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"The Chertoff Affair"


I hasten to even write much today about the events that unfolded Saturday night on Coast to Coast AM, as we've yet to hear from Alex Jones, who, I'm sure, is chomping at the bit to say something about the 911 discussion on C2C. But as opinions keep piling up and pundits weigh in, its only reasonable that the "Clown Prince of Esoterica" gives this esoteric tet-a-tet the once over. For those of you who reside outside of the esoteric radio loop, here's the background. Art Bell, long time anti-911 conspiracy vocalist and host of "Coast to Coast AM" the # 1 show in esoteric radio, hosted Ben Chertoff of the "Popular Mechanics" 911 debunking article, setting off a blaze of controversy throughout the world of esoterica, as Bell lambasted the 911 Truth Movement and, in particular, Jeff Rense, host of the proverbial #2 radio show in esoterica. The end result being an episode that transcended the show itself and became the news.

Why Chertoff on Coast ?

We begin with Art having Benjamin Chertoff on the show to discuss the recent "Popular Mechanics" article that purports to debunk the many 911 conspiracies. Despite wails of heresy almost as soon as the guest list was posted, this should have come as no surprise to the many out there familiar with Bell's feelings about the "911 Truth Movement". Some may remember when he made waves last April by going on a rant against the entire concept of U.S. complicity in 911. He steadfastly stated he refused to believe it and also said there was no proof. It made perfect sense that Chertoff would guest on C2C with Bell. However, this did not stop the noisy masses within esoterica to demand Bell's head on a stake for being a "traitor".

This is where I part company with many in the world of esoterica, although I hope not. Bell had every right to have Chertoff on the show and he made a masterful case of explaining this point himself when he pointed out that Alex Jones and David vonKleist both had full episode appearances with George Noory. Hell, Alex Jones has been on numerous times with Noory for full episodes, theme episodes, and 1st hour discussion on current events. To suggest that Bell having Chertoff on the show was "unfair" is an exercise in hypocrisy. For the many in the listening audience who enjoy the large doses of Alex Jones, there exists also a large portion of people who strongly dislike him and probably enjoyed hearing someone retort some of his key arguments.

Try to follow along with me here folks: Those who believe in a 911 conspiracy cannot believe that others do not believe the same way they do, to the point, at times, of outright obnoxious bewilderment. (This is the case for people who believe in a lot of things, but lets focus on 911 for now.) Many in the 911 Truth Movement say "Don't believe me, do your own research" then cry foul when Coast to Coast tries to provide them with an alternative viewpoint. You can't have it both ways folks. If the people really care, they will go the extra mile to find out the veracity of Popular Mechanics debunking or at the very least investigate some of the website cited, one of which was infowars.com. The debunking article may have been a blessing in disguise and may also account for what John Kaminski dubbed the "second wave" of interest.

In essence I do not take issue with the decision to give Chertoff a whole episode, it is only fair in an open investigation. Where I have a problem is with Bell's decision to attack those who are a part of the movement. His continual labeling of them as "wingnuts" was reminiscent of the worst of Philip Plait and/or Michael Shermer. In other words, it was dirty pool. While I have no means of determining the veracity of Chertoff's work, I will, of course, direct you all to the 4 tenets of Stanton Friedman's Rules of UFO debunking which can be applied liberally here : " 1. Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up. 2. What the public doesn't know, I will not tell them. 3. If I can't attack the data, I will attack the people; it is easier. And 4. I will do my research by proclamation, since investigation is too difficult." Apply these rules to Bell on Saturday night and one does not get a pretty picture. He certainly has mastered rule number 3, as his frequent use of the term "wingnuts" suggests.

