Seek the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Question - everything.
Never in a million years, could I have predicted what happened to Chuck Shramek. To me, his story is a pitiful illustration of the state of the news media in our country. It is also a sad commentary about how quick to judgement and attack our society has become. In case you're not familiar with the story, here's the basics...you decide for yourself.
First let me state that before Nov. 1996, my only experience regarding Chuck, was as one of many listeners to the Houston radio stations where Chuck has worked, reporting the news, for many years. I didn't even know he was into astronomy. I found him to be intelligent, articulate, and a funny guy. I enjoyed his "screaming editorials" while they were still being broadcast. Anyway, that's all I knew about Chuck Shramek.
As I have mentioned in other pages, I listened to the Art Bell late night radio talk show, on occasion. The night of November 14th, I tuned in to the show late, and heard Art say Chuck's name. I thought to myself, "Our Chuck Shramek?" As I listened, I heard the discussion about the picture of the Hale Bopp comet that Chuck took from his backyard. He had captured an anomolous image next to the comet. He was simply asking, "Does anyone know what this thing is next to the comet?" As things played out, over the next 5 months, he probably now wishes he had never asked that question.
Within hours, a controversy developed around the picture. Courtney Brown of the Farsight Institute reported using Chuck's picture as a target for remote viewing. He said the results indicated that the object near Hale Bopp was a space ship. Things got more complicated when Brown claimed to have another picture of the comet, taken by a "Top Ten University Astronomer". This picture was later proven to be a fraud.
Suddenly, Chuck was forced into the global spotlight, because of his picture. He was misquoted, attacked and debunked for things he never said or did. The pressure was so great, he even had to leave town for a while to escape the media attention.
Things finally began to calm down. He returned to work, and began to sound like his old self again. I was glad that it seemed to be back to normal.
Then, as we all know, on March 27, 1997, the group known as the Heaven's Gate cult, decided to commit suicide in the belief that they were going to a space ship to reach the "level above human". The nation turned it's eyes to the story. Unfortunately, those eyes also focused, again, on Chuck Shramek.
The next week, for Chuck, was an intense attack by the national news media, even going so far as to suggest it was his fault, and that of Art's show, that the cult took their lives. I was outraged. I couldn't believe the media could even suggest the connection. Obviously, no one was bothering to check the facts. Something that amazed me, since here I was, a nobody, listening to the shows, and I knew more facts than the Associated Press or the New York Times were reporting. I found that to be incredible.
Once again, Chuck was misquoted, attacked, and blamed for something he did not do. He had to get his phone number changed. He couldn't check out any news programs without running the risk of hearing more accusations. He received threats via his email. The station where he worked had to hold a press conference to deal with the multitude of media representatives swarming the station. And all because he asked a question. But no one seemed to get the story right.
I found myself getting even angrier when I read posts in the online forum I worked in, suggesting Chuck was an idiot, a fraud, and a murderer. I began to do my best to set the record straight.
Four days after the Heaven's Gate story broke, I was able to have dinner with Chuck and a couple of his friends. It was as much for me, as I told him, as it was to encourage and support him. I just had to let him know that there were people out there that knew the truth. To this day, I still get irritated when I think of the way he was treated, and I will never trust the news media reports of anything again.
So, I guess this is my own screaming editorial to set the record straight.
Chuck, what happened to you was a disgrace. I, for one, am sorry it happened, and those responsible should be ashamed. But of course they won't be.
Lo the Seektress blah, blah, blah 1999... firstname.lastname@example.org