"I had this theory that in the early ’80s, we were very close to contact from aliens and other planets and stuff like that. I felt that if the aliens were going to come down, if people were smart enough to visit Earth, then they were smart enough not to come down and say "Hi!" They would send a recon team, a sort of advance team to culturalize the planet, and prepare it to meet the aliens; not like in The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Spielberg had done a couple of movies like E.T. and Close Encounters, some of the first movies that had portrayed aliens as non-threatening people to us. Those movies became hugely successful. They were seen all over the planet, literally. So my theory was that Spielberg was the engineer of the advance team. His job was to make movies that showed aliens in a positive light.
O: Now he’s making War Of The Worlds. What does that do to your theory?
HSW: Maybe they didn’t follow through with their bonus check."
Found via Gonzalo’s Ludology.org