Great significance is often placed upon ET-related utterances from world leaders by those promoting ‘disclosure’ of UFO secrets. The former US President Ronald Reagan was well-known for having what one of his aides called an obsession with “little green men”, including a story about his own sighting from a plane in 1974. At the height of the Cold War he even startled his aides when, at a meeting with Soviet president Gorbachev, he suggested the two super-powers would cooperate if Earth was ever invaded by aliens.
Another persistent rumour was that after a special screening of ET: The Extra Terrestrial at the White House in 1982, Reagan turned to film-maker Steven Spielberg and “started talking about how close to reality it was” before being quickly ushered out of the room. Was Reagan about to spill the beans or was he simply having some fun?
A recent revelation by Steven Spielberg, interviewed for film website Ain’t it Cool in June, suggests that Reagan’s sense of humour was more nuanced than suspected. According to Spielberg, after the screening Reagan stood up and looking around at the guests, that included astronauts and judges, said: “I want to thank you for bringing ET to the White House, we really enjoyed your movie”. Then, completely deadpan, he added: “And there are a number of people in this room who know that everything on that screen is absolutely true.”
But rather than being quickly ushered out, the whole room erupted into laughter. The guests recognised this was a joke and this was confirmed when the President pulled Spielberg aside for a private chat. He recalls: “I don’t think he let something slip there, no…because I’m a bit of a UFOlogist I was hoping there was something more to the joke than met my eye [but] I’m sorry to say I think he was simply trying to tell a joke.” But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?