An open letter to Kathryn Ryan
National Radio is widely regarded by intelligent, educated citizens as a treasure, to be protected at all costs against cheap commercialization. Coverage of contentious topics such as global warming by radio talkback hosts is invariably slanted and superficial, to the point where it is a moot question as to whether it constitutes journalism at all.
It was therefore a great disappointment that the interview you conducted with Dr. Simon Pollard on Wednesday November 20th fell far short of the high journalistic standards one has come to expect of National Radio.
The interview was entitled “Science with Simon Pollard”, but where was the science? As a retired science teacher I would have expected some presentation of evidence for the assertions made. In that way, listeners could use their brains to come to their own conclusions — rather than have their thinking done for them — as is so often the case in the corporately owned mass media.
But no. Dr. Pollard made a number of statements that positively invited cross-examination, but instead you uncritically agreed with him. Although Dr. Pollard’s comments related mainly to the Kennedy assassination, he did make a number of references to 911 — about which I know quite a lot. The tone of his comments was disparaging and condescending, and to those of us who have researched 911 in depth, they were insulting.
At this stage, I hope it is simply the case that you have been guilty of nothing more than uncritically accepting the explanation put out by the corporate media. In this respect, I was taken in too, until my son showed me his copy of The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin. The Foreword caught my attention because it was by Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. It seemed to me that the book he was endorsing was at least worth a second look, so I began to read. In book, Prof. Griffin presents detailed evidence that the official explanation for the events of 911 cannot be true. His nine later books add even more evidence, all of it in the public domain and fully referenced.
Professor Griffin is but one of a large number of academics and other professionals round the world, who have called for a new and independent inquiry (Phillip Zelikow, who ran the 911 Commission Inquiry, was closely linked to the White House). I’m sure you’d agree that people in such high positions are unlikely to be crackpots. Therefore, we should at least pay attention to what they have to say, rather than uncritically accepting put-downs by an arachnologist. In the spirit of the scientific method, we should study the evidence for ourselves.
In dismissing those who are skeptical of the official explanation for 911, Dr. Pollard used the put-down term ‘conspiracy theorist’, a term that was first introduced into the public lexicon by the CIA after doubts were raised about the Warren Commission Report into the Kennedy assassination.
A democracy can only survive if its citizens are informed and, above all, free to question government accounts of events. A fundamental prerequisite for this is the existence of untrammelled, independent media. For National Radio to fulfill this requirement, intelligent listeners who present reasoned argument against orthodoxy should not be dismissed without giving them an opportunity to present evidence in support of their concerns.
There is another aspect to this, which may not have occurred to you. There are people in the National and Act parties who are itching to privatize National Radio. This would be a tragedy, for we would then have descended to the same level as characterizes commercial broadcasting in the United States. If the extinction of quality, independent radio does loom, we can be sure that the strongest argument will come from those who fear that the treatment of political issues will be limited to sound bites by ‘talking heads’. As Noam Chomsky famously said:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”.
I hope that your interview with Simon Pollard is not an indication that we have already arrived at such a state of affairs without the assistance of the National Government.
Martin Hanson, retired science teacher