Friday, May 8, 2009

Press Lets 9/11 Confusion Prevail

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.


  1. Wow, this ties in with my blog about undeveloped technologies rushed to the consumer...Buyer beware! You show a real gift for finding the lighter side of a grim situation with your critique of the reporters' vocabulary... Two thumbs up!

  2. I would have like to know more about your theory of what happened during 9/11. I think you made an interesting point in the last paragraph of you paper. "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."

    I totally agree. This reminds of a story I read by a former New York Times columnist, who wanted to write about Al Qaeda after 9/11 occured but his editor preferred to focus on the firefighters on the ground because that had more of human appeal, meaning it would sell.

    In 2004, The Midwest Political Science Association looked at the New York Times coverage of Bushes' speeches ,and found them to be largery uncritical. They blame the New York Times on the popularity of the Iraq war.

    Here's the summary:
    "More than 70 percent of Americans supported the recent war with
    Iraq. According to most theories of public opinion, support for this
    war should have been extremely low, yet support was very high. We
    suggest that the reason for such high levels of support was that the
    Bush administration successfully convinced the American public that a
    link existed between Saddam Hussein and terrorism generally, and
    between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda specifically. We suggest that
    framing the war on Iraq in this way made this war intimately connected
    with September 11th in the eyes of the American people, leading to
    levels of support for this war that stretched nearly as high as the
    levels of support for the war in Afghanistan. To investigate the way in
    which the Bush administration framed the war, we undertake a content
    analysis of George W. Bush’s speeches from September 11, 2001, to May
    1, 2003. We find that from September 12, 2002, to May 2003, the
    subjects of terrorism and Iraq were intertwined on a regular basis.
    Thus we find the administration consistently connecting the Iraq War
    with terror, terrorism, 9/11, and al Qaeda.
    In order to accept this “Iraq as War on Terror” frame as legitimate,
    the American people had to hear it, understand it, and be faced with no
    other convincing frames. To evaluate the information flow during the
    months preceding the Iraq War, we analyzed New York Times coverage of
    major Bush speeches from September 11, 2002 to May 1, 2003 for the two
    days following each of the speeches analyzed. We expected news coverage
    of the Bush speeches to be negative, and thus provide an alternative
    frame. We find that almost no debate occurred within the Times’ news
    coverage over the framing of the conflict in terms of terrorism, making
    the “Iraq as War on Terror” frame by far the most important influence
    on public attitudes."

  3. Interesting post, but I think it would have been helpful if you had backed up what you said about who was really behind the 9/11 attacks with more sources. I just don't think you can make a statement like "the United States government allowed and assisted in the attacks of September 11" without providing any evidence to back this up.

    I agree though that the media has an important responsibility to uncover the truth and to question the government which they largely failed to do after 9/11.

  4. I totally agree with what you say about how it should be the duty of a reporter to pry open the "real" story. I think that if some reporters were not afraid to be black-listed for possible things they write, the public would get more real information. I wonder though if the reporters deserve that kind of pressure from the public to be that honest. I guess it is the job they signed up to do thought. Great post!

  5. I realize you are very passionate about the topic. Last year I was exposed to two documentaries that provided enough information to prove that "the United States government allowed and assisted in the attacks of September 11." In class, Professor Wagner said she did not believe such conspiracies. So I ask, how do you explain one of the buildings collapsing when it had not been hit? Regarding the twin towers, physcists said the jets' impact should not have caused the towers to collase. In other words, I too believe the US government was involved in the events of 9/11.

    You wrote: "Even in times of national disarray, the press is to be a governmental watchdog, not an insipid lapdog constantly seeking approval from a master." As I mentioned earlier, I understand your passion. However, the problem I see is that you, like many other Americans, dismiss the fact that the media is composed of people. People with the potential to love, fear, doubt, and believe. I don't believe the press is perfect or free from the responsability to report accurately and objectively. But, when all you see are people jumping off buildings and all you hear are sirens and people screaming; at that moment in time, R.N. Kleinfield's diction: “inexpressible, incomprehensible, and unthinkable," seem appropriate. We shouldn't ignore the fact that the media is just as vulnerable as any other member of society during a time of "disarray." Our humanity also allows us to be mindful, aware, and curious. As a result of these elements, months, maybe years later, reporters, scientists, and many other Americans dettached-emotionally- from the scenes of people jumping off the buildings and towers collapsing to engage in discourse that questioned our own government: An entity that is supposed to protect its nation from "the enemy."

    Wars will continue and it's only going to take time for reporters to disclose the truth. Reporters can only work with the information they are given and can't always ignore the overpowering mental block that develops during a moment of "disarray."