Theater of Cruelty

Other Press Be Cautious Poster

MEDIA / There are two Be careful posters for the press: the written and the unwritten.


Almost all Norwegian editor-controlled media undertake to follow the Vær Varsom poster. It sets out rules, norms and ideals for good press practice that are easy to adhere to. But there is also another Be Careful poster. This is more intrusive than the first. It does not formulate ideals for how the press should work, but sets limits on what is acceptable to write about at all. It is neither explicitly formulated nor written down anywhere, but that it still exists becomes clear when it is first broken. 

When Ny Tid published an article by Ted Walter a year ago which problematized parts of the official story of 11/XNUMX, this was a clear violation of the press' second Vær Varsom poster. That the article was thorough, factual, fact-oriented and interesting was secondary. Such an article should never have been printed. What Ny Tid had allegedly been guilty of was "passing on conspiracy theories".

Thus, the scandal was a fact. The reactions that followed developed into a competition to distance oneself as much as possible from Ny Tid. The class struggle terminated the distribution agreement they had with the newspaper. A board member of Ny Tid withdrew in protest. Kjetil Rolness moved out on Facebook. It boiled down to social media. The Cultural Council "noticed the debate". And in fact fact-checked for hard life. 

After skipping most of Walter's arguments, and in return fired with cannons against the journal that had published one of the articles Walter had used as a source, the newly-created fact had already concluded the same day: It was "In fact totally wrong" that  "The skyscrapers crashed as a result of controlled explosions." In addition, it was claimed that Ny Tid "uncritically passes on conspiracy theories".  

Ny Tids coverage of 11 September

"Conspiracy theory" is a word of magical qualities. Just saying the word, especially if uttered with a bit of contempt, is obviously an adequate refutation in itself. How can this be? In itself, a conspiracy does not mean more than two or more people joining forces to commit an act, a "conspiracy" or "a plot" (Great Norwegian Lexicon). In the neutral sense of the word, a conspiracy theory will have neither greater nor lesser general credibility than other theories of criminal acts, but must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The purpose of using the word is, for the time being, rarely to give a neutral characteristic of a theory, but to invoke a number of notions and associations that are apt to discredit this theory.

I can hardly imagine that many of those who have read Ted Walter's article in Ny Tid, suspect him of wearing a conspiratorial aluminum hat. It would therefore be an advantage if it had been possible to discuss his views objectively in the general public – instead of succumbing to simple characteristics and stupefying ruling techniques. The alternative is that these discussions only take place on semi-public websites and in alternative media. This makes it more difficult to determine what is true and false, and at the same time make assessments based on as much information as possible. 

Many will face such an appeal with head-shaking: Should we also fill the newspaper pages with chronicles that claim the moon landing was "fake", that the Holocaust is a myth, that the earth is flat? No, everything within the limits of reasonableness. The fact that it takes more than two passenger aircraft to pulverize three skyscrapers is not an obvious unreasonable thought – especially not in light of the evidence presented by Walter. However, when Walter's views cannot be heard, it is because many will believe that they imply – not just one conspiracy – but a conspiracy of the incomparable kind. This does not follow logically. If explosives were really involved in the demolition of the towers, it is not impossible that Al Qaeda was responsible for this as well. And regardless of who may be behind it, there are experts who believe that such an operation with advanced explosives may not necessarily have been performed by many people. The important thing in this context, however, is that Walter himself and the organization he belongs to, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, consciously adhere to technical and scientific arguments and refrain from such speculation.

In fact, his claim that New Time with Walter's article conveys conspiracy theories is therefore actually completely wrong.

Nevertheless, more will – as did Klassekampen's former editor Bjørgulv Braanen did at a debate meeting on 11.9. under the auspices of New Time – reject Walter's argument, precisely because they claim that the consequence in that case will be that senior US officials must have been involved. It would be an absurd thought for someone on the inside to have had the motive, will and ability to accomplish such a thing.

Operation Northwoods

However, there is a historical context that even such scenarios do not appear entirely unimaginable. An appalling example is taken from the Cold War and went by the name of Operation North-woods. As a result of the release of previously secretly stamped documents, in 1997 it became publicly known that US authorities (more specifically within the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962) had drawn up plans to stage terrorist actions against their own inhabitants. The blame should be laid on Cuban authorities to justify a war on Cuba. The proposals were frighteningly detailed and included, among other things, hijackings and blasting of American ships. Fortunately, Operation Northwoods was never launched because then-President John F. Kennedy was cash-strapping. However, some of the plans that were drafted and proposed are remarkably similar to the conspiracy theories on September 11.

This, of course, does not tell us what really happened on September 11. But it does say something about what's possible, and perhaps suggests that the press's second Weather Warning poster is being enforced more stringently than it should. Instead of a press that is critical of what the authorities tell us when there is a basis for it, we have a press that attacks those who actually ask the critical questions. Such a press is a watchdog barking in the wrong direction.

See also from the debate 11.9.18


Also watch video from the event here

Øivind Nygård
Øivind Nygård
Nygård has a master's degree in Nordic language and literature.

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