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19 September 2006  |     mail this article   |     print   |   
Why the media ignored 9/11
Part 2 of 2

[Part 1] By Daan de Wit
The official theory regarding the events of September 11th is a bad conspiracy theory. It's a shaky theory any way you look at it, it even runs counter to some laws of nature, and it relies entirely on the shock effect felt by the public, and in turn the media, for its success. Sometimes journalists are just people. They also felt the shock of 9/11, and they also went along with the Bush administration's flimsy theory. Meanwhile five years have gone by, and the Old Media are lagging behind the facts that are being presented by the New Media. How was this possible?


The Dutch in the original article has been translated into English by Ben Kearney.
Influence of a media organization's leadership
It's typical of the Mainstream Media to think along the same lines as the government, as the elite, as the powers that be. Looked at objectively, you might expect the MSM to have an effect on the status quo, but that's not the case. The explanation for this may be that the link between the heads of the media and the heads of the establishment is very close - at a given moment you find yourself at the top of the pyramid and it's no longer possible to purchase a more expensive car or a nicer suit. At a given moment you reach the top of what you do, and it's there that you run into other leaders. This is a logical process that is sometimes forced (Skull & Bones) and sometimes reinforced (Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg Group, Freemasonry), but is otherwise a logical process. All branches of society, such as the media, politics, and the corporate world, have leaders that associate with each other and exchange roles amongst themselves - a politician departs for a corporate job, a manager becomes head of a television station - and via their similarities they form a conformist culture that imposes their vision on the lower echelons of society by way of their underlying power and influence.
The trickle-down effect from the top is enormous. People at the top are looked up to by people at the lower echelons. So you're not going to call your leaders into question. Somehow we still have the impression and the vague recollection that the media and journalism are fighters for the truth. But you're not going to be a fighter if you want to be at the top. You're not going to fight if you want to hang out with the big boys, and certainly not if you are the one in the hierarchy who decides what does or does not get broadcast or printed. Such an unassuming approach influences decisions such as the subject matter and the angle taken, ultimately resulting in unambiguous memos being written to journalists (as seen in the documentary Outfoxed), in TV interviews that favor supporters of the elite's position by a ratio of 80% to 20% (as demonstrated in the documentary The Myth of the Liberal Media), and ultimately in news items that just don't get written any more because journalists conform and censor themselves, while rebellious aspiring journalists don't get accepted because they don't look like they'll fit into the team. And those who are part of the team but don't appear to be fitting in, leave of their own accord.

Establishment journalism neglects duty
The establishment is a component of a structure of which the MSM journalist is also a part. While you might not expect it, journalists are just as middle-class as their neighbor in the suburb where they live. They ride their bicycle - so to speak - with their lunchbox in tow right alongside their neighbor, and as their neighbor heads to the local bus station they part ways, with the journalist turning off in the direction of the editorial office of the newspaper or news desk of the national news broadcast. There are but a few journalists who will stay past 5:00pm to make one more phone call, or like Greg Palast, are not afraid to work a little overtime. The vast majority of journalists work with what is fed to them in the form of press releases that come from the PR people who greatly outnumber them - in The Netherlands three and a half times as many, to be exact.
This lunch-box mentality is also to blame for the biggest newspapers ignoring the issue of September 11th for almost five years. The Dutch major newspaper de Volkskrant was accused of negligent coverage of this subject by The Netherlands Press Council, but did not change course. In its defense the newspaper pointed to an article that dealt with the form of the subject: We have written something on the September 11th, namely about the phenomenon of the conspiracy theories... Later a journalist at the paper wrote an article in which he did his best to avoid the substance of the issue by ridiculing the form of the idea in general. The newspaper's ombudsman got so much feedback from the public that he did some investigating himself: "Editors familiar with this issue to whom I submitted these questions don't see anything in the conspiracy theories nor in the supposed evidence that is doing the rounds on the internet. September 11th has been thoroughly explored and analyzed, the culprits have been identified, and any further allegations are nonsense. [...] 'He [Bush] also lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction', is typically the response I get if I mention that the editorial staff doesn't want to accept it. That last point is valid, but in my opinion there's a world of difference between wantonly killing a few thousand fellow citizens on American soil, and the invasion of Iraq. What's most interesting is the question as to what the editorial staff would then need to investigate. Journalists have no access to the evidence found at the scene. This makes it extra-suspicious for those who support the conspiracy theory - "see, they're holding something back". But how should someone at de Volkskrant illustrate that a plenary investigative commission consciously committed fraud? The DeepJournal office looks out on the street where de Volkskrant offices are...

