Former CNN journalist Tony Harris is venturing off the beaten path for his new series “The Truth is Out There.”
Airing Tuesdays (10 p.m.) on History, the series looks at mysterious and unexplained news stories from around the world, including audio footage of unidentified creatures and UFOs.
In each episode, Harris consults with experts to determine which stories are hoaxes — and others that have deeper explanations.
The Atlanta -based Harris was previously a news anchor with Al Jazeera English, Investigative Discovery and Entertainment Tonight. During his career at CNN (2003-2010) he co-anchored the network’s weekend news shows and “CNN Newsroom.”
Harris, 53, answered some questions about “The Proof is Out There.”
What drew you to this show?
I’m one of the rare people on television who’s had a couple of occasions where development people for big channels have said, “We want to work with you; be patient until we find the project.” This is one of those happy stories where a couple of development people at A&E said, “We want to do something with you, do you have any interest in the extraterrestrial / UFO space?” I said I do from a standpoint that I’m one of those people who’s really curious about whether or not we’re alone in the universe. They worked until they found something for me and for the channel. I’m really pleased and excited about the opportunity to do this work.
How does your background in hard news help you with these more esoteric topics?
This was a real effort at doing some real investigations, and they saw me as being important to that process because of the credibility. Look, I’m a former CNN anchor; I’m a former Al Jazeera anchor who covered the Arab Spring 10 years ago. They didn’t want me rubber-stamping stuff for the sake of “This is crazy television!” It was, “No, let’s do some work and let’s bring some honest investigation to this space and see what we learn.”
Why is this subject matter is important to cover?
On an individual basis, maybe the biggest question is, “Who am I?” But then the next question is ‘Who am I in the universe?” and “Are we alone in the universe; is there other intelligent life out there?” If you’re a journalist, you’re fortunate if you get an opportunity to take on the big questions. It seems to me it’s fertile ground, if the Washington Post is dedicating a serious-minded journalist to it. I take a look at the news — and I think you ran a piece in The Post about a Harvard professor who’s releasing a book in a couple weeks about an event that took place in 2017. So there is so much material in this space we have to work through. The way I view the show, we’re sort of a culling house. We’re working through the stuff that’s nonsense and hoaxes. When we find an event that we can verify, that’s where the real fun begins.
The show’s focus isn’t only UFO’s but also conspiracy theories and unexplained phenomenon in general
I’m kind of serving two roles: I’m an investigator but I’m also the person sitting in the seat as an audience member, and I’m questioning and casting doubt and making sure that it makes sense to me. This is a space that’s rife with conspiracy theories. We take a look at some of the theories that are out there surrounding these clips and say “This is nonsense.” But when the show really takes off is when we have an event that we can verify, that’s not subject to alterations or trickery, and then we get to take a deeper look at that particular event. But there is no doubt that we see ourselves as doing a bit of a service — and knocking down some of these conspiracy theories.