Behind The Scenes Of The History Channel

It might come as a surprise to you, but there was a time when the History Channel was actually known for showing real history. You know, like, past events that actually happened in real life? Well, those days are quickly out the door, and the History Channel has sort of become a petri-dish of reality shows that have nothing to do with history, and fake documentaries that get debunked in less than a half hour (this is true, it’s in the article).

The switch from historical facts to wonky reality shows about swamp people has a lot to do with ratings. The History Channel is getting great ratings because the shows they’re airing are entertaining to a wide audience that couldn’t care less about history. However, there have been a lot of secrets the History Channel has had to keep, or at least try to hide from their viewers and this article is going to help you uncover what it’s truly about.

‘The Kennedys’ Was Too Controversial For TV

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Central Press/Getty Images

It’s not a far cry to think that a TV mini-series based on John F Kennedy’s life would be a huge hit. But, when the History Channel announced it would be adding The Kennedys to their programming, it backfired completely.

Parts of the script were leaked to the press and Kennedy allies were screaming that the content was just a bunch of smearing and lies. The $30 million mini-series was a scripted, eight-part show that was going to get into the life of JFK and lean hard into some of the more tawdry rumors about his family and friends.

Was It Going To Be Too Accurate?

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Kennedy Library Archives/Newsmakers

Once the leaked script was out there, they had to rewrite and rework the series completely. But, it was too late. The high-profile show was pulled entirely for being pretty much wall-to-wall slander and lies.

Co-creator of the show, Joel Surnow still defends the product he was going to put out. He says that the media was biased against him because he was a staunch conservative who wanted to make a Kennedy series. Conspiracy theories insist that the living Kennedy clan was able to bully the History Channel into dropping the show because it was going to portray JFK and his allies too accurately.

‘Bigfoot Captured’ Is 100% Fake

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Twitter / @asithappens

There have been decades of conspiracy theories and myths about the existence of Bigfoot. It’s captivated audiences around the world, so it’s not a surprise that a “documentary” called Bigfoot Captured was destined to be a huge hit.

The History Channel styled this show as a real documentary about an actual forest ape. They conveniently “forgot” to mention that the show was completely fake despite how they marketed it to be real. Some people didn’t realize that it was fictional since the “scripted story” disclaimer was buried deep in the credits. This understandably left the viewers furious about the fake science that was being shown in the documentary.

So The Myth Continues

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Twitter / @historychannel

The show was presenting “facts” and “proof” of Bigfoot that were supporting the theory that it’s real. Many took to Twitter after seeing the show to spread the good news that the History Channel had finally cracked the code as to whether Bigfoot was alive or not.

The idea of having a mockumentary about Bigfoot in itself is pretty innocent fun. But, not only did the History Channel fool their audience, but they also lied to their guest experts about the nature of production. A Professor who took part in the production says he was disappointed to discover that the documentary faked evidence and had no interest in working with credible information.

Amelia’s Documentary That Was Debunked Right Away

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Bettmann / Contributor

If you’re a fan of Amelia Earhart, you’ve probably watched the now-infamous documentary on the History Channel. The documentary Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence caused some short-lived excitement after it presented a photo of Earhart and her navigator alive in the Marshall Islands after her mysterious disappearance.

The documentary suggested that she survived the crash in 1937 and that the U.S government knew she was alive but decided to cover it up. This picture was almost immediately debunked by a blogger who watched the show. Why would the U.S government want to cover up the disappearance of Amelia Earhart?

It Took Less Than A Half Hour To Debunk

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Bettmann / Contributor

The blogger who ended up debunking the claim that Earhart survived her crash was named Kota Yamano. He was a Japanese military blogger who decided to do some fact-checking on Amelia’s fate.

He looked up the alleged photo that the documentary claimed was proof she was alive for a lot longer than originally thought and found it right away in a Japanese library database. The picture was published in a Japanese coffee table book in the year 1935, two years before Earhart even took her flight. So, even if it was Amelia Earhart in the picture (it’s not), it doesn’t tell us anything about what happened to her after the disappearance.

