By Craig McKee
It’s a challenge to interview someone you’d rather be debating. That was the case when I interviewed Canadian writer and journalist Jonathan Kay this week. Kay, an editor with the National Post, is the author of Among the Truthers, which attempts to examine and explain the world of conspiracy theorists. Why do these otherwise intelligent people believe the “bullshit” that they do, he wonders? He sees the 9/11 Truth movement as being ridiculous and based on arguments that “even an eight-year-old” would see through. I chose to try and cover as much ground in 45 minutes as I could rather than getting into an in-depth debate on any one point. I did find things in his arguments that cry out for further argument , and I will offer my analysis of his remarks in a subsequent post. I encourage readers to offer their own comments at the end of this article.
CM: What is the difference between a conspiracy theorist and someone who does legitimate research to unearth a real conspiracy?
JK: I define according to the method of argumentation of the people who advance the theory in question. I give the example of Iran/Contra, Teapot Dome, the Sponsorship Scandal or Watergate, which of course were real historical conspiracies. If you’re advancing something like this, one person will advance evidence and the other person will refute it, and by that method you could find out the truth about whether it’s a conspiracy. With conspiracy theories, on the other hand, there’s this kind of argument that takes place, which is that one person, let’s say me, the proponent of the conventional theory, will provide evidence, such as for instance the 9/11 Commission Report or the National Institute of Standards and Technology report or media reports or judicial investigations, and what the conspiracy theorists will do is just swallow that into their conspiracy and say, well, the 9/11 commissioners were all in on it; they were friends with Bush, and the people who did the NIST report, they were all in on it, and the media’s all in on it because they’re all owned by George Soros or Rupert Murdoch or whatever. The conspiracy theorist will just keep building a bigger and bigger conspiracy until the imagined conspiracy includes tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. And this is a method of argumentation that I’ve only seen used by conspiracy theorists. When people use that method of argumentation, I call them conspiracy theorists.
CM: So if someone relies on actual evidence, you don’t consider them a conspiracy theorist?
JK: Everybody thinks they’re using actual evidence. I don’t want to use that formulation because it’s not like I’m debating someone, and they say, I’m going to use bogus evidence; everybody thinks they’re using actual evidence, so it’s hard to use that as a criterion. What I am using as a litmus test is the manner in which people purport to offer what they think is real evidence. If it follows the pattern I described before I tend to think it’s a conspiracy theory.
CM: A lot of people who are on the same side of the 9/11 question as I am would argue that the 9/11 official story is itself a conspiracy theory. What’s your reaction to that?
JK: In the most limited sense of the term, yes, it is a conspiracy theory in the sense that it’s a theory of 9/11 that involves a conspiracy. A conspiracy can involve as few as two people. In this case you had at least 19 people. And more like if you add in the others – several dozen more people. They were involved in a successful conspiracy to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and one other target which we don’t really know what it was. And yes, that was a conspiracy. In this case the evidence for it is quite straight forward; it’s all the stuff that’s contained in the 9/11 Commission Report, which I realize presumably you don’t find convincing, and it’s also statements from al-Qaeda members themselves, including an admonition against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because he was advancing 9/11 conspiracy theories. Folks in al-Qaeda actually got mad at the Iranian president saying, ‘Give us credit for what we did.’ That’s the most recent incident I know of this.
CM: One of the things that early in the last decade led me to believe the official story of 9/11 was the alleged video confession by Osama bin Laden…
JK: I never actually watched that. I know there are all kinds of theories about how it’s fake and stuff. I think there’s abundant evidence even without that. I’m guessing that you take issue with the authenticity of it?
CM: Yes, I think anybody watching it would look at the person who is purporting to be bin Laden and say, that doesn’t look like the same man. Regardless of what theories might go with that, it just doesn’t look like the same man.
JK: It could be. I never saw the video. There’s a hundred other reasons why I embrace the official theory of 9/11, and to be honest, I haven’t found the individuals who claim it isn’t him in the video particularly convincing. They’ll show images side by side – ya, I always thought that was completely unconvincing. There are photos of me that when I see them on the Internet I say, that’s not me – I look so stupid. I look 20 years older than I am, and my hair colour’s different depending on how the flash is used. It looks like someone from a different race sometimes. People say, oh that doesn’t look like him; that could describe any photograph of anybody. Sometimes photos just don’t capture someone the way they look.
CM: But we’re not talking about a photograph, we’re talking about a video.
JK: When I look at the web sites, I tend to see stills side by side. You’re quite right that we’re talking about video but the blogs I’ve seen that purport to debunk the video, they tend to rely on stills. I guess if you watch the whole video you could say, that doesn’t look like him, but I’ve never met bin Laden obviously, although some journalists have – but again, I’ve never found that form of evidence particularly convincing.
CM: You advocate an anti-conspiracism curriculum in schools. Could you explain what that means?
