

Climate fears

This might happen in the future. One can even argue that it’s only logical that it will happen sometime in the future. But there is no evidence it is happening yet.

Just the opposite, in fact, seems to be happening. The only documented fears so far seem to be of hurricanes and old-fashioned, fry-you-alive, Southwest summer heat.

“…We found that people have moved away from areas most affected by heat waves and hurricanes, but toward areas most affected by wildfires,” the researchers wrote in the study published in Frontiers in Human Dynamics. “This relationship may suggest that, for many, the dangers of wildfires do not yet outweigh the perceived benefits of life in fire-prone areas. We also found that people have been moving toward metropolitan areas with relatively hot summers, a dangerous public health trend if mean and maximum temperatures continue to rise, as projected in most climate scenarios.”

Following on that study, the National Association of Realtors in January issued a report on “Where People Moved in 2022.” It tracked the net migration into and out of all 50 states.

The state attracting the greatest number of immigrants? Florida.

Almost 319,000 people moved into The Sunshine State. Behind it, Texas attracted, 230,961; North Carolina, 99,796; South Carolina, 84,030; and Tennessee, 81,646. Georgia, Arizona, Idaho, Alabama and Oklahoma rounded out the top 10 in that order.

The coldest state on that list is Idaho, and the big boom in Idaho has been in the warmish Boise area. The big winter news there this year was the longest streak of days without a temperature above 60 degrees – this being news in a city where winter temperatures are mild.

December and January are the Boise’s coldest months. Both have monthly high temperatures averaging 38 degrees, some six degrees above freezing. January’s average monthly high in Duluth is a chilly 17.9 degrees. 

To the south, Minneapolis – the largest city in Minnesota – is only slightly warmer, which might help explain why the Realtors study reported 19,400 more people left Minnesota in 2022 than moved into it.

All of this information was readily available when the Times reported a climate-fear-driven invasion of “Duluth (that) saw 2,494 new residents from out of state over the last five years, according to the American Community Survey.”

This number would amount to fewer than 500 out-of-state residents moving into Duluth each year. That is not enough to replace the annual number of deaths in the city of about 100,000 in a rapidly aging state where people are dying at a rate of about 1,000 per 100,000 per year.

The Times, meanwhile, dismissed the reality of the national migration pattern showing a steady and continuing move to warmer regions – not cooler ones – with the claim that “the majority of the population growth in the United States remains in the Sun Belt, where homes have traditionally been more affordable than in the north.”

The median home price in Duluth is $300,000, according to That’s about 69 percent of the near $437,000 median U.S. home price reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

It’s a giant stretch to conclude the move to the Sun Belt is about housing prices. The median house price in Charlotte, N.C., a Sun Belt city tagged as “among the fastest-growing cities in the country,” is about $100,000 more expensive than the median home in Duluth, according to the market-tracking website Redfin.

Two other cities tagged as among the fastest growing in the Sun Belt – Jacksonville, Fla. and San Antonio, Tex. – have median home prices just above and just below Duluth.

Northeast Minnesota did see a bit of a housing boom in 2020 and 2021, but as the Duluth News Tribune pointed out in a September story headlined “An end to the house-buying boom in the Northland?” that boom was largely driven by extremely low-interest rates that had Americans across the country investing in homes.

The Housing Wire describes 2020 as the start of “a perfect storm that resulted in a record year for the housing and mortgage industries. Mortgage rates would fall to record lows 16 times throughout 2020, with origination volume expected to eclipse $4 trillion.”

No doubt some people have moved to Duluth from warmer climes in recent years because people move all over America all the time, but there is no substantive evidence of any flood of climate refugees to Duluth.

Nonetheless, the Times was happy to run with a story claiming there is such a migration underway. Why?

Wanting to believe

The answer is pretty simple. The Times has an agenda.

The Times is “Climate Forward,” as it describes itself. It provides readers what it describes as “your must-read guide to the climate crisis.”

This helps explain why the Times suggested salmon were disappearing in Alaska while scientists were reporting there were more salmon in the North Pacific Ocean – about half of them Alaska salmon – than at any time in recorded human history.

The facts there were easy enough to check. The 2010s saw record commercial harvests of salmon in Alaska. The harvests were so large –  more than twice the 100 million fish years once considered good – that they were almost unbelievable.

Alaska’s commercial fisheries weren’t a victim of climate change, they were a beneficiary of climate change. But the Times was happy to ignore the reality of the present and misrepresent the situation at this time because of its agenda.