The Curse Of Oak Island

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DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

Everything about Oak Island seems to be fake. If you believe in “curses” that’s your prerogative (if you were a Chicago Cubs fan for the past century you are probably all in on curses and I don’t blame you), but they’re not real. The History Channel show The Curse of Oak Island looks into the claim that there’s buried treasure somewhere on the island.

The show will concentrate on a piece of wood for an entire episode and claim that it’s the proof they need to assume there was buried treasure on the island at some point. The wood could be there because humans have been building stuff on Oak Island for thousands of years.

The Templar Document

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Youtube / OakIslandLayer

The Oak Island map that appeared during season 6 of the series includes a drawing of the island that looks like it’s torn out of someone’s diary. The notes are in French, and according to the show, the map is somehow connected to a much more mysterious and valuable “Templar document.”

The show focused on this document for a long time, but a man named Donald Ruh who was in possession of the map says he thinks it’s fake. Ruh says that the map certainly has no connection to a Templar Document and he thinks the map itself is fabricated.

They Gave A Platform For A Very Dumb Conspiracy

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It’s probably one of the world’s most ridiculous conspiracy theories of all time — the government is polluting the air with chemicals so that they can mind-control everyone on Earth. Seriously, this is such a bizarre conspiracy theory that Alex Jones isn’t even willing to stand behind it.

While most people will understand the sheer stupidity of this claim, the History Channel thought that it was probably at least worth discussing. Think about it, if the government actually planned on doing this, they’re failing REALLY badly. There haven’t been a whole lot of mindless pro-government rallies on the streets recently.

The Channel Gave Credibility To Whack-Jobs

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

The History Channel decided to give an entire hour of programming for a “special” to talk about this dumb theory. The special gave a platform to the people who believe it and in turn, gave them, and their whacky theory some credibility.

It’s a very smart idea considering we live in an era that basically half of the population doesn’t trust science to begin with. It was up to bloggers and other scientists to rebut every claim that was made on the special. The History Channel got a lot of flack for making it someone else’s job to remind everyone that you can’t trust conspiracy nuts.

The Resemblance Is Uncanny

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Twitter / @MohamenOuazanna

There was a lot of debate as to whether a TV adaptation of the Bible was really worth being shown on the History Channel. Nevertheless, the miniseries was a huge hit on the network but not without any controversy. There was a little slip-up when producers cast an actor who looked a whole lot like the President at the time, Barack Obama.

The resemblance itself wasn’t the issue, it was the fact that he was cast to play the devil. The comparison between the two went viral immediately after the 10-hour mini-series premiered. Just by looking at this picture, you can see how the resemblance was made.

The Damage Was Done

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Twitter / @Breakaribecca

The actor in question was from Morocco, and his name was Mohamen Mehdi Ouazzanni (who, to his credit did a very good job at portraying a devil and certainly didn’t share any character traits as Barack Obama.)

Producer Roma Downey claimed the resemblance was a total coincidence and the controversy that followed the show was utter nonsense. The damage was already done, though. The Bible producers cut down their series for the feature-length film version, Son of God. They decided to cut out Satan entirely and put all their focus on Jesus instead.

Not So Alone

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YouTube / crutchingtiger

The reality show Alone basically tried to one-up the show Survivor by abandoning its contestants in the middle of nowhere and then following their journey as they struggle to survive for an allotted time.

The premise of the show itself is interesting, and thankfully there were no naked people running around or any blatantly staged production behind it. The problem is, no matter how natural the product is, the contestants are never truly alone. There’s always a producer nearby and a camera person lingering in the midst to capture all the action from a distance. Literally, there are camera people everywhere.

They’re Not Even Far From Civilization

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Wikimedia Commons / Alone (TV Show)

You’d think that a show like this would be filmed in a remote destination (like Survivor). But, according to a few leaks, contestants say that they’re not even forced to survive far from civilization. The showrunners want you to think that they’re somewhere deep in a forest that hasn’t been touched by humans in years.

The reality is, most contestants are actually within walking distance from towns or cities. Not only that, but they’re often dropped in places that have trails already laid out for them which means that they’re hardly in a remote area. Think about it, camera people have to be within cell phone distance and able to pick up a burger for lunch.

The Mountain Man Busted For Code Violations

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Twitter / @josh_akers

It’s funny because the History Channel really doesn’t have a certain ‘history’ brand that they like to stick to. Their show Mountain Men features people pretending to live like they’re in the 17th century, except for their use of technology and TV time while no one is looking.

