By Peter Phillips
and Mickey Huff
Dec 16, 2010
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Critics of Project Censored often declare that we are a left-leaning organization. This is an interesting claim, given that over 200 faculty and students from multiple disciplines and political orientations work with Project Censored each year. Over 1,500 students have been trained in media research techniques since we began in 1976, and it would be hard to find a more mainstream, mostly Californian college student body.
Critical thinking and fact finding are not left leaning, they are the basis of democracy, and we proudly stand for the maximization of informed participatory democracy at the lowest possible level in society. To this end, Project Censored supports social justice and media democracy in action.
The second most often announced complaint is that we cover news stories that are really not “censored.” But our definition of censorship has been quite clear all along. Any interference with the free flow of information is censorship. Even if the interference is structural or not deliberate, it has the same impact of creating a lack of public awareness on critical issues. This means that when the New York Times chooses to cover the updates on celebrity deaths, marriages, or divorces, and ignores the ACLU’s release of military autopsy reports proving that the US was torturing prisoners to death in Iraq and Afghanistan (Censored Story #7, 2007), that is censorship. It is censorship even if most of the New York Times journalists didn’t know about the ACLU report; they certainly should have—it was an AP release! The ACLU report was only covered in a dozen or so newspapers (not the Times) and went widely unnoticed. For a story this important to go virtually unreported implies a degree of overt censorship.
Further, if journalists ignore topics related to 9/11, election fraud, electromagnetic weapons, contrail irregularities, and so on because they might be labeled “conspiracy theorists,” that is censorship as well. Any decision to cover up, ignore, avoid, steer away from, or simply fail to investigate—even if the investigation is not fruitful—is censorship because it implies a willful choice to not cover a particular story. Ignoring important news stories, no matter the reason, is not commensurate with the principles of a free press.
Those who think we at Project Censored are “left leaning” and who dispute our definition of censorship also accuse us of reporting on and perpetuating conspiracy theories—as though this were a bad thing. Allow us to explain our position on this topic.
Conspiracies tend to be actions by small groups of individuals rather than massive collective plots by governments and corporations. However, small groups can be dangerous, especially when the individuals have significant power in huge public and private bureaucracies. But it is very unlikely that conspiracies can be interlinked in a macro way, bridging the gaps between dozens of corporations and government bureaucracies. There are just too many opportunities for leaks and exposures.
Nonetheless, corporate boards of directors do meet in closed rooms to plan to how best to maximize profit. If they knowingly make plans that hurt others, violate laws, undermine ethics, or show favoritism to friends, they are involved in a conspiracy. Conspiracies exist everywhere, and yes, people do sit in rooms and conspire all the time. They may not congregate at the end of dark piers in abandoned warehouses under lights with no shades, smoking cigars in trenchcoats and looking askance, but conspirators do exist. Micro-plots may well be the answer to some of the famous conspiracies theories floating in our circles of cynicism on the Internet. However, without accurate, thorough investigations, we can only stew in our distrust. Critical thinking and accurate, transparent investigative research are needed to counter the emotional fraud and propaganda of speculative ideas, fear mongering, and groupthink.
The first thing that critics of investigations on 9/11, election fraud, and any other issues do is to link all the questions—including some of the most hairbrained ideas— together in a crazy hodgepodge of irrationality that undermines legitimate investigations. There is often a series of logical fallacies used by critics of controversial issues, including ad hominem attacks, red herring and straw person distractions, and false dilemmas. Because many people are taken in by these irrationalities, some journalists are fearful of being labeled conspiracy theorists. To protect their careers many—especially those in corporate media—will steer their inquiries to “safer” stories.
For example, in 2007, Project Censored covered research into the events of 9/11 by Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones. Dr. Jones concluded that the official explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings was implausible according to laws of physics. Jones called for an independent, international scientific investigation “guided not by politicized notions and constraints but rather by observations and calculations.” Jones specifically investigated the collapse of WTC 7, a forty-seven-story building that was not hit by planes, yet dropped in its own “footprint” in the same manner as a controlled demolition late in the afternoon on September 11, 2001. WTC 7 collapsed in 6.6 seconds, just .6 of a second longer than it would take an object dropped from the roof to hit the ground. “Where is the delay that must be expected due to conservation of momentum, one of the foundational laws of physics?” Jones asked. “That is, as upper-falling floors strike lower floors—and intact steel support columns—the fall must be significantly impeded by the impacted mass,” he explained. “How do the upper floors fall so quickly, then, and still conserve momentum in the collapsing buildings?” The paradox, he says, “is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly removed lower-floor material, including steel support columns, and allow near free-fall-speed collapses.”
