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History’s The Proof Is Out There Tony Harris exclusive interview: Separating fact from fiction

Tony Harris
The Proof Is Out There is a masterclass of investigative reporting with Tony Harris. Pic credit: History

Fans of journalist Tony Harris, a longtime newsman with an eye for finding the story and separating the truth from the hype, can see him host the new History series, The Proof Is Out There.

The public’s exposure and appetite for “fake” news combined with their inability to sort suspicions about a potentially doctored video or photo’s veracity now have a reliable source in Harris.

His reputable news credibility makes this series head and shoulders above the more sensationalist Ancient Aliens or never-ending historical treasure hunt like Curse of Oak Island.

Both of those shows have their audiences and believers, but think of The Proof Is Out There as History’s crisply produced masterclass in paranormal and unidentified events that cannot be written off as false. Or that can be completely jettisoned as fraudulent junk.

We are given unemotionally presented linear data, and asked to follow along as Harris systematically calls in experts to review and decide if what we see with our own eyes is a hoax or factual.

Got a case of pareidolia?  It happens. Harris goes there with a segment that explains this phenomenon in detail.

This new addictive series is coming the first week of January and sorts fact, fiction, and human projection in a tightly presented examination of videos and photos in the news that are unexplained or still in play with experts divided on the veracity of the imagery.

About The Proof Is Out There

History’s new nonfiction series, The Proof Is Out There, hosted by Harris and premiering Tuesday, January 5, takes an in-depth look at some of the most incredible and thought provoking videos of unexplained phenomena and mysterious must-see moments of all time.

More science and less “what if” are the hallmarks for Harris to take on each unusual event with laser-like precision. Theories and chatter about grisly remains and unidentified flying objects and more are quickly dissected by experts with Harris’ narration and expert analysis.

Harris will review bizarre footage of people struck by lightning who are unscathed or remains washed up on the shore of a monstrous-looking creature, to a fifty-foot snake, and even inexplicable apocalyptic sounds recorded in one man’s backyard. Strange sightings, frightening and enigmatic creatures, and UFOs that defy physics and gravity are all part of the lineup.

Through expert examination and the use of the latest technologies, The Proof Is Out There is a news show that determines the constructed phonies from the fact and gets to the bottom of the story with a host of experts lead by Harris, a career journalist who has been a featured anchor for CNN, Al Jazeera, and who has hosted top-rated series for Investigation Discovery.

Exclusive interview with Tony Harris

Monsters & Critics: We are happy to see you back reporting on television, this show is a news format for the paranormal that defies anything out there.

Tony Harris: Well, we’ve talked about this. It’s about trying to find an avenue where you think you can fit in. And for me, and we talked about this too, It’s just trying not to do what everyone else is doing, trying to do something, maybe something that’s a little bit different for journalists to be doing.

I’ve been trying to find those things. When we first started talking, I was doing the true-crime work with Investigation Discovery, and there weren’t a whole lot of journalists in that space.

And now it’s overrun with journalists in that space, and that’s fine because it is an opportunity for great storytelling from terrific storytellers. I think this is another one of those spaces where you’re going to find more and more journalists in this work because there was the idea of attempting to explain the unexplained, and the groundbreaking developments actually in the space.

Are you kidding me? This is where journalists want to be, where there’s news being made, where there’s a big story out there where we get an opportunity to try to answer big questions, come on. Yes!.

M&C: There are a lot of ethics questions being raised right now. Does this dovetail with the series The Proof Is Out there, these deep fakes, videos, and photos and people can be misinformed, you see with your eyes and you believe that more than what you hear with your ears? Talk about that.

Tony Harris: Well, I want to tell you something, I’ve been telling friends. Can you imagine a better time for a journalist to be in this particular space than right now when people are so susceptible to so many things? They [fake news] are just flat out wrong and counterfactual. To be doing this kind of work in this kind of space, I feel like we have an opportunity to help people, and begin to restore some balance in the universe with respect to facts.

We’re doing a service. People have been curious about this space forever. But some of the charlatans have jumped into the space. The hoaxers have jumped into the space, and these wizards of special effects have jumped into the space.

And they’ve made it really difficult for people who take the [news reporting] space really seriously and believe that there was real reporting to be done here and there were facts to be ascertained.

I think the brilliance of this show in many respects is at a time when credibility is being challenged all over the place in our media ecosystem. We are a show that steps up in a space where we can say to people what our goal is, to separate fact from fiction to the extent that it is possible to be done at this stage.

We will be able to do an even better job at doing this, I’m sure, as we move into later seasons. But right now we’ve got a terrific team of journalists together who are taking a look at these videos and dissecting them. I think we’re doing a pretty powerful public service.

We are saying, ‘This is legit. This deserves further study… And we’ve got a team of experts to take a good hard look at this. And at the end of the day, we feel confident that once our team takes a look at it, we can pass along what we feel is a pretty solid judgment, pending further information on the videos and the science as to what we’re seeing right now.

Can you imagine a better space to be in now while taking on one of the huge questions we’ve always confronted in our lives? Are we alone in the universe? And at a time when the credibility of science is being challenged at every turn? I mean, there’s a wonderful opportunity for real journalists to jump in and I’m really happy and terrifically pleased that I’m getting an opportunity to take on this space.

M&C: What is the ratio of, items that are debunked by you and your team versus things proven to be real and unexplainable?

Tony Harris: I haven’t thought about it on a percentage basis, but I will tell you, we absolutely have a number of videos that were at the end of the day, our verdict was, “This is credible, and this deserves further exploration.” And it doesn’t make sense just to be a debunking show. You know what I mean?

