2002-07-20 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Challenging The Big Dogs!

Challenging The Big Dogs!

You know, so many of the daily newspaper editors and writers have their heads so far up their butts that it's not funny. Some, like the New York Times and New York Post, are so arrogant and prissy, largely because of the reputation they carry, that they forget what the true role of a newspaper really is. All of the awards and accolades they have received over the years don't mean squat to me if they aren't striving to maintain a sense of fairness and balance in their reporting or writing. I say this in light of a recent article that appeared in the New York Times, which sought to discredit eyewitnesses of the Flight 587 crash.

The Times ran an article that included an interview with Dr. Charles Honts, a professor of Psychology at Boise State University in Idaho, which basically denounced the eyewitnesses and their accounts of what happened to the doomed flight.

In a telephone conversation with the Wave's Managing Editor, Howard Schwach, Honts stated, "People who saw the plane crash were witnesses to an unusual event, one that probably none of them had ever seen before. The question is how, later on, that person integrates that accident and what they saw into their memory and then brings it back when they are describing what they saw."

Honts, editor of the Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology, goes on to say, "These people genuinely believe they think they saw what they did not really see."

Hey, Honts, I have something to say to you. I was present for the Flight 587 meeting that featured 30 of the eyewitnesses that you and the NTSB have crapped on in recent weeks. I'm telling you, and I would tell you to your face, that these people are honorable, credible and more importantly, in great pain.

If you had been there, my dear Mr. Honts, you would have seen the anguish and frustration on the faces of people who are willing to swear on a Bible that what they saw was real. Sadly, you, and other prissy media types, were not there to witness what many are describing as a moving and powerful meeting.

I suspect that you would never attend such a meeting because you are more interested in concentrating on your scientific analysis and data than taking the time to listen to people who have had their lives forever changed by this tragedy. I don't understand how you can easily regard the eyewitnesses as people who have seen one movie too many. With all due respect doctor, as an esteemed representative of the medical community, you of all people should know that each case study will vary from person to person. Why doesn't that appear to be the case in your analysis of the eyewitnesses to the crash? It was very clear to me that you grouped them all in one category, I believe the term you used was "unreliable", when you, along with the NTSB, should have evaluated each eyewitness report separately. You failed to do that, didn't you Doc? In my book, that's not following standard medical procedure.

For you, and the NTSB, to say that meetings with the eyewitnesses are pointless is inconsiderate and insensitive to the witnesses and families of the victims. When no one, including yourself and the NTSB, has put forth any plausible answer for the crash, what other recourse do these people have but to come together and tell their stories? People like you, the NTSB, and the lop-sided media, won't give them the time of day, or the respect they deserve. They needed a vehicle, and The Wave gave them one. Screw any person, or media outlet, that had a problem with that. Oh, and to the daily that ran a mention about the meeting, but purposely left out the fact that The Wave was serving as host, screw you too!

The families (who were present at the meeting) have waited eight months for answers, only to be dissed by the NTBS and other government officials. It's time to stop the nonsense! So, instead of defecating on the grieving families and the testimony of eyewitnesses, I suggest that both you and the NTSB shut your mouths, know your roles, cease with all the scientific jargon and bureaucratic red tape, and act like you have some compassion and sense!

These are very credible people, with very credible backgrounds. Many of them are "trained observers" (NYPD, FDNY, and other emergency responders) and have been recognized in some way by the agencies and organizations they represent. Did you take that into consideration before you made your blanket statement Doc? I don't think so! Did you interview them? I don't think so! Did you read the reports they submitted to the FBI and NTSB? I don't think so! So, what gives you the right to say they are unreliable? You know what Doc? You need to get out more, and stop relying so much on your stupid, outdated data.

Okay, I now invite the New York Times, and all the other news outlets that have dissed the eyewitnesses, to turn around so I can kick them in the @#$ next. I will exclude the Daily News and Newsday because they were kind enough to send Warren Woodberry and Merle English to cover the meeting. Woodberry's story ran this week, and I suspect that English's piece will soon follow. Kudos to those newspapers.

It's time to go back to school kiddies! Remember journalism 101? What is fair and balanced reporting? Raise your hands! Very good Mr. Cronkite. It's when you present both sides of the argument. That being the case, does the New York Times deserve a C, D, or F on the article that included the interview by Dr. Honts? That's right kids. They deserve a big, fat F because they could have easily gone out and obtained an article from a psychologist who challenged Honts' findings. Instead, they ran with what he said, and have aided and abetted in making the eyewitnesses look like a bunch of nut jobs! I've got news for you. They are NOT nut jobs, and even the staunchest critic that attended the meeting will tell you that.

I want to issue a formal challenge to all the daily papers, WB 11, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NY1, MSNBC, Larry King Live, FOX News, and others media outlets. If any of you believe in presenting a story fairly, and you aren't under some type of government restraint regarding this story, then make it your business to get Vic Trombettas, Tom Lynch, Patrick Twohig, Michael Benjamin, and others who were present at this meeting in your papers and on your shows. You've listened to the theories of the NTSB, and other aviation experts, why not let the witnesses and other experts present their case? Instead of having some psychologist tell the world that they are crazy and unreliable, give the public a chance to decide for themselves. If any of you have a sense of integrity, you will give them a forum to be heard. After all, as media people, that IS what we are here for.

See you next week!

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