JK: In the last chapter of my book I say that we’ve been very successful at educating people about things like racism, teaching them not to be racist, teaching them not to be sexist, teaching them not to be anti-Semitic, teaching them not to be homophobic. And we’ve done that because we want to discourage “isms” that we find negative for our society, that are hateful or divisive or whatnot. What I suggest is that conspiracism falls into this category for two reasons: one, it’s bad for society. It doesn’t matter if the object of your conspiracism is Jews or Muslims; I know people who are convinced there’s a Muslim around every street corner who wants to come blow us up and stuff – I don’t think that’s helpful either; I think that’s just as bad as anti-Semitism. Or Freemasons or the so-called gay lobby – there’s lots of conspiracy theories out there. I think it’s bad for our marketplace of ideas, and I think people should be educated about that. The second way it’s similar to the campaign against racism and sexism and that sort of stuff is the pattern recognition. As I argue in my book, every conspiracy theory is different but they tend to follow the same basic pattern in the way that racists tend to follow the same basic pattern and other forms of toxic “isms” follow the same pattern. The details are different but the basic structure of the ideology is the same. And I think you should teach kids, especially in the context of the Internet where they receive all kinds of propaganda, you should teach them how to recognize the basic ingredients of a conspiracy theory. Some people say there’s this small group of people, and they control the world, and they’re creating terrorist attacks and wars and depressions, and it’s all led by a guy in a smoke-filled room, the Bilderbergers or whatnot – I think people should be sceptical of that.
CM: They should be sceptical, but shouldn’t they evaluate the evidence for and against that?
JK: This goes back to my answer to your first question. You teach kids – when I say kids I mean senior high school students or perhaps university students – you teach them how to recognize and to make distinctions between critical intellectual inquiry and what I regard as non-productive conspiracy theories.
CM: Aren’t there any dangers in that, though? It sounds like you’re discouraging dissent.
JK: That’s a very fair point. It’s a fine line, right? You don’t want to stigmatize legitimate intellectual inquiry, and there is a fine line. And I would never want to say, oh this is illegal or this is a human rights violation – you’re not allowed to create a blog or something about this particular subject; I agree with that. However, I think one of the reasons so many people get sucked into conspiracy theories is that they make a fetish out of scepticism. Scepticism is a wonderful thing, but if you’re sceptical about every single fact of every single opinion of any single piece of information you get you end up inhabiting a world that is completely nihilistic. And some of the people I interviewed for my book fall into that category. They don’t believe anything they’re told by the government, NGOs, the media; they believe they’re living in a complete world of lies, and it’s almost impossible for these people to engage with society cause they just think nothing they’re told is the truth. You can’t have any sort of productive civil society or politics if people believe that. There’s also the fact that it’s just not true; we don’t live in the kind of society. It’s not the case that everyone around us is telling us lies constantly. That kind of society would be unliveable. So I do think people should be sceptical about what the government tells them. My whole profession of journalism is based on that, right? I couldn’t do my job if we couldn’t criticize the government. But you have to educate people around patterns of thought that we live in this police state where we constantly being lied to every second of the day, which just isn’t true.
CM: I would argue that if I were someone who saw things as you do but I was not a member of the media, I would be inclined to want to blame the media for a lot of these ideas. There are a lot of things that aren’t reported that I think should be reported. The obvious example from 9/11 is Building 7. You mentioned the NIST report – that took seven years to come out. When a friend told me about Building 7 in 2007, I had never heard of it. I couldn’t believe he was telling me the truth that there was a third building. And it’s almost never made an appearance on network television since then. Isn’t the media failing to examine that whole question of how it fell, other than waiting seven years for a report to come out?
JK: Building 7 was not entirely unexamined. There was a whole National Institute of Standards and Technology report that came out about Building 7. Also, the World Trade Center wasn’t just the twin towers and Building 7; there were actually seven buildings in the WTC campus, which ended up being almost completely destroyed. And most people just weren’t that interested in the buildings that didn’t have planes flown into them. For the people who were interested in how the other buildings and how they fell, there was no secret about Building 7; there were plenty of media reports about it, and it was well filmed at the time because it fell at 5:20 p.m. on 9/11 so there were lots of cameras. First responders and firefighters were involved salvaging or trying to salvage things from WTC 7 that were profiled in video documentaries. The only reason I think people complained that there wasn’t enough TV coverage of WTC 7 was because there was this theory that it was destroyed by internal demolition, which, as you know, I don’t believe that theory. If there were a legitimate controversy about how WTC 7 fell and whether it fell from internal demolition obviously I would agree with you; this would call for a huge investigation. However, if you have read the NIST report on the fall of WTC 7 they actually went out of their way to investigate this possibility and found there was absolutely no way WTC 7 fell from internal demolition, and one of the reasons they found was that there was absolutely no seismic data that supported the idea that explosives were used.
CM: You say “if” there was legitimate controversy, but most people didn’t even know about Building 7.
JK: Most people don’t know that the Marriot World Trade Center fell or that 4 World Trade Center fell or 5 World Trade Center fell or that 6 World Trade Center fell – all these buildings ended up being destroyed. No one cares about any of these because they aren’t as dramatic as WTC 1 & 2. In terms of the film, I agree with you. 9/11 Truth activists have done a very good job at propagandizing the video of WTC 7 falling, and the angle they pick does make it look like, hey, maybe that does look like it was an internal demolition, but the angle they show you is deliberately selected so you don’t see the localized fires burning on some of the lower floors, which ultimately were responsible for the building’s collapse. If you’re a layperson and you see this video and you have no idea how buildings fall it’s possible you would think this fell from internal demolition. And a lot of the people I interviewed for the book think that. There’s all kinds of videos you could show me and say, hey, don’t you think that this looks like that? And I’d say sure, why not, I guess. It doesn’t mean there’s a scientific basis for supporting this theory. I see the WTC 7 video as a very efficient propaganda device.
