The Left Gatekeepers Phenomenon
The denial that 9/11/01 was an inside job is nowhere deeper
than in the traditional Left and the established Left media.
Respected commentators for the Left,
such as David Corn of the Nation,
pooh-poohed challenges to the official story of the attack,
or at most suggested complicity of the Bush administration by
pointing to Saudi connections to the Bush family,
all while staying within the confines of the
of the hijackers, crumbling skyscrapers, etc.
The causes of the Left gatekeeper phenomenon are, no doubt, complex.
It may be that, because of their political marginalization,
writers on the Left tend to be more defensive about their credibility.
Furthermore, many Left publications are dependent on foundation funding,
and those relationships may compromise objectivity
on conscious and unconscious levels.
It is also probable that many left icons are co-opted by
covert disinformation programs such as
that target the Left media precisely because people
expect challenges to the official story to come from that quarter.
Researcher Mark Robinowitz devotes much of his vast website
to tracking the Left gatekeeper phenomenon.
He provides a good summary of the phenomenon of Left denial.
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Both the corporate, mainstream media and most of the foundation-funded
"alternative" media have sought to restrict investigative journalism
and dissident opinions about the so-called "War on Terror."
Since 9/11, the Left media -- including
Mother Jones, Alternative Radio --
have shied away from examining the pretext for endless war.
They have ignored the national "Deception Dollar" campaign,
which has printed over three million DD's listing websites
of the independent investigations of 911, despite a massive
distribution effort across the country, especially at peace rallies.
Worse, several of these institutions have gone on the attack
against independent media and journalists who have done excellent work
exposing the lies behind the official stories of 9/11.
In the spring of 2002, when some of the material documenting
official foreknowledge of 9/11 began to surface in the corporate media,
The Nation, Z and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting attacked independent
investigators who are piecing together the evidence,
instead of helping those who have done the best work.
One of the most notable cases of Left denial is that of
the respected journalist Amy Goodman and her show Democracy Now!.
Goodman has long rebuffed requests that she interview an expert on the subject.
Instead she has tiptoed around the core facts of the attack
and addressed only peripheral issues,
such as the
EPA's fraudulent assurances
that the air in Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe
while Ground Zero was still smoldering.
Finally, after a concerted campaign by the
9-11 Visibility Project,
Goodman featured David Ray Griffin,
author of The New Pearl Harbor, on her May 26, 2004 show.
Goodman pitted Chip Berlet against Griffin,
and gave the last word and closing summary to Berlet,
who spun the myth that the attack was strictly blowback.
Nonetheless, Griffin was allowed to make the case that the
attack was an inside job for the first time ever on the
nationally syndicated show.
Mark Robinowitz recounts confronting Amy Goodman about her refusal
to cover the issue prior to the Griffin interview.
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In the fall of 2002, Ms. Goodman spoke in the same room at the
University of Oregon during a previous speaking tour.
After her speech (which was very similar to her May 2004 speech),
I asked her after the event if she would help investigate the
recently disclosed story of how the Air Force, CIA,
NORAD and National Reconnaissance Office were conducting "war games"
similar to 9/11 during the 9/11 "attacks," which were apparently used
to confuse the air defense response.
She would not reply, and looked at me in apparent fear.
It was a particularly strange response considering she had just spoken
eloquently about her tremendous courage in reporting on the massacre in
East Timor. (The issue of the 9/11 war games on 9/11 has not ever been
mentioned on Democracy Now -- and it is likely that if they were,
DN would run the risk of losing their foundation funding, which
would force them to lay off much of their staff.)
On of the factors behind the reluctance of journalists such as Goodman
to give a voice to skeptics of the official 9/11 myth
may be their dependence on foundation money.
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Cracks in the Wall
Two early exceptions to the Left media's blackout of evidence that
the attack was an inside job were
the radio shows
Guns and Butter
both of which have prominently featured
Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone.
These researchers focus on issues of
economic and imperial motives
pointing to the attack being an inside job or false-flag operation.
Guns and Butter also made the historic step in January of 2004
of airing an interview with researcher Jim Hoffman
on the physical evidence of the demolition of the World Trade Center,
is posted on
a site focusing on physical evidence.
The publication of Griffin's book,
The New Pearl Harbor,
appears to have somewhat eroded the Left establishment's taboo
against questioning the attack.
Among the endorsements printed on the book is one by
Professor Howard Zinn,
author of the acclaimed
A People's History of the United States.
The 9-11 Visibility Project
also counts Medea Benjamin, Gore Vidal, Jim Hightower, and Ed Asner
among the endorsers of the 9/11 Truth Movement.
The work of
a physics professor for 20 years
who published a draft of
Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?
in late 2005,
appears to have created still more space
for progressives to question the official version of events.
essay in CommonDreams.org
Ernest Partridge highlights several anomalies that undermine
the official version, but
gives short shrift to evidence that the attack was engineered.
The 2006 Offensive
The year 2006 saw an unprecedented barrage of attacks by
trusted left media icons,
paralleling a surge in
attacks by mainstream media outfits.
The surge is almost certainly a response to an growth
in the number of people considering challenges to the official story --
an expansion in part fueled by the increased credibility imparted to
such challenges by the work of Steven E. Jones.
In July AlterNet.org published
The 9/11 Faith Movement
by July Terry Allen, of the Independent Media Institute.
