On that basis, here's some thoughts on Richard Porter's (head of BBC World news) considered response to the questions that surround how BBC World News managed to report the collapse of the Saloman Brothers WTC7 building almost half an hour before it happened, complete with rolling footage of the 'collapsed' WTC7 building still standing in the background. Porter quoted, responses follow:
Part of the conspiracy?
27 Feb 07, 05:12 PM
The 9/11 conspiracy theories are pretty well known by now. The BBC addressed them earlier this month with a documentary, The Conspiracy Files, shown within the UK.
Not true, merely one interpretation of what happened. The programme was under an hour long and a large portion of the programme was dedicated to utter nonsense including looking around Dylan Avery and Jim Fetzer's homes, talking about Dylan Avery's first Radio Shack laptop on which the film Loose Change was born, along with a good unhealthy dose of anti-semitic nonsense to which nobody with any credibility gives any credence, none of which have anything much to do with the events of 11/9, how they happened or who made them happen. The final product is hardly what anyone would call a balanced piece of investigative journalism that 'addressed' alternatives to the official 9/11 conspiracy theory.
Until now, I don't think we've been accused of being part of the conspiracy. But now some websites are using news footage from BBC World on September 11th 2001 to suggest we were actively participating in some sort of attempt to manipulate the audience. As a result, we're now getting lots of emails asking us to clarify our position.
While some people may be using the footage to suggest that the BBC were actively participating in some sort of attempt to manipulate the audience, the point is irrelevant. What is relevant is the simple fact that BBC World News was reporting the collapse of a building that hadn't collapsed, hadn't been hit by a plane and that didn't collapse until half an hour after BBC World said it had, while the building was fully visible in the report about its collapse.
So here goes:
1. We're not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn't get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn't receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening.
Press releases and scripts are irrelevant. If nobody fed BBC World the news about a collapsed WTC7, where did the news come from before the event happened? Who came up with the idea of announcing a building that was still standing had collapsed? Jane Standley? A BBC World source? Another news wire? Where was the notion born prior to the event happening? Is the ridiculousness of a BBC World reporter describing an event that hadn't happened somehow lost on Mr Porter? Was it a guess? A premonition? A bit of avant-garde reporting from 23 minutes into the future, going three minutes better than the favoured technique of Network 23's Edison Carter? Was it a first hand account? From a blind man, maybe?
Simply: What was the source for the BBC World News report that WTC7 had collapsed?
2. In the chaos and confusion of the day, I'm quite sure we said things which turned out to be untrue or inaccurate - but at the time were based on the best information we had. We did what we always did - sourced our reports, used qualifying words like "apparently" or "it's reported" or "we're hearing" and constantly tried to check and double check the information we were receiving.
No such use of the terms "apparently", "it's reported" or "we're hearing" were used in connection with the reported collapse of the uncollapsed WTC7 building. Even the caption stated the building had collapsed. Past tense. But, if BBC World checked and double checked the information they were receiving, as Mr Porter tells us, this means there will be an audit trail leading directly back to the original source of the information about the collapsed building that was still standing. Then again, if the BBC "no longer have the original tapes" of "the day that changed the world", perhaps not.
3. Our reporter Jane Standley was in New York on the day of the attacks, and like everyone who was there, has the events seared on her mind. I've spoken to her today and unsurprisingly, she doesn't remember minute-by-minute what she said or did - like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing; what she was being told; and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services.
Maybe Jane Standley could use her high-speed BBC Internet connection to have a little dig around the web and see for herself what she said even though she can't quite recall now. Despite efforts to 'pull' copies of the video, it can still be found. The core issue here is not what Jane Standley said, but as highlighted above, the source of the information that gave rise to her fabricated report about an event that hadn't happened. It's not as if there weren't plenty of other 9/11 spectaculars upon which to report - say, for example, how two 110 storey steel and concrete buildings had been pulverised into what Jane Standley calls "snow" after having reportedly been hit by a couple of lightweight aluminium planes.
4. We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I'd love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don't help clear up the issue one way or another.
No further comment required. Oh, fuck it.... why not - the day that changed the world, the new Pearl Harbour, the attack on America, not one but four hijacked planes and the BBC has lost the tapes? For the record, the BBC's own policy statement on archiving material requires the retention of, "Two broadcast standard copies of all transmitted/published TV, Radio and BBCi output - one to be stored on a separate site as a master". Some going to lose both copies.
5. If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error - no more than that. As one of the comments on You Tube says today "so the guy in the studio didn't quite know what was going on? Woah, that totally proves conspiracy... "
Of course it was an error. What a great line to end on -- especially given his job title -- an offhand comment from a YouTube video. Shouldn't a little more be expected from the BBC than a trashy anonymous quote in response to serious questions about the provenance of the information that led to BBC World's amazing foresight with regard to their reporting of the collapse of WTC7, 23 minutes before it did?
Richard Porter is head of news, BBC World
On the subject of the BBC's Conspiracy Files addressing of 11/9, it should be noted that the series producer for the Conspiracy Files, Mike Rudin, openly admitted about his research into the mysterious death of Diana, "I was right away impressed with just how little I knew". In what other profession is it possible to openly admit one's ignorance, much less how impressed one is by one's own ignorance, and still manage to hold down the job?
For the beleaguered BBC journalist floundering away in similar ignorance, The Antagonist recommends you take the time to watch one or two of your own TV series -- series from back in the day when the BBC wasn't afear'd to do something that vaguely resembled proper investigative journalism --and get up to speed on something that closer resembles the nature of the real world in which you live.
The story of the 23-minutes premature announcement of WTC7's collapse -- the original source for which is still unknown -- continues....