Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fake News and La Madera

The UFO community has had to put up with fake news for much more than a century. In 1897 there were a number of Great Airship stories that were printed by newspapers. The reporters and editors had to know that some of them were fake, but the interest was there, the stories were there and the bottom line is that newspapers need to make money. Hype a story that doesn’t deserve it, add details that the reporters invent and a few quotes to make the story better or just make it up completely.

Aurora, Texas in the early 1970s. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
I am convinced, by the evidence, or the lack there of, that the Aurora UFO crash of April, 1897, is a hoax begun by a newspaper stringer who wanted to do something for his town. Beyond the story printed in 1897, there isn’t much evidence of the airship crash, until UFO researchers became involved in the 1970s. The point here, however, is that in today’s world, this would be labeled as fake news.

To bring this closer to us, here in 2018, and keeping with the theme of the last few posts, I looked at the La Madera UFO landing. This was a sighting that took place in the hours after the Zamora sighting, and by hours, I mean something like 30 hours after the landing in Socorro. Orlando Gallegos said that just after 12:30 a.m. on April 26, 1964, he had gone outside and about 200 yards away, saw something he told Sheriff Martin Vigil, looked to be as long as a telephone pole and as big a round as a car. He said there was a bluish-white flame all around it and as Gallegos watched, the flames went out. I provided a long report on this sighting in Encounter in the Desert, for those who wish to learn more about the case.

The point here is not to talk about the sighting, but about one of the newspaper reports that appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on December 28, 1969, some five years after the sighting. At the end of the story written by Ron Longto, Vigil is quoted as saying, “I’m not going to speculate on just what was at La Madera that night… but I hope it never comes back.”

Dr. James McDonald
Dr. James McDonald had seen the story and wanted to check on the veracity of it, meaning the quotes attributed to Vigil, not to mention some of the facts of the case. He couldn’t get Gallegos on the telephone but he could find Vigil. In a March 12, 1970, letter, McDonald wrote:

Upon explaining the purpose of my call and citing the press story, I got a laughing but emphatic statement from Vigil, “They absolutely misquoted me.” I presumed from that he was about to disclaim everything in the story but that was not the case at all. Instead, his strong initial reaction was sensitivity to the closing sentence of the story, in which the reporter took the liberty of inventing the quote that Vigil “hopes [sic] it never comes back.” The one other disclaimer was to the effect that he had said nothing to reporter Longo to suggest that “they really put the heat on Gallegos to keep his mouth shut about that sighting in La Madera.”
There is one other thing to say about all this. I have been accused of misquoting people on a number of occasions, but those allegations were untrue. I had taped the interviews and the transcripts reflected what I had said they said. J. Bond Johnson, the man who took most of the photographs in General Ramey’s office after the Roswell story broke in 1947, said that I had misquoted him on a number of points. When I read the transcripts to him over the telephone, he said that he hadn’t said those things because they weren’t true. He was convinced that I had misquoted him and he wanted to hear the tapes so he could prove it.

I sent him an edited version so that he wouldn’t have to sit through the whole four hours of interviews, but that had the quotes on them. His response was to say that I had admitted to editing the tapes and he couldn’t find all the quotes. So, I sent him all four hours, plus the transcripts, twice, and the best he could do was show that I had left an unimportant conjunction out of the transcripts. That, of course, didn’t satisfy him and even though he had the tapes, he continued to say that I had misquoted him. He had gone from telling the truth in the interviews I conducted to an assault on me, even when he knew he was wrong.

The point is that sometimes, when people don’t like the direction of the quotes, they claim to have been misquoted. Here, with Vigil, I see no reason he would claim to have been misquoted on something as innocuous as the last line in the story unless that was something that he hadn’t said. The quote is a nice wrap up for the story, a good final line, and the impression of the reporter might have been that Vigil felt that way, but Vigil said he didn’t say it. At least he said he hadn’t said it.

Is this overly important to the overall story? Not really, other than give us a look at something that in the world today would be called fake news. Vigil didn’t seem overly upset by the quote given his reaction to it. But it also demonstrates that we, as investigators, researchers, writers, and proponents of a point of view must get this stuff right even when it is something as inconsequential as that last line. E must be careful or we can damage all the work we have done.