And it is possible, maybe even probable, that Alaska salmon harvests will fall in the future if the North Pacific continues to warm at the current rate.

Canadian fisheries scientists Brendan Connors and colleagues have predicted the habitat available to sockeye salmon, Alaska’s collectively most valuable species, will shrink the Gulf of Alaska and expand into the Chukchi Sea by 2080 if present trends continue.

As a result, sockeye returns to rivers and streams along the North American west coast from Puget Sound north to Kodiak Island are expected to decline while runs in Bristol Bay flourish. 

But this is all speculation, not the here and now. And reporting speculation about what will happen in the future as if it is already happening is even worse than reporting sketchy information about UFOs.

Yet we are led to believe the Times, Post, Politico, et al turned their backs on a UFO story written by one of the Times’s own because they were squeamish about the facts?

It’s far more believable that they were squeamish about the agenda, given that the established, mainstream, national media agenda is to explain away UFO sightings because many of them are easily explained as something other than UFOs.

Since no one has ever produced any hard evidence of an alien or alien spacecraft (could it be the government is hiding it?), the belief is that speculation on this subject should be reserved for television shows and movies.

Mainstream journalists shouldn’t be frightening the public by lending credence to the idea that UFOs might be real. Or so the thinking goes.

Frightening the public should be reserved for how humans are going to destroy the planet by using energy sources that cause the planet to warm, or how the species could be wiped out by a virus that can kill anyone even if the reality is that those of reproductive age and younger are largely immune.

It’s all about agendas. Facts?

Not even the fact checkers care to bother with the very real problems of facts. Facts are complicated. Facts have a bad habit of adding a whole lot of grey to what humans want to be black and white.

Beliefs are much better. Beliefs are inherently black and white.

The UFO deniers have this dialed in as well as the UFO believers.

The deniers believe unexplainable UFOs sightings simply could not be alien spaceships because there is no possibility lifeforms smarter than homo sapiens could exist elsewhere in the vastness of the universe.

And the believers believe any plausible explanation that explains a UFO as anything other than an alien spacecraft is a lie because space travelers from other planets are sure to exist.

It’s a God faceoff. The believers believe and the non-believers say such belief is nonsense.

So when Blumenthal and Kean found God – ah, excuse me, found a UFO whistleblower claiming the government has evidence of alien spacecraft – they were to be ignored because any belief in the possibility of aliens is nonsense.

Forget that Blumenthal, the now “Distinguished Lecturer” at Baruch College in New York, spent 45 years as a reporter, bureau chief and foreign correspondent for the Times before moving on.

Overlook the fact that when the Maine Humanities Council and the University of Southern Maine hosted a 2016 “event” on “Holding Power Accountable: Investigative Journalism and Democracy,” the Pulitzer’s – yes, the folks in charge of the Pulitzer Prizes – promoted the speaker, who just happened to be Blumenthal, as the former Times reporter ” who led the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, will give a public talk and workshop.”

Don’t mention that the Times less than six months ago seemed happy to run a story written by Blumenthal, and then said only this about the aging journalist:

“Ralph Blumenthal has written extensively about the hunt for Nazi war criminals and the Holocaust. He covered West Germany for The New York Times in 1968-69.”

Maybe there is a good reason the Times has since refused to publish his UFO story. Maybe editors believe Blumenthal, who is 81 years old, has gone senile in the six months since he wrote about a Boston woman’s attempt to draw attention to a little-known and largely forgotten Nazi concentration camp in Latvia.

Cognitive decline happens. Maybe that is the Times’ thought. Who knows.

The Times is, reportedly, declining to comment on what happened, although Blumenthal himself appears to have been quick to reveal that the newspaper “passed on an early version” of his story.

On the other hand, the Post, according to Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein, “had been trying to further report the story that the reporters had brought to the paper, but didn’t think it was ready for publication; among its reservations, according to a source familiar, was that it was unclear what members of Congress made of Grusch’s testimony.”

Sort of like when the Post had to find out what members of Russia’s Politburo thought about the claims of Russian hookers filmed putting on a “golden shower” show for Donald Trump before running stories suggesting that actually happened.

I was never a Trump fan, but I’ll admit the golden shower story from the very beginning smelled as bad as my piss after eating asparagus. That and a total lack of evidence didn’t, however, stop the Times, the Post and others from promoting the idea that the story might be true.

