King of the Paranormal

Broadcast on CNN, the July 1, 2003 installment of “Larry King Live” was a sight to behold. The program, in King’s words, explored “the incredible events of 56 years ago at Roswell, New Mexico.” What most likely crashed at Roswell in 1947 was a government spy balloon, but the panel of guests assembled on King’s show preferred a more lurid version of events. Jesse Marcel, Jr., son of a Roswell intelligence officer, claimed that just after the crash, his father showed him bits of debris that “came from another civilization.” Glenn Dennis, who worked at a Roswell funeral home at the time, said a military officer called him to ask about the availability of small caskets (i.e., for dead aliens). Later Denis, obviously a UFO enthusiast, observed out of nowhere that the pyramids in Egypt had recently been “[shut down] for three or four days and no tourists going out there on account of the sightings.”

King’s program didn’t merely advance the notion that an alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell in 1947. It also hawked the DVD version of a recent Sci-Fi Channel documentary, “The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence,” clips of which appeared throughout the hour. A breathy and sensationalizing take on the events of 1947, “The Roswell Crash” first appeared as a tie-in for Sci-Fi’s fictional miniseries Taken, a Steven Spielberg production tracing the impact of UFO abductions on three generations of American families. Other Taken tie-ins that thoroughly blur the line between fact and fiction include a documentary titled Abduction Diaries, a Roper Poll finding that Americans are ready for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, and even the launching of the Coalition for Freedom of Information, an advocacy group devoted to unearthing classified government documents about aliens. Sure enough, King’s July 1 guests included two people with Sci-Fi ties: Leslie Kean, a left-wing journalist turned UFO investigator who works with the Coalition for Freedom of Information, and Dr. William Doleman, a University of New Mexico archaeologist contracted by Sci-Fi to excavate the Roswell crash site. Doleman admitted to King that his dig had not yet yielded any definitive evidence, but added that the “results” of his analysis will be aired on Sci-Fi in October–as opposed to, say, being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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