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BUSH & THE MEDIA COVERAGE OF 9/11

INTRODUCTION

The attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon on 9/11 were symbolic targets, representing global capital and American military power, yet had material effects, disrupting the airline industry, the businesses centered in downtown New York, and the global economy itself through the closure of the U.S. and other stock markets, apart from the deaths of over 3000 people. Thus, 9/11 constituted an enormous media event, round-the-clock news and a worldwide debate through the Internet. 9/11 and post-9/11 period has brought with it significant changes in the public discourse related to media and its coverage of crisis information. Fairness, balance, neutrality and detachment are the core basics of journalists. But their watchdog function became ideological, objective journalism nearly impossible. American media was attacked due to presenting and maintaining false, unconfirmed or subjective information that fostered beliefs and further led to misperceptions among the American public and the world. The media showed sensationalism, patriotism and a narrow ideological spectrum of the context of the attacks. It was a time for rallying around the flag, while those who questioned national policy were said to comfort the enemy, especially for journalists. Americas previous role in the Middle East or other false flag operations was unworthy of coverage or consideration. Instead, the media helped to shape and manufacture a collective we, with the U.S. being the good and anti-American policy individuals evil. Due to this narrowness, the presence and importance of the Internet rose, since other countries strongly debated the presented truth(s), which caused many conspiracy theories such as the involvement of the US government in the attacks on its own people.

INCIDENTS 9/11

8:46:30 Flight 11 crashed into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. 2mins later, the first TV report about black smoke coming from the North Tower (caused by an airplane or sth. internal) was broadcasted in NY. a true nonstop coverage The CNN screen subtitle read "World Trade Center disaster." Carol Lin was about to become the first TV network anchor to break the news of the attack. The first email bulletins from CNN and MSNBC reported "fire at tower of World Trade Center". BBC News showed a picture of the North Tower on fire. 5 mins after the crash, Howard Stern reported on his radio show that it was clearly a terrorist attack. Within 30mins of the first impact Bin Laden was linked to the attack. 8:55 Bush, at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida as part of promoting education, learnt from the presidential advisor Andrew Card

that a plane crashed into the WTC, though National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who was at the WH, had no info. 9:03: Flight 175 crashed into South Tower of the WTC, between floors 77-85. By this time, several media organizations, including The Big Three (networks ABC, CBS, NBC, who have dominated US TV since the 1950s and had interrupted their morning shows), were covering the 1st plane crashmillions, also internationally (BBC+ CNN), saw the impact live. As instant replays of the 2nd plane crash were shown; the anchors started speculating on whether they are witnessing a terrorist attack or some sort of very rare accident. 9:03: Andrew Card whispered to President Bush that a second plane had hit the second tower: America is under attack.", but Bush decided to continue reading The Pet Goat.
Since no comments or statements by the government had been made, media began investigating on its own and reported whatever information they received: NBC reported statements from United Airlines that an aircraft had been hijacked. Some minutes later

9:17:02: CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart mentioned that in the intelligence community, Osama bin Laden was a probable suspect (without any further information). Associated Press informed CNN that the attacks appeared to be an "act of terrorism". Only at 9:29 President Bush then made his first public statements: he would be going back to Washington and that "we've had a national tragedy". 9:37:46: Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. 9:39: Fox News Channel, NBC and MSNBC reported an explosion at the Pentagon. CNN's Breaking News bulletin read "Reports of fire at Pentagon." Some minutes later, CNN received reports that there was a fire at the National Mall, which were later proven false. 9:59:01: The South Tower of the WTC began to collapse, viewed and heard by TV and radio audience. On ABC, Good Morning America correspondent Don Dahler, reported to Peter Jennings that he had witnessed the tower collapse. 10:03:11: Flight 93 was crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The 9/11 Commission later reported that its target was either the Capitol or the White House. 10:05 10:15: Andrea Mitchell reported from outside the Pentagon that bin Laden may have been involved in the attacks. 10:28:31: The North Tower of the World Trade Center began to collapse. It was also viewed live on television and heard on radio. NBC News, AP and CNN meanwhile confirmed that a plane had "gone down" in Somerset County. CNN reported an evacuation of Washington and New York had been started, but New York mayor Rudy Giuliani ordered an evacuation of Lower Manhattan minutes after. Fox News Channel then implemented for the first time a news ticker at the bottom of its screen about the attacks. CNN and MSNBC added one later.