A January 2017 story in the Times went deep into the Russian history of setting so-called “honey traps” for influential foreigners, and explained how, “according to uncorroborated and highly defamatory memos prepared by a former British intelligence operative for a Washington political and corporate research firm, the (Moscow) Ritz has remained a place where foreign guests, including Donald J. Trump, can fall victim to the Russian art of ‘kompromat,’ the collection of compromising material as a source of leverage.

“A summary of the former spy’s findings was presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump, who at a news conference on Wednesday denounced publication of the allegations as ‘fake news.’ A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the accusations as ‘mind-boggling nonsense’ and ‘outrageous drivel.’

“A hotel spokeswoman declined to discuss the matter. ‘In line with our company standard to protect the privacy of our guests, we do not speak about any individual or group with whom we may have done business,’ Irina Zaitseva, the hotel’s marketing and communication manager, said in an email.

“Whatever did or did not happen in Mr. Trump’s hotel suite in 2013, when he visited Moscow to attend a Miss Universe contest, Russia has a long and well-documented record of using kompromat to discredit the Kremlin’s foes and to lean on its potential friends.”

Short version: You best believe this could have happened even if there is no real evidence to support that it did happen because we believe it happened.

The Trump story was about as believable as some whistleblowers claim the U.S. government has recovered parts or whole alien spacecraft, but nonetheless it got an amazing amount of play.

So why not handle the UFO story in the same way the Trump story was handled? Here’s the claim and here is the list of all the folks saying it’s nonsense.

There is only one explanation for the difference: Agendas.

The Times’ agenda as regards Trump was outlined by the Times’s Jim Rutenberg months before the “golden shower” probe appeared:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

“Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that….

“It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness. It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts….”

Or at least the facts you agree with, and the rest of them be damned because, to repeat Rutenberg’s words, “if you believe….”

And that pretty well summarizes where too much of mainstream journalism is today. Reporting is no longer about following the evidence wherever the evidence might lead. It is about what those reporting the story “believe.”

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story first published on June 9, 2023. It was edited to add the data from the National Association of Realtors report.



7 replies »

  1. The whole alien thing is nonsense. Show me Little Green Men. There are about 350 million people in the U.S. Which means there are at least 200 million cell phones with high res capability. Show me the aliens in 4K. Don’t try and pass off some grainy black and white Atari 2600 quality video as evidence.

    • What? You think aliens smart enough to develop a space ship to get them here would be so stupid they couldn’t jam your phone in your camera when some kids in Georgia think they can do that?

      C’mon, Jack.

      I think the whole alien this in nonsense, too. But I recognize that in times before me there were a lot of things everyone thought nonsense that were anything but – that the sun and stars revolved around the earth, that the earth was a globe, that humans could fly.

      All nonsense at one time…

  2. If the East Coast media propagandists really want to get those nasty conservatives aboard the UFO Fearwagon, they ought to start discussing the belief that FBI ballistic gel is inadequate to measure the penetration of small arms fire on the average alien torso. It will rock the conservative world.

  3. I have no idea what to believe about aliens or maybe us from the future. Odds make it likely.

    Agenda is truly the word of this decade. Perhaps century. Mr Medred I believe you soft balled the situation 😉
    On a hunch ,
    I suspect you have the rare qualities to write an informative book about the subject.

    Regardless of trump’s quality as a man our government agencies have been documented treating him and his supporters in an unconstitutional fashion.

    The powers that be do not want free thinking citizens who develop power as ethical minded groups .

    Definitely time to work at pushing back and preparing for a reduction in government.

    The future is truly concerning.

  4. apples and oranges

    The likelihood of Trump bedding some bimbo in Russia vs UFOs. Neither should be reported without very very good evidence, the first is probable, the second as likely as I was abducted by aliens.

    • Wrong. Trump bedding some bimbo in Russia is highly probable based on his past behaviors. The “golden shower?” That’a a stretch too far.

      Alien “parts” being found by some government? Who knows. Think of how much space junk we’ve sent spinning off into the universe since Sputnik in 1957. If there’s another life form out there somewhere even slightly more advanced than we are, they could have been putting junk in space for a long time, and once it’s in space, it could end up anywhere.

      But you’re right, about one thing, neither should be reported without very good evidence, which is the apples and apples and apples comparison here. There was one standard for the first story and a different standard for the second. But the issues isn’t really about apples.

      It’s about agendas.

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