It’s September 11

…and you know what that means: endless propaganda.

I apologize for another non-baseball article that is only tangentially related to sports. What will follow is very political in nature and probably controversial. If you’d prefer not to hear me blather on with my opinions, read no further. I’ll write more about baseball soon enough.

If you choose to comment on this article, I will be much more authoritarian. Only comments that are mature and well-reasoned will be allowed. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, just do so rationally. I understand that 9/11 is a sensitive subject, but we can all be objective about it.

ESPN has recently seemed like a Republican mouthpiece (remember, ESPN is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC, and you remember when they aired this completely biased miniseries on 9/11?). Earlier this week on SportsCenter, they ran a piece that praised John McCain and detailed his NASCAR fandom in glowing terms. Just a coincidence that McCain is running for President and they wanted to air a piece about him? They canceled a Barack Obama podcast interview with Bill Simmons back in April.

This morning, I begrudgingly started my day with some Mike and Mike at around 8:45 to find them running a 9/11 tribute and, if I recall correctly, a clip of Jack Buck on the day baseball returned following the terrorist attacks — very moving. If it was simply a tribute to the people who lost their lives on that day, I have no problem with that, but I’m taking ESPN’s behavior and their connections into account and concluding that there’s an agenda behind it.

Let’s be honest: the only reason any media outlet is running a 9/11 tribute is for the ratings and the mostly positive feedback they will receive (and, in the end, money). There’s a reason why none of the channels aired them at 4 in the morning: because no one’s watching. It’s all about the ratings, and it’s all about money. ESPN is predatory when it comes to sappy tributes, as they use the sad stories of dead or disabled athletes for their Sunday Conversations or one of their similar bits like My Wish. I’m not saying that the people they cover don’t benefit from it, it’s just that the #1 motivation behind these pieces is money, not compassion. If My Wish didn’t make ESPN money, they wouldn’t do it. Same thing goes for their 9/11 tribute — the motivation isn’t compassion.

Overall, I’m tired of the 9/11 tributes. They generally miss the point and end up serving as right-wing propaganda. There are still a lot people out there who can’t separate 9/11 from the fighting in the Middle East. Maybe I’m wrong (doubtful, as about half the country currently supports the war-mongering McCain). From my experience, though, it seems like the 9/11 tributes just reinforce the generalization of people in the Middle East, something like this:

Those brown people who live in sand attacked us! Our presence in Iraq is justified.

Keep in mind that’s the start of a strawman argument and a generalization, but that’s generally the way I think a good portion of Americans responded and still respond to 9/11. There are still a lot of people who don’t know that the majority of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (but they have connections with the U.S. government, so no one wags nary a finger at them), or that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 (even W. eventually admitted as much).

September 11 should not be a day to simply reflect back on the same day in 2001 and give a day of reprieve from doling out criticism. How about an honest look back?

  • The Bush administration was warned by Osama bin Laden about the U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia and the open U.S. support for Israel. [L.A. Times]
  • The Bush administration ignored many warnings about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the months preceding 9/11. [New York Times]
  • After being told that his country was under attack, Bush literally did nothing. [YouTube]
  • Bush linked 9/11 and Saddam Hussein to justify a venture into Iraq while simultaneously fighting a war in Afghanistan. [Christian Science Monitor]
  • On September 13, 2001, President Bush said, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” To this day, they have not found him. In 2002, they had a great opportunity and failed, and since then, have gradually but noticeably decreased efforts in the search. The venture into Iraq had a lot to do with this. In fact, it was likely used to distract Americans from the administration’s failure to capture Osama bin Laden.
  • On May 1, 2003, President Bush stood in front of a sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln that read, “Mission Accomplished,” referring to the War in Iraq. [Wikipedia]
  • Iraqis have never supported the American presence in their country. [USA Today (2004), Washington Post (2006)]. In fact, the polls show an overbearingly negative Iraqi view on everything as it pertains to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. For instance, half of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. [World Public Opinion]

September 11 is a day for remembering the innocent people who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. It is not a day for passivity; it is not a day for accepting government sound bites and catchphrases; it is not a day for having your eyes glaze over at the numerous amounts of propaganda that will air today. It is not a day to say, “Gee, thanks, government, for keeping me safe from the sand people!”