And, besides all that, I thought it was kind of an interesting anecdote…

21 comments:

Lance said...

"I see no reason he would claim to have been misquoted on something as innocuous as the last line in the story unless that was something that he hadn’t said."

Really? I can easily think of several. And it really doesn't matter if you can think of a reason, does it?

The argument from ignorance is "I can't think of another reason for this THEREFORE the reason must be the one I want it to be."

This is sort of the main way UFO belief operates.

You looked at one side of a story (second-handedly) and decided that the reporter had created Fake News. Would I be justified to take Johnson's word that you had misquoted him without talking to you?

I can't imagine that you have thought this through.

Fake News in today's world actually almost always means "true news that I don't like."

KRandle said...

Lance?

Seriously? You didn’t get the subtly of the J. bond Johnson story? You didn’t think it a bit schizophrenic (in the colloquial use of the term as opposed to the medical and psychiatric use)? At one point I’m suggesting that the quote from Vigil is proof of journalistic invention and at the next point I’m complaining because such a claim is a way of denying the truth. Didn’t you think that a bit odd?

Of course, I can prove that I didn’t misquote Johnson because I have the tapes and have shared then with a dozen people who had heard Johnson make the statements he said he didn’t make. We had Stan Friedman saying that I had misquoted General Exon and when I told Stan that I had the quotes on tape he said he didn’t care because it was what Exon had told him. I have a letter from Exon saying the quotes are accurate. Patrick Saunders mentioned that I had misquoted him but I only quoted him directly once about Marcel finding the debris and Saunders saying that it wasn’t a balloon.

On the flip side, there are any number of stories that have turned out to have been false out in the world where political agendas are often more important than the truth. William Randolph Hearst managed to incite people to the point where we engaged in a war with Spain because Spanish saboteurs allegedly blew up the Maine (the battleship and not the state) and mistakes of enthusiasm when reporting that Dewey had beaten Truman or to engage in diplomacy by suggesting the Tet Offensive was some sort of victory for the VC, when, in fact, they were destroyed as a fighting force. I can point to Peter Arnett, who reported that American artillery had destroyed a village in order to save it when it was the VC, using 105 mm howitzers as direct fire weapons that had done the damage.

My point was here was a fairly innocuous statement that was being repudiated by the witness when the other statements attributed to him by Longo were not being challenged. At this late date, I couldn’t interview McDonald because he was dead, or Longo because he was dead or Vigil because he was dead. So, I thought I’d do a short little piece about this challenge to the news story but add the Johnson tale as a way of balancing the message.

Don said...

"...a laughing but emphatic statement..."

Maybe it was Vigil's joke. Anyway, the sentiment goes back to at least Mack Brazel, some variant of 'I hope it never happens again' or 'if it happens again, I will tell no one'.

In fact, here it is from 1964: transcript of radio KGRT morning news of April 28th (it's in PBB), a paragraph about both Zamora and Gallegos. It attributes to Zamora that the next time he finds a "saucer", "he's going to run and not tell a soul", and at the end of the paragraph, repeats the sentiment "he won't report it".

It is a trope of the UFO genre (reporters and editors have made major contributions to the genre).

It isn't fake news, but a trope like 'and they lived happily ever after'.

Best Regards,

Don

Don said...

Kevin, I do recall one time here years ago when you misquoted a document. You typed out the text of Aldrich's report, which is the earliest file in the Rhodes case. The error was in typing the name 'Rhodes' correctly, whereas Aldrich consistently misspelled it as Rhoads. It doesn't seem like much and it doesn't change the meaning of the text, but since 'Rhodes' is misspelled differently by individuals in the file and the case covers seven years, one can take a guess as to what docs were in the files at any time. Ruppelt had docs in the Aldrich lineage, for example, but Gust had docs in the Loedding lineage.

Anyway, that's why I like originals or photocopies, rather than quotations.

Best Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

I'm not sure what you mean here. I spelled Rhodes name right but the document cited was Jan Aldrich where the name was misspelled? This is misquoting him? Didn't I note somewhere that I had corrected the spelling? And this is the best you can do? I corrected an error? I'm sorry if I don't understand your point.

Don said...

