Part II: A Survey of Attitude Change in 2009-2010
Monday, February 15th, 2010
In the past year, in response to emerging independent science on the 9/11 attacks, nine corporate, seven public, and two independent media outlets aired analytic programs investigating the official account.
Increasingly, the issue is treated as a scientific controversy worthy of debate, rather than as a “conspiracy theory” ignoring science and common sense.
This essay presents these media analyses in the form of 18 case studies.
Eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.
This more open approach taken in the international media – I could also have included the Japanese media – might be a sign that worldwide public and corporate media organizations are positioning themselves, and preparing their audiences, for a possible revelation of the truth of the claim that forces within the US government were complicit in the attacks – a revelation that would call into question the publicly given rationale for the military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The evidence now being explored in the international media may pave the way for the US media to take an in-depth look at the implications of what is now known about 9/11, and to re-examine the country’s foreign and domestic policies in the light of this knowledge.
Until 2009, doubts about the official 9/11 story were briefly entertained by the mainstream media on each anniversary of the event, allowing the independent research community only a fleeting moment once a year to publicly voice its findings.
But after crucial scientific evidence emerged in April 2009 to challenge the official story of how the towers fell, a spate of European media reports followed. The news coverage of this evidence seems to have opened the door to more serious reflection on all aspects of the 9/11 issue in the major media.
The first paper in my series, “The Media Response to 9/11,” dealt with the New Statesman’s grudging recognition of Dr. David Ray Griffin, the world’s “top truther” (as it dubbed him), placing him number 41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.”1 Since this admission in September 2009, the issue has gathered increasing momentum.
The collective content issuing from this new momentum is presented here in the hope that it will embolden other major media to take up the pivotal controversy concerning 9/11, and pursuing the truth wherever it may lead.
Observations on the Analysis
While carrying out my analysis, I observed five new features in the media treatment of the 9/11 issue that developed as 2009 progressed. They are listed here, so that readers might look for them in the case studies that follow below:
1. The 9/11 issue is increasingly framed not as conspiracy theories versus hard science, but as a legitimate controversy resting on unanswered questions and a search for truth.
2. News reports and television programs examining these controversies have become longer and more balanced.
3. Major media outlets have begun to present the claims of the truth movement first, followed by counter-arguments from defenders of the official story.
4. Major media outlets have begun to include, and even to introduce, extensive evidence to support the claims of the 9/11 truth community.
5. The media treatments increasingly suggest the possibility of a re-investigation into the events of September 11, 2001.
The first part of this essay deals with the crucial scientific evidence that emerged in early 2009, the significance of this evidence in relation to the official story of 9/11, and the immediate news coverage it received.
II. Scientific Paper Finds Nano-thermite Explosives in World Trade Center Dust, April 3, 2009
A peer-reviewed paper published in the Open Chemical Physics Journal on April 3, 2009,2 reported that a little known high-tech explosive called nano-thermite was found throughout the World Trade Center dust.
These physicists and chemists involved in this study discovered “distinctive red/gray chips in significant numbers”3 in four samples of dust collected from the area. The presence of aluminum and iron oxide in the red material provided one of the signs that it might be nano-thermite, which is a high explosive (whereas ordinary thermite is an incendiary.)
Another clue was provided when putting a flame to the chips produced an explosive reaction.
On the basis of these and other observations, the team concluded that “the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.”4
The article’s first-named author, Dr. Niels Harrit – a University of Copenhagen chemistry professor who specializes in nano-chemistry5 –explained on Danish TV2 News:
“Thermite itself dates back to 1893. It is a mixture of aluminum and rust-powder, which react to create intense heat. The reaction produces iron, heated to 2500 degrees Centigrade. This can be used to do welding. It can also be used to melt other iron.
“So in nano-thermite, this powder from 1893 is reduced to tiny particles, perfectly mixed. When these react, the intense heat develops much more quickly. Nano-thermite can be mixed with additives to give off intense heat, or serve as a very effective explosive. It contains more energy than dynamite, and can be used as rocket fuel.
“You cannot fudge this kind of science. We have found it: unreacted thermite.”6
What was the significance of this sophisticated material?