CM: So you’re going to go with NIST no matter what? Because it’s the official report?
JK: Not because it’s the official report but because it’s a complete state-of-the-art finite method for analysing building collapse. It involved the work of hundreds of engineers; I think Purdue University’s engineering department was behind it. I think you know this about me, I used to be a metallurgical engineer. I know a little about how engineering departments work, are staffed, the level of technology that goes into them. I also know a little about these claims that these departments can be infiltrated on a mass basis and be used to churn out government propaganda. These are the kinds of people I used to work with on a day-to-day basis. It’s nonsensical to imagine that legions of these people could be co-opted in a government project and sworn to secrecy and put out this massive report that was just a bunch of lies. This doesn’t happen at places like Purdue or other universities that are used for state-of-the-art research of this kind. So, yes, I’m sticking by NIST.
CM: One last thing on the media, one story I was shocked to hear about, and I certainly didn’t find out about it on a network newscast was the confession that E. Howard Hunt is supposed to have made to having been part of the plot to kill Kennedy. There’s an audio recording that he made and asked his son to release only upon his death. Isn’t that something that should be huge news even if people are disputing its authenticity?
JK: I think there’s a little bit of Kennedy fatigue. I’ll confess, I actually used to be a Kennedy assassination buff 15 years ago, and I remember reading all these books; there have been over 2,000 books published about the Kennedy assassination, and the vast majority of them involve some kind of claim that it was Lyndon Johnson or it was the CIA, and I remember reading several of them, and this is lost in the mists of my memory because it`s been a while since I was into that, that claimed deathbed confessions from Jack Ruby`s grandmother or Lee Harvey Oswald`s long lost step mom or whatever. In many of these books the author got energized by getting what someone claimed was some kind of sensational tip about someone`s deathbed confession or something, and I think a lot of people in journalism who report on this have a sort of fatigue about this, and when someone, even a famous person like Hunt, it’s claimed they had a deathbed confession I think there’s a lot of people who say, ya ya. It’s been 50 years and there’s been all kinds of crazy theories that have come forward, including some that have been supported by alleged deathbed confessions. And people just don’t believe it anymore. By the way, I’m not 100% sure Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t have some help; it’s possible he had an accomplice. You can’t prove a negative. It might be the case that there was someone who at least knew about the plot. I don’t think it was Lyndon Johnson or anything like that; it was probably some other Marxist like Oswald was. It’s possible. I don’t really know. I do think people have kind of moved on from theories about this because they can`t be proved and there`s so many of them.
CM: I guess I find an actual audio recording of Hunt saying he was part of the plot at least worth reporting and evaluating.
JK: It was reported. I did see it in a few sources; it’s not like it was completely ignored. I think people were sceptical. I’m sceptical. I think you’re sceptical, too. You don`t have a hundred per cent certainty that it was Hunt, right?
CM: I don’t have a particular reason to doubt it, but I like to go on evidence. I get suspicious, frankly, and this is what I was getting at with the media being partly to blame here, when you don’t report something like that, people say, what’s going on? Why is this being ignored? It causes conspiracy theories surely to thrive.
JK: I think there’s a grain of truth to what you’re saying. It’s true, the ignore stories sometimes. For instance, many Barack Obama conspiracy theorists I interviewed – these are people who think Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia or something – when I ask them why they believe this stuff, a lot of the time they’ll say the media never really investigated Obama’s background, and they always gave him an easy ride. And that’s true; I think there’s some validity to that. Barack Obama was seen as this perfect candidate. He was black, and reporters didn’t want to seem racist by probing some of the less savoury aspects of his background. And I think it was true, a lot of reporters gave him a free pass, and that gave encouragement to conspiracy theorists who said there’s this media conspiracy to cover up some disgraceful aspect of his past. I don’t think that was the case; reporters just didn’t want to seem racist or whatever so they gave him a free pass. There is a grain of truth to saying that there are some stories that reporters just stay away from – there’s sort of a herd mentality. But eventually reporters do come to these stories. The 9/11 Truth thing, the idea that this could have been internal demolition, trust me, I work with dozens of reporters that would love to win a Pulitzer Prize by being the first mainstream journalist to really tear the lid off the story and interview people and get eyewitnesses who planted bombs and everything. Look, I’d be a millionaire, I’d be the most famous journalist in the world like Woodward and Bernstein. This is one of the craziest aspects of 9/11 conspiracy theories. They ignore the fact that almost any journalist in the world would give 10 years off their life to be the one to report this amazing story. It’s crazy to think that we’d actually go in the other direction and avoid reporting the story. Who doesn’t want to be famous?
CM: So there’s no censorship or self-censorship going on in terms of going against the official story?
JK: Look, I mean, Robert Fisk, probably one of the two or three English-language foreign affairs journalists in the entire world, and he wrote a column in the Guardian a couple of years ago that suggested that he was open to 9/11 Truth conspiracy theories, in the Independent I think. Last time I checked he still had his job. I’ve met him. He’s on the other side of the political spectrum from me but he’s done some good reporting, he’s famous. Here’s a guy, he could reporter any story he wants, he has complete autonomy. He hates the United States. If there was one guy who’d be ready, willing and able to follow any legitimate lead that pointed to Dick Cheney or any of the others being complicit in 9/11, he would be the guy who’d investigate it – huge budget, famous, book contracts but he found nothing even though he’d written a column saying that he was open to it. If anyone has any good evidence they should e-mail it to Robert Fisk; 10 years later he still hasn’t found anything.
