Estimate of the Situation

Cosmic Watergate

As the topic of UFO/UAP reality goes increasingly mainstream, it will spawn a news cycle competition among investigative reporters to break stories of increasing depth and analysis.

Bryce Zabel
Dec 4, 2020 · 8 min read

The driving force behind the public disclosure of the UFO/UAP issue is, of course, the nature of the phenomenon itself. Next up would be the military-industrial complex which has investigated for over seven decades. Close behind, however, will be journalism. It has the capacity and history to become a force that actually gets the job done.

Fifty Years Ago

The break-in at the Democratic party offices in the Watergate building happened almost fifty years ago now when the majority of people reading this weren’t even born. The refresher is simply that the burglars arrested turned out to be on the Nixon White House’s payroll. A simple robbery turned into a political scandal that destroyed a presidency. First it was reported on, then investigated by Congress, and finally Nixon was on his way to impeachment when he resigned.

There’s no way to tell the story, however, without remembering that the scandal is inextricably linked with the two young Washington Post reporters who covered it, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They are synonymous with Watergate and when I was in Journalism school at the University of Oregon, they were heroes to all of us who wanted to set the world right and get famous while doing it. There’s a catch to the story, though, and it reflects directly on the current trends in reporting the UFO/UAP reality issue.

Woodward and Bernstein broke the story, reported it tenaciously, but they did not own the story for long before they had competition. Once the Washington Post broke the ice, everybody else jumped in, even if it was only amplifying other original voices. Every self-respecting media outlet wanted a piece of it, particularly the New York Times.

And why wouldn’t they? It was a juicy story about power and corruption played out with bigger-than-life personalities and huge stakes. The public was hooked early by the scandal of Nixon’s dirty tricks team but stayed interested by the parade of new witnesses talking about shady behavior that laid bare gross corruption under the surface of the world as we thought we knew it. It was also a great soap opera told across a grand canvas.

Now imagine that the same process has begun with the UFO/UAP issue.

The late UFO researcher Stanton Friedman coined the phrase Cosmic Watergate years ago. It’s a shame he won’t be here to see just how prescient he was. Friedman defined what he meant in his 2008 book “Flying Saucers and Science.”

“This means that some few people within the governments of major countries have known since at least 1947 that indeed some UFOs are intelligently controlled extraterrestrial spacecraft. It certainly does not mean that everybody in government knows what is going on; secrets aren’t kept by telling everybody what’s happening and hoping that nobody will talk. Secrets are controlled by an elaborate system of granting security clearances and establishing strict criteria for access via need-to-know lists.”

In other words, the perfect kind of story for investigative journalists to sink their teeth into, something that allows them to cultivate sources, learn their secrets and tell them to the public.

UAP cases and investigations will turn out to be a news story that never stops giving. When it comes to sheer impact, it’s Watergate, pandemic, contested elections and everything else rolled into one. And journalists, at least since 2017, are starting to give themselves permission to write about it in the 2020s.

That’s all it takes. Getting the truth out in a democracy, during a time when the truth is in short supply at high levels, is a wonderful calling.

Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post, 1972.

Preparing the Battlefield

Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to categorize all news he doesn’t like as fake has not helped the cause of UFO disclosure. When the President of the United States looks at facts and pronounces them lies on such mundane matters as crowd sizes all the way to medical treatments and election counts, it’s easy to see how the burden of proof is going to be crushing when it comes to UFOs.

Even so, there are strong signs that the burden is being met. Anyone who’s paying attention now knows that while the UFO issue has suffered its share of fakery and lies over the decades, at the core, it’s the real deal.

In a nutshell, the growing realization is that these UAP as reported exhibit a form of technology we don’t have today, and certainly didn’t have in the late 1940s when this started. Moreover, they’re not a historical blip in the culture, they are being experienced in real time by military forces worldwide. Oh, and for good measure, whoever’s flying (or submerging) these things has shown an active interest in nuclear weapons.