It wouldn't be the first time that the media failed
There is fear amongst the people who have expressed support for the official theory of 9/11 that they will be proven wrong. If September 11th proves to have been organized differently than has been portrayed by politicians and the media, then everything that has been based on that day - from wars, to legislation, to the Western view of Muslim society - will have to be reevaluated. The world was turned on its head by 9/11, but it will be turned on its head once again if September 11th turns out to be an inside job. One of the consequences will be that the media will have to admit to having made serious mistakes. That won't be the first time that that has happened. Shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the American press was brought up to speed: 'Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall briefed the bureau chiefs of the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Time in Washington. He swore them to secrecy over the news that the Japanese codes had been cracked and that the war was expected to begin during the first week of December. The journalists kept quiet, and behaved just as obediently as the Dutch press did during the Greet Hofmans affair, and as they still do today by maintaining their silence over the Bilderberg meetings', as I wrote in 2003 in an article for de Humanist. A different kind of example is the fall of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania. Journalists were forced to retract all kinds of wild reports about thousands dead and victims of torture. An even worse low point for the media was the lead-up to the war against Iraq in which the public was deliberately misled by politicians with the help of the press, which right afterwards (partially) admitted their guilt in not having been critical enough.
If it turns out that September 11th, 2001 was indeed not orchestrated by Bin Laden but by elements of the American government, then it won't be the first time that the media will have to own up to flawed reporting. Because the first indications of this admission can now be felt and are bringing about a further entrenchment of positions (previously) taken up, some in the media, like the aforementioned Volkskrant and HP/DeTijd, are choosing to discredit the substance of the issue by way of the form (by presenting the messenger of the alternative view as unbelievable, for instance). Others, such as researcher Benjamin Chertoff of the magazine Popular Mechanics, the nephew of Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security, do write about substance, but it's not always known that those assertions are in turn refuted. Other media, like the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad for instance, keep silent for five years.

The influence of authority on the media
Before the dust had settled on September 11th, President Bush revealed that the Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks that had taken place earlier that day. The highest authority in the world - the head of the establishment - had spoken, and at that moment that was big news. No one knew then that Bin Laden would eventually declare that he had nothing to do with the attacks (while every person who does carry out an attack claims responsibility for the attack before someone else can walk away with it), or that the crime scene would be screened off - not in order to make room for the forensic investigation, but to be able to sell the left-over debris from the attacks as scrap metal to China and India. It was also not known at that time that the hijackers were not on the passenger lists and that a number of them still appeared to be alive. These facts and all the other facts that have filled up several DVD's, dozens of books and hundreds of websites, don't manage to find their way into the press anywhere near as often as the unfounded opinion of the highest authority. How is this possible?

The answer lies partially in the way that the news is dictated. The speed with which the news is spread, and the urgency to be the first to report the news to readers and viewers, is to blame for that news being subjected to little or no questioning. If an attack is carried out and the authorities disclose who the culprits are, then the attack is presented as a crime that has been committed by that culprit who has been offered up by the authorities: This morning Al Qaeda exploded a bomb in the city center. It's presented as fact, even though it has not yet achieved that status. That the national news would resort to this kind of coverage is par for the course; the national news is swayed by the issues of the day. But it's the documentary and news programs that should be taking a closer look at the issues and not simply accepting what is served up to them by the authorities as the last word. Nevertheless in the Netherlands it took four years before the current affairs show TweeVandaag devoted a segment to the alternative theories of September 11th.