To support his theory, Jones and eight other scientists conducted chemical research on the dust from the World Trade centers. Their research results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2, 2009 included their research article, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.” In the abstract the authors write, “We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples. These red/gray chips show marked similarities in all four samples. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.” Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction and is used in controlled demolitions of buildings.
Additionally, architect Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has to date amassed nearly 700 scientific professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and physics who have signed a petition calling for a new investigation of the events of 9/11 in New York. Gage’s and Jones’ empirical research suggesting the possibility of controlled demolition have moved thousands of others to question the events of 9/11, but most in the media have either ignored their hard data, marginalized their significance, or outright attacked them. Again, this is not the role of a free press. If bias is unacceptable, these views should be heard and vetted fairly in an open society regardless of their ultimate outcomes and without contingency upon their popularity.[i]
In the case of Gage and Jones, there are scientific, factual arguments that establish the clear possibility of controlled demolition of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001, and there is zero coverage in the corporate media in the US. This is top down corporate censorship pure and simple. Even if other scientists can be found to disagree with the study, the policy of ignoring the topic inside the corporate media is absolute. It seems unlikely that corporate journalists are unaware of the research, as it is listed on hundreds of websites worldwide. Perhaps the mainstream science journalists leave their critical thinking skills at home and give the scientific method the day off. Or maybe the real conspiracy exists within the boardrooms of the corporate mainstream media.
We asked a faculty physicist at Sonoma State University what she thought about the new research from Dr. Jones in the Open Chemical Physics Journal. She had been critical of Jones when he spoke on our campus in 2006. At that time she said she didn’t need to read Jones’ research because she had read a Popular Mechanics article on the issue, a nonacademic report that has been debunked in scholarly circles. She went on to imply that she “just knew” Jones was wrong. So when presented with a peer-reviewed release in an academic chemical journal, her response was that it was not one of the most prestigious journals, without going into any detail. In other words, if one doesn’t like what a scientific journal says, one can dismiss it a priori. No debate, no open discussion required. These are hardly principles of the academy and they are not tenets of a free press. In fact, these tactics and practices of attack and avoidance are enemies of free thought in any democratic society.
Project Censored as Left Leaning
According to the editor of the Pasadena Weekly, Project Censored suffers from a “perceived extreme left-leaning bent that editors . . . have assumed over the years in selecting, writing, and publishing its stories . . . more than anything it has been the Project’s perceived long leftward lean that has done the most damage to its overall credibility. Although the group never explicitly takes a political stance, a majority of the stories Project Censored highlights have a leftist political slant, criticizing big business, economic inequality, damage to the environment, the Pentagon, and misdeeds of conservative politicians, among other progressive issues.”[ii]
Why stories about the powerful in government and big business, or about environmental and inequality issues, are left leaning is beyond our understanding. It seems that this is just good journalism—the journalism that is missing in the corporate media—and could just as well be middle-leaning-journalism, right-leaning-journalism or crazy California journalism. We are holding those in powerful positions in society accountable for their decisions and actions, which we believe is what a free press is supposed to do. Nonetheless, to address the accusation we decided to examine the key stories Project Censored covered over the past sixteen years during both the George W. Bush and the William Jefferson Clinton administrations. Perhaps we would detect the bias in our records.
But after examining our censored news stories from both the Bush and Clinton administrations, we found very evident similarities. Both administrations lied to support military aggression, supported policies that resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, spied on Americans, undermined civil liberties and violated international treaties, supported global arm sales/distribution and private mercenaries, ignored environmental issues, lobbied for unsafe industrial practices, allowed big banks and Wall Street unregulated freedoms, and encouraged media consolidation and repression of open journalism.
Following are some of the stories Project Censored covered under the Clinton and Bush Presidencies; you may decide for yourself whether a bias toward the Left is expressed. All stories are archived online at http://projectcensored.org under the archives link catalogued by year.[iii]