|May 17, 2006|
Troubling Reportage: 'PENTAGON RELEASES CRASH VIDEO'
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
There it was on AOL ’s main web page: “Pentagon Video Shows Plane Hit” and right underneath, “Will it End Conspiracy Theories?” To the left of the headlines is a photo showing a long shadowy wall that ends with a big orange and black fireball.
Robert Burns of the Associated Press wrote the accompanying article, titled “Pentagon Releases 9/11 Crash Video.”
“The Pentagon on Tuesday released the first video images of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the military headquarters building and killing 189 people in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,” writes Burns. Further down, he writes a clarifying sentence in which he essentially contradicts himself: “Some still images from the video had previously been leaked and publicly circulated, but this was the first official release.” Does Burns realize that he’s saying that the exact same previously released images weren’t released first because they weren’t “officially released?” And then there’s this line under video image 3 of 7 accompanying the article: “Some of the images had already been leaked and circulated years ago.”
The next paragraph opens with, “The airplane is a thin white blur on the video as it slams into the Pentagon at ground level.” Reporting 101 tells you that first you make sure the image is genuine and then you have to positively identify what is in that image. Can Mr. Burns positively identify the “thin white blur” as American Airlines Flight 77? Why does he just take the Pentagon’s word for it? Do members of the Pentagon never lie? He can certainly write that the Pentagon says it’s Flight 77, but that he can’t confirm it by looking at those images. Instead, he barrels on, describing the airliner’s speed, how many people were on board, etc., etc.
Further down, Burns writes: “The Pentagon had previously refused to release the videos, saying they had been provided to the Justice Department as evidence in any criminal proceedings.” Now comes this quote from Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton: “We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11.” Does Fitton really believe that those images are important contributions to the completion of the public record? Why did he fight so hard for them if they were already all over the internet? Does Fitton know, as many do, that the video government agents grabbed from the NEXCOMM Citgo gas station camera that was literally pointing right at the side where the Pentagon was hit, might provide a more “complete” record? Mr. Fitton, get that video if you can.
And Mr. Burns, please, please do not just cover a story by simply quoting official sources. Report it. Tell your readers, just for beginners, what you really see in those images. I'll tell you what I see: an orange and black fireball and, as you said, "a thin white blur." I don't see a 757 jetliner. Do you?
Pentagon Releases 9/11 Crash Video (AP/AOL)
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Reporter and producer Kristina Borjesson is the author of FEET TO THE FIRE: The Media After 9/11: Top Journalists Speak Out, and Into the BuzzSaw. (See BuzzFlash interview here.)
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