Reported Evidence that Nano-thermite is a Military Substance
In a German interview in May 2009, Dr. Harrit said: “There are no experts on nano-thermite without connections to the military…. This stuff has only been prepared under military contracts in the USA and probably in bigger allied countries. This is secret military research…It was not prepared in a cave in Afghanistan.”7
Chemist Kevin Ryan, another co-author, had reported in an earlier article that explosive nano-thermite, which may be painted onto surfaces, was developed by US government scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.8
A United States Department of Defense special publication confirms that work on these “energetic materials” has long been “performed in laboratories within all military services.”9
According to a June 2009 statement by Britain’s prestigious Institute of Nanotechnology,10 the Harrit study “provides indisputable evidence that a highly engineered explosive called nano-thermite was found in the dust of all three buildings that came down on 9/11 2001 in New York city. [sic] This advanced explosive incorporating nanotechnology is only available to sophisticated military labs.”11
It thus became known by mid-2009 that explosives of military origin, probably in the United States, had been involved in the World Trade Center collapses.
Early Coverage of the Nano-thermite Finding in the European Mainstream Press
Although the new scientific evidence against the official story of 9/11 was not reported in the mainstream British or North American media, it did receive attention in continental Europe.
The day the article was published, a thorough essay in the Danish journal Videnskab (Science) examined both sides of the controversy about controlled demolition.12
The same issue of Videnskab also carried an interview with Professor Harrit, who answered pointed questions about the peer-review history of the article, and the military nature of nano-thermite.13
The following day, Denmark’s politiken.dk reported the scientific nano-thermite paper in an article called (in Danish) “Conspiracy theories about 9/11 get new life.”14
Then, the day after Professor Harrit’s April 6 interview Danish TV2 News, he was featured on the popular talk show, “Good Morning Denmark”, on which he said:
“The material we found is super hi-tech frontline military research. It’s not a mixture of random chemicals. It’s an advanced material which is difficult to get information on. But some conference papers and internal reports have been published…There has to be a normal forensic investigation of this attempt. Our research is high-level forensic work. We have provided technical evidence that can be used in the future investigation.”15
On April 13, an online Croatian political newspaper posted the Danish TV2 video interview with Harrit along with an article titled “VIDEO: 9/11 No Longer Taboo Topic in Denmark”.16
Russia also took notice. On July 9, Laura Emmett, the London correspondent for RT, interviewed Dr. Niels Harrit for over 10 minutes. (RT, previously known as Russia Today, is a globally broadcast English-language channel sponsored by the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. It reaches 1.5 million people monthly, including half a million Americans.) Stating that “the evidence for controlled demolition is overwhelming”, Harrit reported that the nano-thermite reaction produced pools of molten iron beneath the rubble and inextinguishable fires that lasted for months.17
I turn now to ways that the mainstream news coverage of the case against the official story has changed since the appearance of the nano-thermite paper.
III. The Changing Mainstream Media Treatment of 9/11 Evidence from early 2009 to early 2010: 18 Case Studies
Two February 2009 news items illustrate the wary mainstream attitude towards conspiracy theorists early in the year. A New York Times article said about actor Daniel Sunjata:
The second episode of “Rescue Me’s” fifth season, starting in April, may represent the first fictional presentation of 9/11 conspiracy theories by a mainstream media company…Mr. Sunjata’s character delivers a two-minute monologue…describing a “neoconservative government effort” to control the world’s oil, drastically increase military spending and “change the definition of pre-emptive attack.”
Mr. Sunjata surprised some of the TV reporters when he said that he “absolutely, 100 percent” supports the assertion that “9/11 was an inside job.”18
Fox News was somewhat less constrained, saying:
An upcoming episode of the drama “Rescue Me” is about 9/11 being an inside job. The actor who spews the theories on camera, Daniel Sunjata, actually believes in it too.
Look, the fact is, actors who barf this crap are doing it for their own egos. It makes them feel smart, because for once they’re spouting something provocative instead of puerile. Never mind that it’s an insidious insult to the victims of 9/11 – as it is to the rest of us, who may or may not be guilty, according to Sunjata’s theory.19
However, things started to change after the appearance of the nano-thermite paper on April 3, as may be seen from the following case studies of media reports, each of which is identified as having corporate, public, or independent ownership.
The case studies reveal the evidence which has been introduced into public consciousness during the past year.
