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The Biggest Scandals To Ever Hit The History Channel


Back when the internet was young and facts
still had meaning, there was the History Channel, featuring shows about – you guessed it – history. But that version of the network is long gone
today. Here are the biggest scandals to hit the reality
TV outlet that’s now simply called History. Ice Road Truckers is one of History’s best-known
reality shows, depicting the perilous lives of drivers in the iciest regions of Canada
and Alaska. And sure, it’s been criticized by actual trucker
media like Truck News for exaggerating or even faking some of the danger. “Man it is cracking something fierce. I can’t go any slower. Oh my gosh!” But real scandal hit the show in 2013. According to a CBS report, star Tim Zickuhr
abducted Lisa Cadeau after hiring her for escort work in Las Vegas. He claimed she overcharged him by $1,000 and
demanded she meet him to settle the dispute. It was then that he dragged her back to his
apartment, beat her, and tied her up in a closet. Fearing for her life, Cadeau gave Zickuhr
the phone number of an undercover police officer, claiming he could pay her ransom. Zickuhr called the number and unknowingly
arranged his own arrest. The Las Vegas Sun reported Zickuhr confessed
on the spot that he intended to hold Cadeau hostage and prostitute her through Craigslist. Every so often, even the History Channel has
to admit that some of their programming is a tad controversial. Like the time they commissioned and then abruptly
canceled a $30 million mini-series about the Kennedys. The Hollywood Reporter explained that an early
leaked draft of the script caused an outcry among Kennedy family allies, and after months
of rewrites and filming, the high-profile project was pulled entirely for being pretty
much wall-to-wall slander and lies. “They made it sound like I like Hitler. Said I was anti-American, me.” Co-creator Joel Surnow defended his project,
via the Atlantic, claiming people were biased against him for being a staunch conservative
making a series about the Kennedys. Conspiracy theorists also took the opportunity
to insist that the surviving members of the Kennedy family had bullied the History Channel
into dropping the show, but when the mini-series eventually did come out elsewhere, the Hollywood
Reporter called it quote, “dull,” “unwatchable,” and “a ham-fisted mess.” Swamp People follows the lives of alligator
hunters living in Louisiana. But alligators actually seem to be the least
of the cast’s worries. According to TMZ, Swamp People stars R.J. Molinere and Jay Paul Molinere were arrested
for attacking a man with a beer bottle. TMZ also reported that Trapper Joe was arrested
for burning his girlfriend with a lit cigarette and then punching her in the chest. And Screenrant detailed a time that Roger
Rivers Jr. got in trouble with the law for selling illegal meat. “We like it all. We eat everything down here.” The swamp people of the show proved so troublesome,
Starcasm reports that most of the cast was suddenly fired before season seven of the
show, shocking fans and sending angry cast members into social media rants. Producers held firm, though, and remaining
fans just had to deal with a whole new bunch of swamp people. Bigfoot Captured was a feature-length special
about the discovery and capture of a real Sasquatch. It was also, as Paste Magazine put it, a TV
abomination. History Channel styled the show as a real
documentary, despite the fact that the program was pure fiction. But not everyone recognized it as fake, leaving
some viewers furious about pseudoscience being presented as fact – and others excited to
discover “proof” of a “real” Bigfoot. “At this point, I think Bigfoot’s gonna become
a lot closer to reality.” Not only did the Channel fool their audience,
they also more or less lied to their guest experts about the nature of the production. Professor Jeff Meldrum said, via the Idaho
State Journal, that he was disappointed that the documentary faked evidence and had no
interest in working from credible information. His suggestion for viewers? “Take what you can from it, and have a chuckle
over the remainder.” According to Variety, the show Hunting Hitler
upset plenty of people by trivializing Hitler and giving credence to conspiracy theories
about his escape to Argentina. “If this were really a picture of Hitler,
it would change history.” But even more upsetting is the fact that the
History Channel promised anonymity to one of their key sources, and then clearly broadcast
his entire face to more than 180 countries. “The team arrives at a private home where
the informant, along with his translator Philip, has arranged to meet them under the condition
that his identity be protected.” As the New York Daily News reports, the grandson
of a Nazi war criminal agreed to appear on the program with the understanding that his
face would not be shown. Production did blur his face out – except
for one shot where it is clearly visible… An obvious disaster for someone who doesn’t
want to broadcast that his grandfather was a Nazi. Remember when the History Channel “solved”
the mystery of Amelia Earhart, only to have their key piece of evidence immediately debunked
by a blogger? “When you hear the name Amelia Earhart, it’s
a question mark that’s never been solved.” According to Vanity Fair, the documentary
Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence caused some short-lived excitement when it presented a
photo of Earhart and her navigator, alive and in the Marshall Islands after her mysterious
disappearance. The documentary suggests that Earhart survived
her infamous crash in 1937 and that the U.S. government knew she was alive, but covered
it up. The network enjoyed a brief moment of historical
triumph before they were thwarted by a blogger doing minimal research. National Geographic reported that Japanese
military blogger Kota Yamano looked up the alleged location of the photo in the Japanese
national library’s database and found that the pic was published in a Japanese coffee
table book in 1935 – two years before Earhart took her flight. So even if it were Amelia Earhart in that
photo – which it’s not – it proves nothing about her disappearance. American Pickers follows a couple of guys
while they travel around the country and sift through piles of other people’s junk in the
hopes of finding treasure. The show’s producers have occasionally been
accused of planting the good stuff, and while we can’t know that for sure, at least one
