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Wednesday, June 27, 2007 02:34 pm

Over the line

Two judges quit Project Censored to protest 9/11 story

Untitled Document Chances are, the resignation of two judges from Project Censored won’t be included in the organization’s next list of overlooked news stories. But rest assured — there’s no conspiracy afoot. Judges Robert Jensen, a journalism professor, and Norman Solomon, a syndicated columnist, severed their ties with the national media watchdog group over its decision last year to highlight the controversial theories of physics professor Steven Jones, a critic of the 9/11 Commission findings. Jones hypothesizes that the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the World Trade Center towers was the result of controlled detonation of military-grade explosives rather than fires caused by two passenger jets that slammed into the buildings. His views, which are available online at Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice (stj911.org), have been largely passed over or dismissed by mainstream news outlets. “This isn’t the first time that judges have resigned at Project Censored over a story we’ve covered,” says Peter Phillips, director of the program. The purpose of Project Censored, which has been run by Sonoma State University, in Northern California, for more than 30 years, is to compile an annual list of 25 significant stories that have been “overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.”
Each year, students and researchers analyze hundreds of stories submitted by the public. The stories are then provided to a panel of judges, which ranks the top 25 by order of importance. Last year’s panel ranked Jones’ story 18th. The annual results are published by some news organizations, including Illinois Times [see Sarah Phelan, “Ten big stories the media missed,” Sept. 14, 2006]. Phillips believes that Jones’ work warrants the recognition bestowed on it by Project Censored. “It’s a valid news story,” he says. “It deserves to be covered. We cover stories that people don’t like. Our job is to talk about stories that don’t get talked about.”
Jensen, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, disagrees. “Based on my evaluation, the general cluster of ideas that tend to get labeled as conspiracy theories around the events of 9/11 are on the face of it implausible,” he says. Jensen also says that there is no indication that Jones’ opinions are being excluded from mainstream coverage because of any political bias. Conspiracy theories in general..."the role of the United States in the world," Jensen says.
Specific to 9/11, Jensen says: “The one thing that we would probably all agree on is that there are unanswered questions.”
Phillips hopes that by providing an outlet for Jones’ theories Project Censored can help spur the creation of a truth commission to further investigate the events of 9/11. “This is a sore spot in American politics,” he says, “that’s not going away.”
 
 Contact C.D. Stelzer at cdstelzer@yahoo.com.
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