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Dissecting the Evolution of the Official 9/11 Narrative

TRANSCENDDissecting the Evolution of the Official 9/11 Narrative

Marilyn Langlois, Graeme MacQueen and Ted Walter – TRANSCEND Media Service

19 Sep 2022 – Last week marked the 21st anniversary of the crimes of 9/11, which cost over 3,000 lives and triggered initiation of the costly and never-ending “war on terror”.  On this occasion, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an organization dedicated to researching what actually happened that day, published a lengthy research report by [TRANSCEND member] Dr. Graeme MacQueen and Ted Walter. 

The report, entitled The Triumph of the Official Narrative: How the TV Networks Hid the Twin Towers’ Explosive Demolition on 9/11, draws on extensive primary source materials to document and reveal how major television news coverage throughout the United States managed to suppress their own early eye-witness statements, and by mid-day to manufacture an air-tight narrative on both what caused World Trade Center towers 1 and 2 to be destroyed and who was likely responsible for these criminal acts, a narrative that has to this day not been proven. (MacQueen quotes a lawyer who observed “it is a sobering thought that better evidence is required to prosecute a shoplifter than is needed to commence a world war [on terror].”)

The report is a sequel to a related study they completed two years ago focusing on the prevalence of journalists on the ground reporting explosions they witnessed as a likely cause of the buildings’ shocking and sudden destruction.  This second report examines how mass media used key propaganda techniques to shift the story line and manipulate the consciousness of an entire nation and ultimately the world.

Because the authors themselves say it best, below are the introductory and concluding portions of their report, which give you an overview of their methodology and analysis.  I urge you to link to the entire report, which contains numerous charts, video clips and transcripts, as well as two comprehensive appendices with voluminous additional material to support their conclusions. For those of you old enough to remember that infamous day, viewing these clips will transport you back to your own encounter with the shock and awe that was 9/11, and perhaps offer a space, 21 years hence, to look on that day with clearer eyes.

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

This article is the second installment of a two-part research project we began in July 2020 with the article “How 36 Reporters Brought Us the Twin Towers’ Explosive Demolition on 9/11.”

In that article, our goal was to determine the prevalence, among television reporters on 9/11, of the hypothesis that explosions had brought down the Twin Towers. Through careful review of approximately 70 hours of news coverage on 11 different channels, we found that the explosion hypothesis was not only common among reporters but was, in fact, the dominant hypothesis.

Our second question, which we set aside for the present article, was to determine how, despite its prevalence, the explosion hypothesis was supplanted by the hypothesis of fire-induced collapse.

In this article, we shall concentrate not on reporters in the field, as in Part 1, but on the news anchors and their guests who were tasked with discovering and making sense of what was happening. As we trace the supplanting of the explosion hypothesis with the fire-induced collapse hypothesis, we witness the great shift toward what quickly became the Official Narrative.

We do not see our task as trying to discover whether the Official Narrative of 9/11 is true or false. In the 21 years since the attacks took place, it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, we believe, that the Official Narrative is false.

While we support and participate in the further accumulation of evidence for this position, as well as the presentation of this evidence to the public, we believe it is also important to look into how the triumph of the Official Narrative was accomplished. If we are able to discover this, we will greatly advance our understanding of the psychological operation conducted on September 11, 2001 — and, thus, our understanding of how other psychological operations are perpetrated on the public.

Our Argument

Our argument is that two strategies were employed to accomplish the triumph of the Official Narrative:

(a) Where news anchors were sincerely dedicated to discovering the facts of the situation, Strategy One was employed. This strategy involved directly confronting the news anchor of the relevant network with an “expert” who would explain that the destruction of the Twin Towers was caused by structural failure induced by the airplane impact and the ensuing fires. This would allay concerns about reports of explosions in the towers and would domesticate the news anchor so that he or she would stop raising problematic questions. Of course, as we can see clearly today, these experts could not possibly have known what they so confidently proclaimed. In fact, we can now see that their explanations were simply wrong. But their interviews seem to have accomplished their goals on 9/11. To illustrate this strategy, we shall choose as our chief examples CNBC and CNN, whose anchors showed the most interest in the explosion hypothesis, and we will also look at CBS and NBC.

