Monday, October 04, 2010

A Pseudo-Interlude With Matt Taibbi or Matt Taibbi’s Derangement of Truth

I was awoken early on the afternoon of September 11th, 2010 by the ringing of my cell phone. Sleepily I picked up the device and said: “This better be good!”

The voice on the other end of the connection said: “Look out your window.”

I stumbled from bed, staggered to the other end of the room, and, there, below me was a tall man walking back and forth on the sidewalk in front of my house. The gentleman was carrying a sign, but since I didn’t have my glasses, I couldn’t quite make out what it said.

I spoke into the phone that I had carried with me to the window: “Hold on a minute will you?” and, then, I went foraging for my glasses, put them on, returned to the window, and studied the sign which the guy was carrying.

It read: “Whitehouse is clinically insane.” At first, I thought the guy was a bit off in his sense of direction and believed he was in Washington, D.C., 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, rather than in Bangor, Maine.

I raised the window, and, yelled out: “Who are you, and what are you up to?”

The individual turned around, looked up and, after a brief pause, asked me: “Are you Bill Whitehouse?

I nodded in the affirmative.

A smirk appeared on his lips. He pointed up at his sign, admiring it as he did so and, then, pointed to me and, then, toward the sign again. He said: “You’re a nut job, Whitehouse” and continued on with pacing back and forth in front of my house in a leisurely manner.

I put the cell phone I had been holding in my hand back to my ear and said: “Look, I’m going to have to call you back. I have to go talk to the guy who is parading in front of the house.”

I terminated the connection, threw the cell phone on the rumpled bedding, and looked around for some pants and a shirt to put on. I pulled a pair of socks out of the drawer, put them on, and headed for the bathroom.

Turning on the sink faucet,  I splashed some water on my face, looked in the mirror, and tried, as best I could, to get rid of the bed hair. The guy out front already thought I was a nut job, and, consequently, there was no point in providing him with circumstantial, visual evidence that might encourage him to believe that, perhaps, his diagnosis was correct.

I walked out of the bathroom, opened the bedroom door, took the stairs leading downstairs two at a time, slipped on my loafers hanging out near the bottom of the stairs, turned the knob for the front door and pulled. As I walked through the opening left by the ajar door, I saw that the individual was still walking back and forth with his sign.

I headed down the walkway leading to the sidewalk and waited for the person to come back my way during his picketing rounds. When he reached me, I said: “Who are you?”

“Matt Taibbi,” he explained.

The name didn’t register. I shrugged my shoulders and asked: “So, who is Matt Taibbi?

He stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me with a degree of puzzlement. “I write for Rolling Stone magazine. I was the winner of the 2007 National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary. My father works for NBC. I played basketball overseas. I’m against the war. I’ve been interviewed by Chris Matthews. The Los Angeles Times thinks I’m hilarious.”

“Wow,” I said in mock admiration. “Why would somebody as famous and as well-connected as you want to walk back and forth in front of my house carrying a sign which says that ‘Whitehouse is clinically insane’?

He put the sign down for a moment, resting his hands on the top of the stick to which the sign was affixed, and said: “Oh, I wouldn’t make too much of it. I sometimes write half-assed things and throw out offhand comments without putting a whole lot of thought into the matter. I admitted as much in my recent book: The Great Derangement.

“However,” he continued, "you must admit that your views on 9/11 are, well, ‘clinically insane’.

“Are you referring to my book: The Essence of September 11th,” I queried?

He shook his head and said: “I didn’t know you had written anything on the subject, but I have heard from different sources that your ideas concerning 9/11 are certifiably insane, so, I thought I would come here and let other people know what kind of a neighbor they have.”

“Did you bother to verify any of the information you were getting from your sources concerning me?” I asked.

“Now, why would I want to do that?” he responded. “Everybody in the news business knows that if you have two or three sources confirming something, then, that something is likely to be true. There is no need to do actual research  … Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair proved that … and they were doing quite nicely with it until they were tripped up by a few inconvenient facts.

I looked around. Apparently everybody in the neighborhood was shopping, or doing something somewhere else, because no one seemed to be paying attention to what was going on.

I sighed. Motioning toward the open door of my house, I inquired: “Can I offer you a cup of coffee or a soft drink?  Maybe, we could talk more about my sad condition inside.”

He started to walk with me toward the front door and, then, stopped. “This is not some kind of attempt to shut me up, is it? When we’re done inside, I’m likely to come right back out here and continue on with my exercise of First Amendment rights … in fact, I’m liable to write a scathing, hilarious expose in some future edition of Rolling Stone – one dripping with sarcasm and populated by witty ways of framing what was said during our conversation. So, as they say in the military: ‘Be advised!’

