Thursday, September 14, 2006
or the last few days I've been watching, listening and reading, while remembering that morning. Remembering how I felt and thought before it, and what was different after it. Remembering the friends with whom I could talk about anything, and how that changed too. Looking again at that morning when we acknowledged a reality that had already been in place for a long time, but which we chose to avoid facing.
That morning my best Thai friend and I had been out for a Japanese dinner, and were walking home when the first plane impacted, for that morning in New York was September 11th's early evening in Bangkok. I went into my room, switched on CNN, and saw the unbelievable. I called S. to come look, and we watched the second plane plow through the south tower.
I never went to bed that night, and followed it all as closely as I could through the following days. At the time we had free access to CNN, broadcast in the clear over the Indonesian Palapa satellite. Palapa also carried CNBC at the time without encryption, which was soon given over to MSNBC coverage. A few weeks thereafter, both channels' free availability was withdrawn, but I surely appreciated it then.
I couldn't have imagined then that five years into the future, I'd be able to view much of that "as it happens" reporting on my computer, and much more besides. I was hoping to take advantage of the CNN "Pipeline" net feed (of the Sept. 11 "as it happened" broadcast), to be offered without charge on Monday, but apparently my own intertube isn't fat enough for that. But by the time I discovered so, on this Sept. 11 Bangkok evening, I had already been able to see much of it thanks to a generous YouTube user, and a tip off from Hot Air.
There are a lot of videos at that first link (each about 10 minutes), from CNN, FOX, two of the big three networks and BBC. This is a record of what these morning shows were doing at the moment the first news of the attacks came through. I was curious who was first with the story and how they reacted to the unimaginable, so loaded up the first part from each network.
The first impact took place at 08:46. As I expected, CNN had been first to air (CNN - Part 1) at 08:49, although in fairness, they also captured local coverage from a New York City station (which may have gotten it on air first). FOX ( FOX - Part 1 ) broke in at 08:52. The clock on CBS (CBS - Part 1) shows the same, but the clock on ABC (ABC - Part 1) is just a blur that I can't make out. NBC was not included in this set, which rounds out with last out of the box, BBC (BBC - Part 1) at 08:54 (calculated from a synchronous point late in the video when they turned on their clock, and in comparison with that point in the other videos). All within about 8 minutes of the actual event. Still, five minutes between CNN and BBC seems a lot when they all monitor each other's broadcasts. OK maybe not all, but you can be sure that CNN is monitored in the BBC studios.
Differences are certainly apparent in their responses too, as with our friends at the Beeb. The burning tower image is put suddenly on air, the newsreader tells us of an aircraft collision with the building, and "that's all we know, for the moment. And now here's the sports." I really hope our CBC and CTV programs back home that morning, didn't do that.
The collection goes up to parts 4 for CBS and ABC (around 40 minutes each), and 16 parts for CNN. The first, unbelievable collapse - and Aaron Brown won't believe it for a while yet - is at the end of part 7. Watch, as normally observant people refuse to believe their own eyes, holding out against reality that "we just can't see what's behind all that smoke. Something happened...an explosion of some sort...," while the massive cloud of debris that was a tower steadily fills up to overflowing, the canyons of Manhattan.
AllahPundit was busy compiling video clips on Monday, from the CNN re-broadcast of the day, and boiled it down to three YouTubes, as well as pointing to this never before seen amateur video taken from a highrise apartment very close to Ground Zero. This family released it on Monday, and it's gripping. To see what they saw, and to hear the very human responses of this family as their city is attacked so ferociously, is simply rivetting.
Jeff Goldstein wrote a wonderful essay on Monday, which I can't quote from because it's all just too good. But if any of my friends are still puzzled about what the heck happened to me, Jeff writes it so much better than I do. If you can spare the time, read his commenters as well on that one. One of them, Pablo, pointed out another outstanding essay at Instapun***K.com. I had a quote ready from this piece, but I just can't do it. If it's to be read at all, it needs to be read in all: Luxury.
There's an interviewer at Australia's ABC network who I imagine, when he hears he's slated to interview Christopher Hitchens about the implications of September 11, might tend to say to himself, "Oh man, do I have to?" He's got all of Richard Clarke's talking points lined up to do his fencing with the venerable Hitch, who quips late in the interview that, "Mr Clarke, I should add, since this is apparently the 'Richard Clarke Show,' was the leading ornament of the Clinton Administration that utterly failed to confront bin Laden at all." A bit later, frustrated at the repeated rebuttals to the Richard Clarke points, decides to try another tack.
TONY JONES: Alright, let's go beyond Richard Clarke and...Oww! Owwwie, ouch! A very substantive interview, and video is available on the page. Wai to Tim Blair.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Are you sure you want to do this?
TONY JONES: Yes, of course. And we'll go to the...
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: It's like letting go of your blanket.
And finally, the "controversial" Path to 9/11 was shown on television -- and in many parts of the world, apparently (Australia, New Zealand, UK at least), but not Thailand. The network had promised to make it freely available for download, but their website refuses access to it from outside the US. Once again, AllahPundit rides to the rescue. He compiled an edit from the attack scenes of the movie, and I have to say that from what I can see there, these sections were handled very well. I don't see any hint of hackery, mockery or sensationalist propaganda -- like those who tried to stop it had declared. It looks like a higher values effort, both in the production sense and on the sensitivity scale. Watch this and you'll see what I mean. One day I'll get to see the whole movie, I hope.
After I watched AP's clip yesterday, and showing it to S. last night, I scouted through last weekend's C-SPAN tapes today (I often record overnight on weekends, the only time it's broadcast here, to check later for gems). Deena Burnett (the wife of Tom Burnett, who phoned her from United 93 that morning) was there, giving a talk last week to a university audience. Her character is featured throughout that last video clip. Because of those phone calls (there were four), her husband and the other passengers on UA93 knew what happened in NYC and DC, and they decided to take a stand. They decided it was a good day to fight and die. In this newly recognised war, they were the first to do so. They delivered the first defeat to the enemy. And because of those phone calls, Deena -- and then all of us -- would also know it.
She spoke for about 45 minutes at St. Mary's College, including questions. It's in this program, about 1 hour 15 minutes into it (the file is three separate events, total three hours).
It was nice to know that she and her children are doing well. Five years after that morning.