CM: I wonder what kind of examples you might be able to cite for your contention that people like David Ray Griffin, Richard Gage, and Barrie Zwicker are cranks or men going through a mid-life crisis.
JK: Mid-life crisis… the guy I mentioned was Richard Gage. I identified him as the prototypical mid-life crisis guy, and if you talk to him, everything he describes is textbook mid-life crisis. In 2006 he had this humdrum job. He was an architect and designing two-storey retail malls, he ended up working on this project in Nevada that went bankrupt. In 2006 he was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and heard David Ray Griffin on the radio. It was the Guns and Butter program on the Free Speech station out of Berkley, as he tells the story, he just pulls to the side of the road; his mind was blown, and within a year or two he’d quit his job, his wife was gone, he was estranged from the kid, moved out of the house, his life turned upside down, he lost his friends, and now goes around the world preaching 9/11 Truth. I have friends who’ve gone through a mid-life crisis and it looks exactly like that. None of the friends have gone through the 9/11 Truth stuff, but in terms of ditching the wife, ditching the kid, ditching the job, and doing some weird thing – climbing Mount Everest or something… This is what a mid-life crisis looks like, and that’s why I describe him that way.
CM: How is that relevant to the case he’s trying to make?
JK: It’s not. But it’s relevant to the chapter in my book. Unlike you, I take it for granted that the 9/11 Truth stuff is bullshit, and I try to analyse why otherwise sane, intelligent, and accomplished people would dedicate their life to it. Now if you believe in 9/11 Truth theory, you’re obviously not going to be convinced by what I say in that chapter. But I wrote that chapter to explain intelligent people would pursue a movement that I find completely ridiculous.
CM: There are a couple of different definitions of crank that I located – one of them saying that a crank is “an unbalanced person who is overzealous in the advocacy of a private cause” and another one that says a crank is “an eccentric person, especially when obsessed by a particular subject or theory.” Which definition are you using in your book?
JK: The second one. In fact, you know what? I’ve confessed this to other people: I regret using the term crank because too many people thought I was using the first definition instead of the second. The words I would have preferred to use in hindsight would be puzzle-solver because I think these people are motivated by a desire to solve puzzles. In this regard, puzzle-solver would describe Barrie Zwicker, and David Ray Griffin. The puzzle-solver, as I describe it in the book, are hyper-intelligent people who often come to their conspiracy theories late in life when they’re retired from a very intellectually demanding job and they no longer have this very taxing intellectual job to occupy their mind, and then they use all this intellectual firepower for chasing ghosts on the Internet and stuff. David Ray Griffin is a good example; he was a process theologian. It’s this extremely technical branch of metaphysics. He was very good at it apparently; I know almost nothing about process theology, but apparently he’s one of the world leaders on the subject at the Claremont School of Theology. Then he was mostly retired but he still had this massive brain looking for something to do, so all this intellectual firepower went into the search for the truth about 9/11. Barrie Zwicker is something similar. He used to be one of Canada’s top journalists – clearly a very smart guy; I met him. And a lot of these guys become prisoners of these obsessions. In some cases they become Shakespeare conspiracy theorists or 9/11 or they become birthers. David Solway was a guy; I think he’s more of a mid-life crisis case, very smart guy, one of Canada’s top poets, lots of intelligence but not a lot to do with that intelligence and they become trapped in conspiracy theories.
CM: We know for a fact that the CIA had a program to infiltrate newspapers, in fact they did infiltrate newspapers. They had quite a number of journalists on their payroll. It was called Operation Mockingbird…
JK: They probably still do. They have a lot of money, and for all I know there’s still CIA personnel on journalistic payrolls, especially in places like Russia or the Middle East or places like that.
CM: What about Western newspapers?
JK: You can’t prove a negative. The way the media works, let’s say you have a hundred journalists at a newspaper, and let’s say there are five CIA agents or 10 – all you need are one or two to break a story. Like if the guy at the next cubicle from me is a CIA agent – to take like a ridiculous example; I’m sure they wouldn’t be interested in infiltrating a Canadian newspaper – who cares? It’s not like he’s going to come over and say, ‘Hey, John, you really shouldn’t pursue that story if you know what’s good for you.’ Even if every American newspaper is entirely permeated by CIA agents you still have broadcast media, you still have British newspapers, you still have European newspapers, you have bloggers. We live in a media world where it’s impossible for any organization, even one as powerful as the CIA, to even begin to try and censor individual ideas from investigation. This might have been possible 30 or 40 years ago; in fact the CIA did this 30 or 40 years ago; there were certain stories you couldn’t report on. Or even stories like JFK’s sexual dalliances. There was no CIA involved, it was just reporters who decided on their own. That’s the kind of thing you could do when there were only three TV networks – all the newspaper journalists were all in their little club. Things don’t work that way anymore, right? There’s just too many outlets for information. People can’t keep secrets anymore. And I guess that’s my big complaint about 9/11 conspiracy theories is that the way government works if there are five government people who have a secret, four of them will eventually go to the media with it. People can’t keep secrets, and people spill stuff to the media all the time when it’s to their advantage. And I see this happen all the time; it’s the basis of leaks, right? And if you had a secret as explosive as an inside job on 9/11 do you really think it would take 10 years before this would come out? It would come out within days. People aren’t good with secrets, I’m not good with secrets. You give me someone’s phone number and I’ll spill it. It’s not in the human constitution to deal with confidential information.