“I’ve never tried to interfere with anyone’s First Amendment rights,” I indicated, “so, I see no reason why I should start with you. If you want to continue on with your campaign against me after we talk, then, by all means, be my guest, but you should know that just as I previously indicated that I didn’t know who you are, most people in the United States don’t know who you are and don’t really care what you have to say about much of anything … so, if, and when, you write whatever you write, you are aware, I hope, that you are mostly just preaching to the choir and, really, that’s all you are getting paid to do … to write for a demographic that is resonant with your style of writing and which helps bring in the advertising dollars for your magazine … and if you started to write things which were not amenable to your advertising patrons, you would be out of a job very quickly.”

Matt gave me a look that seemed to suggest that the sign he had been carrying was right on the money. He pointed to the house and said; “If the offer still stands, I could use a cold drink. It’s hot out here.”

Quietly, we went into the house. I took him into the kitchen and said: “Have a seat.”

While he was seating himself, I opened the fridge and quickly scanned the contents. I iterated some possibilities, and he selected orange juice from the list of choices.

I poured us both a glass of orange juice, added a few ice cubes, and placed the drinks on the table. I sat down opposite him.

We each took a sip, and, then, I said: “So, what leads you to believe that I am ‘clinically insane’?

He moved the glass in his hands a little in the direction of the front of the house. “Like I said outside … your views on 9/11. You’re a conspiracy nut … fringe city … in outer space when it comes to rational thinking about the issue.”

I angled my head in a sort of indication of incredulity and replied: “Since we’ve already established that you have not read my book, on just what are you basing your judgment concerning me?”

“Well, for one thing, you have been on American Freedom Radio several times being interviewed by Kevin Barrett, and everyone knows how I feel about Kevin’s views on 9/11 … in fact, I once wrote about Kevin Barrett on the Rolling Stone web site under the heading: ‘The Most Obnoxious Thing On the Internet This Month” in relation to the Ground Mosque controversy. I’m tired of his ‘lunatic-ass’ views concerning 9/11, and I let everyone know as much.”

I nodded my head and said: “Yes, I have been interviewed several times by Kevin, but what has that got to do with anything?”

Matt shrugged his shoulders. “You know what they say: ‘birds of a feather flock together.” He gave me a: ‘I-rest-my-case' look. “Kevin’s a conspiracy theorist, and, therefore, this would lead one to assume that you are a conspiracy theorist as well concerning 9/11.”

 “Did you actually listen to what I said on any of those programs? I asked.”

“Not really,” he sniffed. “What’s the point?  You’re all the same … if a person has heard one of you 9/11 conspiracy idiots, then, such a person has heard what you all have to say on the matter.”

“Well.” I began, “I hate to be the one to shatter the ‘rules of engagement’ section of your media guidebook, but there actually are a lot of different points of view concerning 9/11 that are being offered by those who seek to take issue with the evidentially challenged types who run the government and media … you know, people like yourself.

“I will admit that there are some individuals who, for whatever reason, like to run with conspiracies, and, to be fair about the matter, one might remember that someone -- I forget who -- once said that not every conspiracy is a theory. Moreover, although conspiracies are hard to prove, there are criminal cases – both federal and state – that are tried and won every month of the year and those cases sometimes center on charges of conspiracy.

“So, as much as you might like to try to frame the idea of conspiracy as a sign of mental illness, there is, on occasion, more than a little truth in such ideas … in fact, one might say that the U.S. government is an ongoing conspiracy in which people come together to push their respective agendas … one might even say that the editorial board for magazines like Rolling Stone is an active conspiracy in which a group of people regularly get together behind relatively closed doors to discuss, explore, and implement editorial policy … and all of this constitutes a set of activities that satisfies the basic conditions for qualifying as a conspiracy … a legal one, of course,-- that is, unless, Matt, you know something about Rolling Stone that I don’t.

“In any case, I’m not a conspiracy theorist of any kind – especially in connection with 9/11. I have my views on 9/11, but they are almost entirely about the issue of gathering, sifting through, and trying to evaluate the quality of evidence concerning what happened on 9/11.

“As far as Kevin Barrett is concerned,” I added, “I don’t want to speak for him. He has his own approach to things, and, if you want to engage him on the matter, he is quite capable of defending himself in a very articulate way. Have you ever sat down with Kevin and talked with him about 9/11?”

“No,” Matt said and, then, with a grin added: “But I did sleep in a Best Western Motel last night.”

“Priceless,” I replied.

Matt was silent for a minute. Then, slowly at first, but picking up a bit of speed as he went along, he said: “I’ve read a letter of Kevin's concerning the Ground Zero Mosque.” With pride he noted: “How’s that for doing research?”

