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Matt Taibbi On 9/11 Truthers


AVC: In The Great Derangement, you document your infiltration into John Hagee's Cornerstone Church and your incognito participation in 9/11 Truth Movement meetings. Have you gotten a reaction from either camp since the book's publication?

MT: Oh yeah. Among the people that I was in church with, one of them actually saw me on television earlier this spring and called me up right afterward. So my cover was blown before the book even came out, which was kind of embarrassing. But I haven't heard too much from that whole crew. Weirdly enough, the letters I've been getting from a lot of Christians—not specifically from that church, but from other fundamentalist Christians—have been strangely positive in a way that I really didn't expect. A lot of people are very critical of Hagee's church, that it's deviating from the real message of Christ. I get a lot of letters of the 'If only you'd experienced Christ through our church' variety. There's a lot of that, but relatively little abuse of the sort that you would've expected. The Truthers, on the other hand… [Laughs.] I think they're probably the most self-Googling sliver of humanity on the planet. The instant you write anything about them, your e-mail is flooded with letters. I haven't gotten a single positive reaction from anybody who's a self-described Truther.

AVC: You'd think a movement devoted to seeking truth would encourage debate as a way to arrive at the truth, rather than trying to suppress whatever doesn't already align with their own views.

MT: Absolutely. I make this point with Truthers all the time, that the whole direction of everything they do is the opposite of what finding out the truth is. They approach the subject matter in much the same way a defense attorney does. A defense attorney takes a case and he sees six pieces of evidence that are going to convict his client, and he sets out to destroy those six pieces of evidence, irrelevant to the actual truth of the situation. That's not to denigrate defense attorneys, but that's what they do. It's exactly the same thing that Truthers do. They just take the 9/11 Commission Report piece by piece, and they try to break down links in that evidentiary chain that compose the official story, but they never really try to find out what happened. They're just trying to convince you that the official story couldn't possibly be true. For instance, the stuff about Hani Hanjour—the hijacker who reportedly made that maneuver into the Pentagon. They're really hopped up about the fact that he was a bad pilot and couldn't have made that sophisticated maneuver. But they make absolutely no effort to tell you what actually did happen. They're like, 'Oh, it could have been a remote-controlled plane.' Offhandedly, they'll say that. [Laughs.] Like that's a very simple thing. It's really weird.