Power of Media: Many Potential Padilla Jurors Unsure Who Caused 9-11
Oftentimes, a journalist will defend his/her industry with the claim that people are not influenced by the media. This is true for some things--things that a person has direct knowledge about--but not for other things such as the national economy, events in other countries, and many others. On these issues, a person trusts the media they follow. You think what your media diet is in other words.
The unfortunate thing about this is that there is a subset of media out there which is devoted to promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories. It's scary whenever you encounter a story about actual people who believe them, the biggest being the idea that al Qaeda wasn't behind the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, since a Republican was in office when it happened, this means many on the kook left (such as Rosie O'Donnell and apparently at least a few people at Virgin Airlines) are more likely to believe it.
Still, it's always disturbing when you read about or talk to someone who is "that way." That was my reaction when reading about many of the potential jurors in the Jose Padilla trial. Many of them have "no opinion" when it comes to who caused 9/11. Others marked that they thought it was Osama bin Laden "because that's what the news said."
A significant number of potential jurors in the Jose Padilla terrorism support case say they aren't sure who is responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, many because they don't trust the news media or U.S. government pronouncements.
"There are too many ifs, too many things going on," one male juror said. "I don't know the whole story."
Others say they just don't pay close enough attention to world events to be certain.
"I'm oblivious to that stuff," one prospective female juror said during questioning this week. "I don't watch the news much. I try to avoid it."
As of Thursday, more than 160 people had been questioned individually since jury selection began April 16 for the trial of Padilla and two co-defendants on charges of being part of a North American support cell for Islamic extremists. A jury is expected to be seated next week, with testimony to begin May 14. [...]
A small cottage industry of conspiracy theorists has sprung up among academics and others who claim such things as U.S. involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, or that explosives planted inside the World Trade Center towers brought the buildings down rather than the jetliners that crashed into them.
In the Padilla case, it's not so much conspiracy theories as the lack of any views at all.
To be sure, most jurors without a Sept. 11 opinion are aware that the attacks have been blamed on terrorists of some sort. But many seem unwilling to believe the conclusion reached by the national Sept. 11 Commission and the Bush administration, widely reported by news media, that blames al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
One female juror agreed that was a "general public consensus" but still held out skepticism.
"I don't have an opinion. I don't tend to trust the news media," she said.
Many jurors seem to be unwilling to state the al-Qaida connection as fact because they don't have firsthand knowledge. An older male juror said he answered "al-Qaida and bin Laden" on his questionnaire because "that was what the news said."
"I really can't say who did it," said the man, who was not being identified because Cooke has prohibited publication of jurors' names.
The lack of critical thinking out there is simply astonishing.