“Not very impressive,” I indicated. “One might hazard a wild guess that you were reading Kevin’s letter through the filters of a preconceived bias concerning 9/11.  Research is when you actually investigate something with no preconceived notions and permit the facts to take you where they will. Have you ever done that in relation to 9/11?”

With a certain amount of constrained indignation expressed through slightly clinched teeth, Matt said: “Of course, I have!”

“Just to give you one example -- and you would know this If you had read my book: The Great Derangement, -- there were a couple of sisters from Dearborn, Michigan that I interviewed about 9/11. I mean, those two girls were sweet, college-educated, and were even pretty well-informed concerning America’s policy in the Middle East, but they were a couple of cult groupie space-cadets when it came to the issue of 9/11.

“They were just spewing out the conspiracy garbage. It was utter nonsense. I was shocked.”

“Gee,” I mused, “it must have been hard-hitting research like that which garnered you the 2007 National Magazine Award. “ I took a drink of orange juice and proceeded: “I’m not quite sure what you were so shocked about in relation to the young Lebanese women in Dearborn.

“It sounds like you felt that the two ladies were college-educated and had a good grasp of what was transpiring in the Middle East, and, therefore, you apparently believed they would agree with you on 9/11. When this was not the case, your sensibilities somehow went into shock because … ?” 

I left the question unanswered. I wanted Matt to fill in the blank in a way that would explain to me why he had such a sense of shock concerning the two young women and their views about 9/1.

“Well,” Matt replied, “I guess, I couldn’t believe the poor quality of their arguments. They seemed capable enough intellectually, and, yet, when it came to 9/11, their intelligence just seemed to be absent.”

I raised my eyebrows in surprise and said: “It is funny that you should say that because I was just thinking the same thing about you. You seem to be quite intelligent in so many ways, and, yet, when it comes to 9/11, your intelligence just seems to have gone on sabbatical.” I added: “You still haven’t told me what research you have done into the physical facts of 9/11, because what two, young, college educated, Lebanese sisters from Dearborn Michigan think about 9/11 – whether correctly or incorrectly -- really has nothing to do with forensic evidence concerning the events of 9/11.”

Matt waived his hand at me in a dismissive way. He paused for a moment and then said with some intensity as he kept jabbing his index finger toward me: “You know what I have discovered about 9/11?  If there is one consistent characteristic of the 9/11 Truth Movement, it’s a kind of burning, defensive hypersensitivity and a powerful inclination to be instantly offended.”

He pulled his chair closer to the table and leaned in a little toward me. As he did so, he said: “Do you know that when I wrote a 9/11 anniversary column some time back and, in passing, just sort of threw in the phrase: “clinically insane” with respect to the 9/11 conspiracy people, I received all kinds of hate mail taking exception with my use of the phrase: “clinically insane” … I mean … talk about hypersensitivity and a willingness to be instantly offended … who could have known that people might take exception to being talked about in those terms?”

He spread his hands in exasperation and added: “So, I lost my temper as a result of the sort of hate mail I was getting and taught them all a lesson by writing a column which trashed the 9/11 Truth Movement.” Grinning, Matt leaned away from the table.

Somewhat perplexed, I said: “So, let’s see if I understand what you are telling me. Are you saying that it is okay for you to pass judgment on people in a way in which you are neither clinically qualified to do, nor are you in a position to factually substantiate with respect to the millions of people who do not accept the conspiracy theory being offered by the federal government, and that it is okay to pass judgment on such people in a way which, as well, seems to be based on little more that your own ignorance concerning the actual facts of 9/11, and, therefore, you believe that other people should find it perfectly understandable why you would lose your temper over how a few people responded to you as a result of your unprovoked name-calling concerning a much larger group of them and, as a result, you were motivated to write a column trashing the 9/11 Truth Movement … a motivation that was rooted mostly in your emotional invective, yet, somehow, it is the people in the 9/11 Truth Movement who have a “burning, defensive hypersensitivity with an inclination to be instantly offended”, while you are just being , what …   an ‘innocent  reporter’? Have I got that about right, Matt?”

I went on. “Did it ever occur to you, Matt, that there is a huge differential in power between you and the great unwashed masses out there that you are so eager to trash? I don’t know what those people wrote to you, but if it is anything like some of the e-mail I get, then, I imagine that, on occasion, it is not very pleasant. So, I’m not condoning the nastiness that people can, and do, exhibit from time to time.

“However, the fact of the matter is, those people write to you as individuals … individuals who, for the most part, have very little power and who may feel that the only thing they can do is vent and give you a piece of their mind and, perhaps, say things which they have no intention of doing … although, of course, there is always a very real worry that one of them does mean what they say with respect to taking punitive action against you, and I empathize with you for that worry. Such problem cases aside, maybe if the people who write to you are really stirred up, they let a few other people see what they said to that so-and-so, Mark Taibbi. There might even be a few of them who turn their e-mail into a blog entry and reach an audience of roughly ten or fifteen people … or let’s be generous and say a few hundred people.

