April 4, 2002 [From Norman Solomon]

     A few people have suggested that I respond to a statement written by Michael Ruppert that has circulated in recent days. The following brief comments address a few factual matters and summarize some of my concerns.

*  Ruppert wrote: "I have not only been denied free-speech access to public airwaves [KPFA Radio] but I have been deprived of a most basic right in any democracy, the right to confront and challenge accusers who do not have the courage to engage in an open and unbiased debate."

     But Ruppert did not mention that he had already been heard previously and extensively on KPFA, without challenge. As for the last half of his sentence, while my name is the first one he mentions in his letter, he doesn't mention that I accepted an invitation from KPFK Radio in Los Angeles to debate with him on March 1, and that debate aired live for a full hour.

*  With reference to Ruppert's much-hyped claims about the significance of the Vreeland story in Canada, Ruppert faults columnist David Corn: " Not once did Corn address the undisputed FACTS of the case; namely that Vreeland had written an accurate warning a month before the attacks."

     That is a good example of highly unreliable characterizations. The note that Ruppert refers to as "an accurate warning" of the September 11 attacks was nothing of the kind, as a look at the actual scribblings makes clear. It's quite a fantastic leap to extract an "accurate   warning" from those ambiguous rambling snippets of words and phrases.

     As someone who's been a progressive activist for about 30 years and a media critic for most of that time, I believe that progressives should maintain solid standards for evaluating ostensible logic and documentation in all situations. (By the way, while Ruppert's letter identifies me as "Norman Solomon of FAIR," I don't speak for the organization; I'm a FAIR "associate" and not on its staff.)

*  Ruppert acknowledged just that "one of the web sites I recommend is that of Matt Drudge."

     But Ruppert has not just listed Matt Drudge's site as "one of" the web sites he recommends. Ruppert's site has quoted himself as saying that Drudge's site is his (Ruppert's) favorite site on the web.

*  Ruppert wrote that I had written a "secretive internal memo."

     There was nothing "secretive" about the three-page letter dated March 7 that I sent to a KPFA staff member, with the prior understanding that it would be xeroxed and shared with people who work at KPFA; which is what happened.

     In the letter, I discussed cases in point about Ruppert's approach as well as his overall approach: "Some of the problem is in how he characterizes news reports. These citations can be narrowly factual yet presented in a misleading way. Yes, such-and-such newspaper reported that thus-and-so claim was made by so-and-so. The paper reported on the claim, but that doesn't mean the claim is true." I described it as a " selective vacuum cleaner approach" -- "pulling in whatever supports a thesis and excluding context and perspectives that undermine it."

     I added: "But even if we accepted the idea that many of the reported claims are factual claims and not just reported, Ruppert tends to use convoluted substitutes for logic in his eagerness to make the case for CIA 'foreknowledge' and U.S. government 'criminal complicity' in what happened September 11. When connecting the dots, many innuendos and suppositions are so central to the case that logic sometimes points backwards. So, the fact that oil companies and the Bush administration have done all they can to take advantage of September 11 events is presented by Ruppert as backing up his claim of their 'foreknowledge' and 'complicity.'"

     And: "Does Ruppert include some interesting and solid information in his mish-mash? Sure. But such information is available from a lot of researchers who are, in contrast, progressive -- and who don't combine the solid information with fast-and-loose machinations that reach specious conclusions.... Aren't the well-documented crimes of the U.S. government and huge corporations enough to merit our ongoing outrage, focused attention and activism?"

Norman Solomon mediabeat@igc.org      

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