Part 2: "We do not talk about things that we do not have enough experts to tell us about"


In my post of a few days ago, I asked some questions of CBC and Maclean's pundit Andrew Coyne, about his answers to a 9/11 Truther after a television taping. I said I'd e-mail him a link to the article (did) and advertise it on a few sites, including his own (did). I think I'll stop waiting for him to reply. He's still welcome to, of course; the Comment link is below.

Again, let's give Coyne credit for sticking around to engage his interlocutor, rather than making like Elvis and leaving the building, as Gregg and Hébert did. Still, his responses were vapid, and characteristic of what's wrong with the mainstream journalistic approach to 9/11.

It's easy enough to dismiss his first argument: that the chances that "all of the people who'd have to be involved" in a conspiracy could be kept quiet and on side are inconsiderable. If any or all elements of 9/11 were a CIA or Mossad or Pakistani SIS operation, rogue or otherwise (and there are reasons to suspect all three), thinking you're doing the right thing and/or fear of being killed would be quite enough to keep you quiet. And we're not talking thousands, or even hundreds of people here, not even to bring down the buildings, which could have been prepped by a handful of people over a course of months or even years.

I remain agnostic about what brought those buildings down, but there are plenty of reasons to keep wondering, and to want a new, proper investigation. Mr. Coyne, however, is done wondering (if he ever started). And why? Because "people whose judgment I trust have looked at this in some detail and don't find it credible."

This is journalistic thin gruel indeed. He doesn't say he's looked into it himself and decided it's goofy. No, he says he's let others form his opinion for him. One wonders: when Coyne wants to express a view on, say, Conservative tax policy, does he phone up a few people and ask them to tell him what he thinks? No? Then why is this his approach to the most formative event of this young century?

Or is he simply not the inquiring type? This is possible. As I mentioned previously, I occupied an office across from Andrew Coyne for a few months, while working as an editor at the late Saturday Night magazine. I hadn't been in Toronto for a few years, and was genuinely shocked at the numbers of homeless on the streets. One day I asked Coyne why he thought this had happened. I thought perhaps he'd allow that the conservative fiscal policies for which he and others had been plumping for years, successfully, might have contributed to the problem. Or maybe he'd offer some insight that hadn't occurred to me.

But he didn't know. He just didn't know why people were sleeping in doorways all over his city. Just had no idea.

Well. Either way -- whether Coyne lets others make up his mind for him or just isn't the sort to ask pertinent questions in the first place -- it leaves him in an untenable position. When he writes, as he did last year in the National Post, that if Canada pulls out of Afghanistan "the reality is that . . . the gap will have to be filled by the countries that are doing it now," he skips blithely over the fact that perhaps nobody should be fighting there at all, the whole mission being premised on false information. Yes, the Taliban are nasty, etc., but we are not there because the Taliban are nasty; we're there because they supposedly sheltered Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attack that he supposedly was behind.

Only, the Taliban offered to cooperate in the prosecution of bin Laden if given some evidence that he was involved in the attacks, which bin Laden disowned. Only, Mr. Coyne may not know these things because "people" have told him otherwise, or believe them because "people" have told him not to. Instead, as the woman in the video that started all this points out, he and his colleagues "adhere to the official narrative" whenever they write about Afghanistan. It is not, as Mme. Hébert would have it, that they "do not have enough experts" to tell them what happened. Rather, they chose a long time ago to believe the government's "experts," and leave it at that.

If journalists like these had been working the Watergate beat, Richard Nixon would have served out his time in office, because they'd have accepted his assurances that he wasn't a crook. Andrew Coyne is still welcome to tell us who advised him that alternative theories regarding 9/11 aren't credible, but it really doesn't matter what he says: the problem is that he's outsourced his ability to think for himself in the first place. If it were just a matter of the latest government scandal, it might not matter. Given that it's a matter that has killed over a million people and reshaped our world, it does.