“On the other hand, when you write something for Rolling Stone and, in the process, you vent your anger concerning those who have offended your sensibilities through their various written communications to you, then, you reach hundreds of thousands – maybe millions -- of people. Isn’t what you are doing a little like trying to wipe out all cats because a few happened to hiss at you? Wouldn’t it be fair to say that your actions in this regard lack a certain amount of perspective, proportionality, and equanimity?

“Those people are quite powerless relative to you. Yet, by your own admission, you felt a need to exercise your considerable power to avenge what … your ego? If you are trashing all 9/11 Truthers due to anger over what a few people said to you, then how much of your commentary is rooted in an actual concern for the truth of things?

“You likely would be critical of government officials if they abused their power in such a fashion with respect to the many powerless individuals they supposedly were serving … powerless individuals who probably were upset with the officials because of the way the latter were arbitrarily and abusively exercising their power. Why do you seem to want to apply such a different standard to yourself – one which appears to say that it is okay to take advantage of your power and be abusive toward a large collection of mostly powerless people who never bothered to contact you just because there were a few individuals, relatively speaking, who angered you?

“Whether, or not, those people in the 9/11 Truth Movement know what they are talking about, those people are not the issue. It is the facts, and only the facts, of 9/11 which have any probative value … facts about which I still have not heard any indication from you that you have even the flimsiest of acquaintance with.“

He was silent for a minute as he studied his hands. Eventually, he said: “You are quite wrong in your assessment of me. I have a great deal of knowledge about 9/11.”

He paused for a few seconds and, then, continued with a question: “Did you know that I actually had a face-to-face encounter with Nico Haupt, the so-called mad genius of the 9/11 Truth Movement? Not only that, I have read some of his blogs concerning 9/11 and found them to be laughable masterpieces of conspiratorial paranoia and unintentional comedy … pieces replete with acronyms like LIHOP (let it happen on purpose) and MIHOP  (made it happen on purpose) … so, don’t go telling me that I haven’t done my homework.”

Matt glared at me for a few seconds. He proceeded with: “I should have been given a Purple Heart for my encounter with Herr Haupt. He kept spitting on me, and I told him to stop it. When Haupt wouldn’t stop spitting on me and wouldn’t let me or anyone else at the restaurant table get a word in edgewise, I challenged him to take our ‘disagreement’ outside, but the little weasel just slithered uptown away from me.”

I intervened and asked: “Did you challenge the young ladies in Dearborn to a fight as well?”

“Nah,” Matt said. “I knew I could beat up on them pretty good in my book … so, there was no need for any physical, rough stuff when I talked with them.”

“You’re a fearless warrior for the truth, aren’t you, Matt?” I said. “No, wonder, so many people seem to consider you a hero.”

A small flash of annoyance rolled across his face. “Look, all I was trying to explain to those two girls in Dearborn, as well as Herr Haupt and the other straggly looking 9/11 protesters at the table in the restaurant in New York, was that there was no concrete evidence that the government had orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. However, no matter what I said, they just came back with some other sort of conspiratorial nonsense.”

Peering down at the top of the table, he shook his head a little. “It was kind of sad, really, because most of the people with whom I talked in relation to the 9/11 issue seemed to be decent human beings. But they couldn’t answer any of my questions such as: ‘Why would the government plan such an operation and, then, spill the beans through some document written back in the 1990s (i.e., the Project for a New American Century) by calling for a ‘new Pearl Harbor’ to galvanize the American public to support the agenda of the neo-cons? Why shoot a missile at the Pentagon and call it a commercial jet? Why crash a plane in the middle of an empty field in rural Pennsylvania? Do they really think that local television stations are in touch with the government to coordinate censorship concerning 9/11?”

He took a long drink of orange juice. When he had momentarily quenched his thirst, he said: “I wrote a little parody of the whole issue in my book: The Great Derangement, and I had all of the alleged inside jobbers – you know, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the gang – get together in a pre-9/11 conspiratorial-like meeting to strategize about all of the ridiculous things that the conspiracy theorists are spouting nowadays just to point out how stupid the whole idea was.”

Matt gave a sigh of exasperation. “The irony of this whole thing is that I believe that the entire Bush government was totally inept and corrupt for a whole set of legitimate reasons. Those people in the Bush gang are quite capable of hanging themselves all on their own in relation to any number of matters, and, consequently, there is no need to go inventing conspiracy fantasies concerning 9/11.”

