The annual Kennedy Center Honors reception isn’t normally a place to break news, but President Obama opted Sunday to publicly mention Area 51 — the installation where the government is supposedly storing UFOs and alien life, the inspiration for innumerable conspiracy theories.
The reason: Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine and her claims to have seen UFOs and extraterrestrial beings.
“Now, when you first become president, one of the questions that people ask you is, ‘What’s really going on in Area 51?'” Obama said to chuckles at the White House event.
“When I wanted to know, I’d call Shirley MacLaine.”
Obama added: “I think I just became the first president to ever publicly mention Area 51. How’s that, Shirley?”
The other Kennedy Center honorees were musicians Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, and opera star Martina Arroyo.
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As for MacLaine and Area 51, Time magazine noted:
“The president couldn’t resist the opportunity to joke about the decades of conspiracy theories surrounding mysterious lights and aliens at the Nevada installation. …
“The official use for the Nevada Test and Training Range and Groom Lake — the formal name for the facility commonly known as Area 51 — is far less otherworldly. It’s been the testing ground for government programs, including the U-2 spy plane and various stealth aircraft.”