I don't want to start asserting that there's a conspiracy on the part of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists to get me. You'll figure I drank the Kool-Aid, or went native. Or maybe that they left the pod beside my bed! But this Friday, my editors were hit by a ton of letters from 9/11 kooks calling for my head. What they don't understand is that my editors like getting letters, even negative ones. At the New Times, if you get mail, you're doing your job.
Anyway, one blown-out-of-proportion tale being repeated in the troofer camp is that I disrespected the father of a 9/11 victim at the Friday press conference on 2/23/07. The 9/11 father in question was one Bob McIlvaine, and I sympathize with his loss, as I would with anyone losing their son.
However, as should be self-evident from viewing video of the Feb. 23 press conference, this was not really a press conference. First off, I was the only member of the "working media" present to borrow a phrase from panelist Jim Marrs. The other people who raised their hands when asked which actual journalists were present were: Don Harkins of the Idaho Observer, who, no offense, self-publishes; a videographer with his own Web site; and I think online radio host Meria Heller, who was actually one of the panelists giving the press conference.
Most present in the audience were wearing plastic badges indicating that they were conference attendees. And one by one they rose to give little speeches about their movement, usually back-patting give-'em-hell speeches. Nothing wrong with that if you're having a feel-good rally. But this was supposed to be a press conference. Still, each time I tried to ask a tough question, the crowd and the panelists responded with hostility. The people standing where I was standing kept tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to shut up, stuff like that. And at one point, I was briefly ejected before Philly attorney Phil Berg had me readmitted to the room.
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When Bob McIlvaine rose and started giving a little speech, receiving an initial round of applause as he identified himself, I piped up and asked, "Is this a rally or a press conference?" Like I said, I'm sorry for the guy's loss, but if the organizers really wanted to have a press conference, then this was not the right time or place for his address. People were telling me who he was, that I should be ashamed, that I was a piece of shit (this last from the cue-ball-headed Jon Gold). And I told them I didn't care. At that point, I didn't, because I was so annoyed by what a sham the whole thing had become.
After my inquiry, McIlvaine continued with his comments, so it's not as if I prevented the guy from speaking. But the 9/11 troofers have now blown this up into some big incident where I should be fired or disciplined for showing "disrespect." That's rich, really rich considering that I was ejected from the room for asking inconvenient questions of Kent Knudson and others. If the majority of the crowd had had its way, that Friday media event would have been a non-press conference press conference. You know, the sort of press conference Stalin would've loved.
To be fair, I know the organizers invited other media, but they didn't show. And after I was removed and brought back, things got a tad more civil. As for the troofers hoping to have me fired, they don't know who they're dealing with. At the New Times, infamy earns you respect.