I waited to make sure that Matt had finished saying what he wanted to. When I was convinced this was the case, I began to respond to some of what he had related to me.

I began with: “I don’t know Nico Haupt, and, furthermore, he doesn’t speak for me, anymore than Kevin Barrett or the two Lebanese sisters in Dearborn, Michigan, or anyone else you care to mention speaks for me -- or vice versa. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily would reject what they have to say, but, whether, or not, I would agree with them would depend on what it is that they had to say and whether, or not, I feel the available evidence and/or my own experience supports their words.

“The same is true with respect you, Matt. I don’t know you, and whether, or not, I would agree with what you have to say depends on the nature of what you have to say. For instance, I might agree with you that many so-called 9/11 Truthers have had a difficult time constructing anything more than a circumstantial case concerning the connection between Bush, et al and their alleged complicity (active or passive) in the events of 9/11, and, as a result, there are a plethora of theories floating about concerning who was involved in 9/11 and why … and, yet, there is precious little hard evidence concerning such matters.

“On the other hand, I’ve never been much interested in the who of 9/11 since whoever they are – Muslim and/or non-Muslim – they are deserving of everyone’s condemnation. As I stated earlier, I have been more focused on the ‘what’ of 9/11 ... that is: what is the available evidence, and what is the best way to evaluate that evidence, and what does that evidence entail, and what is the next step in the process once certain evidence has been established and substantiated?

“What you have said to me tends to suggest that you have talked with a fair number of people and that, to a degree, you have reflected on those conversations and, as a result, have come to the conclusion that there is nothing which you have seen, heard, read, or thought that demonstrates that the events of 9/11 were anything other than what the official government conspiracy theory states – namely, that 19 Arab hijackers conspired with Osama bin Laden to orchestrate the events of 9/11. However, what you have said to me also tends to suggest that you haven’t done a lick of independent investigation into the nuts and bolts of accounting, in a plausibly and rigorously defensible way, for how – technically speaking -- the Twin Towers or Building 7 came down or for what happened at the Pentagon.

“You have given no indication in anything which you have said to me that suggests: you have gone through the NIST reports concerning the Twin Towers and Building 7; or, that you have a working knowledge of The Pentagon Performance Report; or, that you have done any independent research concerning an array of technical matters and hard evidence that entail facts which are contrary to the ones that are expressed through those reports; or, that you have done any of your own thinking with respect to such matters.

“For instance, you might be surprised to find that April Gallop, who at the time of 9/11 had top security clearance, was in the offices at the Pentagon where ‘the event’ took place and has since given sworn testimony that within minutes after ‘the event’ took place there were no fires, no plane, no luggage, and no dead passengers to be found as she led a number of people out of the Pentagon through the hole created by ‘the event’. You might also be surprised to learn that twenty people have given testimony – including two members of the Pentagon Police and an individual connected with the Naval Annex -- that the plane which, allegedly, hit the Pentagon did not follow the flight path indicated in The Pentagon Performance Report.

"The Pentagon Report claims that the flight path would have been to the south of the Citgo station which is situated about a mile from the Pentagon’s west façade. Nonetheless, there are a considerable number of people – and I watched them in the process of recounting their testimony -- who had clear vision of the entire west side of the Pentagon and who have stated, in no uncertain terms, that the flight path of the plane they saw was on the north side of the Citgo station and, therefore, completely inconsistent with the claims of The Pentagon Performance Report.  In fact, if the plane they saw heading toward the Pentagon actually struck the Pentagon, then, the entire description of the damage given in The Pentagon Performance Report has been completely fabricated.

“The people giving the foregoing testimony saw the plane head toward the Pentagon, and, then, when the plane was at the Pentagon, they saw an explosion, and, then, the plane was gone. They saw no other planes approaching the Pentagon at the time of the explosion or shortly thereafter, and, therefore, what they saw in relation to a commercial jet flying toward the Pentagon was completely inconsistent with the government report.

“Now, I understand there supposedly were many other eye-witnesses who claim that they saw a commercial jet fly along the flight path indicated in The Pentagon Performance Report. However, I have never seen any of those people give testimony and describe in detail what they saw … I have just heard it alleged that such is their testimony.

"More importantly, I have never heard anyone give a plausible explanation for why there are such discrepancies in eyewitness testimony between those who dispute the government version of things and those who support the government version of things. Is everyone wrong? Are only some people wrong, and, if so, which ones and based on what evidence?

"The one thing that I do know is this: All of the individuals who indicated that they saw a plane fly toward the Pentagon on the north side of the Citgo station are independently supported by a great deal of information that has been forthcoming from a variety of commercial and military pilots concerning the aerodynamic problems associated with a flight along the path that is cited by the government, whereas none of the people who reported seeing a plane fly along a flight path to the south of the Citgo station have any such aerodynamic data to back them up except the telemetry readings provided by the government.

