- Speaking with people around the country
last week about UFOs and the first anniversary of the "Phoenix Lights,"
I was told a remarkable story that didn't make my column.
- I omitted it because the account came
from only one source, because it had no corroboration, and because it seemed
preposterous. It simply didn't have enough credibility to be published.
- But thinking it over, and reflecting
on coverage of the Clinton sex scandal, I've reconsidered. The standards
for what constitutes a news story have fallen so significantly in recent
weeks that the UFO account can now qualify as newsworthy. Since the story
involves the president, I'm even more sure it merits public disclosure.
- Plus, if I don't get it in print now,
Internet ace Matt Drudge might scoop me.
- Here's the skinny:
- The strange lights over Phoenix were
only one unusual happening on the night of March 13, 1997. A U.S. reconnaissance
satellite, which presumably could have picked up the source of the lights,
went dead for no apparent reason. About the same time, the Pentagon increased
the country's military preparedness to DEFCON 3 (the highest state of readiness
for peacetime conditions).
- You may recall that on the same evening,
President Clinton was staying at the Florida estate of golfer Greg Norman.
The White House said that after talking with Norman late into the night,
Clinton tripped on a step and seriously injured his knee.
- What really occurred, my source reports,
is that the commander in chief was notified of the UFO activity and had
to be moved quickly to a more secure location where he could oversee U.S.
defense activities. In the rush by the Secret Service to hustle him away,
he tripped and damaged the knee.
- My source, who asked to remain anonymous,
is a nationally known UFO expert. His account isn't much less reliable
than multiple stories reported in recent weeks about Clinton's personal
life. I'm not talking about the likes of Hard Copy or the tabloids or Drudge,
the rumormonger correctly described by one critic as "the troll under
the bridge of Internet journalism." I'm talking about respected mainstream
- ABC News reporter Jackie Judd reported
that a source said Monica Lewinsky said she had saved a dress with the
president's semen stain on it. That disclosure was picked up and repeated
by most other media. "This could provide physical evidence of what
really happened," Judd said. One problem: No stain was never found.
- The Dallas Morning News wrote that a
Secret Service agent had seen Clinton and Lewinsky in a "compromising
situation" in the White House, a report quickly spread nationally
by the Associated Press. But after its first edition, the paper pulled
the story, and it remains unconfirmed.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that
a White House steward told a grand jury that he saw Clinton and Lewinsky
alone in a study next to the Oval Office. A few days later, the paper said
the story was false.
- Such sloppy work follows the article
that started the Clinton sex scandal, David Brock's "Troopergate"
in the American Spectator. That piece led to Paula Jones' lawsuit and now
to allegations by Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey. Brock apologized for the
story last week, saying he was "more wrong than right" in "ransacking"
Clinton's personal life.
- "The troopers were greedy and had
slimy motives, and I knew it," he said in his letter of apology. "But
that wasn't going to stand in my way."
- Brock was ahead of his time, a man far
more interested in hot copy than cold facts. The behavior he now regrets
is no longer limited to malicious ideologues on a mission; it has infected
- Third-rate reporting like Brock's is
thriving. In fact, passing along the bizarre UFO tale in this column is
just mildly irresponsible by comparison. To keep up with today's headlines,
it needs more juice. If only my source had gone a step further and told
me that aliens years ago had abducted Clinton and jacked up his libido,
I might have made the network news.