Say it Ain’t So, Ann!

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©Jack Cashill - Jun 16, 2011

Ann CoulterHow much do I like Ann Coulter? I read her Thursday column in WND before I read my own. (Trade secret: writers love--nay, live--to read their own stuff).

How much? A few years ago, when Ann sent me a personal email to confirm a citation for her book “Godless,” I promptly forwarded it to my closet 50 or so male conservative friends—although as Ann might say, “male conservative” is something of a redundancy.

How much? Despite an indirect smackdown of yours truly in her new book, “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America,” I still think it her best work to date, and I highly recommend it.

The smackdown grows out of her simple but remarkably efficient thesis that the left is the natural home of the mob, and the right the natural home of the individual.

Ann’s comically concise chapter on the otherwise horrific French Revolution, the mother of all subsequent left wing mob actions, is pure Coulter and, on its own, worth the price of admission.

Now, here is where Ms. Coulter goes awry and, worse, she does so in an unexpectedly girly way.

“It’s not just that your average liberal is more likely than a conservative to believe in laughable conspiracies—although that is clearly true,” she writes. “The difference is, the conservative media denounce their nuts.”

According to Coulter, the “one lonely myth” embraced by the right is that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Although she misstates the “birther” position, I will yield to those more invested in this movement to dissect her argument.

What I will challenge is Coulter’s contention that the eligibility issue “was promptly investigated and disproved by every major conservative news outlet.” They did no such thing.

Coulter’s misplaced faith in the reporting skills of the established media, conservative and otherwise, leads her to an unlikely blunder.

She, of all people, accepts as gospel the Clinton administration’s insulting explanation for the demise of TWA Flight 800 fifteen years ago next month.

In a throw-away joke about liberals fleeing the country, Coulter cites the case of former U.S. senator, Pierre Salinger.

“Some believe he left out of embarrassment after falling for the Internet hoax that TWA flight 800 had been downed by the U.S. Navy.”

In that I co-authored a book on TWA 800’s demise with James Sanders—I remain agnostic on who fired the missiles--I take this affront a wee bit personally.

Worse, as sources for her Salinger-bashing, Coulter cites two articles in the New York Times. That someone as ornery and independent as Coulter could know so little about so major an event speaks to the hold the established media still have on the conservative elite.

For the record, on July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded about 12 minutes out of JFK with 230 people on board.

The plane crashed in the New York Times' backyard, and its reporters owned the story from day one. The FBI would talk only to them.

On July 18, the FBI told the Times that air traffic controllers had "picked up a mysterious radar blip that appeared to move rapidly toward the plane just before the explosion."

An airline pilot sent Salinger a copy of that radar tape and Salinger went public with it. Understandably, the pilot also posted the radar data on the Internet.

In 1996, however, “the Internet” was still the punch line to a joke in America’s newsrooms, a joke for which, alas, Coulter still falls.

The day after the crash, the FBI and the Times unequivocally linked the radar to the multiple eyewitness sightings and the sightings to a missile attack.

According to the FBI, "The eyewitnesses had described a bright light, like a flash, moving toward the plane just before the initial explosion.”

As one official told the Times that first morning, "It doesn't look good," with the clear implication of a missile strike.

Four weeks later, on Aug. 14, the Times reported that new evidence “deals a serious blow to the already remote possibility that a mechanical accident caused the crash."

On August 23, the Times reported that PETN, commonly found in bombs and surface-to-air missiles, was found throughout the plane, "making it impossible, for now, to know for sure which type of explosive device destroyed the Boeing 747."

The Times reminded its readers that 10 days prior the FBI had said that ''one positive result'' in the forensic tests would cause them to declare the explosion a crime.

With the Democratic Convention just days ahead, however, the Clinton Justice Department silenced the FBI. No crime was declared.

On Sept. 19, 1996, the same day Vice-President Al Gore was reassuring the airline industry about his Potemkin security and safety commission, the Times was summoned to NTSB headquarters in Washington to be briefed by longtime Gore family retainer and now NTSB chair, Jim Hall.

According to the Times, Hall was “ convinced that none of the physical evidence recovered from TWA Flight 800 proves that a bomb brought down the plane.” The idea of a missile was not even allowed on the table.

Now, the NTSB was planning “tests intended to show that the explosion could have been caused by a mechanical failure alone.”

Weeks before, the Times had reported that "the only good explanations remaining are that a bomb or a missile brought down the plane off Long Island."

In the interim, the evidence for an external strike had grown only stronger as more explosive residue had been found on the plane and more eyewitnesses had been interviewed.

By this time, the FBI had interviewed 270 eyewitnesses who saw streaks of light in the sky converging on TWA Flight 800 before the explosion.

An easily manipulated New York Times would not interview a single one of them. I have talked to at least twenty. They all know what they saw and were never afraid to say so.

With the 1996 election just weeks away, officials were busily reassuring the public through the media that a mechanical failure brought down the airplane. They never did find the exact cause.

No matter. Soon enough Times’ reporters would be writing articles with titles like, “Pierre, Is That a Masonic Flag on the Moon,” and my beloved Ann Coulter would be citing them.

Say it ain’t so, Ann!

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Editor's note: For a more complete account of this phenomenon, read Jack Cashill's amazing book, "Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture.


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