Monday, November 12, 2007

Chronology of Events - The Empire Strikes Back

The following is the first in a series of posts to provide viewers of this blog a specific chronology of events surrounding Dr. Ken Johnston’s involuntary termination from JPL’s Solar System Ambassador Program.

The entire sequence of events which led to Dr. Johnston’s termination began with an email from NBC science reporter James Oberg to Kay Ferrari of JPL’s SSA program on October 19th, 2007. As you can see from the signature, Oberg sent this email in his capacity as an NBC science reporter.

Here is that initial email:

From: "Jim Oberg" To: Cc: , ,"james oberg" Subject: question re ambassador Ken JohnstonDate: Fri, 19 Oct 2007 06:45:04 -0500X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2900.3138X-Source-IP: []X-Source-Sender: jeoberg@comcast.netX-JPL-spam-score: 0.00%To: Kay Ferrari:

Hi! I'm checking out some stories attributed to New Mexico Solar System Ambassador Ken Johnston, described at<>, that NASA photos from Apollo show alien structures on the Moon which NASA is covering up, and that Richard Hoagland is correct about NASA and its astronauts lying to the public.See <> and<>

and <> etc etc

Some criticism here: <> Noory, ;Coast to Coast' (all night show, formerly 'Art Bell' show)<>
"Ken Johnston, who worked for NASA for 23 years, appeared in Hour 2, and described screening Apollo footage and seeing a cluster of lights in a moon crater accompanied by a plume of steam. But then two days later when he showed the footage to some officials, the crater material had been seamlessly removed. Perhaps even more surprising was Johnston and Hoagland's supposition that astronauts who went to the moon may have had their memories altered or blanked in order to suppress their knowledge of what they saw there."

Is he still an 'ambassador' in good standing, and did you ever make any effort to verify any of his professional/educational claims as published on your website?If he was 61 in 2007, as the data indicates, he was born in 1946, so "in the 1960's" he would have been about 20. To learn to fly jets in the Marines, and then serve out his service commitment (3 to 4 years), and then become a Grumman LM pilot instructor by 1969, he'd have had to begin flight training at about the age of 17, I figure -- which doesn't seem credible, since he's have had to have been a commissioned officer before that step. What am I overlooking here?He also says he examined original Apollo imagery in the Lunar Receiving Lab at JSC. Please correct me on this as needed, but I thought that film was transferred from the quarantine facility (and LRL) to the regular Bldg 8 photoprocessing lab for development and printing -- NOT handled by a temporary facility within the LRL area? Have I got that wrong?


Jim Oberg<
NBC News space consultant

As stated in the Enterprise Mission press release of 10\30\2007, Ferrari stated that it was Oberg’s email which prompted her to call Johnston and request his resignation. To quote: “JPL’s ultimate decision to fire Dr. Johnston was initiated, according to Ferrari’s phone call, ‘by an initial inquiry to JPL from James Oberg, of NBC News.’ Oberg is a former NASA contractor and a colleague of Johnston’s at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center during the Apollo Program in the 1970’s. According to Ferrari, Oberg, in his e-mails, raised ‘serious issues regarding Johnston’s credentials’ and his ‘crackpot accusations’ against the agency.”

Ferrari then went on to state that it was Johnston “being quoted [as] criticizing NASA in Hoagland’s new book, ‘Dark Mission,’” that prompted her to ask for Johnston’s resignation from the SSA Program.

In other words, were it not for Oberg’s email to Ferrari (and several other JPL press officers), Johnston would still be part of the SSA program. The fact that Oberg hides behind the following statement: “Fact. I did not ever urge anyone to alter in any way Ken's status in the Solar System Ambassador program” does not change the reality that his email is the sole reason Ken is no longer with the SSA program.

Even though Oberg did not specifically call for Johnston to be terminated from the SSA program, he certainly knew what would happen when he sent his email to Ferrari and the JPL press people. As the email shows, he called into question Johnston’s credentials without bothering to check them himself.

If Oberg was acting as a responsible, impartial reporter, the obvious move would have been to simply go directly to the source – Dr. Johnston himself – about his credentials.

Oberg, however, instead of going to Johnston, went to his “bosses” at JPL in an obvious attempt to get him trouble, if not overtly fired. He certainly knew when he sent the email to various JPL sources that they would launch an investigation prompted solely by his email.

We leave it to readers to decide if a responsible journalist would seek to undermine the position of an employee by questioning his credentials in a prejudicial letter to his bosses rather than inquiring directly to that person as a first step.


  1. Nice try, Jim.

    Your email to Kay Ferrari shows that you were not "checking" Ken's credntials, you were questioning their legitimacy. Do you always start your fact checking by going to the bosses of a person and questioning their intgrity by implying their credentials aren't legit? That's what they taught you in journalism school?

    And you never once went to the source who could clear it all up for you -- Ken.

    Again, nice try. But the only people who will believe your tripe are the CSICOP crowd.

    PS - And if you MUST keep bringing up Apollo, fine. When exactly DID you start at JSC? If you don't have a date, at least a month and year?

  2. Bara: "And if you MUST keep bringing up Apollo, fine. When exactly DID you start at JSC? If you don't have a date, at least a month and year?"

    Yes, I M-U-S-T....because it's central to your defiant delusion that I was a colleague of Johnston's during Apollo, thus already knew his credential claims were valid, and hence was operating unethically to 'pretend' to inquire about them and express confusion over the claimed timeline...

    For years, under the presumably unambiguous heading "Aerospace Career Resume", the information refuting your assertion has been on my home page,, but I guess you just couldn't find it. Try looking it up now.

    My first duty day that year was Monday, July 28.


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