After all what had happened, the Bush Administration came with official comments:
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12:39: On CNN, Senator John McCain characterized attack as an "act of war." Senator Hatch told CNN the FBI believed that this was Bin Laden's signature." 1:04: Bush put the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He stated that "freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended." "United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." Around 4 pm many national news outlets had already reported that officials of the intelligence community named bin Laden as suspect number one. But there was no further information on the WHY and HOW, or bin Ladens own US history, nor was there a previous investigation of the media whether this story was believable. When at 5:20: Building 7, known as the Salomon Bros. Building, collapsed and at
6:00 Explosions were reported in Kabul, Afghanistan, by CNN and the BBC, the whole story-telling around the question Who hates us some much? paved the way for future media and public ensnarements. The Northern Alliance, involved in a civil war with the Taliban government, was later reported to have attacked Kabul's airport with helicopter gunships. But the Media had immediately linked the incidents with those in the US. Later, the U.S. Government denied any responsibility for the explosions.

Only at 8:30: Bush addressed the nation from the White House: "Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts," "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve," and "The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts...we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." As Bush spoke, members of Congress told CNN the administration had enough evidence that the attacks were the work of bin Laden and his alQaeda terrorists.

MEDIA AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE IN THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

- The U.S. media is known as the Fourth Estate, which means the press shares equal stature with the other branches of government created by the Constitution. - It plays a vital role as a guardian, a so-called watch dog of U.S. democracy, and is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with no stipulating of the freedom of the press and thereby enabling citizens to make up their national mind. - But economics plays a major role in shaping the information served up to the U.S. public. - Most of the public's primary sources of information -major urban newspapers, the weekly news magazines, and the broadcast and cable networks -- are in business to make money. - Media and communications, with revenues of over $242 billion, are one of America's largest business groups. Media affect the social understanding of crimes and wars. They influence the public opinion and thereby policy to manage the risks by directing audience attention to the particular issues that they emphasize. START In the first hours and days following, the media only repeated obsessively the imagery of United Flight 175 striking the South Tower on TV and on front
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page graphics of newspapers, but the context was conspicuously poorly developed. Imagery repetition increased this highly traumatic event and conveyed the message that the U.S. was vulnerable to terror attack, that terrorists could create great harm to anyone at any time. Thus, the nation was traumatized with fear, and the various iconic and unforgettable images of destruction portrayed it. The 9/11 terror attacks were claimed to be the most documented event in history. It took over TV programming for the next three days without commercial break as the major television networks focused on the attack and its aftermath, and continuously echoed the words of President Bush and his administration. Bush merged the great nation, resolve, faith, justice and love in his talks to appeal to common values and to unite the nation. His use of We, I, and you served as rhetorical devices to bind himself with the country. The most used word was evil, using it five times in his first statement on 9/11, and repeatedly portraying the conflict as a war between good and evil in which the U.S. was going to eradicate evil from the world, to smoke out and pursueevil doers, those barbaric people. The Bush administration also used cowboy metaphors, calling for bin Laden dead or alive, and described the campaign as a crusade. Such hyperbolic rhetoric is a salient example of Bushspeak that communicates through codes to specific audiences, in this case domestic Christian rightwing groups. Bush never mentioned democracy, nor did mainstream media. AFTER 9/11 - front pages of print media portrayed the burning/collapsing towers with headlines such as Act of war (USA Today) America under attack (The Town-Talk) Unyielding anger President Bush says America will not falter in face of horrific terrorist assault (The Post-Crescent) Horror Bush: Freedom itself has been attacked (Asbury Park Press) Day of Evil, night of resolve Bush: Freedom will be defended (Citizen-Times) America aches Bush vows to find terrorists (Enquirer) Thousands die in a day of terror Today, our nation saw evil President Bush (Press & Sun-Bulletin). Evidence links bin Laden to attack (Burlington Press) - The media coverage of these attacks has been disproportionately focused on violence; creative of misperceptions of ones true risk of becoming a victim of terrorism; ignorant of key facts and issues about the causes and effects of terrorism; neglectful and failing to provide context for the attacks; and creative of much fear and anxiety. This major criticism attacked the media integrity, which was absent in the reports. There was neither a critical voice from the state-run media, nor did the media follow its principal rules of journalism. Basic journalism must answer Who, What, Where, Why and sometimes How, but in accordance to

