Ancient Aliens is everywhere, even in a seemingly arcane debate over politicians’ efforts to restrict media coverage of the government. In Texas, the state legislature is attempting to prevent citizens from shooting video footage of legislators within the state capitol grounds, and Democratic Rep. Terry Canales explained that he opposes the measure because he has nothing to hide: “If they want to waste their team (sic) filming me on the couch watching Ancient Aliens, they can come to share a burger with me.” 

One place you wouldn’t expect to find glowing, nearly heroic profiles of ancient astronaut theorists would be the website Pop Matters, which usually covers music, TV, film, and comics. However, this week the pop culture website posted a worshipful profile of Jim Marrs by music journalist Greg M. Schwartz, who seems to be the same Greg M. Schwartz who appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s online TV show in 2009 to discuss NSA spying and government surveillance. Schwartz clearly has a soft spot for Marrs. Get a load of these descriptions:

Most authors in the field of conspiracy theories focus only on one issue. Few have both the knowledge and tenacity to branch out. Fewer still have both the investigative skills and fearless mindset of Jim Marrs.

… He put his considerable investigative prowess to work on the subject.

… Marrs’ no-holds barred approach to examining hidden history and what it means for the modern world is engaging and entertaining, as he offers a compelling yet down-to-earth demeanor that few others on the speaker circuit can match.

This is the work of a PR flak, not a journalist. It’s especially embarrassing since we have seen time and again that Marrs’s approach isn’t tenacious or investigative as much as it is a mishmash of secondhand sources, manipulated data, and misunderstood borrowings from other writers. Indeed, in his interview this week Marrs said nothing that other conspiracy theorists haven’t been arguing for decades.

Schwartz is profiling Marrs in advanced of the start of tomorrow’s Contact in the Desert ancient astronaut symposium, at which Marrs will be speaking about his newest conspiracy, that the global elite is planning genocide by poisoning us all with chemicals in our food and water. This conspiracy will be explored in Marrs’s new book, Population Control: How Corporate Owners Are Killing Us. Marrs says that they are following the population reduction ideology carved on the Georgia Guidestones in 1980, which called for a global population of 500 million people. Even Schwartz—apparently Marrs’s biggest fan—notes that the material seems to be recycled from Marrs’s 2000 book, Rule by Secrecy.

According to Marrs, the usual suspects are behind it all: the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and the other arms of the New World Order. He says that such organizations are working with CEOs to poison Americans in order to leave behind a paradise for the wealthy.

Are they simply greedy, non-thinking corporate types? Yeah there’s probably a bunch of those. But at the very top, and this is why it’s important for people to understand this, we’re not talking about some political philosophy, we’re talking about self-defense. They want you dead! And you better wake up and start eating right and filtering your water, and better yet, take the criminals out of the government. The FDA is supposed to be policing the drugs we’re getting… and yet no… the FDA is now just a propaganda branch of the pharmaceutical industry.

Marrs did not explain why corporations, such as the one that pays him to say such things, would want to kill their customers, or how the rich would maintain their lavish lifestyles without an economy to generate wealth. Even cigarette companies recognized that they needed to keep the customer alive long enough to suck the money out of them before they developed cancer.

Marrs also seems oblivious to the fact that his conspiracy is essentially the plot of season 7 of Supernatural, in which reptilian Leviathans take over a major corporation and begin poisoning the human food supply in order to produce docile, fat humans for them to feast on. Marrs’s theory makes just about as much sense and is perhaps still closer when we remember that in his last book, Our Occulted History, he identified the corporate elite as Reptilian space aliens.

Among other tidbits, Marrs declared that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks contained “anomalous” events that suggested a government conspiracy and that corporate control of the mainstream media is keeping the public from understanding this. Marrs’s new book is published by HarperCollins, a division of News Corp, publishers of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and a number of world newspapers. News Corp is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, who also controls 21st Century Fox, the owners of the Fox News Channel. Some conspiracy. Schwartz might have done well to note this fact rather than praise Marrs for making his “pithiest” attack on media and politics while he is taking money from the same corporation he accuses of a conspiracy to suppress the very information they are publishing.

The only point Marrs has in his favor is that HarperCollins downplays Marrs’s most unpalatable conspiracies in favor of a weird mixture of leftist and rightwing talking points about American decline. In their press release, for example, they talk about chemicals in our vaccines, our crumbling infrastructure, and the failure of America to live up to the Founding Fathers’ vision, in service of the book’s true subject: the declining middle class’s effort to find someone to blame for wage stagnation, social stagnation, and income inequality. 

America, Jim Marrs argues, has been seized by a culture of death. And who promulgates this culture? The globalist masters of the G.O.D. Syndicate—Guns, Oil, and Drugs. Pushed to the brink by this lethal triumvirate, Americans increasingly find themselves headed toward an inexorable decline ending in servitude and premature death.

(Note that the URL for the press release names the book as Death Culture, apparently the book’s first title until someone thought better of it.)

Marrs (falsely) claims that we are witnessing a period of “unprecedented” numbers of deaths from various causes, which suggests that he has never heard of the Black Death, Spanish Flu, or the two World Wars. The global mortality rate fell again last year, down to just 7.89 annual deaths per 1,000 people. People today live longer and die less frequently than ever before, but Marrs is right that thanks to media coverage of crises it doesn’t feel that way.

More than anything, Marrs’s conspiracy theories are a primal scream reflecting popular discontent with post-9/11 economic and political conditions. But rather than deal with that in a real way, he has wrapped it up in a just-so story with clear heroes (Marrs) and villains (the faceless “elite”), a sort of comic book superhero version of Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, as revised for people who hate math and see economics as violence by other means.

HarperCollins’s press release did contain an unintentionally honest bit of phrasing:

In Population Control, acclaimed journalist Jim Marrs lays out a stunning case for his most audacious conspiracy yet: the scheme concocted by a handful of global elites to reduce the world’s population to 500 million by whatever means necessary and make a profit from it.

No, not this whole sentence; the 500 million part is just a giant lie, and what good is money if there are no people left to run an economy of scale? No, the somewhat honest part is where the PR flak talks about rich people using “whatever means necessary” to “make a profit from it.” I think that about sums up News Corp’s cynical involvement with Marrs’s noxious brand of fear-mongering, slipshod research, and occasionally racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. There are few other industries besides media where corporate elites will pay you to tell people what they want their customers dead.
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