The BBC and the 9/11 conpiracy theories

 by Martin Belam, 15 February 2007

Over the weekend the BBC are transmitting one of an occasional series looking into "conspiracy theories". One episode, concerning the favourite topic of the Daily Express, the death of Diana, was transmitted last year. Future episodes will look at the death of Dr David Kelly (a death with far-reaching consequences for the corporation itself) and the Oklahoma bombing. To promote the start of the season back in December , they even had a quiz online designed to show how much you were likely to believe in conspiracies. (I was a moderate)

This weekend's BBC Two episode is a programme on the conspiracy theories that surround the events of the 11th September 2001.


This has attracted some highly emotive comments on the BBC's Editors blog:

"Read this very carefully. This sort of program is an insult to the innocents who were murdered on that day and I am absolutely outraged that I am forced to either finance it or go to jail."
"Personally I think that making tv programmes like this is sick."
"Has the BBC got nothing better to discuss?, every week you bang on about this, I do not for a second think that the Americans caused this outrage. Islamic terrorists are the cause, why not try reporting real news?, not everyone in the UK wants your PC version rammed down their throats.
Oh and before I have the Guardian brigade telling me I am wrong, I want to point out two more things......I am Muslim, my family is Muslim and not one person I know has any doubts about who caused this outrage, and although it pains me to say it, it was other Muslims.
The BBC is doing a dis-service to the memory of all those lost and should understand that it is causing huge issues with how people in the Muslim world try and face up to these evil people."

On the other side, there are also plenty of people looking forward to the programme exposing the presumed duplicity of the conspiratorial American government.

"The US government is without doubt covering SOMETHING up with 9/11 but we will never know what.
I, for one, cannot wait to watch the BBC's programme on this on Sunday.":
"The so called conspiracy theorists could so easily be silenced by the government and it's agencies simply providing the answers to so many of the unanswered questions. Yet they don't and won't. 9/11 was an inside job."
"You guys should really listen to what your saying, there are about a million unanswered questions about 9/11 and finally somebody in Britain finds the nerve to do it and everybody jumps on the idea."

Amongst it all there is also a lot of the usual new world order and Zionist tosh that shamefully for the BBC ought to have been moderated off for being anti-semetic but wasn't. And the BBC ought to be more sensitive than most to the origins of the 9/11 conspiracy theory, since an "error" in one of their early reports on the terrorist attacks sparked a lot of rumour about the identities of the hijackers.


I hope I'll be able to get to watch the programme itself, although most commentators on the blog seemed to have judged for themselves what it will contain. That in itself indicates the entrenched mind-sets of the two camps on this issue. On the one hand even raising questions against the official version of September 11th 2001 is an insult, on the other, the fact that a mainstream media station is looking at the theories reinforces them and appears to give them even more creedence.

In some ways, if the showing of the programme on national TV in the UK isn't a triumph for the conspiracy theorists, it is at least a triumph for the internet as a medium for distributing conspiracy ideas.

It took 12 years after the death of John F. Kennedy for the Zapruder film footage to be shown on network television in the USA and trigger widespread questioning of the official story of that high profile event. Thanks in part to the IP-based distribution of video content it has taken half that time for films like "Loose Change" and "9/11: Press For Truth" to convince a significant proportion of the American public that some sort of government cover-up took place.

What a lot of people seem to miss is that the BBC making a documentary film about a point of view doesn't necessarily endorse that point of view, and with his "Secret Rulers of the World" films Jon Ronson appeared to perfect the art of giving conspiracy theorists almost exactly the right amount of rope with which to hang themselves. That is what I'm expecting to see.

As I say, I look forward to seeing the show, but somehow, after the transmission, I expect the two opposing views to be just as disatisfied wth the programme, and just as strong in their already held beliefs.

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