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Las Vegas is a hotbed for UfO lore, and the reason for that is Area 51.
Area 51 is a top-secret military base 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas that for years has been the focus of those fearing a New World Order, the End Times, UFOlogists, and those who want to know how our government spends billions in taxpayer dollars on black-budget projects.
But the reason you may have heard of Area 51 is because of Bob Lazar.
About 30 years ago, Lazar told a reporter he was a physicist working at S-4, a government laboratory near Area 51. And he wasn’t just working on your garden-variety top-secret craft—he was working with other physicists trying to back-engineer a downed alien spacecraft.
That reporter was George Knapp of Channel 8. Knapp and his news director at the time Bob Stoldal decided to look into Lazar's story. What Knapp found became a series of reports that aired on Channel 8 over the years.
But both Knapp and Stoldal push back on the idea that they took what Lazar told them and ran with it. Knapp spent months investigating Lazar's background, trying to track down where he went to school and where he worked.
Knapp told KNPR's State of Nevada he was not able to confirm some of the information that Lazar gave him. For instance, he has claimed he went to MIT but Knapp checked with the school and it has no record of him.
Lazar also claimed he worked at Los Alamos National Lab but when Knapp asked Los Alamos about his employment there, the lab said he didn't work there.
But, Lazar took Knapp and a photojournalist to the national lab and walked them around. Knapp said everyone from the guard at the front gate to other scientists greeted him like they knew him.
Knapp said when he reported the story he included the information he could confirm and pointed out the claims that he couldn't confirm.
"We were very careful in trying to verify parts of Bob's background," Knapp said, "People will say, 'he was exposed as a fraud. Stanton Friedman dug in and found out he didn't go to MIT' No, that was in our first story."
Before he agreed to allow Knapp to follow the story, Stoldal met with Lazar to check his credibility.
"He was credible enough. He was real enough that we decided - George and I - to go forward with this story," Stoldal recalled.
Stoldal said he was a skeptic at the time and remains a skeptic to this day about what Lazar said but he firmly believes it was and is information that the public needed and wanted to know.
"This is an important story that needed to get out, needed to be discussed," he said, "They want to believe. We want to believe in intelligent life outside of this earth."
For his part, Knapp is also skeptical, but he said there were and still are enough interesting things about Lazar's story and life to warrant an investigation.
"Those things that Bob Lazar told us that we, in fact, were able to confirm went a long way toward convincing us that this worth pursuing as a story," he said.
Now Lazar’s story is the basis for a new documentary by Jeremy Corbell titled "Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers."
George Knapp, investigative reporter, KLAS-TV; Bob Stoldal, KNPR consultant/former KLAS-TV executive
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