(b) Strategy Two was used on all networks, regardless of the stance of the news anchors. This strategy involved developing two related narratives — two engaging, emotionally charged stories — that appeared to explain the day’s horrors and offered viewers a set of active responses. They were not scientific hypotheses and were not directly related to the destruction of the Twin Towers, but indirectly they appeared to favor the fire-induced collapse hypothesis more than the explosion hypothesis. By the end of the day, they had silenced the explosion hypothesis.

The first of these two stories is what we shall call the War on Terror narrative. This grand narrative, resonant with older storied events, explained how the righteous, the civilized, the United States had been subjected to an act of war from the evil, the uncivilized, the terrorists supported by nations in the Middle East and Central Asia; and how American leaders must respond to this aggression with an initiative that was warlike on many levels. This narrative was articulated early (before noon on 9/11) and was repeated throughout the day. It established the foundations of the Global War on Terror.

The second story is the Bin Laden narrative, which nested within the wider War on Terror narrative and was used to transform myth into plausible history. According to this narrative, an evil Saudi national based in Afghanistan had masterminded the attacks.

It is extremely important to grasp the relationship between these two narratives and what may seem as detailed — even esoteric — facts about the destruction of the Twin Towers. If the buildings were destroyed by pre-planted explosives — as we believe has been demonstrated through years of research — the two narratives, however rational and moral they appeared to be to many television viewers, are profoundly misleading in their political analysis and profoundly immoral in their prescriptions.

How the Stories Worked to Favor One Hypothesis of the Destruction of the Twin Towers

As the two stories were spun on television throughout the day of 9/11, both the testimony of eyewitnesses and the explosion hypothesis based on their testimony gradually faded into the void.

The story of the evil attackers appeared to assume, even though this was seldom directly stated, that the buildings were simply knocked down by the airplanes. Precisely how these airplane impacts could have destroyed these buildings in the way witnessed was not explained, beyond the vague and erroneous statements by a few engineers. Essentially, the viewing public was encouraged to feel that it must have happened this way, and they were not encouraged to inquire deeply into the “how” of it. This process was greatly aided both by the emotions encouraged by the stories and by a well-known logical fallacy, the post hoc fallacy.

The post hoc fallacy involves the erroneous conclusion that because x comes after y, y must have caused x. In the present case, the fallacy took the form: Planes crashed into buildings and afterwards the buildings came down; therefore, the plane crashes caused the buildings to come down.

The viewing public, it was assumed, would be easily captured by the gripping stories, and in their infantile mental state would never notice the flawed reasoning or inquire into the details of the matter.

How the Stories Suited the U.S. Temperament

The stories promoted on television on 9/11 fit the American syche like a glove. One of the most prevalent and deeply cultivated political and moral stories of the 20th century for U.S. citizens is the story of aggression. Germany was found guilty of aggression after both WWI and WWII. Japan was accused of an “unprovoked attack” in the Pearl Harbor event that was used to bring the U.S. into WWII. Since Nuremberg, “Communist aggression” became a widely used phrase and a pillar of the Cold War. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, for example, was in this way made into a pretext for massive U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

It is not our intention to review each of these events. we believe the aggression claims in the above incidents range from fully justified through weak to fabricated. What matters here is that the U.S. national psyche was programmed to believe readily in external aggression against the U.S. and its allies, whereas aggression issuing from the U.S. or its allies was impossible to conceive, was simply outside the national narrative.

Narrative versus Evidence

Had a proper investigation been initiated on 9/11, based on the experience and reasoning presented on television that day, every one of the journalists who directly witnessed explosions at the time of the Twin Towers’ destruction would have been able to offer courtroom-worthy evidence. They would have been able to recount what they themselves had perceived with their senses.

By contrast, not one of the journalists or prominent persons on Fox News and CNN promoting the War on Terror and Bin Laden narratives would have been able to offer comparable evidence. They would have fared badly in a courtroom, having nothing to offer but speculation and hearsay.

However gripping their stories, story is not evidence.


We may summarize our findings on the 9/11 psychological operation by listing nine of the major propaganda elements at play that day.

