The Missing “Why” From The 9/11 Attacks

By: Viviana M. Garcia

CNN. 9/11. Retrieved April 20, 2011.

The mainstream media, during and after the attacks on September 11, failed to report on the reasons behind why Osama bin Laden’s hatred toward the United States. When asked why they chose to abstain from printing stories that would answer that question, they claimed it was due to the fact that they feared to look as though they were unpatriotic in the days following such devastation along with seeming as though they were justifying the attacks through their explanations.

Streitmatter, in his book Mightier Than The Sword , claims that the media failed to answer because its journalists were overwhelmed answering the other critical questions of, who, what, when, and where. It might be said that journalists were justified in not making the motivations of terrorists their highest priority when dealing with such a multifaceted event that had countless repercussions to report on.

Many, including Streitmatter claim that the media did not sufficiently report and comment on whether President Bush was justified in declaring war with Iraq. Many statements made by the President and then Vice President, Dick Chaney, initially propelled strong backing for the war. The two reasons for entering Iraq less than a month after the attacks on the US, where as follows: 1) to weaken al-Qaeda and 2) to weaken the Taliban that condoned the oppression of women.

Iraq was painted as the, “axis of evil,” by the President and this garnered much attention, both in support of his actions and against. It’s up to the American people to ask themselves, however, what for them constitutes an “evil” action and whether 9/11 and the killing of thousands of innocent American lives falls into an evil act.

“Too Little, Too Late,” writes Streitmatter in reference to the length of time it took prominent media organizations to answer the why question, but they eventually did. The New York Times ran a profile on bin Laden three weeks after the attacks, but this was done once war had been declared. It is important to note, however, that bin Laden did say the following, that he felt, “indignation over American support of Israel,” and that he had “grown to hate America that, as he saw it, had used its power to oppress the people of Islam.” Reflection should be practiced by journalists and US citizens to ask themselves whether these statements are problematic and something to be concerned about.

The media and the President both should have done things differently and hopefully with this backdrop of history and example, we will know how to better approach future situations.

Source: Streitmatter, R. (2008). Mightier Than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American Story. United States: Westview Press.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The media and it’s influence during 9/11

By: Amelia Gutierrez

9/11 was the powerful event that launched chaos, misunderstanding, and more debt than one would’ve ever imagined. It was also an outlet to launch and push careers of Journalists and report stories that informed society the 5W’s. Unfortunately, the case was not so. Americans were misled with false accusations by the President Bush and the Bush administration, as well as the media who didn’t research the attack enough. The misleading information was a result of trying to provide comfort to the American people.

The words of the president were what the media was following instead of what Osama bin Laden had to say. The American government was not thinking rationally during and after 9/11. America saw Osama as the culprit of the attack and accused him without thinking twice. Society was hearing a America’s account of what happened, not Osama’s story. The country was manipulated and saw Osama as the enemy and President Bush as the hero. The media reported biased and false information without a reputable source. This strategy affected the public tremendously. The President was viewed horribly and the media was viewed as biased information with an agenda. Americans lost trust in the media and the government.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 1:25 am  Leave a Comment  

When the Media Fails the Public

By: Jonathan Simmons

If ever there was a powerful example of the American media failing the public, it must be the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The media  focused, understandably, on the human cost of the attacks in the days immediately following 9/11. But in their myopic focus on the magnitude and cost of  the attacks, the media largely failed to answer the fifth of the four journalistic W’s — they failed to answer the question “why.”

President George W. Bush answered that question for them on his speech on  Sept. 20. “They hate our freedoms,” the president said,”our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble.”

Osama bin Laden’s speeches and writings were widely available on the internet in 2001, and one statement  from 1998, in particular, laid out a clear list of grievances that served as bin Laden’s justification for attacking the U.S. They included the presence of American bases in the Arabian peninsula, the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq, and the U.S.’s support of Israel. Nowhere did bin Laden mention America’s “freedoms” as a rationale for his war against the United States.