CM: Let me finish with a quote from David Rockefeller speaking at a Bilderberg meeting in 1991. I’d like your comment on it. He said:
“We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” –David Rockefeller [June, 1991] Bilderberg meeting in Baden, Germany
JK: In 2009 when I was investigating the 9/11 Truth movement, they were holding a rally, and I joined them, and we were outside the Council on Foreign Relations building in Manhattan, they were chanting, you know, “Down, down CFR,” and “Come out Richard Haas, you can’t have your one-world state.” And then a bunch of us went to protest outside David Rockefeller’s apartment or condo – I think he’s like over 90 years old now – and I remember I’d never really heard of Rockefeller, and some folks were telling me what a horrible person he was, and that’s when I started hearing all this stuff about the Bilderbergers. If you’re interested in the Bilderbergers you should read Conrad Black’s new book. He’s been going to Bilderbergers stuff for decades and decades, and he thinks the obsession with the Bilderbergers is hilarious because every major trend in the world, not only did the Bilderbergers not plan, they didn’t even see it coming. Black writes about being at the Bilderberg meetings in the 1980s, and everyone at the Bilderberg meetings thought the Soviet Union was going to go on for generations. None of them foresaw the end of the Cold War. In 2002, none of them thought the Iraq War was going to happen. Not only did they not plan world events, but they’re actually probably more dense than you and me about predicting world events. Bilderbergers, from talking to Conrad Black who is one of my columnists at the National Post, and talking to a few other people who go there, say it’s like this group of blowhards from Europe and the United States; they think they’re really important. They kind of lend this note of drama to the meetings by not allowing media, which I think is a mistake because it just encourages conspiracy theorists. But these are the types of people who write op-eds in the New York Times, they’re retired politicians or retired foreign affairs ministers. These folks can’t control world events, I mean look at Libya. Libya is this tiny, crappy country in the Mediterranean, and all the major world powers, the United States, Canada, France, Britain, they decided they were going to get rid of Gaddafi and it took them like six months to do it. We live in an age when even the most powerful nations in the world are powerless to bring down the Taliban in Afghanistan, they’re powerless to bring true peace to Iraq. There are terrorists running around who’ve been around for decades because the U.S. government can’t find them. I don’t understand why 9/11 truthers and other conspiracy theorists can actually imagine that a group like the Bilderbergers or their members can control world events when they can barely predict what’s going to happen tomorrow. People just aren’t that smart, including the people who run the biggest countries in the world. And the Bilderbergers is a more a group of blowhards than they are folks who are controlling a New World Order.
CM: So in his quote, Rockefeller’s thanking the media for something they’re not doing?
JK: I’m not familiar with this speech Rockefeller gave; I have no idea if it’s genuine. He could say all kinds of things. I have no idea what he’s talking about or in what context he’s delivering those remarks. But the media itself has written all kinds of scathing things about the Rockefellers. If he’s giving gratitude, I’m not sure what he’s giving gratitude for, because we live in an age when the surest way for the media to write scathing things about you is to be old and rich. Look at the kinds of things that have been written about Conrad Black or George Soros. These guys get the most scathing treatment of any in the media. So if the media is on the side of these rich plutocrats, they’re doing a pretty good job of disguising it.
CM: Thank you.
Teach kids conspiracy theories are ‘bad for society’: an interview with Jonathan Kay
By Craig McKee
Kudos, Mr. McKee, for being much fairer and far more reasonable than I would have been with Mr. Kay.
Lots of things to be picked apart, lots of weasel words. I’ll let others have the first go.
Lots of things to pick apart indeed. As for being fair, I would have liked to debate the details more, but it would have been hard to cover a variety of “conspiracy” topics. I could have spent the whole 45 minutes arguing about Building 7, but I’m not sure how helpful that would have been. But I will be writing a follow-up. I have lots to say about his views about media – on top of the rest.
I call his replies the sloping shoulder technique , his attitude is one of muted disdain coupled with copious amounts of polite contempt. I doubt very much that this was a spontaneous unrehearsed tactic. He never lets himself become overly invested in the hard questions, rather he utilized the ad- hominem method that butter is better than margarine approach. I don’t know, can’t speak to that , not familiar with , but I sure as hell know what radio station you were listening to and where you were when you pulled over to listen smear. This guy was not picked to carry the lie forward because he is a linguistic slacker , but when you review the sum of his rebuttal there is nothing there. Good interview. Sometimes the lack of transparency is a much cleaner window than one that is smudged to the point of obvious uselessness.
That’s a good analysis. Kay does have a way with dismissing the things that aren’t favourable to his argument. Polite contempt is a great description. We had a cordial interview while he was calling my views ridiculous, bullshit, and not worthy of an eight-year-old. Smooth.
Hi Craig, you must have a strong stomach to listen to this stooge, I, like Barrie Zwicker, think he must be the TPTB payroll to maintain such a simpleton’s point of view, nobody could be that stupid. P.S. We met at the Toronto Hearings. Do you know of a 9/11 Truth event coming up this winter in Washington DC? All the best Glenn.