It's an example of how something can be both true and inaccurate.

The best I can do? Of course not. There's the time you attributed to Aldrich a quotation from Brower. Both are errors, the first probably due to words sounding the same; the second due to I think an edit pass that missed a sentence. They are errors not due to ignorance, and not lies, just fails in proofing and easily corrected. The web and blogging have created vast replicating colonies of misinformaton.

Bond Johnson apparently needs his version to be true; it's as if his sense of identity is bound to it. I'd let it pass. It's not important one way or the other.

Vigil, was he fibbing or misremembering? I think he was joking and it doesn't matter what he said to the reporter. Humor is rarely recognized by ufologists or their skeptical remora.

None qualify as fake news. Here is something that does:

"Researcher Dr. James McDonald interviewed Rhodes in 1968 and expressed some concern in a letter to NICAP acting director Richard Hall...Alfred Loedding also interviewed Rhodes in 1948, becoming impressed by his story. And prior to that, the Brown and Davidson Army Intelligence team interviewed Rhodes in late July, 1947 as did the FBI somewhat later.Brown and Davidson even talked in confidence with Kenneth Arnold and Captain Smith about the case on July 31st— showing them the photo...The Rhodes photo, however, was printed by the Arizona Republic as early as July 9th. The original negatives were later turned over by Rhodes to representatives from Army Intelligence and the FBI but he was never able to get them returned.Ironically, Arnold was given a copy of the photos by an official at Hamilton Field which he later gave to UFO researcher Dr James McDonald."

--Alfred Loedding and the Great Flying Saucer Wave of 1947, Michael Hall and Wendy Connors

To begin with: if, behind the McDonald Zone, there's an interview of Rhodes by Brown and Davidson, I will pay gold for the document.

I won't analyze the quotation except to note the content is bookended with 'McDonald' which leaves the reader to infer the tale came from him (and thus an appeal to authority). Some things in it are accurate, but some things can only be true in an another dimension.

Bond Johnson's emotional attachment to his narrative or Vigil's joke barely qualify as misinformation whereas some statements bookended by 'McDonald' deserve a thorough reaming.

Anyway, it's another reason why I like originals or photocopies, rather than quotations -- another being it doesn't lead to mistakes in transcription.

Best Regards,

Don

Don said...

Not Jan Aldrich, but Lynn C. Aldrich

cda said...

Here is another 'fake news' story on the topic mentioned by Don:

In one of Ray Palmer's "Flying Saucers" magazines in 1958, Palmer put out a story that the Rhodes photo was so vitally important in those early days of UFOs that the USAF sent agents out to seize and confiscate all copies they could lay their hands on of 'The Arizona Republic' of July 9th (which had printed the photo)

This tale appeared in Palmer's magazine until a writer from the Republic pointed out that it was utter nonsense. There never was any such confiscation.

And the final irony? That very same issue contained a report on the Roswell case on its front page! Palmer had no interest in Roswell at all. Such is ufology.

Brian Bell said...

I’m just happy someone (like Kevin) takes the time to properly document accurately, and more importantly correct errors (intentional or otherwise) so that the closest thing to the truth can be told. Plenty of fake news to go around thes days all leading to the infamous “nothing burger”.

So much of UFO history is based on false information interpreted poorly if not intentionally misrepresented. I have to hand it to Kevin for taking the time to correct things (even minor) even if he hasn’t told us directly. I honestly didn’t think he was capable of it perhaps being too intrenched, but alas I was wrong. He tries harder than most. My mistake. I wish other UFO researchers would follow his example.

KRandle said...

Don -

When you only supplied the last name, I naturally believed that you were referring to Jan Aldrich. Now that I have the first name, I have found the relevant documents and will note here that I did not misquote them. The copy I have of the first document mentioned in Alien Mysteries had the name redacted and because I knew it, I inserted it into the text. I normally note that a name has been redacted and then put it in, which I didn't do here. So, if the copy you have has the name misspelled, and the copy I have had the name redacted, but the name is the same except for the spelling, is there really a problem, or is this the picking of a nit for the mere picking of the nit? In the end, isn't the information accurate, including the spelling...