Even though the facts speak for themselves, even though Helen Thomas - the best-known White House correspondent - calls the Bush administration the 'most secretive American administration', and despite all the scandals (Abu Ghraib, the CIA torture flights, Hurricane Katrina, the Plame affair, the lies about WMD's, the surveillance of American citizens, Cheney-shooting gate), it remains the case that if a member of the Bush administration makes a statement, it's placed at the top of the agenda. This is caused by several things. One of these is that the American government is such a huge center of power. But also important is the way in which children are raised to be adult citizens and whether or not the society is based on a patriarchal system. In addition to that is the phenomenon whereby many people are compelled to willingly surrender their own power so as to reduce the level of their own responsibility. These and undoubtedly other factors ensure that respect for authorities is so great that they end up getting the benefit of the doubt, even though they are often the ones with the greatest vested interests and should thus be approached with the utmost suspicion. To a large extent the establishment, which in so many ways has positioned itself above the fray, creates the status quo. The media maintains its neutrality far too seldom, depite the fact that it's the media's job to try and find out the truth, regardless of whether the truth is detrimental to the establishment.

Some subjects found to be too big by the Old Media
Contrary to what has been called for, it is very unlikely that there is one huge conspiracy by The Media against The Public. Even stronger, if you were to draw together all of the scattered reports from over the entire world, you find that a lot is being exposed. But that usually ends up being dispensed in small and easy digestable news items: a report on a malfunctioning voting machine, but not on the danger posed to democracy by electronic voting; a report on the scandal that emerged after the White House blew the cover of a CIA agent out of revenge for a revelation concerning the lead-up to the Iraq war, but not on the systematic lying that occurred during the lead-up to the war; on Al Zarqawi being killed, but not on the question as to whether he really was who he was supposed to be or whether Bin Laden is actually still alive and really is who he is supposed to be; or a report on the introduction of a new monitoring system in the subway, but not on the question as to whether the citizenry is being maneuvered into a totally controlled society. These questions seem to be too big - things that are of less consequence end up getting exposed sooner, like in the 90's when it was no longer possible to maintain the pretense that smoking didn't harm your health. This kind of revealing journalism is doled out in bite-sized pieces and falls within the social framework. Only rare exceptions such as the documentary series The Power of Nightmares go beyond this. "The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous that he cannot believe it exists." This statement by the former head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, which pertains to the Old Media, lies at the root of September 11th, 2001.

The New Media sets a new tone
What was put on display on 9/11 was intended to bring about a traumatic experience. Any other terrorist would have gone about his work much more efficiently - he wouldn't have flown over a nuclear reactor, but instead right on top of it. He wouldn't have veered his airplane away from the section of the Pentagon where the leadership was situated and then go around and crash into a part that was unoccupied due to recent renovations. It wouldn't have taken much of a terrorist to take the laws of nature into account and topple the three WTC towers onto the surrounding area in highly concentrated Manhattan for greater effect, instead of arranging a complicated controlled demolition of the buildings directly into their own footprint. Instead of attacking a city's subway system with a 'dirty bomb' for example, the terrorists gave the biggest kid on the block a mere slap in the face - neither astute nor logical. Unless of course the attacks were made for TV and designed only to achieve maximum effect. This effect has also had its influence on the media. So while we have 'appointed' the media to go out and uncover the truth that is kept hidden by influential interests, this same media has positioned itself squarely behind those interests and has thereby neglected its duty, and worse yet, it has done damage to the truth. With the possibilities that the internet offers to a curious public, that public has gone past the Old Media. It will take some time for the street cleaner to cross over the center line. It will do that on it's own, don't sit around waiting for it. In the meantime stay curious, and stay informed.
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