9/11 mainstream media only showed how defective it was by deceptively withholding the Why-question and answer. What was left out was any type of context for how rare these attacks were, where they came from, why they were initiated, the role the United States itself play in the motivations, international reactions, appropriate or inappropriate responses from Congress and the President of the United States, or any information on what normal, everyday Americans should do in the wake of such events. The media chose not to present contextual and background information about the Middle East and especially Iraq because it was not consistent with other news themes, nor was it as entertaining. The dominant story since the attacks of 9/11 was the war on terrorism. Since it was announced that 15 of the 19 attackers were Arabian and belonged to the Taliban, the Media with its reports supported the coming Islamophobia, nationalism and jingoism. It deliberately challenged the governments idea of revenge and brought it to the US public. It is further said that the post-9/11 crusade made vengeance and Islamophobia possible, because the Bush Administration needed the strong support of the Media and thus the public for the desired wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while claiming that this must happen to save America. Threats to invade other countries (the axis of evil) that included Iraq were part of an effort to defend the United States from future attacks. But reports on the true geopolitical background of the attackers were mainly missing or absent at all.
DISBELIEF & THE MEDIA AMERICAN FIRST, JOURNALIST SECOND

For several days, US TV suspended broadcasting of advertising and TV entertainment and largely circulated war fever and discourses that called for and supported a form of military intervention, although the media in a democracy should critically debate urgent questions facing the nation. But 9/11 and professional journalism, and the most crucial parts of the First Amendment of the American Constitution, became conflicting for American (vs.) journalists. After September 11, the networks rather played show after show detailing the harm done to victims of the bombing, kept their cameras aimed at Ground Zero to document the destruction and drama of discovery of dead bodies, and constructed report after report on the evil of bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorists. Some TV personalities, like Jon Steward from The Daily Show cried on TV, others like anchor Dan Rather explained to Letterman that the attackers were evil and that they were jealous of Americans. George Bush is the President, he makes the decisionshe wants me to stand in line, just tell me where. Again, other TV personalities did not agree that easily to Bushs fight. The media following the 9/11 attacks as an arm of the government, as opposed to an independent, objective purveyor of information. Major
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network television journalists, wearing American flag pins, occasionally crying on camera, and offering constant moral support to an expanding network audience, offered very little perspective and understanding of the 9/11 events, seldom asking the most basic questions of administration officials. Instead, media maintained Bushspeak: rightwing columnist Ann Coulter claimed: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." And rightwing radio and the Internet talked of dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan, exterminating all Moslems. This extreme patriotism and feelings of revenge also swapped over to other countries, like Canada, where military commentator Frank Gaffney suggested that the U.S. needed to go after the sponsors of these states as well, such as China and Russia. Hence, TV allowed dangerous and extremist persons (who should have reported neutrally) to circulate the most aggressive and fanatic views, creating a consensus around the need for immediate military action and war. The TV networks featured logos such as War on America, Americas New War, and other slogans, driving the country into hysteria and making it certain that there would be a military response and war. "I do not relinquish - nor should any of you - the right to criticize, even as we support, our government," said Bill Maher on his show Politically Incorrect on Sept. 17. "This is still a democracya missile shieldwill never work for an enemy that doesn't exist. We can't afford to be fighting wrong and silly wars." This utterance and Mahers opinion that the attacks were everything but not cowardly made ABC not renew his contract in 2002. Maher's "coward" comments, misinterpreted as saying the U.S. military was "cowardly," also found its way to the ears of the White House. U.S. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, as a response, urged Americans "to watch what they say." This is not a time for remarks like that," Fleischer said, adding, "There never is." Fleischer tried to solidify the national consensus and control the press. Bill Maher became the perfect example of what happened if journalists stepped outside that consensus in post-9/11. Anti-war voices were almost universally blown off in one-sentence sound bites while 42 per cent of them were never identified by name, labeled instead as protester' or anti-war activist. This is one reason that the media are indirectly responsible for encouraging the publics support of the war against Iraq. Mainstream media outlets provided little in the way of information about these countries, their cultures, and previous interactions between these countries and the United States. For those reporters and commentators who asked such questions, they received predictable answers given whom was being asked disproportionately those appearing on news broadcasts and talk shows were government and military spokespersons who simplified the motives for the attacks as jealousy of the United States and pure evil. In the case of 9/11 and terrorism, the US is the good side. In the evening news, all channels used the same footage, but some deleted the entire background (NY skyline, Hudson River) and/ or added an
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aeroplane, which made the videotapes controversially debated. It showed different plane paths and also harsh differences to the early footages, even though it was the same footage used for various shots, only altered. Thus, it was believed that the Media had changed the footage. Why was the footage changed/ faked and synched by all news channels? Clearly the pressure was on journalists to conform and not to challenge those who were protecting the U.S. against evil and terror.