In the second quoted section I have in the same book, in a quote attributed to Aldrich, comes from a report that Alrich prepared and was approved by LTC Doyle Rees of OSI District No. 17. There is a one- page synopsis of the case and then several pages that follow that are labeled as “Details.” There is no indication of any other writer in the report, though Bower is cited as having conducted one of the interviews. There seems to be one or more pages to follow, but I don’t have copies of them. At any rate, I see nothing in the quotations I made that was inaccurate. Without more information about the source of your claim, I can’t really say much else…

Which moves us to the question of whether a reporter should quote precisely what someone says, or should he or she fix the errors for the sake of clarity? Don't bother to answer because the reporter, for the sake of clarity, should clean up the quote, but that should be noted as well. I don't know why I didn't note the name had been redacted in the document I cited but probably didn’t mention it because it was obvious who it was.

If Vigil didn't say, “I’m not going to speculate on just what was at La Madera that night, but I hope it never comes back,” then the reporter invented the quote. Vigil said that he didn’t say it and that makes it fake news. You seem to reject that, suggesting, with no evidence that it was a joke made by Vigil.

The other point that I didn’t mention is that Vigil said he had told the reporter nothing to suggest that they (the Air Force?) really put the “heat” on Gallegos to keep quiet about the sighting. If Vigil didn’t say anything like that, then it too, was fake news. So, once again, we’re to a point where you draw a conclusion that is not corroborated by any of the facts. You just think he was joking and therefore he was joking.

KRandle said...

Don –

Here’s part two…

If you read the information I have published about J. Bond Johnson and compare it to his later statements to others, which are not backed up on tape, you’ll find that the narrative changes completely. It qualifies as a major change rather than your “qualify as misinformation.” As a single example, in my interview with him he says, no fewer than seven times, that he wrote the July 9 story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. When I pointed out the last line said that Ramey said it was a weather balloon, Johnson then said he only took the pictures… he didn’t write the story. I don’t know why you would think that Johnson’s complete and utter change in his story barely qualifies as misinformation. What he did was eliminate himself as a reliable source… just compare his first interviews with me, all recorded on tape, and those that came later in which he made major alterations in his tale.

And, since it is sometimes impossible to provide everyone with photocopies, I cite the sources so that anyone who wants can find the original source for themselves… which, even if I had inaccurately attributed a quote to Aldrich as you alleged, I supplied the information that would lead to the source document anyway, which is the whole purpose.

Don said...

One of Two

Kevin: "If Vigil didn't say, “I’m not going to speculate on just what was at La Madera that night, but I hope it never comes back,” then the reporter invented the quote. Vigil said that he didn’t say it and that makes it fake news. You seem to reject that, suggesting, with no evidence that it was a joke made by Vigil."

"In a March 12, 1970, letter, McDonald wrote:

Upon explaining the purpose of my call and citing the press story, I got a laughing but emphatic statement from Vigil, “They absolutely misquoted me.”

"Laughing" suggested 'joke'.

ETH'rs are correct that people were shy about speaking about saucers or ufos because they didn't want to appear weird or become the butt of jokes -- once again, beginning with Matt Brazel. We can include Lonnie Zamora, as well. There are a few highly regarded cases that may include jokes.

Jan Aldrich never came to mind. I could look him up. All I remember is something about a split over Roswell or the ETH years ago. I don't know much about disputes among ufologists.

"I don’t know why you would think that Johnson’s complete and utter change in his story barely qualifies as misinformation."

Whether or not he wrote the story or just took the pictures, it changes nothing about the case. There are pictures and there are stories. Was there even a story to be got at Ramey's office, except for pictures? Hadn't Ramey already been on the radio? Maybe the Star-Telegram's story was taken from Ramey's broadcast (there's a history of the competition between radio news and the press. I'm afraid jokes are involved).

You are right, of course, he isn't a good source.

Best Regards,

Don

Don said...

Two of Two

"In the second quoted section I have in the same book, in a quote attributed to Aldrich, comes from a report that Alrich prepared and was approved by LTC Doyle Rees of OSI District No. 17. There is a one- page synopsis of the case and then several pages that follow that are labeled as “Details.” There is no indication of any other writer in the report, though Bower is cited as having conducted one of the interviews. There seems to be one or more pages to follow, but I don’t have copies of them. At any rate, I see nothing in the quotations I made that was inaccurate. Without more information about the source of your claim, I can’t really say much else…"

I wasn't referring to a book. I should have been precise (but I did mention the web and blogging); I was referring to an article here on your blog. The quotation is accurate but you attributed it to Aldrich.