But despite overwhelming evidence that the president had misled the nation, the media largely failed to call him on it, preferring instead to let themselves be carried away by the heady, self-righteous zeal that precedes a war, and rally behind the national leader. By the time the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 2003, the American populace still largely had no idea why the U.S had been targeted by bin Laden on 9/11 or, what relation, if any (and the answer was “none”) Iraq had to bin Laden or al-Qaida. The climate of ignorance which pervaded America in the years after 9/11, perpetuated by a news media, made it a simple matter for the country’s leadership to manipulate the public into supporting wars on two countries few Americans could even find on a map.

Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Accurate Answer at an Accurate Time

By Nathaly Duran

The morning of September 11, 2001, the world stopped to watch the live broadcast coverage of the terrorist attack that forever changed history. The emblematic “Big Apple”, New York City, a symbolic icon of the United States’ hegemony, was bitten into pieces, when two hijacked commercial airplanes crashed into The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, tearing down simultaneously both the buildings and an entire country.

On the days that followed the event the American nation needed to fill the blanks, countless questions came along and the country’s mainstream media played their role of persistently answering them like never seen before. It was clear what had happened, how, when and where, but why… It was a question no one seemed to have asked, at least no mainstream journalist seemed to bother answer it.

A strategic answer to this question was given by President George W. Bush, who stated that an act of evil drove terrorist who: “hated our freedoms-our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble” to behave in the very worst evil of human nature, moreover Vice-President Dick Cheney affirmed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. It was later proven that President Bush’s hidden agenda was to go into war at all costs.

Sadly, the media’s failure to further inform the country of the different reasons the accused terrorists may have had to attack the U. S., led to a vast approval of Bush’s plan of going into war. One interesting reason for the lack of intention from the media to answer the question Why is mentioned in the book “Mightier than the Sword” by Rodger Streitmatter, it is that any intention to find a reason for the attack would have been interpreted as “ unpatriotic and an effort to justify the attacks”.

Today, ten years later, there is the slight possibility that many Iraqis, after proving they did not hold any weapons of mass destruction, are asking themselves the same question, Why? Why is the U.S still attacking us, making one wonder where could this unanswered question be leading them?

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Media solidarity with Bush after 9/11 attacks

by: Ana Milanes

After the 9/11 attacks, the media gave Americans what they thought was needed- a fast answer. Unfortunately, the issue was more complex than the media made it out to be. Those who followed began to believe things which weren’t true; among these people was President George W. Bush.

The media made their accounts highly emotional using phrases like the Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s quote “a horrendous number of lives lost”. There was a lack of appropriate research; many journalists didn’t interview the right people. Perhaps one of the biggest faults however, was the false solidarity that the media tried to build. In order to comfort the American people, the media made a hero of Bush and he had no trouble believing it.

Osama bin Laden was upset with America because of the continued military presence, the United States supporting Israel, and the ending of more than a million Iraqis lives. All in all, there were many misinterpretations among countries when it came to desired outcomes and goals. There was a vicious circular of Bush making assumptions to comfort people, journalists writing about these assumptions and therefore further confirming Bush’s one-sided argument on the foreign country as the enemy.

Source:Streitmatter, Rodger. Mightier than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2008. Print.

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  

News Reporting on September 11, 2001

By: Joeli Prieto

On September 11, 2001 America experience a very tragic act of terrorism. Journalists were able to report everything that happened except for why the terrorist attacks occurred. The only one who was able to give the people an answer to this question was President George W. Bush. According to “Mightier than the Sword”, President Bush went on live T.V. and described these terrorist attacks as evil. He positioned America as the good guys and the terrorists as the bad guys. Since the president had taken this approach, many of the mainstream journalists did too. These ideas of the Americans being the good guys and the terrorists being evil circulated trough out the newspapers and televisions studios. Since the White House was able to take control of what the media was saying, it was easy for the president to declare war and have support from the people, since they thought the attacks her coming from an evil place.

While many mainstream journalists were using these same ideas, there were still people wanting to know Osama bin Laden’s side and his real motive for his attacks. Many American’s decided to use the Internet as another source to find out the real reason for the attacks on September 11, but that this point the war had already begun.


Streitmatter, Rodger. Mightier Than the Sword. (2008), Retrieved April 12, 2011

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 1:47 am  Leave a Comment