Bell on Rense

Where I agree with most all of the esoteric community is in the distasteful slurs aimed at Jeff Rense by Bell on the program. Suffice it to say, they were completely uncalled for and strangely unprofessional. I will skip the full quotations, but suffice it to say, Bell essentially called rense.com antisemitic and also said something to the effect of "that Rense site is 'Jew this' and 'Jew that'" Despite what the esteemed Mr.Bell thinks, it is a tired and decidedly wrong cliche that rense.com is antisemitic. I will not disagree the website often posts anti-Zionist articles, but as any educated person should know, there is a distinct difference between Zionism and the Jewish religion. Sadly, far too many make this mistake and, even more disappointingly, people who do know better use this ignorance possessed by the general public to smear someone by calling them "antisemetic" when that is simply not the case. The anti-Zionist articles that get featured on Rense are often critiquing the foreign policies of Israel, just as the innumerable other articles criticize the foreign policies of the U.S. and many other countries, religion does not enter the equation in the vast majority of those articles, and, in fact, a good handful of that small portion criticize the hard Christain beliefs of the Bush administration. If anything, Rense is rather ultra-liberal with relation to religion on his show, considering the amount of varying belief systems housed by the many different guests. And he does make a point, when plugging his website, that he does not agree with all the articles, but he wants people to be able to read everything.

From a business perspective, I find it terribly confusing as to why Bell would draw attention to his closest, albeit decidedly smaller, competitor. That Bell would plug Rense's website is even more insane than simply mentioning him on the air. One wonders why Bell would send his many listeners rushing over to check out the guy nipping at his heels, as far as the critics and hardcores of esoterica are concerned. That kind of advertising Rense would not be able to buy, the negativity notwithstanding, so one wonders what good it does Bell to give it away.

I don't expect Bell to apologize, as I believe his description of Rense is a stock description that has been used before on the show as well as by other critics and harassers of Rense. It is a simple minded attack and one I'd not expect from Bell, which is the source of much of the perturbation reverberating throughout esoterica. That said, Bell has always been on the receiving end of much bile from the hardcores of esoterica for some of the outlandish content and, at times, very dubious guests featured on his show. To find that he has stirred their ire of the esoteric community is again, no surprise.

Post-Episode Fallout

Since the big 911 episode of C2C, complete with Rense bashing, the message boards of fan sites were aglow with discussion and fallout. Rense fired back with testimonials from his listeners and close friends, along with a 7 year old article from the late Bill Cooper asserting that Bell was a Freemason (a charge reiterated 7 years later on C2C by Richard C. Hoagland, who has not been interviewed by Bell since).

Some have called for a boycott of Bell, an idea that has about as much chance as ABC offering a retraction for the UFO special, i.e. none. Bell understands that to get a buzz going in esoterica nowadays, you have to be against the grain. He must see that this episode of C2C has gotten amazing buzz, not to mention his disputing the whole of Ufology by saying they were "wrong" about the ABC UFO special. Bell seems to love thumbing his nose at the many in esoterica and to take it too personally, aside from poor Jeff Rense who was slighted most egregiously, is simply being too sensitive. Bell knows how to get heat and this weekend he got lots of heat, which is probably what he wanted in the first place.

In the following night's episode, Bell seized the chance to speak again before Rense and Alex Jones returned to the airwaves on Monday. He shied from discussing the previous night's episode, but when a caller called to dispute something related to the show, he again railed against the overall 911 conspiracy theory and, shockingly, again plugged Rense, including posting an article stating "Gov't insider says Bush authorized 911" with Rense.com emblazoned on the top. A curious message to say the least.

Personally, I am looking forward to hearing what my favorite 911 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has to say about all this tomorrow. At first, I assumed he'd flip his wig, but I've come to the conclusion, and hope, that he will be cool, calm, and collected, rebut Art's assertions, defend his friend Jeff Rense, and praise George Noory for having him on the air. There is still a chance of a full on Alex Jones bug-out, which will be one for the books, so I will be sure to listen.

Meanwhile, one wonders about poor George Noory, left out in the cold in the midst of this esoteric radio "three-way-dance". If he has any wits about him, and I believe he does, he is wearing his fingers to the bone trying to line up a debate between Alex Jones (or a suitable substitute) against a 911 debunker (Chertoff preferably). If ol' Noor really wants to snatch the crown of "big dog" of esoteric radio, he will make this happen at some point before mid-Summer.

Rest assured, there will be a few more salvos fired in this battle of esoteric radio hosts. It's clear there is no love lost between Bell and Rense and now Bell seems to want to drag Alex Jones into this as well. In the end it only serves one purpose, to derail those seeking answers for the gamut of questions that spawned the esoteric radio genre in the first place. Nonetheless, binnallofamerica.com will do our best to cover this esoteric slapfight in all it's glory. Yes, a follow up is in the works.

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