INNER-RING MEDIA SENSATIONALISM VERSUS VALIDITY

The official story has been questioned and many of the above points were raised by members of the US Congress, retired high-ranking officers of the US military, leading candidates for President in the 2004 election, a member of the 9/11 Commission who resigned in protest, a former high-ranking adviser to the George W. Bush administration, former ministers to foreign governments, and many others. All would normally be considered newsworthy. Why has the corporate-owned US mass media remained silent about these statements? (as asked on 911truth.org) New York Times focused on myths to portray September 11th, 2001: the end of innocence; the victims; the heroes; and the foreboding future. Even editorials in top newspapers were simplifying the attacks and not providing any critical coverage of where the attacks emerged or why. Why did the attackers choose us? Why did they hate us so much that they were willing to give their own lives to kill innocent civilians? Since the New York Times is a member of the inner-ring of the media, its coverage affects most other media outlets in America. This is one reason why major media organization such as the New York Times ultimately apologized for its coverage for not being critical enough, for not questioning evidence about Iraq presented to them from White House insiders, political commentators and Congressman like John McCain, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and others describing the attacks as an act of war immediately on September 11 and the days after. (two-thirds of the guests were from the United States, with 75 percent of these being current or former government or military officials.) Further, this dubiety of the integrity of the Media certainly started with the BBC (and later CBS) which reported that Building 7 (known as the Salomon Bros. Building) had collapsed while the audience could clearly see in the background of the shot that it was still standing. The media further presented footage of the second plane crashing into the second tower: the footage was faked and synched. A sequence of the second hit showed the nose of the plane coming out of the tower again after it had crashed. Later, the noseframes were blacked out. NBC first showed footage that did not include a plane crashing into the north tower, but something that looked like a helicopter, something that became known as the ball. From all witnesses, only 47 believed to have seen and/or heard a plane. The other 117 witnesses learnt from the Media that it was a
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plane. Still, media experts claim that the plane was added later because there was no crash into the tower visible, nor was there any physically normal resistance that would have caused the plane to smash at its impact instead of smoothly gliding into the tower on the one side and out again on the other. One of the most important myths that has been promoted by politicians is that of good versus evil, with your side being good and the other side being evil. Government and military officials dominated news reports about terrorism and fear Newspapers as well as television network news relied heavily on administration sources that directed the focus and language of news coverage. There was, by contrast, much intelligent discussion on the Internet, showing the dangers of the take-over of broadcasting by corporations who would profit by war and upheaval.
OUTLOOK

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 were a wake-up call to mainstream media: When the media began covering these events, in an effort to be fair, they gave equal time to the counter-protesters even though the counterprotesters were vastly outnumbered. Most media outlets did not investigate the claims of those against the war, such as that the evidence against Iraq had been manipulated, misrepresented, exaggerated, and even fabricated and that the war was actually against the law.
Since there was no pleasing investigation or a neutral objection of the incidents, US media became the target of public debate.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