Brower's report is in the FBI files and is redacted. The copy in MAXW is not redacted, however it is very faint. The redacted NARA only redacts 'Rhodes'. leaving Brower and Fugate in clear.

You had written:

"But the important part of the document comes at the end. Aldrich wrote, "...On the morning of August 30, 1947, when Mr. Rhodes called at the Phoenix office [of the FBI] to deliver the negatives, they were accepted only after he was advised that they were being given to Mr. FUGATE, a representative of the Army Air Force Intelligence, United States Army, and that there was little, if any chance of his getting the negatives back. Mr. Rhodes turned them over to this office with the full understanding that they were being given to the Army and that he would not get them back.""

http://kevinrandle.blogspot.com/2006/11/

That's the last paragraph of Brower's report. If I understand you, there is a document in which Lynn Aldrich quotes from the FBI agent's report. I wasn't aware of that. The other issue Rhoads/Rhodes is also from a blog article. I commented on them here because they stayed with me as I wrote up the Rhodes case. My point was errors are often simply mistakes, easily corrected. They are unintentional. On the web such mistakes can take on a life of their own, no matter we correct them or not.

We are miscommunicating if you are referring to something you wrote in a book, while I am referring to a couple blog articles. We can leave it at that, if you like.

Best Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

First, with Rhodes, I used a copy of the Blue Book file that had been given to Hynek and was filed at CUFOS. In it the cover document is the notice by Doyle Rees and attributes the information to Alrich. In the Blue Book file, the order of the documents is different, but there is no signature on the document from which I quoted. The paragraph proceeding it, mentions Brower in the third person which suggests he was not the author of that paragraph. It seems to me, that I'm quoting from the Air Force which suggests that Aldrich was the author and you have a document with the same paragraph in it that is attributed to Brower. The answer seems to be that one or the other copied that paragraph into his report, possibly without attribution. The real point is that the quote is accurate, I provided a source for the quote so that it could be verified. The bottom line here is that the quote is accurate and it is the attribution that is in question.

BTW, the quote was used on the blog and in the book so that we're talking about the same thing, just in a different medium.

Second, you keep inventing motives for witness statements, which you cannot know. You say that Vigil was joking. He said that he was misquoted in the article, twice, and you have offered nothing to suggest otherwise. We have your speculation, but we have no facts, and if the quote is inaccurate, and was added as a nice wrap up to the article, then it is fake news.

And it was Mack Brazel not Matt... and his situation was somewhat different than that of Vigil. Brazel was held in Roswell for several days while Vigil was running around free after talking about La Madera.

Since you don't know the complete story on Bond Johnson's complete change in his testimony about what he had seen and done in Ramey's office (including once claiming that he had read the file on Ramey's desk before retracting that statement) and since it involved much more than merely changing his tale about writing the story, I would think you'd want to be careful in your analysis. A comparison of the two versions would be helpful. Take a look at the Johnson information on the Truthseeker's website that includes quite a bit of information about this.

Don said...

"Second, you keep inventing motives for witness statements, which you cannot know. You say that Vigil was joking."

Third: "Laughing" suggested 'joke" and "Maybe it was Vigil's joke." I did not write: "Vigil was joking".


"Take a look at the Johnson information on the Truthseeker's website that includes quite a bit of information about this."

I've read Balthaser's interview of Johnson.

Johnson:
"As I have told you I have reason to believe that if I had arrived after General Ramey had an opportunity to examine the debris..."

Since we have the story of what was in Ramey's office datelined July 8 (UP), and since we have Dick Pearce's by-lined account of his phone call to Ramey on the 8th, and since Ramey described the debris for the press, I see no reason at all to spend any energy on Johnson's statements.

I would like to know which reporter spoke to Marcel in Ft Worth, and when exactly, and where. I assume this question was asked of Johnson, and since there is nothing I can find about it, I assume he didn't claim it for himself.

