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Concha: The 2 Worst Assertions Repeated Way Too Often in Missing Plane Coverage

As you may have heard, a Malaysian 777 plane went missing 11 days ago almost without a trace. This is the type of story that is custom-made for the likes of CNN, as it combines the network’s international resources with its reputation for being the spare tire in the trunk that viewers look for when breaking news occurs.

Fox and MSNBC are obviously covering the story as well, but not in the 24/7 mode the Cable News Network has since the story broke 11 days ago. And if you think CNN will take its foot off the pedal anytime soon (if the plane remains missing), think again. In the immortal words of Gordon Gekko, “It’s all about bucks, kid.”

In this case, bucks are ratings points, and right now, at least in the all-important 25-54 demo advertisers care about, CNN is crushing MSNBC and—at least over the weekend—even beating Fox in both said demo and total viewers…the latter of which hasn’t happened on a consistent basis in a long time. Fox and MSNBC see these results and realize this story dwarfs all others by a country mile, and have beefed up their attention to all-things-missing-jet as a result.

So with three cable news networks now dedicating so much time to one story that consists of so few facts… opinions, conjecture, speculation and outright bloviating to fill the hours is currently all the rage.

In an effort to cut through the noise, two false assertions in particular are being repeatedly made on-air that need to be addressed, including:

Repeated Again and Again Assertion #1: “If the plane flew over another country, we would have heard about it because it would have been picked up on that country’s radar.”

Fact: Not necessarily. Remember that whole Seal Team Six/Bin Laden raid conducted about three years ago in Pakistan? The same raid the President did not seek approval of by the Pakistani government of beforehand? The one which consisted of two Blackhawk helicopters flying into the country without being detected on radar either entering the country or leaving it? You know…that one?

It is understood a 777 is infinitely bigger than two Blackhawks. But radar is radar regardless of the size of an object. At one point, the 777 is said to have flown below five thousand feet as if it were a fighter jet to avoid detection. So could the plane have flown into Pakistan and landed without being noticed?

If the Bin Laden raid is any indication, it is conceivable. So let’s stop dismissing this scenario based on the whole “radar would have picked it up/somebody would have noticed” nonsense.

Pretty please.

Repeated Again and Again Assertion #2: “If this was a terrorist act, someone would have taken credit for it by now.”

Fact: You mean like the time no one took credit for…9/11? You know…when the aforementioned Bin Laden didn’t publicly take responsibility for the attack until more than three years later?

If you recall, Bin Laden released a tape a few days before the 2004 election (Bush v. Kerry) to state that, yes, he and Al Qaeda were behind the attack. It’s true that Al Qaeda was fingered by the Bush Administration days after the attack. But it’s also true that unlike other attacks it has carried out, the terror group had never officially taken credit for 9/11—at least not until October 30, 2004—when Bin Laden attempted to inject himself into a presidential election.

In fact, OBL had this to say on September 16, 2001:

“I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation.”

So again, just because a terror organization has not taken responsibility for the missing jet, it doesn’t mean the terror aspect should be dismissed. One dark scenario is that the plane landed and is being packed with explosives to be repurposed as a bomb. If you’re a group looking to accomplish something so unprecedented, so sinister, so difficult to pull off, would you start dancing in the end zone when only half the plan has been accomplished thus far?

Do we know what happened? Outside of the plane not making it to its final destination by deliberately making a sharp left turn to the west and the transponders being shut off, we don’t know anything much beyond that. That’s why people can’t stop watching. It’s a mystery unlike any we’ve seen in modern times. 239 lives are at stake. It may even be a story without closure. We just don’t know.

But we do know history.

We know how to use the Google Machine to look up basic facts.

When charged with covering one story, you would think a few more producers, anchors and program guests would be a little more educated on something called precedent.

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>> Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @ConchaMedia

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