Laura Flanders on the WTC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Sep 11 17:29:56 MDT 2001

Laura Flanders

Live reports from Manhattan
A weblog

Filed 5:30 p.m. EST
Where do we turn in a crisis? To public workers, the ones we have
left. I just spoke to two dozen of them at an emergency staging area
on Manhattan's Avenue of the Americas. Bused in from as far away as
Far Rockaway, Queens they are massed here: the men and women of the
New York City Housing Authority with their blue suits, hard hats,
city-issue respirators and their 52 flatbed trucks lined up, awaiting
the call to head downtown to start the ghastly clean up.
Usually these people -- almost exclusively Black and Latino, mostly
men with a couple of women -- manage Manhattan's housing projects.
Today, they're coming to the World Financial Center's aid. Where are
the sanitation workers? Standard garbage crushers are poorly suited
to the delicate clean-up operation downtown. That's part of the
story. Besides, as one NYCHA worker put it, "The city's been getting
out of the trash business." It's true. More and more city garbage is
picked up these days by private contractors. These city workers,
members of the Teamsters local 127, have been without a contract for
a year.

"It's always police and hospital workers who get the credit, but
we're here when you need us," said union member Ray Garcia. It's
true. Dark skinned, blue collared, hot and waiting, these are
emergency workers. Workers we depend on in an emergency. Cut public
spending on social services? Think about it. Right now, chances are,
I'd be looking at an empty street.

Filed 1:56 p.m. EST


It's the date. It is also the situation. At St. Vincent's hospital,
where there are some 180 casualties and two at last count dead, about
500 people are waiting to give blood. Civilian cars are driving
casualties to the door. New Yorkers are turning out to help. That's
the good news.

The bad news: on televison, reporters are fanning flames with
irresponsible reports. Just an hour ago, CBS Channel 2 in New York
interview with a transit employee who, with no evidence and no data,
was broadcast live, telling the already terrified public that
biological agents might be entering people's lungs.

Tom Brokaw on NBC can't get enough of State Department officials. For
hours this morning, NBC "reported" that the Democratic Front for the
Liberation of Palestine had "claimed responsibility" for the attack
on the World Financial Center. Brokaw's source, it turns out, was an
anonymous caller to Abu Dhabi television. By 9.58 EST, the Reuters
newswire was reporting that a senior official from the Democratic
Front had denied any connection to the attack:

``I emphasize that the story released on Abu Dhabi TV by an anonymous
person is totally incorrect,'' Tayseer Khaled, a senior official from
the DFLP politburo in the Palestinian territories, told Reuters.

``The DFLP is against hijacking planes and against endangering the
lives of civilians who are not connected with the struggle of this
region,'' he said.

Filed 12:27 p.m. EST
It looks like nuclear winter out there. Police are trying their best
to close off all streets from my block south (Canal St.) I think of
Baghdad, Belgrade. Speculation on tv runs rampant. I am going now to
St. Vincent's hospital in Greenwich Village to give blood.

Filed 10:33 a.m. EST
The smoke is heading my way in lower Manhattan. I can see it. And I
can no longer see either of the World Trade Towers that were clearly
visible from my block as I walked home last night.

That's about all I can tell you about this morning's attack in New
York. In CNN's News Center in Atlanta, they know even less, but that
isn't stopping their talk.

Two hours after attacks on two U.S. cities, it's not clear how the
coverage will develop. There's no question, however, that TV speakers
will be filling the rest of the day with talk about an event that
none of them can explain. As the hours progress, "experts" will no
doubt be interviewed. Greta Van Sustern was already asked for her
analysis. CNN's legal expert talked from her vantage point at
Washington's National Airport.

We can't predict the coverage, but we can recall the past. Here,
thanks to our friends at FAIR, from 1995:

"Seldom have so many been so wrong -- so quickly. In the wake of the
explosion that destroyed the Murrah Federal Office Building, the
media rushed -- almost en masse -- to the assumption that the bombing
was the work of Muslim extremists. "The betting here is on Middle
East terrorists," declared CBS News' Jim Stewart just hours after the
blast (4/19/95). "The fact that it was such a powerful bomb in
Oklahoma City immediately drew investigators to consider deadly
parallels that all have roots in the Middle East," ABC's John
McQuethy proclaimed the same day.

"`It has every single earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of the
Middle East,' wrote syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer (Chicago
Tribune, 4/21/95). "Whatever we are doing to destroy Mideast
terrorism, the chief terrorist threat against Americans, has not been
working," declared the New York Times' A.M. Rosenthal (4/21/95). The
Geyer and Rosenthal columns were filed after the FBI released
sketches of two suspects who looked more like Midwestern frat boys
than mujahideen."

There's been a tragedy. May all of us in the media not add to it

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 09/11/2001

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