Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later...

Both CNN and Foxnews were running all-day streaming video of their 9/11 coverage, as it unfolded. I chose to watch the Foxnews broadcast because, among other reasons, it was what I watched when it actually happened five years ago. I caught about an hour of the broadcast this morning, immediately after the first plane hit, up until the time when the first tower collapsed. I took a few notes that struck me as interesting from an after-the-fact perspective:

  • ~9:20 am: FNC interviews a man who claims to have seen a plane "without windows" from a ground-eye-view. I think this is what spawned a number of conspiracy theories. The planes that hit the WTC towers were both Boeing 767s, and from looking at some Google images of such planes, I can easily see how such tiny windows, given their position on the plane, would be invisible to a ground observer. At the time, the commentator speculated that perhaps then it was a freight plane that had been hijacked.
  • 9:33 am: OBL has already been indicated as a prime suspect, less than an hour after the events have transpired.
  • 9:36 am: Talking over the phone, John Fund, who was very near the WTC towers at the time, described the sound from the impacts as "sonic booms". I only comment on this because it shows a gross lack of understanding about what a "sonic boom" actually is. Never trust a journalist to even have the remotest understanding of any scientific concept.
  • 9:43 am: The pentagon is reported as having been hit. It is interesting to note how quick the reporters are to pick up on the "WTC towers == financial symbol, Pentagon == military symbol" aspect of the attacks.
  • 9:50 am: speculation by FNC commentators that the pentagon plane was shot down before it ever reached the pentagon, based solely on poor footage of the smoke. It is rash, uninformed speculation like that that has spawned the vast majority of the conspiracy theories, I think.
  • 9:53 am: "They have not struck at America, but at individual places in America". FNC news caster attempts gravitas, falls flat.
  • 9:58 am: The first tower collapse occurs. The anchors were too busy talking with some guy on the scene at the pentagon to notice for a full minute, while us viewers watch the freakin' tower collapse on the screen! They describe it as "the tower is beginning to crumble", rather than the complete collapse that it actually was.
  • 10:02 am: some FNC fellow named David (Marshall, perhaps -- I forgot the last name before I could write it down) who had been on the scene at the time of the attack mentions that there is already talk "on the street" of a "third attack" that brought down the first tower. This seems to be based on the notion that there was a lot of noise as the tower collapsed. Because, you know, collapsing towers tend to be... silent?
  • 10:08 am: Intrepid FNC reporter Rick Leventhal (sp?) is harassing interviewing those soot-covered individuals fleeing the dust/ash cloud. He gets one man's attention, who mentions that he was on "the lower east side" when the attacks happened. Mr. Leventhal then inquires "You came here to check it out?" The man replies: "No, to see if I could help!" This once again proves that reporters are insensitive jackasses. Interestingly, it is only after this rebuke that Mr. Leventhal points out a clearly injured man to EMTs for help.
I stopped watching at this point because somebody came into my office to talk to me, but I think that was enough. It was not cathartic to watch, but it certainly sparked some additional anger to watch again, and reminded me (as if I needed reminding) why we fight. It is also interesting to note a number of common threads: first, how quickly people attempt to "explain" what has happened based on little or no information. This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I actually tend to be a very intuitive person when it comes to finding explanations for events, but this is always based on an examination of evidence. I will never seriously suggest an explanation or solution to a problem when I know I have insufficient information. Many, many people lack the ability to even know when they have insufficient information, and it aggravates me to no end.

Second, it was interesting to notice how certain off-the-cuff remarks in the immediate aftermath spawned ridiculous conspiracy theories in the years to come.

Finally, reporters are jackasses. If you see someone in trouble, and your first reaction is to "keep the cameras rolling" while you stand there and comment, rather than rush to aid that person, you are a vile human being. You are also probably a reporter. This was evident on 9/11, and this was evident in the Katrina aftermath.

I'll close by linking the two most interesting comments I have read today: first by Peggy Noonan (via Mazurland), and second by Steven den Beste (via Instapundit).



Anonymous Chris said...

Of course, I agree with your post 100%.

The other person who "gets" the importance of the battle we are in is Mark Steyn:

"Five years on, half America has retreated to the laziest old tropes, filtering the new struggle through the most drearily cobwebbed prisms: All dramatic national events are JFK-type conspiracies, all wars are Vietnam quagmires. Meanwhile, Ramzi Yousef's successors make their ambitions as plain as he did: They want to acquire nuclear technology in order to kill even more of us. And, given that free societies tend naturally toward a Katrina mentality of doing nothing until it happens, one morning we will wake up to another day like the "day that changed everything." Sept. 11 was less "a failure of imagination" than an ability to see that America's enemies were hiding in plain sight.

They still are."

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Marty said...

Thanks for the plug, Ben. Great post.

9:29 AM  

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