The worlds of politics and media went into a tizzy earlier this week when the New York Times published an article titled "Hillary Clinton Gives U.F.O. Buffs Hope She Will Open the X-Files." Evidently, the Democratic presidential candidate has been asked a couple of times about whether she'd release classified documents about UFO sightings and the infamous and secret Area 51, in Nevada—the place conspiracy lore would have us believe that the government keeps extraterrestrial spacecraft, or alien cadavers, or some other smoking gun that would prove once and for all that The Truth Is Out There.
If you look at some of the actual interviews, it's clear that Secretary Clinton doesn't buy into any conspiracies. Sure, she's interested in knowing what people have actually seen (or think they've seen) in the skies, and she's in favor of revealing any information that might cast light on the answer. It's pretty obvious, however, that this is not even remotely high on her list of concerns. And if the government is covering up some information whose release could legitimately threaten national security, she isn't interested in going there.
UFO aficionadoes have claimed (illegitimately) that the national-security issue is that if we really knew how many extraterrestrials are buzzing us, it would cause a national panic. Calmer heads point out that all of the secrecy about Area 51 can be explained by the fact that it's where the Air Force has long tested experimental aircraft technology—something that came to light in 2013, when the government declassified a bunch of documents.
Wanting to get to the bottom of the whole thing, Chris Matthews invited our senior editor for space and physics, Clara Moskowitz, to appear on Hardball. As you'll see from this video of the segment, she had no special insight into Hillary's interest, but satisfied the host's curiosity about alien visitations—and also about the radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—with calm confidence. "I like your clear thinking and logic," he says when she's done. So do we.