One of the stars of Mountain Men is Eustace Conway and he wants to teach people how to be self-sufficient while using as little resources as possible. He’s also super pretentious about his self-sufficiency to a point of annoyance, but we’ll get past that. He’s run a bit of a scam, though.

Oops, That Didn’t Go As Planned

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Twitter / @WSLR101

When he’s not being pretentious on Mountain Men, he’s being pretentious on his 1,000-acre wildlife preserve in North Carolina. He teaches people who to live in the wilderness for a cheap $700 a week.

The preserve was raided by health, construction, and fire officials who deemed many of Conway’s buildings “not fit for public use.” For someone who charges $65 per hour per person to use his facilities, you would think that he would at least put a little bit of money into making sure his buildings weren’t about to topple over. To each their own, I guess.

Pawn Stars Was Sued For $5 Million

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Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Pawn Stars is probably the most popular reality show that the History Channel aired. It featured day-to-day activities of the World Famous Gold And Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. But, just like all the other reality shows, it’s been criticized for being very loose with the truth. At the end of the day, it’s still a TV show.

They found themselves in hot water when they were accused of melting $50,000 worth of stolen coins and profiting off of it. But, thanks to the show, it seems the Pawn Shop’s most profitable items are the stars themselves.

They’re Flooded With Controversy

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In 2012, the former talent agents of the Pawn Stars cast were suing their ex-clients for switching agencies and demanding $5 million in lost commissions. The agency, Venture IAB Inc claimed that the History Channel was seducing the two major stars to switch agencies which lost their company millions of dollars. It’s unclear what happened as the matter was probably settled out of court.

That’s not where the controversy ends, though. Austin lee Russell, or Chumlee, is a fan favorite on the show. He found himself in hot water after his house was raided by the police after being accused of sexual assault.

They Didn’t Find What They Were Looking For

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Police carried out the search in 2016 and did not find any evidence to convict Chumlee of the sexual assault allegations. However, they did end up finding some drugs in one of the rooms in his house. According to the report, they were able to snag some marijuana and meth as well as numerous firearms usually found with people who sell narcotics.

The reality star was able to avoid jail time with a plea deal despite being charged with quite a few felonies. I guess it pays to be a celebrity in the American criminal justice system.

The Illegally Logging Lumberjack

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YouTube / LoggingIntern

Ax Man star Jimmy Smith found himself in some trouble when he decided to fish logs out of a river in Washington on national TV. The problem with that is in Washington it’s illegal to salvage sunken trees (which is where the footage was shot).

He was either ridiculously stupid or arrogant when he did it, but he stands by his illegal actions. He was trying to protect people participating in water sports on the river. He didn’t want an 11-foot-long oar to hit a kid. He said that his actions are worth every penny if it can save at least one person from getting hurt or killed.

One Of The American Pickers Got Booked For DUI

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American Pickers is another one of History’s many reality TV shows that are a guilty pleasure to many of us. It’s on the History Channel because, uh, sometimes they find stuff that’s from history? Well, despite the fact that there’s very little history involved in the show, it’s still an interesting product nonetheless.

It follows a couple of guys as they travel the world and sift through piles of junk in hopes of finding treasure. The show’s producers have occasionally been accused of planting interesting items into those piles of junk which shouldn’t be too surprising at this point.

Wrong Way, Frank

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Frank Fritz is one of the show’s biggest stars and he’s been caught doing some stuff off the screen that’s less than impressive. He has previously pled guilty to charges of “operating a vehicle while intoxicated” which is bad enough, but his charges also include driving the wrong way on the interstate.

When he was finally pulled over by police, he was found to be under the influence of Xanax and alcohol. According to the police report, his vehicle was “weaving about the roadway crossing the fog line and center markers multiple times.” Fritz was probably too intoxicated to walk, not to mention get behind the wheel of a car.

The Grandson Of A Nazi War Criminal Revealed

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Twitter / @historychannel

If the History Channel isn’t chasing conspiracy theories about aliens and pyramids or sifting through pawn shops, it’s probably following up on Hitler theories. There’s a reason that the channel was dubbed the “Hitler Channel” in the 90s because of all the content that they had on the fallen dictator.

