Tony Harris on Exploring UFO Footage to Try to Prove ‘The Proof Is Out There’
Have you ever looked to the sky and wondered if what you’re seeing is not from this planet? You’re not alone, which is what makes History’s The Proof Is Out There so captivating. The series returns for Season 2 with host Tony Harris digging even deeper into UFO footage from the present all the way back to 1950.
The award-winning investigative journalist consults with experts in the field. They’ll analyze if the videos featured can be debunked as manmade, an effect from the camera lens, or perhaps, extraterrestrial. Below, Harris previews what we’ll see in the sophomore installment and why even the biggest skeptics will find the show an interesting watch.
Have you ever thought you’ve seen something that might need investigating?
Tony Harris: That’s an interesting question because I never have. I will tell you that since working on his show, I’m looking up to the heavens a lot more than I ever have. I think part of that is so much of our lives these days are our heads down and into our computers or phones. Since doing this show, my gaze is towards the skies a little bit more. I’m anticipating something that will at least leave me to ask a couple of questions that will lead me to get our experts on the phone to ask, “What the Hell did I just see?”
Growing up, were you a believer in other life forms?
I was definitely not a skeptic. I was a kid who I wouldn’t say loved science fiction. But I loved [William] Shatner. I loved Star Trek, so the idea of our show being after his [The UnXplained] is a little trippy to me. I wasn’t a true believer at the time. I just had a sense we weren’t alone, but I didn’t have anything to go on. There wasn’t much for me to see in the skies being an inner-city kid because the city lights blotted out the stars in a lot of cases. I was a Star Trek geek. And because of that, I started to consider at a fairly young age that we weren’t alone in the universe because Captain Kirk said so.
In the premiere, you reference an Office of the Director of National Intelligence report basically saying the U.S. government can’t explain 143 of the 144 cases of unidentified flying objects reported by military planes. What kind of impact do you think this will have?
What it means for us as a show is a lot of work for us to do. This is the military. Not people holding their camera phones out. From my perspective of someone who is always curious, I need to know more. My guess is a large portion of the population will have tuned in for all of the hype surrounding that report, have seen the results, and I think my feeling people will want to know more. You can’t have 144 encounters with military aircraft where super trained pilots can only identify one of them and feel it’s the end of the story. I’m excited about what we can do about the reporting going forward.
Any footage you’re particularly excited to explore this season?
I am curious and interested in the stuff that is below the surface of the ocean. I’m concerned about the stuff on land that we are seeing. I know the UFO and the UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena) get all the attention. I won’t give too much away, but there are some things people are capturing with their phones on land and in bodies of water that are absolutely fascinating. I just think there is so much unexplored and unknown about what is on land and at sea. I think people who watch this show will see anomalies, strange occurrences, and strange noises that deserve an explanation.
A fun aspect of the show is the analysis where it’s decided what is captured on video can be explained and what can’t.
The beauty of the show is the structure. You sent us these videos. We found them interesting enough to investigate and sent them to video and audio analysts, historians. When they come back with a verdict, we put that on television. Beyond that, if we think we got it wrong, we revisit. We have a couple of stories this season where we are taking a second look at some of the verdicts we declared in the first season. We ended up getting more information now that we are going to adjust the verdict a little bit. We’re trying to be as transparent as possible. We’re not cloak-and-dagger with this stuff or doing it to just drive a rating. If we’re wrong, we’re wrong. And if we’re wrong, we’re going to tell you.
What is it like for you to focus on this particular topic? It’s much different than what you covered in your journalism career.
It’s new life and new blood for me. I’ve spent a wonderful blessing of a career. A lot of it has been covering heartbreaking scenarios and human tragedy and revolutions, like what was going on in 2011 with Arab Spring when I was in the Middle East.
One of the big surprises with me doing the program to the extent people are willing to work to create a viral moment. Part of our function is to call out the hoaxes. They should be working in Hollywood. There are a lot of people who take this work very seriously. We get hoaxes we think need to be called out because they threaten the credibility of honest people working in the space. We don’t hesitate to do that.
As technology develops, where do you see the future of these investigations going?
I think this is incremental work. It’s something you have to keep an eye on. I love how History dedicates so much of its schedule to this work. I’m happy it gets a rating so we can continue to do this work. If you look at where we’ve come from and the seminal moment in the 2004 Nimitz video. You get to 2015, and what was captured on video from the USS [Theordore] Roosevelt and the technology and tracking system that’s available now to the military. We’re going to get more information. The title of the show is aptly named because I think the proof is out there.
The Proof Is Out There returns September 17, 10/9c, History Channel