Against my better judgment, I’m becoming a fan of Coast to Coast with George Noory.
You know, whacko overnight radio.
Radio where people call in claiming to be psychics or have visions of Armageddon. People who have had sex with aliens. Lots of conspiracies are forwarded, nearly all of which Noory seems to agree with.
It’s the old Art Bell show. (Semi-retired Bell only hosts the show on Sundays, typically).
The show is good from the get-go, from the moment the deep-voiced announcer gravely intones the various continental phone numbers: “West of the Rockies, George Noory can be reached at…”
A whole vast sweeping continent in the midnight dark ready to tell ghost stories. It just gives you a chill.
I find myself drawing the curtains, lest I be startled by a peeping grey alien.
Red Elk the shaman discusses his dreams of a coming cataclysm. Indian mythology, Jesus and aliens all get jumbled together in a tasty melange.
Breaking news. Seven-foot-tall reptilian beings have been spotted in the French Quarter in New Orleans. No, it’s not Mardi Gras. The witnesses are credible, so verifies the guest UFOlogist.
Somehow, amid of all this Weekly World News fodder, a seemingly legit story manages to find its way into the mix.
Did you know that honeybees are disappearing, en masse?
That’s right. The honeybees that pollinate vast swaths of American agriculture land are flying off and simply not returning to their colonies. Absent massive numbers of bee corpses, where are the bees dropping dead?
This is not a bogus story. It has made CNN and the pages of the New York Times. Pesticides, genetic mutation, global warming? Nobody knows why it’s happening. But the effects on the honey industry and on agriculture in general could be devastating.
And I wouldn’t have known anything about it if I hadn’t listened to Coast to Coast.
My old reporter’s instincts told me to check and verify with other sources, and so I did.
But the danger of shows like Coast to Coast, of course, is that the ignorant and gullible don’t know when to distinguish the fantasies and the lunatic conspiracies from the legitimate stories.
But tabloid radio is little different from the mainstream media in that regard, as old-line TV networks sell out their hard-news reputations for celebrity gossip “specials,” pedophile-entrapment series’ and opinion shows masquerading as news.
It really takes an enquiring mind to sift the wheat from the chaffe.
Another good example is Alex Jones’ Infowars site.
Jones’ perspective/worldview is of the old right-wing (non-neocon), libertarian, isolationist sort. Which means among Jones’ loopy, looney labyrinthine conspiracy theories about the evils of the New World Order and big government, he is nonetheless asking a lot of surprisingly good and hard-hitting questions. Questions which governments and the mainstream media have not satisfactorily answered.
Take a cursory glance at his site and you’ll see a lot of points on which to agree. It’s just his over-arching conspiracy construct that taints some otherwise good observations.
Jones is presently battling the BBC over a provocative 9/11 conspiracy incident that makes the British network look like an accessory to an evil plot.
Jones and other 9/11 conspiracy buffs allege that many minutes prior to the collapse of World Trade Center Building Number 7 (the Salomon Brothers building), a BBC reporter announced its collapse on the air. Somehow the BBC had been “tipped off” but then mis-timed the collapse announcement.
Yet at the same time the reporter announces the collapse, a time-stamped video shows the building still standing, directly behind her left shoulder. It’s on the web, you can see it for yourself.
What does it prove? Was it merely a mistake, or proof that the building was slated for demolition as part of the fear campaign that would sweep a fascist New World Order into power?
Instead of saying Jones’ allegations are hogwash and offering proof of same, the BBC counters with (to paraphrase), “it’s old news, and anyway, we’ve lost our 9/11 tapes.”
The latter statement has raised flags at rival news networks. The idea of a major news operation “losing” or misplacing its 9/11 footage stretches credulity.
Rather than making Jones and other conspiracists eat crow, the BBC has added fuel to the fire. The conspiracy, so it seems, is deeper than previously thought.
The end result: Now it looks like Alex Jones is really on to something.
The 9/11 conspiracy theories don’t persuade me, but they are understandably appealing because they allow people to assign evil to particular cabals. Evil men behind closed doors are methodically and consciously planning world domination.
It’s comforting, in a way, to blame the man behind the curtain. It’s more orderly and understandable than messy everyday reality.
But, in truth, bad things happen in the world for more banal reasons, mainly having to do with the attainment and hoarding of money. Everyday corporate machinations are too dull. Blaming a system is a nebulous prospect for the population. Finding a Darth Vader is much more graspable.
So when you engage the fringe media, enjoy the goofy parts, and think deeply when, occasionally, they hit upon some damned good questions.