Case Study 1: The Dutch TV Mock Trial of Osama bin Laden, April 25, 2009
On April 8, 2009, a popular TV program called “Devil’s Advocate” held a mock trial of Osama bin Laden with lawyers arguing before a politically balanced civil jury of five people.
The case against bin Laden was argued by two real-world opponents: former American correspondent Charles Groenhuijsen, and Dutch-American Glenn Schoen of a US security firm. Real-world lawyer Gerald Spong acted as bin Laden’s defense attorney.20
Spong presented new evidence from a videotape of Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies Gernot Rotter, saying that the American translators who transcribed the bin Laden tapes of the November 9, 2001 “confession video” have “clearly added things in many places – things that are not there even when listening multiple times.”21
Spong won. Although the jury found bin Laden to be a terrorist, it said there was no proof that he had ordered the 9/11 attacks.
Through this method, this program on AVRO – the Dutch public broadcasting organization – presented evidence, not previously seen in the major media, against the likelihood that bin Laden ordered the attacks.
On April 15, Fox News reported the Dutch jury findings in a long and unusually balanced article, in which former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted six times, saying that bin Laden’s exoneration sent a “disturbing message” to the world and fueled conspiracy theories. Giuliani variously called this message “bizarre,” “dangerous,” “aberrational,” “irrational,” and “unfortunate.”22
However, referring to Spong as a “well-known yet controversial attorney,” Fox mentioned him 10 times, and more substantively, reporting his evidence that the bin Laden videos seemed inauthentic, as well as his point that the FBI has not indicted bin Laden for the attacks.
Concluding Comment: (AVRO is publicly owned, but Fox News is corporate.) Neither of these two mainstream treatments of doubts about the official story was broadcast on the customary anniversary date, and both reached millions of people.
Case Study 2: Architect Richard Gage in Canada’s “Financial Post”, April 25, 2009
One of Canada’s top four English-language newspapers, the conservative National Post, publishes its business section as the Financial Post.
Three weeks after the nano-thermite story broke, Jonathan Kay, a National Post columnist and editor with degrees in both engineering and law, wrote an article about Richard Gage, the “lucid” San Francisco architect who heads up the 1,000-strong “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.”23
Kay, who himself endorses the official story of 9/11, described Gage as a “respectable-looking middle-aged” architect, “complete with suit and tie, and receding hairline,” and reported that Gage’s organization “scored a booth at the upcoming American Institute of Architects conference from April 30 to May 2.”
In the midst of references to thermite reactions and iron-oxide-based explosives, Kay wrote of controlled demolitions:
“As radical as Gage’s theory may sound to readers, it’s surprisingly popular. The ‘9/11 Truth Movement’…has millions of adherents across the world. Many believe that the World Trade Center was destroyed on Sept. 11 through controlled demolition set in motion by officials within America’s own government and military.”
Gage’s presentation was also described as “effective”:
“In one particularly effective segment, he puts up shots of the localized fires that broke out in the lower floors of WTC Building 7 hours before it collapsed. Seconds later, he shows footage of Beijing’s Mandarin Oriental hotel – which suffered an epic top-to-bottom conflagration in 2009…and remained standing.”
Concluding Comment: (Corporate). Besides reporting Gage’s evidence without any attempted refutation, this corporate-press writer remarked that “no major media outlet has done a truly comprehensive profile or investigation of the Truther movement.” He thereby seemed to be suggesting that it is now time to take the 9/11 truth movement seriously.
Case Study 3: Norwegian State Radio’s Public Debate on 9/11 Truth, May 21, 2009
Professor Harrit, who was lecturing in Norway in late May 2009, was interviewed by public radio program “Here and Now”,24 on NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).
Harrit presented the findings of the nano-thermite paper, which were then discussed by three Norwegian scientists who did not support his conclusions.
Following the radio program, an extended email debate continued between Dr. Ola Nilsen, who teaches chemistry at the University of Oslo, and Dr. Steven Jones, a co-author of the nano-thermite paper who formerly taught physics at Brigham Young University. This debate, during which Nilsen somewhat modified his original view, was posted to a Norwegian blogsite in English.25
Concluding Comment: (Public). Although NRK in this April program challenged the findings of the Harrit paper, this was to change by late summer, as we shall see below.
