History Channel's Ridiculous Theory About Amelia Earhart's Disappearance

2017 had all the makings of a basic cable Cinderella story for The History Channel. Sure, they'd had their ups and downs, having strayed from their original path as an educational programming outlet. Yes, most of their content consisted of alien conspiracy theorists and pawn shop employees giving community theater-level reads on quippy one liners like "awkward!" and "oh no he didn't!" And it's true that the seemingly bottomless well of docu-series figuring out the real truth of the whereabouts of Adolf Hitler had finally run dry, somewhere between "he's still alive and working at a Church's in Jacksonville" and "he got hit by a Pontiac Fiero walking out of a Wawa in 1986."

Then along came a shot at redemption, a chance to get out there and crack an 80-some year old news story the way that all good historians dream of doing. Through extensive advertisements and daytime talk show segments, the History Channel announced that they had finally solved the big one: the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. As Vanity Fair would later report, their theory involved the U.S. Government having knowingly obfuscated the whereabouts of a very much alive Earhart after her 1937 disappearance, doing so because [TBD]. For proof, the network presented that most time-honored piece of evidence, the humble blurry photograph. This keystone discovery purportedly showed Earhart and her navigator chilling on a dock after they went missing.

The whole thing took about two days to debunk.

Just plane wrong

The documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, aired on July 9th, 2017, pulling 4.3 million viewers, according to USA Today. History's bombshell photo, pictured above, was served on a bed of rhetorical possibilities: maybe the boat behind what might be Amelia might have her plane hidden inside of it. Maybe Earhart was captured by the Japanese and died in a prison camp. Aliens weren't explicitly mentioned, but you just know that the idea was brought up at a couple of meetings.

On July 11th, a Japanese blogger and researcher named Kota Yamano published his own findings, obtained through the oft overlooked technique known in the academic community as "going to the library." Kota had found a copy of the photograph in question. It was in a coffee table book. The picture had been taken in 1935. Two years before Amelia Earhart went missing.

The network's response was swift and decisive — they tweeted about it. "HISTORY has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about #AmeliaEarhart and we will be transparent in our findings," they wrote. As of this writing, no such findings have come to light, and the investigation, much like Amelia Earhart herself, is probably dead in the water.