Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jesse Ventura's 9-11 Conspiracy Theory

That was an interesting, if stupifying hour of TV. One noticeable point was that there was almost no advertising during the episode, which presumably reflects the controversial nature of the show.

Jesse quickly clads himself in the old "I'm just asking questions for the family members," armor. Donna Marsh O'Connor appears and actually seems normal. Compare and contrast her appearance then with this from 2006:

One can feel sorry for her while at the same time recognizing like five years later she should not be appearing at a rally with the 9-11 fruitcake "Inside Job" banner behind her. Sorry, Donna, but you and Bob McIlvaine (who appears later) have sold your credibility as 9-11 family members for the adulation of the Troofers.

Next up, Willie Rodriguez. Hilariously, Jesse claims Willie worked in WTC-2. Wow, way to fact check your stuff, guys. We get W-Rod's claim that he felt the explosion from below him. Never mind that his initial reports were that he heard a big rumble, remember?

Then comes Steven Jones. This time his substance is "superthermite"; it's been nanothermite, thermite and thermate in the past. It's liquid and can be painted on the steel. So they show poor Van Romero painting superthermite on this beam. And we see that while the unpainted beam did not catch fire, the painted beam did seem to light up. But will it fail structurally?

Well, no kidding they skip right over that part. Apparently the idea that the steel caught on fire, however briefly, is enough to convince Jesse that this was how they did it. And nobody stops to mention that the claim is that they destroyed columns (vertical) not beams (horizontal), and that we haven't seen the beam actually destroyed in the video by any means. It's another TrutherBurn fiasco!

Jesse makes it real by claiming it could be everywhere, in every highrise in the country. Because, you know, there are never any fires in highrises which would (according to the theory) suddenly and bizarrely implode due to that painted-on superthermite.

We get a little bit of Manny Badillo, who has basically supplanted Luke in the hierarchy of the 9-11 Troofers although Rudkowski does get to be in the background of the shot. I guess being the nephew of a victim gives Manny a little more credibility than being the boyfriend of a girl who used to go out with a guy whose father died on 9-11.

Jesse decides to stride into Ground Zero and get some samples of steel. Uh, Jess, it's been eight years, we have no steel samples here. We get the usual BS about how the steel was shipped out immediately. No mention of the Fresh Kills dump where everything was examined.

And oh, does he step completely into the sewer, from here on in. I can't imagine how the supposedly responsible Truthers are going to take this.

Jesse goes north to Syracuse to talk to phony Bellone. We learn helpfully from Jesse that Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) are yellow-striped. And at this point you've got to wonder if somebody's really throwing us all a wink, because (as is shown several times during the show) actually FDRs are orange.

Anyway, Mike Bellone is a discredited witness, but you'd never know that from the extensive face time he gets in this episode. Let's let the NY Daily News give it to us straight:

FIRE MARSHALS ARRESTED a self-proclaimed "honorary firefighter" for allegedly touring the country with pilfered FDNY gear to promote a 9/11 book, officials said yesterday.

Michael Bellone, 51, of Brooklyn, who volunteered at Ground Zero and later collaborated on a book about the experience, showed off the equipment during speeches to schoolchildren, authorities said.

After fielding complaints, FDNY investigators questioned Bellone and discovered that a breathing mask, air tank and other gear he was using had been missing from the department since October 2001, officials said.

But do we hear any of this during the breathless passages of smirk-terviewing that follow? No, Mike's a hero of 9-11, and so what he says must be true. Never mind that Bellone also claimed in his speeches to schoolchildren that he was an honorary FDNY member, never mind this:

He was charged yesterday with grand larceny, criminal impersonation and possession of stolen property.

At any rate, Bellone claims that he personally saw one Flight Data Recorder, and that "Nick" (generally identified as Nicholas DeMasi) told him he found two others. As you would expect, Jesse grills him on his claims.

Uh, no, Jesse looks like he's amazed at this. Wow, you went all the way to Syracuse to interview this guy in a diner and you didn't have any idea what he was going to tell you? Jesse, I knew what he was going to say.

So now the 9-11 Truth Movement is the "what happened to the black boxes movement." Because fully half of the show becomes Jesse on the trail of the FDRs, and leads to the show's climactic moment, when we learn Jesse's new conspiracy theory about 9-11.

When one of the producers questions the value of the black boxes, an obviously scripted bit comes with the black British woman snapping about how it might explain how these lousy pilots could hit the buildings. Yawn, how many times do we have to go over the same points? The towers were 210 feet on a side, wider than an average runway.

After some forgettable bits with other idiots, we go back to Bellone. He's got secret people who want to meet with Jesse to give him important 9-11 information. But they don't show up for the meeting and Bellone says they feel threatened and shut off the camera. Then he tells them something confidential off-camera. Ooooh, mysterious! Do I detect foreshadowing? Then we get Jesse leaving a message on some supposed informant's voice mail about how the "Truth shall set you free". Gawd, this is getting thick!

Later, back at Conspiracy Central, the question comes up, is Mike telling the truth? And once again, they fail to mention Bellone's problems in that regard. Then we get some bit with Jesse talking to a NY FBI agent. Jesse tries the "no steel structure" argument. They get some sort of quote from the poor guy about how the feds indeed sometimes do things surreptitiously, just as Jesse did when he was in the SEALs. Of course Jesse nods at this part.

And now, back to phony Bellone! You didn't think we'd leave the show without one last revelation from him, did you? Well, I've been covering the 9-11 Truthers for about 3-1/2 years now, and I've never heard this one before. Bellone claims to have evidence that the "hijackers" had control of Flight 11 before it left Logan Airport.

Wow. I'm flabbergasted at the pathetic nature of this episode. Even the guy who's supposed to be the skeptic (Alex Piper) should be ashamed of his participation in this ridiculous fraud.

Update: Let me add here that while Bellone's claims are laughable, according to this NY Times piece, he really did work on the pile:

Mr. Bellone was a burly nightclub bouncer from Brooklyn with training as an emergency medical technician when he went down to the Pit (sic). Except for some Saturday nights back at the club where he worked, he said he spent virtually all of the next nine months at ground zero.

But he also claimed to have been an "honorary FDNY" which proved to be false, and his claims on Jesse's show were a joke.

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