By Aaron Salazar
It is imperative to examine the press coverage of the September 11 attacks because they are the most current examples of the government’s power to abuse the public, and their employment of the media to escalate the budgets of the military.
Like when Hitler intentionally burned down his parliament, and blamed it on his enemies to have them exterminated, and yield public support for legislation to further his power, the United States government allowed and assisted in the attacks of September 11. I’ve seen the movies and websites that critically investigate the events, and pry open the contradictory crevasses of the “official” report. There are so many holes in the government’s explanation it is infuriating. What’s worse is the government refuses to answer questions from first-hand witnesses, whose stories tell something completely different. This is the most flagrant display of wickedness I’ve been alive during. The most frustrating part of it is that the press repeats its hegemonic course or coverage. The government’s explanation and interpretation of the attacks are what are solidified into the minds of the people through television, and the timid press is bullied into complying with the president and defense department, or else be casted as unpatriotic and conspirator theorists. The essence of this event exposes the press as again acting as war crier and war arbiter.
The cover on The New York Times’ September 12, 2001 edition is a troubling sight and brutal reminder. Across the top, just beneath the paper’s name, big, bold letters proclaim “U.S. Attacked.” Beneath that another headlines cries “Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon in Day of Terror.” This article goes on to display the scene of that morning. The author, N.R. Kleinfield, flexes of capacity of hyperbole, and digs deep into his bag of diction and wrenches out words like “inexpressible, incomprehensible, and unthinkable” to describe the scene. The rest of the articles on the front cover are basically expressions of confusion.
Another top-page article is titled “President Vows to Exact Punishment for Evil.” Even though the title sounds like the president has a good idea of the perpetrators, the article articulates the opposite. After a brief summary of the disaster and a stream of abject adjectives, R.W. Apple writes, “…security officials earnestly debate the possibility of a congressional declaration of war—but against precisely whom…?” It’s like The Times is just waiting for the government to explain what happened and why, without initiating independent investigation or postulating alternative reasons. Even in times of national disarray, the press is to be a governmental watchdog, not an insipid lapdog constantly seeking approval from a master.
I still shutter when imagining the horror on 9/11. The papers did substantially well in depicting a “hellish” scene. Reporters’ jobs are not to just write elegantly about a horrific event though. Their job is to pry, and risk being labeled unpatriotic in the pursuit of truth. Look at what the poor questioning of 9/11 has led to: an unfounded, murderous occupation of Iraq.