“The problem with that latter point – that is, the statements of those who claim they saw a commercial jet fly along a flight path to the south of the Citgo station near the Pentagon – is that there are a growing number of commercial and military pilots who have indicated that the claimed flight path of the plane that was given through The Pentagon Performance Report was not aerodynamically feasible (due to, among other things, g-forces, wing-tip vortices, the ground effect, various obstacles on the ground, and so on). Consequently, they believe that important data – for example the telemetry from the black box of the plane that allegedly hit the Pentagon -- have been fudged in the aforementioned report.

“In addition, every part of any given plane has a number associated with it that is recorded in a log for each of those planes – whether private, commercial, or military. Unfortunately, there has been no transparently verifiable process that has demonstrated a proper matching of plane parts and logbook numbers for any of the four flights that supposedly went down on 9/11.

“Or, you might be surprised to learn that NIST’s theory for the collapse of the Twin Towers hinges on the idea of failing floor assemblies which, supposedly, initiated conditions that led to a global collapse of the Twin Towers. The only problem with the NIST theory is that Underwriters Laboratories empirically demonstrated that those floor assemblies would not have failed even if they had been subjected to conditions far in excess of the stresses that are likely to have existed on 9/11 in the Twin Towers.

“Moreover, you might be surprised to discover that David Chandler, a high school physics teacher from New York, forced NIST to amend its report on Building 7 and, in the process, acknowledge that there was, at a minimum, several seconds of free fall which took place during the demise of Building 7. This is something for which NIST has absolutely no explanation and which only makes sense if one understands that something eliminated the thousands of tons of iron and concrete building materials which otherwise would have served up resistance to the progressive collapse of the upper floors of the building as they allegedly crashed down on the lower floors.

“Furthermore, a growing number of architects and engineers have also established, in many different ways, that the NIST reports cannot withstand rigorous critical or empirical scrutiny. For example, NIST authorities have developed no plausible model to explain the almost complete disintegration – not collapse – of the Twin Towers that has been recorded in videos that almost everyone in America, if not the rest of the world, has seen. Moreover, NIST authorities have no way to account for how steel beams weighing many tons were hurled laterally some 300 – 500 feet away based on nothing but gravitational forces (which is a main component of the NIST theory).

“There are many, many, many more hard, physical facts of the foregoing kind which could be cited in relation to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in conjunction with 9/11. None of them can be adequately accounted for by the official government theory concerning that day.

“There is no mention of government conspiracy in any of the forgoing. It is all about a person’s or an organization’s or a government’s or a media outlet’s ability to establish verifiable facts … and, in this case, neither NIST nor The Pentagon Performance Report is able to accomplish this in relation to 9/11.

“Just as you have argued, Matt, that there is no plausibly reliable body of evidence which convincingly ties Bush and company to the orchestration of the 9/11 tragedy, there also is no plausibly reliable body of evidence to tie Bin Laden or any of the alleged 19 hijackers, to the manner in which three buildings largely disappeared in New York on 9/11 or to the story which the government is trying to propagate in relation to the events at the Pentagon on 9/11 – that is, one cannot explain what caused the World Trade Center buildings to disintegrate by trying to argue for some scenario involving planes and/or fire (because the evidence does not support such an assertion), nor can one explain what happened at the Pentagon by trying to claim that a commercial jet hit the building in the way the Pentagon report has stated.

“A number of controversies have arisen in the so-called Truth Movement in conjunction with trying to explain just how what happened on 9/11– namely, the disappearance of three buildings in New York and the damage at the Pentagon -- actually took place. However, none of these controversies undermine the basic issue:  There are many, essential, unanswered questions concerning the events of 9/11 and that the account given by the government, at best, is terribly incomplete and, at worst, is totally indefensible.

“I don’t have to speculate about why the government wants to tell the sort of problematic story that they do in relation to 9/11. What I do know is that the facts of the matter do not corroborate their position vis-à-vis the destruction of the three buildings in New York or the damage to the Pentagon on 9/11, and, therefore, the government’s account of what transpired on 9/11 is unacceptable. The alleged actions of the so-called 19 hijackers – even if one were, for the sake of argument, prepared to grant that those individuals were somehow involved in the events of 9/11 (and there is much to indicate that such a concession is not necessarily warranted), their collective actions on that day could not have brought down the three towers in the way the government wishes us to believe, nor could their actions have caused what took place at the Pentagon.

“Now, Matt, maybe you’re the sort of guy who would be willing to take the government at face value, but you have indicated in a variety of ways that you believe the government lies about an awful lot of things. I bet you even said as much in your book The Great Derangement. Consequently, I find it rather curious why you believe the government is telling the truth about 9/11 … especially given the extensive amount of hard, physical evidence which is available to indicate that the government did not tell the truth about almost anything concerning the events of 9/11.