The show Hunting Hitler dove deep into Nazism and talked to many historians about the inner workings of the axis power. People got upset with the show because it was said to have to trivialize Hitler and giving credence to conspiracy theories that he actually escaped to Argentina. The show was framed like a thrilling cold case reality show.

A Major Editing Error

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Twitter / @swimdeep

The channel got into a lot of hot water when they promised anonymity to one of their sources, and then clearly broadcast his entire face to more than 180 countries around the world.

The grandson of a Nazi war criminal agreed to appear on the program with the understanding that his face would be blurred out so that no one could identify him. For most of the episode, they blurred out his face, except for one shot where he was very visible. It was an obvious editing error that could’ve had some serious consequences for someone who really doesn’t want to broadcast that his grandfather is a Nazi.

Swamp People Can’t Stay Out Of Trouble

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Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The show Swamp People rounds out the chaotic, yet entertaining and popular reality shows that call the History Channel home. It follows the lives of alligator hunters living in Louisiana, which apparently is an actual job that none of us knew we never wanted to do.

Unfortunately, the alligators seem to be the least of the cast’s worries considering they’ve gotten into some legal trouble outside of the swamp. The stars of the show, R.J Molinere and Jay Paul Molinere really were arrested for attacking a man with a beer bottle. Also, Trapper Joe was arrested for burning his girlfriend with a lit cigarette and then punching her in the chest.

Not The Good Kind Of Swamp Stories

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The show was incredibly popular heading into the seventh season. Ratings were good, and the content being pumped out was certainly sufficient. That’s why it was weird that there was an overhauling of the cast heading into season seven.

Apparently, the Swamp People cast was so troublesome that History Channel had to cut the cord on most of them. The cast was angry and took to social media to deny all of the allegations, especially in regards to them asking for a ridiculous amount of money. Producers held firm and said that it was the right decision to find a new bunch of swamp people who were hopefully less violent.

Ancient Aliens Is Pretty Racist

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Twitter / @TheAliensDidIt

Even though the show Ancient Aliens happens to air on the History Channel, there’s nothing historical or factual about it. Not only is it well known for featuring guys with completely wacky haircuts, but it’s also popular for its conspiracy theories.

It shouldn’t surprise you, but the show dives into a lot of alien and pyramid conspiracy theories that resulted in the show being put onto the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog. Much of that has to do with them giving light to white supremacist theories that are just outright silly and easily disprovable.

The Conspiracies Are Bizarre

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Twitter / @historychannel

They push theories that think ancient African, Asian, and Native American architectural marvels could have only been built by some kind of mysterious alien entity.

It’s a conspiracy that Andrew Jackson used to justify the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which insisted Native Americans couldn’t have built all those big, cool, ancient mounds scattered throughout North America. The theory was that they actually murdered the magical super-race that came before them. A lot of white supremacist literature has suggested non-European civilizations didn’t really build any wonders of the past and that ancient Aryans were secretly responsible. This, of course, is not true.

‘Ice Road Truckers’ Star Arrested

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Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept via Getty Images

The Ice Road Truckers has been one of the History Channel’s most popular and highest rated TV shows ever. It follows truckers from Canada and Alaska as they travel across dangerous ice highways risking their lives to get a variety of supplies from point A to point B.

The show has been criticized for exaggerating and even outright faking how dangerous the job is, but that’s not the biggest scandal to hit the show. In 2013, IRT star Tim Zickuhr kidnapped a woman and held her for ransom. He abducted a woman named Lisa Cadeau after hiring her for sex work in Las Vegas.

The Jail Time

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Twitter / @Eric_Verduzco

He claimed that she overcharged him $1,000 and demanded that she meet with him to settle the dispute. Instead, he dragged her back to his apartment, beat her, tied her up with backpack straps, shoved her in a closet and doused her with cold water from a mop bucket.

Cadeau gave Zickuhr the number of an undercover police officer and said that he’s the one that’ll be able to pay off whatever she owes him. Zickuhr had no idea he was planning his own arrest when he set up a meeting spot with this man. As soon as he was caught, he immediately admitted what had happened and was charged.