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Nov. 15, 2010

The missile dismissal

by Sarah Harper, Online News Editor
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's another conspiracy theory!

Early last week, a trail of vapor was seen off the southern California coast. A KCBS news helicopter filmed the image and within hours, the video went viral. Experts across the country were weighing in and dubbing the incident as the "Mystery Missile." All of a sudden, this was no typical aerial launch. This was a national crisis.

A still shot of footage of the "Mystery Missile." Courtesy of CBS
A still shot of footage of the "Mystery Missile."
The Department of Defense was immediately put on the case, but conspiracy theories were already pouring in from all over the country. The missile was from an enemy country. The missile was launched from a U.S. cruise ship or a submarine. The missile was a test firing or black-op to flex military muscle for Asia. The missile was an alien UFO landing on earth. The missile was an optical illusion. The missile was actually Superman.

Let's be honest. Though conspiracy theories have always been far-fetched, the "Mystery Missile" reaches new levels of paranoia. Fortunately, the Pentagon's report on Wednesday concluded that a commercial airplane caused the condensation trail - which begs the question, how did this 10-minute clip become a state emergency?

Left to its own devices, the "Missile Mystery" would have been a blip on the public radar. Instead, in the two-day span before the Pentagon's statement, reporters on every major news outlet were given the freedom to say whatever crackpot theory popped into their heads and the Internet was overflowing with self-proclaimed missile specialists.

In an ideal world, news would be unbiased and nonpartisan. Although these journalistic principles don't always hold true in reality, the media is responsible for quelling situations and providing accurate information, not contributing to mass hysteria. The entire, overblown episode was given an appalling amount of airtime and critics hurled insults at the government for not designating the "Mystery Missile" as a priority.

Thankfully the "Mystery Missile" was insignificant in the grand scheme, but it was handled poorly and serves as an indication of the media's shortcomings. Even though the faux-crisis may have reached conspiracy theory status, it's time to wrap up this non-mystery and move on.

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  • chris on November 15, 2010 at 9:09 AM
    "in an ideal world, news would be unbalanced and nonpartisan"

    u meant unbiased right? I liked the whole mystery missile story, strange story all the way around. plane my a**!
  • suzanne (View Email) on November 15, 2010 at 9:47 AM
    I disagree. I am tired of being lied to. I live here and this is not normal.

    I live here on the Southern California coast. We do not have planes or objects that look like this. It was a missile or something not related to commercial or private jets. The commercial jets have two contrails or if they are spraying chemtrails the lines are very different in our sky. Furthermore, the jets do not spin or change course in a spiral manner. Finally, Kelly Spear, mentioned in this article, she was taken back by what she saw. It was different enough that she got her camera. Do we really think a camera man, who flies our skies would bring this back to the station if he felt it was just a plane?

    It is time the media and the government start telling the truth. We deserve to know the truth and make our own choices about our safety. In addition, the media might want to consider who they are reporting for, if they cannot be honest and reveal the truth.

    Finally, the US participated in War Games in early October. Why do we think we are immune to such games?

    Stand for TRUTH!

  • haha on November 15, 2010 at 2:49 PM
  • dustin (View Email) on November 16, 2010 at 4:56 AM
    Wow this article is a joke. Lets just call it a conspiracy theory and believe whatever the government tells us, even though there are tons of former high ranking military officials who say it was a missile.
  • Blazer on November 28, 2010 at 4:50 PM
    Suzanne, who are you?
    • .. on November 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM
      you're a creep lol
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