“If you actually had done real research into the essential facts of 9/11 instead of interviewing a few hapless individuals whom you believe to be wanting in various ways and, as a result, concluded that because those people can’t answer your questions, then, therefore, you must be right about everything in relation to 9/11 and, consequently, there is no need to actually do any real research into the matter, then, you might have had a little more compassion for some of the members of the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement who were disappointed in what you had to say concerning 9/11. If you actually had done real research concerning 9/11, then, instead of getting angry at them and trashing them, you might have tried to artfully educate them  -- and, dare I say it, yourself -- with respect to finding better, more defensible ways of searching for the truth.

“By failing to display any evidence that you are actually familiar with the real issues of 9/11, I feel you may be a deserving candidate for the Blair/Glass Memorial Award for reporters who can’t be bothered to treat their readers, viewers, and listeners with any degree of respect and, as a result, fail to display an inclination to dig for real evidence in conjunction with 9/11 … deserving individuals who would rather write the sort of stuff which can be made up out of their imagination without having to consult the facts. However, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for winning the award since in the matter of 9/11 you have a lot of competition from your colleagues in relation to that award … people with names like: Keith, Brian, Chris, Joe, Mika, Ed, Chuck, Savannah, Richard, Jonathan, Lawrence, Dylan, Pat, Mike, Katie, Charles, Joan, Dana, Howie, Cal, Thomas, Eugene, Anderson, George, Dianne, John, Rachel, David, Fareed, Andrea, Bill, Sean, Glenn, Geraldo, Greta, another Chris, another Charles, Morley, Steve, Bob, Lesley, Scott, Lara, another Mike, Dan, Charlie, Rush, Wolf, Neil, Katrina, Amy and others.

“Oh, come on,” Matt said with indignation. “You surely can’t suppose that all of the people you mentioned are somehow culpable with respect to 9/11.

“With respect to perpetrating the acts of 9/11?” I asked and then answered: “No.” Then, continuing on, I said: “But with respect to perpetuating falsehoods concerning the perpetration of 9/11, most definitely … they are all – each and every one of them – guilty of that offense … although whether they did so knowingly or unknowingly is a separate matter.

“Matt, neither you nor any of your media cronies have given the slightest bit of credible evidence that either individually or collectively you have studied, analyzed, reflected on, and evaluated any hard data concerning 9/11. Many of you tend to use a priori and ad hominem arguments in your presentations concerning 9/11 … as a result, many of you are inclined to let fly with pejorative names like: “nut job”, “wing nuts”, “clinically insane”, “conspiracy whackos”, “lunatic fringe” and so on in an attempt to marginalize what people have to say about 9/11, and, in addition, many of you use techniques of undue influence -- such as the way in which you frame issues in unflattering and biased ways with respect to the manner of  presenting 9/11 material – in order to discredit people before anyone hears what they have to say. You make sure that whatever discussion occurs is not open and free-flowing but closed and managed by people with specific biases concerning 9/11.

“I have heard Chris Matthews say on several occasions that the Jersey girls have let their grief for their September losses overshadow good judgment, and, as a result, this has prevented them from letting go of their questions concerning 9/11. It never seems to occur to Chris – the great media guru that he apparently believes himself to be – that the questions which the Jersey girls have in relation to 9/11 are concerns that are, in many ways, quite independent of their grief  … their grief started on September 11, 2001, but their questions are the result of research and evidence rather than the result of being emotionally distraught. Meanwhile, Chris feels he has been able to move on with respect to 9/11, and his ability to do this is precisely because he hasn’t done any original research into the actual physical evidence entailed by 9/11.

“What are you media people basing your opinions on with respect to 9/11? Your opinions are largely driven by a priori considerations … you’re like Noam Chomsky who has said on a number of occasions that he buys the conspiracy theory that 19 hijackers conspired with ‘Usama bin Laden to attack the United States on September 11, 2001 because no one could keep the sort of secret which is being alluded to. This is not an argument based on evidence, but, rather, it is an argument based on a priori theories about what Noam believes can and can’t happen in the world.

