A new television ad campaign featuring the family members of 9/11 victims has succeeded in garnering what 9/11 activists have lacked for years: serious treatment in the mainstream media.
Granted, that media was Fox News host Geraldo Rivera, who in a former iteration ran a Jerry Springer-like daytime talk show. That and, the last time Rupert Murdoch’s conservative-tilted television channel seriously talked about issues pertaining to 9/11, they were calling for a public official’s resignation over a signature on one of the “9/11 truth” petitions.
Still, at the end of his serious-yet-brief treatment of questions surrounding the collapse of World Trade Center 7 (WTC 7, pictured), Rivera admitted that the activists had made him “much more open minded” about questions surrounding 9/11.
Rivera spoke in response to an ad playing in 30-second bytes on screens all around New York City, which does not focus on conspiracy theories. It does not feature hip-hop beats in the background or winded, red-faced protesters dressed in black shouting at reporters. It doesn’t even mention President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney or the systemic failures in America’s air defenses.
Instead, it puts the spotlight on people who lost family members in the 2001 attacks. Patriotic background music plays as viewers are gently reminded that not two, but three buildings collapsed on 9/11.
“Although the official explanation is that fire brought down building seven, over 1,200 architects and engineers have looked into the evidence and believe there’s more to the story,” they say.
Then they implore viewers to help them seek justice, for their families, simply by visiting a web site: buildingwhat.org.
Their campaign’s name, “Building What?” was allegedly taken from the response offered by New York Supreme Court Justice Edward H. Lehner, when asked if he knew about WTC 7.
“Up until now, only those considered nutjobs questioned the official conclusion, that office fires caused by the nearby catastrophe of the towers collapsing brought down building number seven,” Geraldo said before introducing his guests.
NYC CAN, a nonpartisan association of over 100 9/11 family members, is the same group behind a 2009 ballot initiative requesting a new 9/11 investigation. It secured more than enough support to qualify for the ballot but the city ultimately blocked it from going before the voters, citing improperly collected signatures.
At time of this writing, AE911 said it had among its members, “1,346 verified architectural and engineering professionals who have put their professional reputations on the line to publicly voice their disagreement with NIST’s findings.”
One of Geraldo’s guests, Bob McIlvaine, whose son was killed on 9/11, also appeared in a longer, web-exclusive ad released in March after the delivery of a petition and information packets to members of the New York City council.
“What caught my eye,” Rivera explained, “was their claim that 1,300 architects and engineers examined the evidence about building seven’s collapse and disagree with the official report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).”
NIST’s report, released years after the 9/11 Commission Report, argued that the “new phenomenon” of thermal expansion could bring down a steel frame structure. The scientists added that their findings made them worry numerous other structures could be prone to the same style of collapse.
In spite of their conclusions, only three skyscrapers are known to have officially collapsed from hydrocarbon fires weakening steel supports, and all of them fell on Sept. 11, 2001.
Oddly enough, that same day the BBC reported that building seven had fallen some 23 minutes before it went down and featured a reporter speaking about the third dose of tragedy even as the tower remained standing behind her. Discovery of the mistaken and ill-timed reportage has since fueled talk of an international conspiracy, but the network insists it was simply mistaken and has adamantly denied allegations that it received advance notice of the collapse.
“Building seven came down, went into a sudden collapse across the full width and length of the building, for 2.25 seconds, which amounted to 105 feet or eight stories, eight 13-foot-tall stories — it was in full free-fall acceleration, ” explained Tony Szamboti, a mechanical engineer who appeared on Fox News with McIlvaine.
“That is impossible because, in a natural collapse, columns would have to buckle,” he said. “When columns buckle, there is a minimum resistance. … It would slow down.”
“What are you suggesting brought it down?” Geraldo asked.
“I’m suggesting there was some form of demolition devices in that building,” he replied. “… I’m not saying I know what it is. I’m saying that it was at freefall acceleration and the NIST admitted to that.”
Geraldo agreed that it looked like a structure “being demolished by the professionals who can actually collapse a building right into its own footprint”.
“Why do you think they’re lying about it?” he asked, inviting his guest to speculate.
Szamboti didn’t take the bait.
“I don’t really know all the details of why they’re lying about it,” he said, affirming his position without dipping into the conspiratorial nature of the various 9/11 theories. “I can’t read their minds. All I can say is, scientifically, it’s impossible for fire to have done what we say.”
Geraldo said the new NYC CAN campaign and the serious individuals behind it had made him “much more open minded” about 9/11 activism.
This video was broadcast by Fox News on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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