PIERRE VS THE NEW YORK TIMES
Copyright Patrick Harris 2016. All rights reserved.
The evening of July 17th, 1996 started out as just another pleasant summers night in the Hamptons, but soon turned into one of the worst nightmares in New York City history. TWA 800, a nonstop flight from New York to Paris, exploded spectacularly over the Atlantic, ten miles off the coast of Long Island. Many of the locals rushed to save survivors of the crash, but their efforts were in vain because all on board had perished in the explosion and subsequent fire.
As TWA 800 rose into the skies off Long Island a massive explosion decapitated the front of the plane, just forward of the wings. Most of those in first class were killed instantly, but others in the rear of the plane survived the initial blast only to experience the ultimate terror of knowing that their life was coming to an end as they desperately choked for air in the descending inferno.
Politicians soon lined up to console the bereaved. New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani chided the airline for not providing immediate confirmation of the deaths of those aboard. New York State Governor George Pataki dispatched Port Authority buses to take families of the dead to East Moriches, close to the crash site. In his weekly radio address President Clinton vowed to find the cause of the catastrophe: "Hillary and I join all our nation in sending their families and friends our deepest condolences and prayers. We are doing all we can to find the cause of this disaster, and we will find what caused it."
An investigation conducted by the FBI and NTSB concluded that the plane had simply blown up on its own due to a spark in the center fuel tank. Others disagreed, largely because hundreds of eyewitnesses had seen a light rise from the ground to strike the plane, suggesting the likelihood of a missile attack.
Conspiracy theories soon began circulating that the crash was the result of secretive military exercises being conducted in the Atlantic. The objective photographic, eyewitness report, and radar evidence, however, tell a different story, namely that TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a single missile launched from, or passing over, Long Island.
Pierre VS The New York Times lays out the evidentiary trail leading to this conclusion, but also focuses on the media propaganda wars that were spurred by the opposing viewpoints, especially with regard to news organizations in the United States and in France. In particular, it examines in detail allegations about the crash that were made by journalist Pierre Salinger and the French photo-news magazine Paris Match, and the response that was engineered by the New York Times in favor of the "spark in the center fuel tank" theory.
The book also discusses CIA participation in the investigation, including a CIA-engineered accident reconstruction video showing the plane blowing up, splitting in two, then pitching up and flying three quarters of a mile higher in controlled, powered flight at such a steep angle that all of the eyewitnesses were allegedly fooled into thinking they were watching a missile ascending in flight. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the official investigation maintains that many passengers suffered fatal injuries such as broken necks and ankles that were the result of the severe and rapid deceleration that occurred immediately after separation of the forward fuselage. It is also noteworthy that such a scenario violates the laws of aerodynamics and physics (photograph courtesy of Thinkstock Photos).