of the show’s two stars has definitely been caught doing less-than-upstanding stuff. “This is a perfect situation for a pick.” According to a local TV station, Frank Fritz
recently pled guilty to charges of “operating while intoxicated,” which also included driving
the wrong way on the interstate. According to the police report, Fritz was
quote “weaving about the roadway” under the influence of Xanax and alcohol. The mini-series The Bible was a huge hit for
the network in 2014… except for that one slip-up where the producers cast an actor
who looked a whole lot like President Barack Obama to play the devil. As described in the Guardian, the comparison
went viral almost immediately after the 10-hour mini-series first premiered. You couldn’t throw a stone emoji without hitting
several hundred posts of Obama’s face next to Moroccan actor Mohamen Ouazanni. Producer Roma Downey claimed the resemblance
was a total coincidence, but the damage was already done. “If you will bow down and worship me I will
give you the whole world.” Time reported that when The Bible producers
cut down their series for the feature-length film version, Son of God, they decided to
nix Satan entirely, hoping audiences would focus their attention on Jesus instead. The reality competition Alone tries to one-up
Survivor by abandoning its contestants in the middle of nowhere and then following their
journey to survive alone in the wilderness. Happily, none of these people are naked, because
another truly awful reality show already did that. “I’m bored.” The really stupid thing about all of this
is that no matter how alone the series makes it look like these people are, of course they’re
not really alone. What about all the camera people, who are
literally everywhere… Right? “One thing that’s very interesting about how
the show is shot, is that it’s all self-documented.” We may never know the truth on that, but according
to E-Celebrity, contestants are not being forced to survive miles from civilization,
which is what the showrunners want you to believe. Instead, in many cases, the contestants are
actually within an hour’s walk of the nearest town, and sometimes they’re in a place where
there is a network of trails, which definitely seems to suggest that they’re just not really
that isolated. History’s Mountain Men features people pretending
like they are living in the 17th century… except for when they watch TV while no one
is looking. “To me there’s way too much overdevelopment
in this world and I wanna do at least my part in keepin’ some of it wild.” One of the stars of the show is Eustace Conway,
and his deal is teaching people how to be self-sufficient and also how to be super pretentious
about their self-sufficiency. His bio reads: “Like Thoreau, Eustace has gone to the woods
to live deliberately, fronting only the essential facts of life, to see if he could not learn
what it had to teach, and not when he came to die discover that he had not lived.” Yeah, he’s that kind of guy. But when he’s not being pretentious on Mountain
Men, he’s being pretentious on his 1,000-acre wildlife preserve in North Carolina, where
he teaches people how to live in the wilderness for a mere $700 a week, or $65 an hour if
you’d rather just spend an afternoon riding around in a horse-drawn carriage. According to The Wall Street Journal, the
preserve was recently raided by health, construction, and fire officials who deemed many of Conway’s
buildings, quote “[not] fit for public use.” When you think of lumberjacks, you usually
think of burly dudes in plaid, chopping down trees, putting “wipe your butt on a spotted
owl” stickers on their trucks, and maybe pressing wildflowers like in that Monty Python song. You don’t typically think of them pulling
stuff out of the water, because that’s not where trees usually are. According to NPR, though, there was a time
when lumberjacks used to put felled trees on rafts and float them down the river. Every now and then the trees would fall off
the raft and sink to the bottom. And they don’t rot down there, either – if
the water is cold, the trees will stay preserved at the bottom for a long time, and can eventually
be salvaged. The problem is, salvaging sunken trees is
not legal in the state of Washington. But that didn’t stop the late Ax Men star
Jimmy Smith from fishing those logs out of the river on national television – which was
either ridiculously arrogant or ridiculously stupid. “I’m the first one in the northwest to do
this type of logging.” Smith had an entirely altruistic reason for
his actions, though: to protect people participating in water sports on the river. He said, “If I can save one kid or one boater, I think
it’s worth it.” …And we’re sure that the money he got for
those logs didn’t factor into it at all. The wildly popular Pawn Stars features the
supposedly “real” day-to-day activities of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in
Las Vegas. But the show has been widely criticized for
having a rather loose definition of reality, and the shop itself has previously gotten
into trouble over some of its merchandise. According to ABC News, they may have once
melted down $50,000 worth of stolen coins. But the most valuable treasures at the Gold
& Silver Pawn Shop, apparently, are the stars themselves. HuffPost reported in 2012 that the former
talent agents of the Pawn Stars stars were suing their ex-clients for switching agencies,
demanding $5 million in lost commissions. The agency, Venture IAB Inc., claimed that
History Channel execs had intentionally seduced the stars away from their original representation,
convincing them to hire rival Michael Camacho of UTA as their agent instead and losing Venture
millions in commissions. It’s unclear what happened in the lawsuit
– which likely means it was dismissed, or settled out of court. Then there’s Pawn Stars fan favorite Austin
Lee Russell – better known by his stage name, Chumlee. He’s portrayed as the comic foil at the shop,
but in non-televised reality, Chumlee’s life is somewhat less whimsical. As USA Today reports, police carried out a
search of his house while following up on assault allegations in 2016. They didn’t find evidence to convict him,
but they did find drugs in his regrettably named “Chum Chum” room, including marijuana
and meth, as well as numerous illegal firearms. According to the New York Daily News, however,
the reality star was able to avoid jail time with a plea deal, despite being charged with
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