I'm not disputing his account is false and contradictory, but that it is irrelevant. I don't know why you go on about it. I realize you used up resources, especially time, to get those interviews. Why continue to spend time on it? Perhaps the same might be said of any issues you have with Jan Aldrich.



Best Regards,

Don

cda said...

Kevin:

Is there now ANYTHING left in either the Roswell case or the Socorro case that leads YOU to believe an ET craft landed, or crashed, at either site? Anything at all still pointing to such an event?

Bear in mind that both events now occurred between 50 and 70 years ago and that both the US military and the scientific community still do not admit to any intelligent life outside planet earth. Are they just plain dumb, stupid or what?

Please enlighten us.

Ben Moss said...

With regards to Socorro, the government, Blue Book, Air Force and Joint Chiefs all could not find any man made craft of those capabilities, nor was anything flying in that area at that time. My research and subsequent presentations on a 3 year ongoing investigation have uncovered more that shows this was not a human event, and the many weak unsubstantiated rumors of a hoax are laughable as there is ZERO evidence of a hoax. There is still more to come on this as I have recently uncovered several interviews with Lonnie and have confirmed his fear later in life that he may have been exposed to dangerous radiation, and that he was a changed man after the event.

KRandle said...

Don -

You split a fine hair by saying, "'Laughing' suggested 'joke' and 'Maybe it was Vigil's joke.' I did not write: 'Vigil was joking'".

Johnson spent more than a decade accusing me of misquoting him and injecting new, irrelevant and false information into the Roswell case. I'll take every opportunity to point out that his story has no relevance now that he moved it from just taking the pictures to all his other activities surrounding the case.

I know of no issues I have with Jan Aldrich... you mentioned Aldrich without bothering to identify him... my thought went to Jan for no other reason than I was familiar with his name and knew of his interest in UFOs.

CDA -

I have seen no viable terrestrial explanations for either Roswell or Socorro... which is not to say that leads us directly to the extraterrestrial, only that we have found no solution that covers all the facts. This suggests that they are truly "Unidentified." I am unsatisfied with all explanations for these cases.

cda said...

Ben Moss:

You say you have uncovered that Zamora feared that he may have been exposed to dangerous radiation.

Several questions arise:

Who did he express such fears to, and when?

Did he ever undergo a medical examination to determine whether he had any 'radiation sickness'? Was the ground ever tested for radiation excess and, more important, that any such excess was beyond a prosaic explanation? [Reminds me of similar claims concerning Rendlesham years afterwards]

In what way was he a "changed man" after the event? [also similar to Larry Warren etc. after Rendlesham]

These are likely to be overhyped remarks, invented years & decades afterwards.

There are plenty of cases of being a "changed man" after someone got married, or after having a serious illness, or being given a promotion, or dismissal, in a job.

You are a VERY long way from establishing any ET connection to the Socorro case.

Ben Moss said...

He asked a radiation research scientist that he met in Socorro later in life. Lonnie's wife is on record as saying that he was even 'more quiet' after the event, and a changed man. And as far as an ET connection, I have no way of proving that. But I can prove that this object was not made on Earth, and no body can prove it was a hoax. Why do you think Blue Book still list it as an 'unknown'? Because they could not find a company, a craft, nor any organization that said it was theirs. More evidence will follow as we are working on a complete presentation of the entire event.

james tankersley said...

I still STRONGLY believe an alien craft or crafts did indeed crash near Roswell New Mexico in 1947 and yes, even before then, and when the MJ 12 control group was put in place to overlook the wreckage, the artifacts and the creatures that pilot these things, well a lot of reports were hidden, some were never revealed at all obviously, sightings were even debunked and explained by the Air Force with the silliest of explanations if no logical conclusion could be given, or better yet just label it as a hoax for no particular reason! Donald Menzel fit that role perfectly for such a group as no one could ever understand why he was never open minded about aliens visiting earth especially after he himself viewed a UFO he could not identify as he was watching a weather balloon at the same time. I don't know whether the MJ 12 documents Bill Moore released were real or half real or not i am 50/50 on that but i do believe such a classified group did in fact exist who were put in place to oversee all UFO information coming out and if so, did a truly remarkable job cleaning and hiding their paper trail all these many years!