Tuesday, July 20, 2004

How the 9/11 families see the report v. how A.P. says they see it

"9/11 Families Fear Report Not Complete:  Families Say Sept. 11 Report May Not Answer Lingering Questions, Including How Attacks Financed," blares the A.P. Headline carried by newspapers nationwide

The article's headline and the first eight paragraphs trumpet how dissatisfied the 9/11 victims' families are with the commission.  Only one problem:  it's largely not the case.

Given that there were some 3000 victims of the 9/11 terrorism, there will undoubtedly be all sorts of opinions.  It is the job of the journalist to give something of a representative report of those opinions.  Here is where the A.P article fails. 

The article quotes two very dissatisfied family members and make reference to others upfront, but it is not until the ninth paragraph that the article acknowledges that the "grim assessment is not shared by everyone."

A more appropriate lead for the article might have been based on the statement of the Family Steering Committee (FSC) for the 9/11 Independent Commission.  This group is hardly a crowd of government lackeys.  It was the FSC's persistence which in no small part led to the creation of the Independent Commission at all.  The FSC Statement Regarding the Final Report, while acknowledging that some questions remain unanswered, notes the FSC's hope that the government uses the report as a guide to future reform:

We do not want the recommendations and findings of this report to sit idly on a shelf until after the next attack - to do so would be to dishonor and defile the memories of our loved ones. We look forward to working cooperatively with the Commission and government officials towards this end.

Finally, because of the political environment in which this report will be issued, we respectfully request that discussion of its findings and recommendations transcend partisan, election-year politics. We call upon President Bush and Congress to expedite implementation of the needed reforms in order to ensure the security of our great nation...
This is hardly the statement of a crew of family members utterly dissatisfied with the report.