- What would later start a heavy debate on whether or not the incidents were an inside job because not portrayed in a believable way was that both towers were designed to take more than 1 hit by a plane, as architects later confessed. This was never mentioned by the Bush Administration, nor by the 9/11 Commission. Instead, they publicized that the fire, which was caused by the crashes, led to the destruction. But again, architects denied this official report and said that the steel could not have melt under the given temperatures. - Their almost free fall speed led to the assumption that it there were explosions causing their collapse. Many witnesses and also victims reported to have heard/ seen explosions, for example the janitor William Rodriguez, who helped around 155 persons to safety and insisted on having heard explosions. The press praised him for his heroism and he received many awards for having helped survivors. But in 2004, he also unsuccessfully sued Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and 155 person alleging their complicity in the 9/11 attacks. - Further debate started among pilots who insisted on the impossibility of the governments version. No amateur pilot, like the attackers, could have flown such maneuvers, according to US Airforce Officer Captain Russ Wittenberg and others. - The publics debunking of the 9/11 myth was further pushed by the Pentagon attack. - A long debate about the hole the plane had caused, which was too small for a Boeing 757, started, also because there were no remains of the plane wreck left. Moreover, 86 cameras were confiscated by the CIA. Later, after the Freedom of Information Act was applied, two sequences were released and shown to the US public, but only one showed that it was a Boeing 757. But the governments vaporizing theory was soon stated to be false because of the laws of physics. Also, since the attackers i.e. Mohammed Atta were described to be terrible pilots, they could not have flown such a difficult maneuver, and it would have further been aerodynamically impossible to fly a 757 with 6m above the ground at 400 knots in a no-fly zone of the bestsecured building of the world. Only a military plane would have not caused a reaction of ground defense transponders. But during the incidents, there was no interception and no military airplane that stopped the attackers. - 3 days later all hijackers had been identified, though there was no proof that they had been on board of the airplanes. Soon, 15 of the 19 involved attackers were said to be fanatical Muslims, led by Bin Laden. But neither Atta, nor Al-Omari, as critics and 9/11 truthers later pointed out, were fanatic or able to act out the attacks. Instead, they showed that both arrived at the Boston airport at 6 oclock, after a trip to Portland before, and only had half an hour left to hijack the plane that would lead to the WTC attacks. Also, AlHazmi who was reported to have died in one of the kamikaze attacks was still alive in Saudi Arabia. He called the US government from his home country; the US officials apologized for their false accusation, but even 6 years later he and the others were the alleged terrorists.

- The work of the 9/11 Commission and the crime investigation was sloppy. They accused al- Qaeda, presented a video with Bin Laden confessing the terror attacks. But a proper translation of his words showed that he only spoke about the 9/11 events. Still, he was announced to be the official head behind 9/11, and thus the public enemy of the United States. - 1989 al-Qaeda founded only a group that emerged dur. the Soviet- Afghan War - Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2001, has written that al-Qaeda and Bin Laden were "a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies", to present an evil to the US nation. They were actually recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. After the Cold War, the connection between them and the CIA grew stronger: al-Qaeda was recruited by MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc.) - The 9/11 myth more or less started on the Internet with many websites of professionals, who were keen on stating a different, and more detailed as well as reasonable version than the governments. Lawyers, architects, pilots, firefighters, political leaders, scholars, and many others raised their voices. - No-one of the official Media reported on these aspects. The former FBI agent Coleen Rowley reported in The Time that there were 71 warnings prior to 9/11, and that 9/11 could thus have been prevented. It is said that in April 2001, the US intelligence community learnt of possible attacks, but nothing was done to avoid them. She also claimed that the Bush Administration lied when it said that the attacks came out of the blue. Instead, NORAD did alert exercises before. According to Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR, the news media promote ignorance about important issues such as the war on Iraq. He writes: that half or more Americans [thought] Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attack. This shows how mainstream media, especially TV, were incapable of getting the truth out in the face of administration lies and about the following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 1) Iraq did not attack the US on 9/11; 2) Iraq was not linked meaningfully with al-Qaeda; and 3) the majority of people in the world opposed the war. The frequency of Americans' misperceptions varied depending on their primary source of news. Viewers of Fox were most likely (80%), followed by CBS (71%), ABC (61%), and NBC and CNN (55%). Only about half (47%) of people who reported relying on print sources, followed by only 23% of listeners of National Public Radio (NPR) and viewers of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). When Americans misperceive the facts after watching news coverage, it is clear that the media are failing to do their job. There are still many facts that remained uninvestigated. These and other evidences led many people to think 9/11 was an inside job or a false flag operation, in which the media supportively participated by not raising any critical question; instead it took part in this therapeutic patriotism.