It doesn’t, and if you’re taking a real serious look at this, and if at that moment when the government is releasing videos…The Pentagon is releasing videos of UAPs right? Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. I mean, the government is releasing that kind of thing.

This show is coming at the right time. The [premise] of debunking everything that’s out there…that’s easy, that’s cheap. But the trickier thing is to say, ‘Hey, look, our experts have looked at them and there deserves to be a deeper dive on this. We find this credible enough that we’re going to continue to look at it, and we find it credible enough that we’re going to say so.’

You have got to step up and you have to take your courage in hand. I honestly think that the day has passed when, if you saw something and you captured it on a video, you had to break your neck…where the onus was on the witness to prove what they had captured something.

I think when you’ve got the government revelations if the information that we are getting that the balance has sort of shifted. And now it is up to governments to explain what it is we’re capturing. Right? If you can release videos of flying objects or you could release videos of one identified aerial phenomenon, which the government did back in April, April!

If the government can do that, it just seems to be a huge shift in the way we think about previously unexplained events, right?

Our team is here to say, look, let us be the repository for this. If you’re capturing videos that you cannot explain, give us a crack at it. And let us take a look at this, and then we’ll try to find the answers for you.

There’s a significant number of videos in our show that have been out there, unexplained for a couple of years. And so we’re taking a look at those videos and the owners of those videos are linked. They’ve never gotten any answers so they’re coming to us and we’re saying, well, let’s, let’s go to work.

We’ve got forensic scientists who were willing to take a look at this. In the audio realm and the video realm. we’ll try to get you an answer for your video. That’s been sitting out there unexplained for years. Let us go to work on it.

Hopefully, if we’re successful with the show, everyone’s got a cell phone at this point. And looking to the heavens has become one of the new obsessions in this COVID time period. People are looking to the skies. If everyone’s got videos, a camera, and everyone is looking to the heavens, my guess is, we’re going to pretty busy.

M&C: Why do you think up until now that especially the United States government has obfuscated so much information and unexplained, to your point, videos and things. why do you think that has been?

Tony Harris: I don’t know, I think we should be more open with people. I think there has been a concern expressed that if the government shared more of what it knew, it would cause panic in society. I reject that. I am a journalist who believes in light. And more information sharing, and that we are capable of handling any kind of news.

I understand that a little better. But I think, by and large, more information is better. And the governments around the world should be sharing more of this information and the stuff that truly cannot be explained. I think that information is being withheld because on some level there is some concern.

I can’t put it on a scale and tell you to what degree this is true. To some degree, there is a sense among governments who are kind of predisposed to be secretive anyway, all governments are…[perhaps] that sharing more of what they know about this space, it could be difficult for people to handle.

And I understand that. But I’m a journalist. So I fall on the side of more disclosure, not less…and that we are big boys and girls and we can handle this.

M&C: And to your point, we’re all citizen journalists now. We have cell phones, cameras, and that have more computing technology in them than they had in 1960s NASA…

Tony Harris: Here’s the thing, a show like ours is the best friend to governments with this kind of information. We are absolutely in some cases saying, ‘No, this is nonsense. This is a hoax, but this is legitimate…’ and we need our government because everyone has a camera.

We need our governments to be forthright with us, and to share with us what it is we’re capturing that passes all the forensic video tests, passes the authentication process in audio. When we get something like this…you’re not doing anyone any favors by not being more open and forthcoming with this information.

I think from our standpoint as a program, and what I hope we’re able to do is to sort of cut through a lot of the noise and a lot of the distraction and get down to what really is significant, what really feels credible. And then we can push whomever we need to push to get answers as to, ‘What is this?’

We have gotten rid of the videos that are cleverly designed. We’ve gotten rid of those videos. We’ve eliminated those actors. Now we’ve got a batch of sightings here. We have a batch of events that deserves an explanation. You mind stepping up to the microphone and helping us explain what this is?

That is what I think we’re doing. That’s the fun part of being a part of a show like this, because at some point, if you do this long enough, and the audience trusts us in our process and our experts, and I know they will, we are going to get to a place where we get to ask really serious questions.

We will be able to do a deeper dive on a set of videos that will require some kind of explanation. Can you imagine how much fun that’s going to be, for us as a team and for the audience?

M&C: Who is your team who works with you? Who are you relying on?

Tony Harris: The leader of our team is Miguel Sancho. Do you remember a moment ago? I was talking about more journalists are going to be finding their way into this space because it’s answering one of the big questions, and that journalists love to follow the questions and try to find answers.

Miguel Sancho is our executive producer. He’s a long time CBS, ABC man. And he’s assembled a terrific team of segment producers who all have terrific journalistic chops who are going through this material. We’ve assembled some experts, some of whom you’re familiar with from the channel who were working with us in authenticating these videos. It’s a really solid team.

They’ve been really busy so far. We hope that we get a ton more videos so that we can add to our team. In terms of the leadership of the show, Miguel has done a terrific job at pulling together really smart segment producers. We’re doing Zoom calls to talk about segments and work through our approach to this.

I’m really happy with the team and looking forward to the response of people—what they see—not only the look but the research side of it.

We’ve got a job to do, presenting good and compelling television. The team that was behind creating a look for the show has done a terrific job. While we are doing the hard work of investigating these videos, we are wrapped in a really nice visual package that creates a world for the audience to enter into.

So everything from the aesthetic of the show to the hard work of the team, I think it comes together in a really attractive package. And I’m really excited to get some of the [audience] feedback.

The Proof Is Out There airs Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at 10/9c on History Channel.

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