Those who lost their lives on this day seven years ago aren’t around anymore directly because of the Bush administration’s failed policies starting from day one. 9/11 was the Bush administration’s fault and they should not be reaping the benefits of Americans getting misty-eyed when shown images of the collapsing twin towers and the thought of friends and family lost that day.

And to tie into my opener, ESPN, with their obvious right-wing bias, has no business doing the government’s bidding. Perhaps they were forced to do so by their parent company Disney, who knows? There will be a lot of tongue-biting on camera today, and it’s a shame because those that are honest get punished for it.

I’m not the most gifted writer (or speaker, for that matter), so I’d like to point you to Keith Olbermann, who eloquently and clearly says what I’ve been struggling to say. Click here to watch the video at Crooks and Liars. I urge you to watch it.

Leave a Reply



  1. Ernie

    September 11, 2008 01:44 PM

    I thought you presented it pretty well. Let me ask you this, though. Do you think anything would have been different had Gore been elected, instead of Bush? Not really arguing (I am poor at doing so) just curious as to other peoples thoughts. Maybe things could have turned out dfferently.

  2. Glen

    September 11, 2008 02:18 PM

    I agree: great presentation. Somehow, I interpreted your argument dealing with ESPN as this: ESPN is right wing because their goal is to make money. They showed McCain instead of Obama. Big whoop. While it is wrong that they are capitalizing on 9/11, it’s kind of in their nature to do so.

  3. Bill Baer

    September 11, 2008 03:17 PM

    Do you think anything would have been different had Gore been elected, instead of Bush?

    I do, and I think things would have been different if there was a Democrat or a different Republican in office. I don’t adhere to any particular party, so I wouldn’t make that argument.

    I didn’t mention it in the article, but Bush had clear motivation to agitate conflict in the Middle East and it provided a great cover for his march for oil. I don’t know how valid it is, but another argument is that he wanted to finish what his dad started in the first Gulf War.

    I interpreted your argument dealing with ESPN as this: ESPN is right wing because their goal is to make money.

    ESPN has a right-wing bias because their sibling company, ABC, has shown right-wing tendences and because they’ve shown favoritism to McCain over Obama.

    They can chase money all they want, that’s their right. I can criticize them for it, however, and question their motivation for these supposedly compassionate “bits” like My Wish and their 9/11 tributes.

    If you’re a capitalist (which I am obviously not), then you can’t criticize ESPN for that.

  4. Ernie

    September 11, 2008 03:45 PM

    So do you think that 9/11 would have been avoided? I’ll put it to you this way. Do you think that Bush pushed the envelope too much, and that led to the attacks? I personally dont know what to believe but, wasnt America hated enough to begin with before the attacks? (although that only increased after we invaded Iraq)

  5. Ernie

    September 11, 2008 03:52 PM

    Damn you, and your thought provoking posts.

  6. debmc

    September 11, 2008 03:59 PM

    Crash, excellent job! You’re right; today is about the people, and the families, and the loss, and not about trotting out the memories for political gain or for making dollars.

    But what’s more concerning to me than that is the seeming love so many have for the Republican hogwash and agenda. I mean, look at the last eight years — haven’t folks had enough? Haven’t they learned anything? Don’t they want real change? And is Sarah Palin remotely qualified to sit in the Oval Office. I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH SOME OF THESE AMERICANS?????

    Can you answer that, Crash?

  7. Ernie

    September 11, 2008 04:01 PM

    But…Palin is a good mother (swear to god that is an argument I heard. So much for knowing anything about politics.)

  8. Bill Baer

    September 11, 2008 08:51 PM

    So do you think that 9/11 would have been avoided?

    Most other Presidents would have heeded Osama bin Laden’s warnings and would have hushed on their support for Israel and would have at least taken steps to move the military base out of Saudi Arabia.

    Do you think that Bush pushed the envelope too much, and that led to the attacks?

    It depends on what you mean by “pushed the envelope.” If you mean, “Intentionally ignored the desires of groups of people he did not know or understand,” then yes.

    wasnt America hated enough to begin with before the attacks?

    Yes, but directly because of its imperialism in the Middle East.

    Don’t they want real change? And is Sarah Palin remotely qualified to sit in the Oval Office.

    For as much whining as I’ve done about politicians, it really doesn’t matter who you elect for President, whether he or she is a Democrat or Republican. Both parties are entirely corrupt.