Hi Glenn, good to hear from you. There’s so much I disagree with Kay about that it’s hard to know where to begin. As for a 9/11 Truth event in Washington, I’m not sure about that. I know there has been talk about a Pentagon event but there is no firm timetable for that as I understand it. That’s an event I’d really like to attend.
Looking forward to your follow up, Craig. Like Senor El Once, I too would have found it very difficult to be nice interviewing such an obvious sell-out and traitor. Just as I run out of patience when I see people (E. Woodworth, LeftWright, and even Dr. Griffin, I’m looking at YOU) who fall for the schtick that the differences between the pro and anti CIT people are mere “honest” differences of opinion among well-meaning researchers.
(In light of the mass purge from 911blogger, I get absoloutely infuriated when I see people like Woodworth making comments like “I think there is plenty of room for friendly disagreements within the movement, yes?” That’s right Elizabeth, keep singing Kum Ba Yah with Cass Sunstein’s agents, if it makes you feel all hunky dory. After all, this is not a truth movement, it’s a friendship and cheeriness movement, right?)
Just as many of us can see that the anti-CIT faction is a Cointel op deliberately attempting to neutralize a key smoking gun, I think we can also see that in all likelihood, Kay knows just as well as you and I do that the official 9/11 story is a lie, and he is knowingly shilling for the wrong side. What people like Victoria Ashley and Erik Larson do is simply a microcosm of what people like Jonathan Kay do.
Let’s not forget also, the 1998 civil trial in Chattanooga that concluded that MLK was murdered as the result of a conspiracy. No national coverage at all versus the non-stop OJ Simpson coverage 3 years earlier.
I always enjoy your entries Craig. In many regards you currently have the best 9/11 blog, along with the Pilots forums.
As for Kay, I’ve never had someone be so polite as they were telling me that my views are idiotic and delusional (I don’t know if he’d like this choice of words, but…). If you ever make a point that Kay has to admit is reasonable, he always comes back with, “There’s a grain of truth in what you’re saying.” As a tactic, you can’t beat it. It’s interesting that he doesn’t find it farfetched to suggest that some journalists are still on the CIA payroll.
I agree with you that the whole “friendly disagreement” thing is another way of elevating the status of people who should by now be totally discredited. And many of the 911blogger crowd fall into this category.
It appears that the unspeakable creeps that do these SCADs (state crimes against democracy), for want of a better word, have learned much since the Warren Commission. Instead of one scenario to mask the truth and provide cover for the operatives who carry out the crime, there are many. That way a shill like Kay can just take his pick and float little tidbits out there without committing to any particular view. The point is to create enough diversions, doubts, and confusion that almost any coherent narrative breaks down. Nice job trying to grasp this eel, Craig.
I was thinking while I read this exchange, about Operation Northwoods. That declassified operation plan is a rare look inside the machinations of a criminal cabal that just happened at the time to also be the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by Lymon Lemnitzer. The first thing you notice in reading that plan is the total absence of any indication that any of the alleged motivations that would normally be found in the rhetoric around an action like an attack on Cuba, like fighting for freedom of Cuba, or to protect American citizens. It was to be a frame-up to convince the American people that the good guys had been attacked out of the blue (aren’t we always?) and we were totally justified in whatever we decided to do in retaliation.
Kennedy quashed that plan and fired Lemnitzer, but suppose for a moment it had been approved. We would have turned on the television to check the weather and have been greeted with the dulcet tones of Walter Cronkite announcing that a plane full of college students bound for a vacation in Jamaica had gone down in flames over Cuba at the hands of Cuban MIGs, and that Castro had ordered the strafing of boats with refugees trying to leave the island. If anything had gone wrong with the launch of John Glenn, evidence would have been found implicating Cuban saboteurs. Anyone who suspected that it was a hoax, who saw the propaganda start up a little too fast, and the culprits identified before the fire was out on the drone aircraft would be drowned out by the cries for Castro’s head and for freedom for the island of Cuba. Anyone who called for an investigation, caution, or reason would have been denounced as a commie traitor and the 1962 version of Jon Kay would have been mobilized to discredit the doubters. Ironically, most likely the only reason we know about the plan is because it was quashed by Kennedy. Had it gone forward, records would have been classified irrevokably, or perhaps the ensuing nuclear war would have left the Eastern seaboard in ashes.
Northwoods isn’t unique. Other operations like Mockingbird, Gladio, and Paperclip have gone forward, evil men have plotted and hatched insanely dangerous and no less dishonorable schemes, and how this country survived a cold war with Curtis LeMay running SAC, without Dr. Strangelove becoming a history lesson, is a question to dwell on in your mind while trying to go to sleep tonight. But we always have the slightly less dangerous men among us who are on guard to defend the official cover story, the non-explanatory explanation, and the reassuring lie that we are being protected by good and honest men who would sacrifice themselves before they would harm, or allow to be harmed a hair on the head of an innocent American citizen.
Sleep well, citizens.
You’re absolutely right, Shelton, the world would have fallen for it, and it would have happened with a different president in place. You description of what would have ensued is right on the money.
