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In December 2017, The New York Times published a front page story about a ”shadowy” UFO Pentagon program that investigated encounters between Navy fighter pilots and mysterious, gravity-defying objects. Illustrated with several grainy cockpit videos posted to the Times’ website, the scoop was captivating. ABC News called it a “bombshell.” Brett Baier of Fox News said, “a lot of people are taking this revelation seriously.”

A lot of journalists, that is. Many news consumers did lap up the story like a new X-Files episode but nobody ran for the hills, and nobody in Congress called for hearings about the “revelation” and its seemingly huge implications for civilization. As one observer on Twitter noted: “I mean the New York Times literally just gave us proof of UFOs and the world didn’t skip a beat.”

That’s because the world didn’t believe there was much to the story—or, at least, the world didn’t believe what the newspaper was hinting at. Indeed, the evidence touted by the Times (such as a supposedly recovered piece of unearthly wreckage) was shredded pretty easily by writers at New York magazine, Scientific American and WIRED. Yes, several Navy pilots had seen a whitish, oval object hover over the ocean before darting away; but no, that didn’t mean it was an alien aircraft, as the main source for the scoop seemed to imply on CNN. But the Times has stayed on the beat. Over the last few years, the paper has published more than a dozen UFO-related stories; the most recent one arriving in Friday’s paper.

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Category: Weird Desk