Michael Corbin, R.I.P.

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Michael Corbin, journalist, talk radio host, and champion of liberty died on Tuesday after suffering a stroke on Sunday night. He was 52. Mike was a friend and a colleague, and he will be sorely missed.

Mike’s career in radio and investigate journalism spanned 20 years. In the early days, he was an investigator and contributor to Paranet Information Service, an internet bulletin board primarily concerned with ufology (from a skeptic’s point of view). In his later days, Mike’s work centered more around his radio program A Closer Look through which he exposed organized crime operations, cults, government corruption, and government complicity in a myriad of violent acts, crimes, and deceptions that have become too numerous to count.

I last saw Mike in December when we discussed his plans to use his media production knowledge to help victims of government land-grabs tell their stories. Alas, that plan will never come to fruition, and it is just one of many projects initiated by Mike that will likely not survive his most untimely demise.

I have rarely met anyone so uncompromising as Michael Corbin. He was a consummate investigator, and he always went wherever the evidence led him. Unlike so many journalists today, Mike never accepted any claim without corroboration, and spent his days chasing down better sources, better contacts, and better information for whatever topic he might be covering at the moment.
Most importantly however, Mike was an incredibly generous and likable human being who was totally unforgettable. And he was a physical, moral, and intellectual giant. He gathered around him a band of loyal followers (mostly young men) who helped create and polish his radio broadcasts week after week, and who also socialized and spent many hours with him in conversation, taking in his unshakable commitment to the truth and to Christian charity.

Michael knew more about the dark side of humanity than anyone else I’ve ever known. He investigated cults, kidnappings, sex crimes, unsolved murders, and worse. Yet he never despaired. He investigated these things not because he found them luridly fascinating or because he thought it would get him more listeners. He investigated them because he was genuinely outraged for the victims, and even more outrageous was the fact that corrupt government agents were so frequently found to be involved in the crimes he uncovered.

This latter-day work of Mike’s was the natural outgrowth of his earlier work in ufology.
Far from being a credulous dupe who was willing to believe anything about alien autopsies as long as it appeared on FOX, Michael was an exposer of hoaxes, a skeptic, and an enemy of the sensationalism that was so popular among most denizens of the UFO sub-culture.

Indeed, Mike’s early career is a fascinating study in the evolution of the internet and how it evolved from a series of online bulletin boards to what it is today. Paranet was one of the first organizations to see the potential of the internet, and under Michael’s guidance, Paranet became a trailblazing organization that fused the new technology of the internet with the old technology of radio broadcasts to allow for an interactive network of listeners who both provided the audience as well as the content for new shows and investigations.

The radio version of Paranet, The Paranet Continuum became a nationally syndicated radio show, providing both entertainment and cutting edge journalism for listeners. [There’s a good article on the show’s run here] Eventually, however, UFO’s and alien autopsies (and their debunkers) ceased to be popular. Mike had already come across so many unpleasant facts and events during his time at Paranet, that it wasn’t much of a stretch to turn his investigative interests on more down-to-earth topics that proved to be even more unsettling.

Mike’s later work turned much more toward defending constitutional government, and toward supporting whistleblowing and watchdog operations against government. In other words, he was for liberty and against the state. Mike’s work on A Closer Look illustrated time and again the widespread government corruption and meddling in the drug trade, in educational institutions, and in the mainstream media.

Michael Corbin’s death is a sudden and unexpected blow to the world of investigative journalism, but it is even more devastating to his friends and family who had hoped for another 20 or so years of hearing Mike’s deep and sonorous voice on the radio and over a hot cup ‘o joe.

NB: There is a site here where you can comment on Mike and help his family cover the cost of Mike’s funeral.

1:35 am on March 22, 2008