    Bush #43 was arguably just as qualified as Palin, unless you ascribe some value to his coming from a political family and having an ex-President for a father.

    Palin, surprisingly, is more qualified than a couple of the other guys who were vying for the Republican ticket, namely Fred Thompson.

    But…Palin is a good mother

    Yeah, a lot of the justification for Palin is illogical and mostly hypocrtical. Bill Maher had some good criticisms for the pro-Palin arguments on last Friday’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.

  9. Brian Joseph

    September 12, 2008 09:53 AM

    You know, if media outlets did not provide coverage of September 11th and do retrospectives there would have been many that considered that behavior disrespectful and dishonorable to the lives lost.

    “How could they have forgotten about 9/11 so soon?”, the people would have said. “How dare they air an episode of 90210 on the darkest day in American history instead!”

    I think in this case you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    As far as ESPN and their “agenda”, it is not their fault that people watch. SportsCenter is about 8 hours long now in the day but people continue to tune in… I barely watch it anymore b/c it’s not my cup of tea but someone is.

    ESPN has done plenty of Obama stories, though. They covered Reggie Love and even misreported that Love turned down an NBA career to support Obama’s campaign. If my recollection is correct, they even had Obama on the Sunday conversation once.

    The one problem I have with all this is that we view everything in such partisan terms. If ESPN runs a story on Obama they are liberal and Democratic… if they run a story on McCain they are right-wing and Republican. McCain is Republican… but the guy ain’t right-wing. He’s kind of a loose cannon who the Republicans secretly fear might not go straight down the party line. But as far as ESPN being biased, I dunno if I’m all about that.

    Don’t forget we got to watch Barack Obama with ESPN’s Stuart Scott.‘s Paula Lavigne did a Q&A with both candidates on the site a little bit ago. They let Stephen A. Smith campaign daily for Obama on his radio show. I think they are pretty fair when it comes to coverage of the two. It just so happened that McCain’s NASCAR love was their story of the day.

    Let me mention I have allegiance to neither McCain nor Obama as I haven’t decided where my vote goes since neither has really said much beyond Obama’s “believe… hope… change… believe… hope… not Bush… change… hope… believe… did I mention I’m not Bush?” and McCain’s “I been around… I’m a ‘maverick’… I think we’re better off than we realize… I will make it even better” talk.

  10. ShooterB

    September 15, 2008 12:55 PM

    As usual, you make some great points…and back them up.

    Personally, I don’t think you said anything controversial. I hate when a topic is deemed “out of bounds”, and then all rules and logic are supposed to be tossed out the window. 9/11 was terrible, but that doesn’t justify anybody that tried to profit off of it.

    The media wars are beyond ridiculous. And when journalists ask honest questions and try to report the truth, they are blasted for being insensitive, sexist, or racist.

    Don’t apologize for not opening up some political discussion. You should apologize for not doing it more often.

  11. Bill Baer

    September 15, 2008 09:28 PM

    Brian, great points. While I’m thinking of it, I’d like to direct anyone reading the comments to a great article of yours on the quality start:

    Shooter, thanks. You know me from the FOX Sports blogs, so I’m very conscious now of what I say considering the audience that was there (very hair-triggered and heavily conservative). It is, after all, my blog and I can write what I want on it but I try and give my readers the respect that I hope they give me.

    I don’t think any topic is ever out-of-bounds and the fact that a topic ever is considered to be actually shows that it really needs to be talked about openly.

    I think the “banishments” of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews shows how the conservatives really run the media. Everyone complains about a media bias, but Bill O’Reilly is allowed to bloviate ad nauseam on FOX “News,” but Olbermann says one thing with a tint of a lefty-slant and he gets demoted after petulant whining from the right. There’s such a double-standard, and everything is politicized — including 9/11.

  12. Spilleautomater

    August 04, 2010 04:08 PM

    I do, and I think things would have been different if there was a Democrat or a different Republican in office. I don’t adhere to any particular party, so I wouldn’t make that argument.

  13. Are

    July 05, 2011 08:31 AM

    The exploding ages of media makes any big event like this until something certain people could profit from.
    And why can they? Because we’re all victims of 9/11.

    It changed the world from what we knew then to be a milestone in eras of war.

    Should we be reminded of it? Yes, should we tribute to the victims of 9/11? I don’t think so, we’re better of with moving on instead of making ourself victims.

Next ArticleThoughts on the Phils' Run