Does Lou Dobbs, the trusted longtime president of CNN Financial News and former host of CNN's Moneyline, believe in flying saucers?
Dobbs, you'll recall, quit CNN last month to launch a Web site, Space.com, which debuted on the Web today. When Chatterbox--misty with memories of sitting cross-legged in the auditorium at Camp Arcady in Hague, N.Y., 30 years ago, and watching mankind walk on the moon for the very first time--logged onto Dobbs' site today, he expected something stately and dignified, like Washington, D.C.'s, Air and Space Museum. But on the home page, he saw that along with the links to "news," "science," "business," "space imagined" (i.e., science fiction), "message boards," "chat," and "space.shop" (a stainless steel travel mug with the space.com logo retails for $12.50), was a link called "Area 51." Its contents are:
A Reuters report from last week that said 100 members of the reputedly UFO-obsessed Stella Marris Church were missing in the mountains of northern Colombia;
a portal to various loony Web sites about UFOs, including one that says Werner Von Braun cavorted with space aliens at (where else?) Roswell, N.M.;
a guide to space-alien-related TV fare for the coming week;
a noncommittal movie review of Muppets in Space ; and
a feature called "Tab Wrap" summarizing space-alien news in the tabloids. This last is an apparent ripoff of Slate's "Keeping Tabs" column, without anything like the Slate version's skepticism and irony. (The link beckons those who are "interested in tabloid reports on aliens and asteroids," but "don't want to have to wade through stories on celebrities and psychics." Chatterbox was previously unaware that believers in UFOs look down their noses at believers in psychics.)
Chatterbox tried to phone Dobbs to ascertain whether he believes in little green men, as his Web site appears to. But he got a recording saying all circuits were busy. (Hmm. Are space aliens interfering with the phone company's satellites?) Chatterbox will keep trying. Meanwhile, he leaves it to his Slate colleague, James Surowiecki of "Moneybox," to sort out whether Dobbs' newly discovered interest in Area 51 played a role in the stock market's precipitous rise.