Sunday, April 14, 2002

Did anyone happen to catch author and professional crank Michael Moore on the Lou Dobbs show this weekend? Although he's a windbag, I like Moore. His book Stupid White Men is an excellent antidote to the Zombie-like pro-Republican slant of the current US mindset. Yeah, I know, Moore's accused of making mistakes in it. I'll let Moore and other websites battle over those points.

What I want to talk about was this interview with Dobbs. You want bias in action? Check this out. At one point during the conversation, Dobbs asked Why are you going after President Bush so much? (as if that's a crime in and of itself, huh?). Moore got long winded about his rights to be critical of the government, and then popped out with a conspiracy riff tying Bush with Enron, the Taliban visiting Texas, a pipeline deal, Cheney and Haliburton, on and on. Dobbs looked at Moore like he was speaking Farsi, so Moore said something like Don't take my word for it, go read about it on the BBC site.

At that point, Dobbs chuckled one of those You don't know fuck-all about news and added I'm not going to read the BBC, Michael. Moore waltzed past this, but it was amazing. Here was Dobbs, a guy who thinks he's God's gift to white men reading the news, and when presented with possibilites beyond his current beliefs, he shut down to the point of saying I'm not interested in what another news organization says.

So there's a bit of interesting bias for you. A fairly left interview subject gets on air and offers speculation along with some substance, and the news guy acts as if he's being asked to believe Iraqi News Radio. Interesting, no? Perhaps Dobbs should stick to reading the numbers from Wall Street.


Lou Dobbs' inability to consider anything outside the words on his teleprompter got me thinking about another conspiracy rumor I've heard about for months - that American Jews working in and around the World Trade Center had advance warning about the 9-11 attack. Mostly this rumor has been circulated by Arab interview subjects as evidence that Israelis and not Arabs were behind the attacks.

Based on what I've read in US media, I assumed that rumor was just that - a rumor. So imagine my shock when I did a little net research and found this Instant Messages To Israel Warned Of WTC Attack. Newsbytes, a Washington Post Company, reported on September 27 that an instant messaging company called Odigo got a warning at it's Israeli offices about the attack two hours before it occured.

How did this get lost in the shuffle? Well, it turns out there's good reason. On Sept 28, Newsbytes got more info - Odigo Clarifies Attack Messages - and explained that the company received a vague threat two hours before the WTC attack which did not identify the World Trade Center as the target of an attack. Considering how many threats are circulated around the world, that's a little different, no? It kind of makes sense that they wouldn't call the Israeli Police right away, since they probably saw the message as an idle bomb threat.

What's fascinating is how this story (or at least the first part of it) takes on a life of it's own once published on the web (and re-published and re-published...). It appears Arab media all over the world accept the fact that Israelis were warned two before the WTC was hit. Some then extrapolate that 4,000 Israelis were not at their desk in the WTC as a result of this warning. One can find this "fact" referenced on Oct. 1, 2002 by - Evidence, History Say Otherwise - the Arab Bookstore online - In The Name Of Allah - and as late as Feb. 2002 - How Americans are blackmailed by Israel.

None of these pieces mention that Odigo clarified their statements within a day of the original story. All of them distort a quote and a bit of old news to present slanted articles which satisfies their political leanings. And surprise! Their readers believe it all. Could it be true? Well, maybe. But as points, out - right now, at best, this rumor is unproven.

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