The article is yet another straw man attack,
failing to disclose any strong arguments for insider involvement in the attack
while highlighting red-herrings like the
Silverstein's "pull-it" comment.
In August, Dissident Voice published
Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11
by CIA alum Bil Christison.
While packaged as a plea to take the "conspiracy theories"
about 9/11 seriously,
the piece actually appears to be a
Trojan horse attack,
enthusiastically promoting the Pentagon no-jetliner theory
while pairing it with a tepid endorsement of the WTC demolition theory.
Christison trots out the usual arguments for the no-jetliner theory,
failing to note any of their
In contrast, he fails to note any specific arguments
for the demolition of the Twin Towers or Building 7.
On the anniversary of the attack, the Progressive published
Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracies, Already
by Matthew Rothschild.
Rothschild launches his attack with sarcasm and ennumerates
many positions of "conspiracy theorists" in order to ridicule them,
but fails to describe the arguments on which those positions are based.
The main argument Rothschild adduces against the theories is the
that an inside job would necessarily involve a vast conspiracy.
Rothschild's attack amounts to little more than a series of fallacies:
appeals to prejudice, appeals to authority, guilt by association,
and straw man arguments.
Alexander Cockburn has a longstanding habit of bashing the
"conspiracy theorists" in his Counterpunch.org publication.
In late 2006 Counterpunch featured a series of
by Manuel Garcia, an employee of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
purporting to explain the collapse of WTC 1, 2, and 7.
penned a biting critique of Garcia's articles in
Manuel Garcia Sees Physics That Don't Exist.
After dismantling Garcia's "physics", Ryan provides insight into
the political and psychological forces that are in play.
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Government scientists get paid to support government policies,
particularly in this era of "Bush Science",
and clearly Garcia is willing to play along.
But why would political news organizations, like Counterpunch,
that present themselves as alternatives to the corporate media,
promote these false claims?
Consider for a moment the implications of a breakthrough
in the truth about 9/11.
If the official story about 9/11 is completely false,
as it has proven to be,
that fact should call into question those media sources
who have helped to cover-up the details over the last five years,
even if only through gross negligence of the facts.
Whether or not collusion with alternative media was involved,
if there is a possibility that the neo-cons actually helped in planning
or executing the attacks,
then the fact that they pulled it off means that Alexander Cockburn
and other (ostensibly) liberal leaders might no longer enjoy the
"irreverent and biting" superiority that they identify themselves with.
It could be very distressing for some of these rebel leaders
to realize that instead of "muckraking with a radical attitude"
they have spent years meekly bolstering the status quo.
It appears that these kinds of realizations are inevitable,
and actually offer us a chance to improve our situation.
In the US, we'll soon have more opportunity to notice
the default states in which we are expected to accept scientific authority
no matter how illogical,
and accept a cartoonish political framework no matter how impotent.
In the next few months,
these opportunities will come like "hot volleys" from Manuel Garcia,
providing stark examples of how pretentious "experts",
and other types of fictitious,
homogenized (ironcrete) leaders give no real alternatives
to the problems we've seen in the last five years.
The Psychology of Denial
The reasons for the intense denial about the 9/11/01 attack
inside the Left establishment
appear to go much deeper than the fact that many of its institutions
are funded by endowments like those of the Ford Foundation.
The official myth appeals to political philosophies that condemn
U.S. imperialism by providing the supreme example of "blowback" --
the proverbial chickens coming home to roost.
Researcher August West speaks to this and other
psychological underpinnings of the denial.
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Denial lies at the heart of this unusual Left reaction. Many activists have
looked at the questions, thought about the answers for a bit, and retreated
in horror in the face of implications.
If the government had foreknowledge
and let the attacks happen, or worse, actually took part in facilitating them,
then the American state is far more vicious than they could have imagined.
And if so, what would happen to them should they vocalize this?
Needless to say,
this would greatly raise the stakes of political action well
beyond the relatively superficial level that even many leftists operate at.
It would be impossible to go on living as before, being essentially a spectator
whose life is work/shopping/entertainment, with the occasional political rally,
lecture or movie to spice things up and make one feel involved.
People like that,
or even ones more involved with some regular effort at political reform,
could no longer feel that the political situation could be changed
for the better through small,
incremental steps, a 100 year or even 500 year plan.
This prospect is thoroughly unsettling, and is easier to deal
with if simply dismissed outright. ...
Beneath unconscious motivations also lie some conscious agendas. Those on
the Left who have embraced "critical support" for a "limited response"
war will no doubt not wish to have their political bankruptcy
exposed. But even most of those who oppose the War have nevertheless accepted
the notion that the U.S. was attacked by a vicious enemy.
For some, this represents an opportunity
to promote their moralistic approach: let us respond in an
appropriate, moral and non-military manner. Others, such as Chomsky, Michael
Albert, Howard Zinn and Alex Cockburn, simply trot out the "blowback"
explanation: this horrible attack happened because America has done bad things,
has not listened to "us" (wag, wag the finger), and better start
changing its policies (as if an empire can be run in a nice way!).
Yet others who disagree with war boosters like Katrina van den Heuvel
of The Nation nevertheless
buy their thesis that the war promotes increasing state powers
(e.g., making airport baggage inspectors federal employees),
and this amounts to a move towards "socialism".
If the events of 9/11 were not what they
seemed to be, this takes away the chance to promote these political programs,
perhaps to even advance certain careers.
page last modified: 2010-12-18