First, however, let us remember a central fact lying beneath and behind the nine elements — namely, that on 9/11 television was used to evoke shock and confusion in U.S. citizens, and in citizens around the world, by transmitting the horrific images of the day. No words, no analysis, can compete with the images of the airplane strikes, the disintegrating towers, and the shocked reactions of people on the scene.

Such shock ensures that critical thinking will be at a low ebb, while old loyalties and a desire to pull together in the face of violence will be very powerful. We have not studied this aspect of the operation in this article, but all nine elements below must be understood in this context.

  1. Identify the chosen perpetrator quickly. (Jon Scott on Fox News names Bin Laden approximately 42 seconds after the second airplane strike.)
  2. Repeat this suspect’s name very frequently, not allowing any other possibility to compete. (Fox News carried at least 56 important mentions of Bin Laden and CNN carried at least 69 in the hours of news coverage we studied.)
  3. Make a variety of claims and suggestions about the perpetrator that make his/her guilt appear likely — no actual evidence necessary — and intimate that intelligence sources are, somewhere behind the curtain, building a strong case that we will eventually see.
  4. Make strategic use of selected “experts.” If news anchors are toying with heretical hypotheses about the destruction of the Twin Towers, bring building professionals in to set them straight — as before, no actual evidence is necessary.
  5. Normalize the abnormal. Make it seem as if it is natural that this massive and complex operation could have been carried out by Bin Laden’s crew, and do not mention the state organizations far more suited to the task.
  6. Do not hesitate to make use of flawed logic where it is helpful — we have given post hoc ergo propter hoc as the example that supports the fire-induced collapse hypothesis.
  7. Tell gripping stories and repeat them throughout the day. Link these specific stories to Grand Narratives fundamental to the nation, such as those of aggression and savagery.
  8. Push aside actual courtroom-worthy evidence (such as eyewitness evidence) explicitly when necessary, as through the use of select “experts”; otherwise erase such evidence indirectly through dramatic story-telling that appears to support the official hypothesis being constructed.
  9. Make profligate use of state authorities. Citizens reduced to a state of fear will be open to hearing from a former Secretary of Defense, even if what he has to offer is thin gruel.

To study the day’s events as they unfolded on television is to experience in a shockingly direct way how a well-oiled propaganda system — of which television is a central component — can spin grand and lethal yarns that silence the citizens who experience, who witness, who suffer, and who constitute the epistemic backbone of democracy.

The ability of this propaganda system to achieve the triumph of the Official Narrative in a matter of hours suggests to us that while good science is necessary for dispelling the Official Narrative, alone it may not be sufficient.

Oftentimes, researchers (engineers, scientists, academics, etc.) carry on their research as if they were merely studying the natural world — a world that has no interest in the researchers and does not look back at them. But in cases such as 9/11, researchers are working within an intellectual context shaped by an intelligent opponent. This opponent is neither inert nor disinterested, but looks back at the researcher. It has intentionally laid down sets of false claims and dead-end trails and can be expected to continue to do so.

This does not mean that researchers and activists should give up their focus on good science. Rather, it means that those who are dedicated to revealing the truth about 9/11 must think deeply about how to carry out good science and good communication within the specific context of a still-ongoing psychological operation.

Evidence could not stop the Official Narrative from triumphing on 9/11, and evidence alone will not defeat the Official Narrative now.


The entire report, ‘The Triumph of the Official Narrative:  How the TV Networks Hid the Twin Towers’ Explosive Demolition on 9/11′, can be found here


Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California.  A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of Task Force on the Americas, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.


Prof. Graeme MacQueen is co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies and co-author, with Johan Galtung, of Globalizing God-Religion, Spirituality and Peace, TRANSCEND University Press, 2008. MacQueen was founding director of the Centre for Peace Studies at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he taught for 30 years. He holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. MacQueen was an organizer of the Toronto Hearings on 9/11, is a member of the Consensus 9/11 Panel, and is a former co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

Tags: 9/11 truthNATOOfficial Lies and NarrativesPentagonUS MilitaryWar EconomyWar of TerrorWar on Terror


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Sep 2022.

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