This is pretty easy to understand on a basic level, even if one doesn’t deep dive for the details. It’s compelling as all hell as a story. The reason it wasn’t covered properly for decades is that the twin pillars of the cover-up — denial and ridicule — came together perfectly to make reporters who crave being treated seriously fear that they would be dismissed as crazy or ungrounded.

Reporters are starting to cover this issue, seeing that they don’t necessarily suffer career-ending reputation loss. Their bosses, editors and publishers, are learning at the same time that the public has a real appetite for facts on the issue.

The new “modern” UFO age began with the New York Times reporting from December 2017 that confirmed both encounters between UAP and the U.S. Navy but also official government agencies that were studying the matter. The Times, led by reporters Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Keane, has followed up, most recently with an article suggesting the government may actually be in possession of crash wreckage.

Are they the new Woodward and Bernstein? I’m sure that Blumenthal and Keane wouldn’t mind the comparison. Who knows?

If they are, they no longer have the story to themselves. Just a few days ago, a new upstart, The Debrief, landed a few new storylines of its own. They are not alone. We’ve heard original reporting in the past several years from Politico, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, The Drive and others. And many more besides those names have amplified the reporting by simply reporting on the reporting.

Sticking to the Basics

I haven’t always been a believer that journalism could be up to the task of UFO disclosure. Back when Richard Dolan and I wrote A.D. After Disclosure, we called it a “once proud and now moribund profession.”

Those words were written before journalism was shocked alive by the challenge of being called fake news by the number one purveyor of government lies. They started cultivating their sources and they got to work. The stories were printed by a collection of diverse voices.

There are now more than a few reporters primed to use the tools of good old-fashioned investigative journalism on the topic of UFO reality. It requires no new thinking about how to report and lets new reporters focus on the what about their investigations.

  • Make friends in high places and low places.
  • Use anonymous sources to vet your story and steer you in the right direction.
  • Put as many others on the record as possible.
  • Build momentum with regular news breaks.
  • Brand your journalism.
  • Out-hustle your competition.
  • Never stop pushing.
  • One story leads to another.
  • Repeat.

2020 put some brakes on almost everything imaginable. Look for 2021 to see new entrants into UFO/UAP reporting.

Back to A.D. After Disclosure, we also speculated on the room for hope from the Fourth Estate —

At some point, each reporter, each investigator, must make a choice. Remain within the safe confines of the familiar, or leap into the unknown. Each leap must be taken alone, into the darknesss of a new paradigm. To an accomplished journalist, who guards his or her public reputation above all else, nothing is more terrifying. And yet, a few journalists will catch on. A few may take that leap. Then once the story breaks, it will burn white hot for years. In that first decade A.D., there will be more news to cover and more to talk about than anyone every thought possible.

Another Way to See It

The point here is that it can be quite difficult to get the media to take on a story, but once they do, watch out. That’s when the money, the time it buys, and experience of trained journalists gets focused on breaking the story.

The story here is truth. What are these UAP flying about in our seas and skies? Where are they from? What does the intelligence that created them want from us?

We’ve spent seven decades, more or less, being told that if you want the truth about Unidentified Flying Objects, then you’re going to have to do it yourself and suffer the reputational consequences while you do. Now we are in the process of a great shift where the media (mainstream, lame stream, fake, established, new digital voices and everyone else) is going to get in the game in a big way.

They are going to compete with each other on a story they wouldn’t touch before. It is going to be a thing to behold.

People get ready.

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion

Bryce Zabel

Written by

Writer/producer in features & TV. Creator, five primetime series. Ex: TV Academy CEO; CNN reporter; USC professor. Author: Beatles, JFK what-ifs. UFO analyst.

Trail of the Saucers

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion from an Expanding Collective of Writers

Bryce Zabel

Written by

Writer/producer in features & TV. Creator, five primetime series. Ex: TV Academy CEO; CNN reporter; USC professor. Author: Beatles, JFK what-ifs. UFO analyst.

Trail of the Saucers

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion from an Expanding Collective of Writers

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