Has It Only Been Ten Years?
A little more than a decade ago, I was looking for reviews of the then-current movie by Paul Greenglass, United 93. As it happened a few writers for the Huffington Post had been invited to the Tribeca premiere and they wrote glowing reviews of the film. But in the comments section I found numerous references to the internet sensation, Loose Change, which, I was assured would change my life forever.
It was late on a Friday afternoon, and so I watched Loose Change and sure enough it changed my life forever. I wrote a post about it on my main blog, Brainster's:
Let me put this as bluntly as possible. If you believe the vast conspiracy theory of Loose Change, you are a nut. Ignoring for the moment the debunking provided by Popular Mechanics, consider that you would have to believe in a conspiracy involving hundreds of people concerning the biggest news event of this century so far, and that none of these people have come forward.As it happened, James B, a blogger whom I had cooperated with on a couple posts debunking the NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, sent me an email after my post, suggesting that we collaborate on a blog that he had already started, called Loose Change, Loose Screw. As the marketing genius that I am, I came up with a better title, Screw Loose Change, although I admit, that most people seemed to miss the "Screw Loose" part, and seemed to think that the blog title was only a middle finger to Dylan and the boys.
What came next I certainly never predicted. We ended up with 10,000 hits in our first 24 hours. It turned out that there was a huge public (and media) demand for a site that debunked the ridiculous claims of Loose Change. Within the first few months, either James or I was interviewed on at least a dozen radio programs, including the BBC's World News Today. We were cited in the 9-11 Fifth Anniversary issues of Time and US News and World Report.
In February of 2007, I collaborated with Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times to break the story that a Chandler, Arizona, conference of the 9-11 kooks was being hosted by a holocaust denier named Eric D. Williams. Stephen was kind enough to six months later get me featured on the front cover of the Phoenix New Times, and no, I still haven't lost the beer belly, damnit!
Reflections, ten years later? For starters, timing is everything. Debunking the 9-11 conspiracy theories (and blogging) was hot in 2006, and James and I hopped on top of a wave. We weren't the first (McKinney Sucks), and we weren't the best (Mark (Gravy) Roberts), but we showed up and got lucky.
Nowadays the conspiracy theories about 9-11 have been relegated to the lunatic fringe. I'd like to take credit (along with James B, Gravy and others), but realistically they could never survive any kind of hard scrutiny, and they were doomed with Obama's election in 2008.
Thanks to James B, and thanks to the many other debunkers who have done the hard work. For the most part, I admit I have been Nelson Muntz.