“Even in the context of such an a priori, non-evidentially based theory, Noam is wrong in at least two major ways. First, there have been historical precedents for thousands of government employees keeping secrets from the American public … the Manhattan Project being one such example, but there are many others instances of this which have occurred within the military, the CIA, NSA, and the FBI – secrets which were kept for a long time before coming to the surface much later.  Secondly, and, perhaps, more importantly, Noam seems to be unaware that there have been quite a few whistleblowers who have come forth to try to inform the public about 9/11, but those individuals have been muzzled by the governmnent in a variety of ways … and just to refer to a few of these individuals, one might mention: April Gallop, several Pentagon police officials (William Lagasse and Chadwick Brooks), Robert Wright, Sibel Edmonds, Indira Singh, Colleen Rowley, Anthony Shaffer, three FBI agents who came to David Schippers indicting that there was widespread foreknowledge within the FBI of the date, time, place, and means of attack in relation to 9/11, as well as five air traffic controllers from Boston whose testimony was destroyed by a superior who claimed that the individuals were distraught over 9/11 and didn’t understand what they were saying.

“You seem to think, Matt, that because you have raised some questions that no one can answer to your satisfaction, you have solved the problem of 9/11. The fact is, one could acknowledge that all of your questions concerning 9/11 are fairly legitimate questions for which, at some point, there might, or might not, be plausibly verifiable answers, but the level toward which your questions are being directed has little probative value concerning the most important questions an investigator could and should be asking concerning 9/11.

“More specifically, before you ask about who did something or why they did it, why not try to find out what actually happened. Once you have done that, then you are in good evidential position to try to determine if those facts carry any implications for the idea that if the alleged 19 Arab hijackers were, indeed, part of some plot on 9/11, is there anything in the evidence to suggest that they did not act alone – in other words, is there any evidence to indicate that more people than those 19 individuals were needed to, say, bring down the Twin Towers and Building 7 or to bring about the destruction at the Pentagon?

“You can’t answer those questions until you stop basing all of your 9/11 thinking on ad hominem, biased, filtered, manufactured, a priori arguments.  You can’t answer those questions until you start looking at actual physical data concerning 9/11 … something that, by all appearances, you, and all the other media-types I mentioned earlier, have not done.

“You people in the media talk among yourselves and have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more to 9/11 than meets the eye. Your evidence for coming to such a conclusion is – surprise, surprise -- that you have talked about it among yourselves through largely a priori and ad hominem arguments, raised a few unanswerable questions that are irrelevant to the physical evidence, talked to a few so-called experts who have said things which you have not independently verified for yourself, and, then, have proceeded to hermetically seal the 9/11 discussion within the bubble of your own collective ignorance.

“Or, maybe some of you in the media believe that The 9/11 Commission proved what went on during 9/11. Oddly enough, the 9/11 Commission has almost nothing to say about the physical evidence of 9/11.  In fact, they don’t even mention Building 7. So, aside from all the many problems inherent in that flawed commission process  (such as: (1) giving extensive space to the un-cross-examined, third-party representations of Khalid Shaykh Mohammed’s alleged confession concerning 9/11 after only 180+ water-boardings, together with (2) an executive director – namely, Philip Zelikow -- who was not forthcoming about his extensive conflicts of interests prior to being hired and who, once hired, wrote a draft of The 9/11 Commission Report before deposing even one witness), the 9/11 Commission Report is useless when it comes to determining what brought down the Twin Towers or Building 7, or what actually happened at the Pentagon, or even what happened in Pennsylvania; and, therefore, if the ideas which the media has concerning 9/11 are based on The 9/11 Commission Report, then, the ideas of such individuals are almost entirely rooted in irrelevant opinions and ideas even as those people try to act as if they have the inside scoop on 9/11.

“You – that is, the media as a collective group -- should be ashamed of yourself for perpetrating such a scam on the American people. However, if you had the decency to even feel shame with respect to what you have done, and failed to do, in relation to 9/11, you probably would have had the decency to actually rigorously investigate 9/11 to begin with instead of just drawing paychecks and building careers for, among other things, perpetuating falsehoods concerning 9/11.

“What the media has, and hasn’t done in relation to covering 9/11 is not a conspiracy. It is a collective failure and a testimony, individually speaking, to incompetence, cowardice, or some combination of the two when it comes to searching for the truth in relation to 9/11.

“The media’s failures with respect to 9/11 – both individually and collectively – have played significant roles in helping to get over 5,000 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis and Afghani citizens killed for no good reason … as if there ever would really be a “good” reason for getting such people killed.  For, whatever the mistakes, crimes, or misdemeanors of this or that government official may be with respect to 9/11, one can place a great of the responsibility for many of the horrible things that became possible after 9/11 right at the feet of the media … horrible things that might have been avoided if the media had done its job properly in relation to the events of 9/11.

“Now, Matt, if you want to take our differences outside, we can certainly do that if that is the only way you know how to handle such matters – and if it is, then, I would suggest you might consider getting some anger-management counseling -- but your pounding me with your fists or your words is not going to change the truth in relation to your ignorance about 9/11.”

Looking at his empty glass, I said: “You want anything more to drink before going outside?” 

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