Case Study 4: Architect Richard Gage on Fox News, May 28, 2009
The hosts of Fox News on KMPH in Fresno, California, began their 7-minute interview by saying, “He’s an architect experienced in steel structures. Now Richard Gage is…here to show us why he’s calling for a more thorough investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.”26
These two anchors actively encouraged Gage’s discussion of the ten key features of controlled demolition. He was allowed to explain the free-fall acceleration of WTC 7 (shown on his two video frames as dropping at the same rate as a second building felled by controlled demolition) and the “uncanny” failure of 40,000 tons of structural steel columns that were designed to resist its collapse.
Although normal office fires were said to have caused the collapses, he explained, various firefighters had reported large pools of molten iron at ground level.
“What produced all that molten iron?” he asked.
The answer, he said, was found in the inches of dust covering lower Manhattan. “The by-product of thermite is molten iron and it’s dispersed throughout all this dust…and there are small chips of unignited thermite as well. This is very high-tech thermite – nano-thermite. It’s not found in a cave in Afghanistan; it’s produced in very sophisticated defense department contracting laboratories…[its] particles are one-thousand times smaller than a human hair.”
Asked whether bin Laden might have had access to the buildings, Gage said probably not – that someone else who had access to nano-thermite, and to the buildings’ security systems, would need to be investigated. Someone who had access to the elevator modernization, which was going on nine months earlier and was “immediately adjacent to the core columns and beams in the building.”
Concluding Comment: (Corporate). This Fox News show began by asking Gage about his credentials, saying “We ask that for clarification so that as we get into this, we want people to make sure that you’re not just someone with a wacky idea…you come with some science to you.” The program ended with a sincere thank-you to Gage for “opening up a lot to think about,” and an announcement that there is “a great deal of information” on the KMPH.com website. In short, Gage was treated with the respect due to any serious participant in an important and controversial issue.
The next major mainstream event was the Russia Today program of July 9, 2009, which was covered above, so we will move directly to the anniversary period of September 2009, when further evidence of the impact of the nano-thermite discovery became apparent.
Case Study 5: The National Geographic Documentary, “9/11: Science and Conspiracy”, August 31, 2009
In late August, 2009, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) aired a two-hour documentary, “9/11: Science and Conspiracy,” which sought to answer several questions, “What caused the collapse of the Twin Towers? Was it from the fires, or were explosives placed inside the buildings, causing them to implode? Did a missile, rather than a commercial airline jet, strike the Pentagon?”27
This “NatGeo” program purported to explore evidence about controlled demolition presented by the 9/11 truth movment. It interviewed Dylan Avery (the maker of the “Loose Change” films), Richard Gage, David Ray Griffin, and Steven Jones. But in reality this NatGeo program was entirely devoted to debunking their claims by using pseudo-scientific demonstrations to refute claims that none of these men have made.
For example, in order to refute the claim that nano-thermite could have brought down the buildings, NatGeo used ordinary thermite (with the narrator explaining that they had no access to nano-thermite). Moreover, instead of using the thermite to make shaped charges, which can cut through steel, the NatGeo experimenter simply placed a bag of thermite next to a steel column and lit it. When the burning thermite (entirely predictably) did not melt the column, the narrator concluded, triumphantly, that science had disproved the claim of the conspiracy theorists.
A review in Media Life Magazine, while not fully exposing the phoniness of the program’s claim to represent “science,” did point out some shortcomings, saying:
Some of the issues raised by the truthers, however, aren’t addressed, or are addressed in brief asides. This leaves this documentary open to charges of picking and choosing which points to cover. “9/11: Science and Conspiracy” spends too much time discussing the psychology behind conspiracy theories – which isn’t really a hard science.28
A review in the New York Post quoted Sander Hicks, a journalist who is openly a member of the 9/11 truth community, as saying that its representatives on the program “come off as careful and professional, unemotional, but compassionate about the truth,” and that the program, in spite of its faults, shows “that the topic is still relevant and that the case isn’t closed.”29
Concluding Comment: (Corporate). This program by National Geographic provides a good reminder of how the 9/11 truth issue has generally been handled by the corporately-controlled media. But it also demonstrates the fact that the controversy is very much alive in the major media.
This article was posted: Monday, February 15, 2010 at 11:39 am