It’s funny, whenever you point out real conspiracies that we have proof of to Mr. Kay, like Operation Northwoods, he just comes back by acknowledging that there are real conspiracies that happen. He even says that people who believe Kennedy was killed in a conspiracy aren’t really conspiracy theorists because their views have become more mainstream. What would they have been called in 1964 or 1965?
When you hit him with a strong point, he’ll say, “There’s a grain of truth in what you say.” The eel analogy is apt. The way Kay operates, you can’t “get him” on any conspiracy because he has a way of making them seem like it’s the exception that proves the rule. He’s good at it.
Loved the interview Craig. I have to confess that I’m still in the Jonathan Kay camp … but I try to keep an open mind and your blog remains a very civilized place to see and weigh different perspectives. Keep up the great work!
Thanks, Mike. I’m glad you found this because I remember you saying that you liked Kay. I believe this interview shows, however, the absolute emptiness of his arguments. My next post (please read that one, too) will be a dissection of what Kay said in the interview. I promise you it will be harsh.
Let me give you an example of the kind of thing I’ll talk about: he said that the reason the confession of Howard Hunt to being part of the plot to kill Kennedy didn’t receive tons of coverage was because of “Kennedy fatigue.” It’s 50 years, after all. I guess he’s not a big fan of historians that bring new facts to light about events that happened centuries ago.
He lumps this confession in with imagined “death-bed confessions” of Lee Harvey Oswald’s “long lost step mom.” I know he’s being facetious, I just don’t get why. Howard Hunt was a lifetime CIA operative. He became famous because of his involvement in the Watergate break-in, but he was heavily involved in anti-Castro activities (including numerous attempted assassination attempts of Castro) in the early 1960s.
This guy sued a magazine in the 1970s for saying he was involved in the Kennedy plot – AND HE LOST! His role was exposed in that trial, but the press wasn’t interested. Then, he records a confession and asks his son to release it after his death. You can listen to it on YouTube. He implicates Lyndon Johnson. But this isn’t a story!?? Sorry, when I get started on this I get so mad.
Kay’s reasons for saying this isn’t a story are not only wrong, they’re disingenuous. This should have been one of the biggest stories of the century, but with editors like Kay in positions of journalistic power, it continues to be ignored. I’d love to hear from you again after my next post. Thanks for the support.
Kay is a pseudo-skeptic. He would not last 5 minutes in a debate with a veteran truther. All he is saying is “I think 9/11 truth theories are bullshit” but offering nothing whatsoever to back up his contentions. Look at how he avoids in each and every case discussing the actual evidence. All he is doing is referring everyone back to the discredited FEMA and NIST reports which have already been thoroughly debunked. DON’T FALL FOR IT! We have already shredded this guys whole argument years ago. In short Kay is full of shit and he has nothing new to offer. We destroyed his arguments long ago.
If he had a leg to stand on he would agree to debate the subject.
I agree with you completely, Adam. When it comes to evidence, he hasn’t got a leg to stand on. And he has a real talent for deflecting a discussion of facts by condescendingly dismissing us all as “cranks.”
A great example to back up your point is what he said about the bin Laden video. He hasn’t seen the video because the people who claim it’s fake “aren’t very convincing.” He doesn’t go to the evidence to reach a conclusion because he doesn’t need to; he already knows which facts he’ll be open to. And those are facts (or alleged facts) that reinforce his pro-official story view.
You’re right that his views are well debunked, but unfortunately he’s getting lots of positive press from the mainstream media following the release of his book. I chose not to try and debate him in the time I had because I wanted to get him on the record on a number of things. Doing it this way has given me plenty of material to follow up with.
Dear Mr. McKee,
I was writing a detailed response to Mr. Kay, but thankfully time limitations prevented me from finishing it, otherwise even more time would have been wasted in a fruitless endeavor. Here is something I’ve mined from that un-posted rough draft.
I wrote the above in reference to “of course the 9/11 Commission wasn’t in on the original conspiracy” but will get swallowed up in my grander conspiratorial organizations.
Upon reflection on the true eely nature of Mr. Kay, by golly doesn’t his book and promotional interviews line up squarely with opportunistic late-to-the-party members of the conspiracy in how he carries water for it?
Mr. Kay can’t be bothered to view the original video of the faked Osama bin Laden confession. Thus, he probably won’t waste his time watching CIA operative Susan Lindauer and what she knew.
Here are some highlights for me:
21:00 She said that in the months prior to 9/11, they were told to expect planes. Plane hijackings were the expectation. Thus, plane hijackings (or the belief thereof) was a key role.
Of course to me as a no-planer, I see this as early ground work in the establishment of the ruse. Ms. Lindauer makes plain, the supposed hijackers were CIA assets, through and through. Patsies. She is also convinced that no plane hit the Pentagon.
25:00 She talks about all of NYC being too dangerous to visit in the time period (months) leading up to 9/11 when they didn’t know when it was to happen, because the thinking was that it would involve nukes and radiation fallout. Although I champion DEW nowadays, I was an active supporter of nukes, because it answers the energy questions of pulverization, the measured radiation levels, and first responder ailments.
32:00 She talks about thermite bombs. Much later, she talks about how between 8/23/2001 and 9/4/2001 (plus or minus a couple of days on either end) how the government has tapes of white vans coming into the WTC for a few hours each day in the early morning after the cleaning crews vans. Moreover, NSA tracked the cleaners’ vans and followed them right to their houses. Why would they be keeping such anal surveillance tabs on the lowly employees of an office cleaning organization? Remember, this is before the USA PATRIOT Act.
