National Geographic Channel on 9/11: Manipulation vs. Objectivity

By Dwain Deets and Gregg Roberts

AE911Truth plans to release a longer response than this one as soon as resources permit. In the meantime, readers are encouraged to examine these other recently published pieces:

Jim Hoffman, National Geographic Does 9/11: Another Icon Debased in Service of the Big Lie

Kevin Ryan, Finally, an Apology From the National Geographic Channel (with comments at Kevin Ryan's Blog)

Richard Gage, AIA, Gregg Roberts, and David Chandler, Evidence for the Explosive Demolition of World Trade Center, Building 7 on 9/11

National Geographic Channel (NGC) first broadcast its two-hour special misleadingly entitled "9/11: Science and Conspiracy," on August 31, 2009. NGC, with 67% ownership by Rupert Murdoch, posed as a neutral party explaining both sides in an ongoing dispute. In reality, it manipulated the presentation, doing many subtle and not so subtle things to support the side of the official story.

In actuality, this so-called documentary was a de facto hit piece, an assault on truth, and obviously skewed in support of the government's explanation of 9/11 and against "9/11 truth." Whatever their intentions, the producers failed completely in any supposed attempt at balanced reporting and a fair presentation of both sides of the story.

The Manipulation Channel

The first big manipulation was the use of a highly misleading title, suggesting that those supporting the official story represent the scientific viewpoint, while those questioning the official story are merely "conspiracy theorists" who have no science or scientists on their side. The truth is that those supporting the official story were manipulating and those questioning the official story were much more objective in their reasoning.

Most troubling, NGC used a devious tactic at program's end against those questioning the official story. These four leaders of the objective side (Dylan Avery, Richard Gage, David Ray Griffin, and Steven Jones) had pointed out shortcomings in the several "experiments" (better called pseudo-scientific demonstrations) sponsored by NGC. According to NGC, these experiments would answer the key questions in the dispute between the two sides, but the 9/11 skeptics were critical of each of the demonstrations, saying that each of them were irrelevant. NGC twisted this criticism of the experiments as evidence that 9/11 skeptics would refuse to accept any experimental results that work against their conclusions – and would do so for that reason alone.

NGC actually used the term "truthers" to refer to the objectivists, a silly-sounding label used as shorthand within the community of 9/11 skeptics, but not one that they use when speaking to critics. The use of that insider label was one of the many appeals to emotion rather than reason used in the show. To help understand this, compare the use of the "N" word by African-Americans themselves, as opposed to its use by people who are not members of that group and instead are hostile toward its members. The repeated use of the word "beliefs," more appropriate to emotional and religious contexts, rather than the word "conclusions," which carries a connotation of rationality, is another example of this kind of manipulation.

In each case of critiquing the demonstrations, Gage said, "the experiment design doesn't even take into account the evidence for explosive controlled demolition." His critique was glossed over by NGC as if he hadn't even said it. What did he mean by this? It turns out, Gage had provided NGC a full briefing on this evidence, and what he meant by explosive controlled demolition. Gage furthermore was assuming as he was making these critiques that his terminology would convey the meaning developed during his full briefing. It turns out that, in what survived the producers' cuts, NGC chose to exclude all of this evidence presented by Gage.

Had Gage known that NGC would censor his list of evidence, he might have given a more specific reason for criticizing the various demonstrations. For example, in the aviation fuel fire test, where NGC showed that a single steel beam under load would sag when it reached over 2,000 degrees F. In reality, 2,000 F wasn't an important temperature at all in the larger context, or even the fact that aviation fuel could burn that hot. Part of the evidence for explosive controlled demolition was that temperatures in the structures reached more than twice that temperature – far above what burning aviation fuel could produce. NGC's experiment was moot. Not a single leading 9/11 skeptic would deny that steel that is sufficiently overloaded and heated will twist out of shape and eventually fail entirely. Indeed, Gage said this on the show.

Other key parts of the evidence for explosive controlled demolition was the more than two seconds of free-fall acceleration of Building 7, the molten metal at Ground Zero that remained extremely hot for many weeks (unexplainable for jet fuel and office fires), the evidence of unignited nanothermite in the dust, the massive girders thrown 600 feet horizontally, and the symmetrical destruction of all three buildings, accelerating into what should have been the paths of greatest resistance. Although the nanothermite was discussed by Jones, it was dismissed by the NGC narrator as merely something some 9/11 skeptics believe in. NGC reinforced this dismissal of the importance of nanothermite by not at all being bothered that their thermite demonstration did not address nanothermite, which was found in the dust from the destruction, but rather its tamer cousin thermite, which NGC was willing and able to obtain.

The NGC narrator was cast as a voice of authority. The tone and inflection conveyed the idea that this show was presenting the "final word," bringing truth out of the controversy. During the lead-up to the building demolition demonstration, the narrator commented that it would take so many people and so much time to wire the explosives, she didn't even know if it would be possible to wire ''both'' buildings. The use of the term "both" was part of an effort throughout the program to ignore Building 7. It falsely implied that only two buildings "collapsed" that day. Building 7 is widely regarded among 9/11 skeptics as a more obvious problem for the official story than the Twin Towers, since its destruction precisely resembled a controlled demolition. (It takes some people longer to see that the destruction of the Twin Towers also had to be a controlled demolition, albeit one that used an "overkill" amount of explosives and started at the impact zones.)

NGC attempted to make its case using personalities in the public's eye, casting them as authorities on this matter. One was Matt Taibbi, editor of Rolling Stone magazine. At one point, Taibbi said, "We ask people who really know the answers. I've asked dozens of structural engineers and scientists about what happened on 9/11, and the answer I uniformly get from credible sources is always the same—overall, this story tends to be supported by the evidence." Such a statement completely dismisses the expertise of Gage and Jones, the more than 800 architects and engineers at Gage's website, in favor of unnamed alleged dozens of structural engineers and scientists somewhere out there. No opportunity was given to counter this outrageous put-down and dismissal. With regard to structural engineers, see our a recent article "29 Structural & Civil Engineers Cite Evidence for Controlled Demolition in Collapses of All 3 WTC High-Rises on 9/11" by Gregg Roberts and AE911Truth staff. The article presents hard evidence that Taibbi's unnamed dozens would find hard to refute.

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