Ms. Lindauer said plainly at one point (but now paraphrased by me) that we — the public — have no idea how big the operation really was, in the spirit that it was more massive, more convoluted, and more “crazy” than what what we — the public — have been permitted to imagine without getting labeled kooks by the likes of opportunistic Mr. Kay.
Don’t teach kids conspiracy, what ? Just put them in front of the TV and play Simon says “don’t analyze those who state facts of which have no consistency, lack logic in physics are relegated to “coincidence theories” and riddled with suspicious collusion between pseudo good and bad people in the geopolitcal eco-religious climate of the earth.
Don’t teach “the word”? Conspiracy theory is an accusation that must be dealt with, with legal logic, and proper debate not walked away from , with the simple dismissal “conspiracy theory” or “wacko” debate chicken shit I mean calling a person a “wacko” is like me being petty and calling those who don’t want to debate chicken shit. If they do not debate irrevocable facts or side step they are aiding an official televised argument without analyzing the true logic and connections of individuals leading up to an event. When a president has done real business and his family and the CIA with a man that they then accuse of taking down the towers, that president must resign and be properly summoned to a court of law and explain his, and his family’s and the CIA’s training, aiding, funding, and connections to the accused at an earlier point in history. Fact: Afghanistan, Mujahadeen .
When anything is labelled “conspiracy theory” as a put down, what they really mean is “believe what you are told by authority”. Simple as.
Problem with this guy is, as you said Craig, he uses soundbites and wordsmithery á la MSM. He wittingly uses that jargon because he knows the truth and is paid to lie.
But facts? Shimmy time.
The WMDs and anthrax attacks (and Iraq lies in general) were fully exposed. They aren’t “conspiracy theories” (as Kay uses the term). Why? Because the governments involved were caught with their hands in the cookie jar but damage control, soulless media whores plus a few “suicides” and the “ah well it’s only sand niggers getting killed” (sorry for the ugly phrase but it’s apt) mentality kept that thin safety net of bullshit floating in the air for the gullible, the deniers and the haters.
Thanks you for your post, How can I word this better…hmm? What I’m talking about is like, for example, gay people want to teach tolerance of homosexuality in schools. Suddenly a lot people (mostly religious people) begin spewing out accusations and conspiracy theories saying that they “want to turn our kids gay! THAT is their real motive!” And then there is same-sex marriage, suddenly it’s not people wanting basic equal rights, suddenly it’s “THEY WANT EXTRA RIGHTS! They want to destroy the Sanctity of Marriage!!!” (of course, heterosexuals have been crapping up the so-called ‘sanctity of marriage’ for centuries but that’s besides the point…)
Honestly, a gay man can’t buy a cup of coffee without some bigot throwing a hissy fit and assuming there is some ulterior insidious corrupt motive behind it. “The gays want to steal our coffee and make it GAY!!!!” I mean really, don’t these people ever get tired of trying to paint gay people as ‘bad guys’?
I have some advice for Mr. Kay, Let him examine the charges made against the Crown in the Declaration of Independence, which is perhaps the most famous ‘conspiracy theory’ in American history.
Of course Kay would likely blanch with runny egg white running down his inner thighs at the thought that the venerable Declaration is in fact a numerated conspiracy charge against King George and the corporate backers of the colonies.
And by that same token Kay is totally clueless to an equal ‘train of events’ presently leading the US to the same destination Jefferson made reference to: “utter despotism and tyranny”.
You gotta hand it to a guy who can charge that those who can see and understand these things are “delusional” and full of “bullshit”, when the result of the “protections against terrorists” such as the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and now the NDAA 2012, are obviously despotism and tyranny.
I would imagine that Mr. Kay is a jet-setter considering his line of work, and must therefore enjoy all the enhanced security procedures to board his planes. Getting felt up by TSA goons probably makes him feel so warm and fuzzy that he is going to be, “flying safely”.
I think it is apparent that Jon is a toady boy for this pathological system who goes along to get along, and has no grasp on where it will eventually take him.
Thanks for the forbearance it took to do this interview. It was sickening enough to read his responses, let alone to have actually had to listen to him firsthand.
‘Paranoid Conspiracy Theorists’ And Academiacs
A term of clinical psychiatry has been taken and put into popular language as if it means something relative to it’s technical meaning. That term being ‘paranoia’. This term is then applied where the term ‘suspicious’ would in fact suffice and be a more honest assessment of the attitudes deemed “paranoid” by the critics of such positions of the suspicious. In other words the term ‘paranoid’ is used rhetorically and improperly.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”~Lewis Carroll
The historian Richard Hofstadter addressed the role of paranoia and conspiracism throughout American history in his essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics, published in 1964. It must be emphasized that Hofstadter is a historian – not a clinical psychiatrist, and in effect he has taken on the part of a Humpty Dumpty in his definition of ‘paranoid’ as it applies to people who are suspicious of government authority.
But the issue takes on a compound absurdity when piggybacked onto this initial improper “Orwellian” approach by an historian, we find ‘sociologists, psychologists and experts in folklore’, gleefully climbing aboard the bandwagon parading into Wonderland. Accounting for this fruitloop academiac nonsense is one of the purposes of our present vigil.~ww