A video on Youtube, “BBC Building 7 Collapse” is a televised news report from the BBC that states that WTC Tower 7 (aka the “Salomon Bros. Building”) had collapsed. An overlay on the video by the uploader to Youtube, at around 0:42 in the video, states “WTC7 Collapsed? It’s only 5:07pm”. The video goes on to highlight the apparently live footage – which shows Tower 7 in the background, still standing. There’s a whole web-site devoted to this rumour (which, I add, has a statement from Richard Porter, the head of news at BBC World).
According to the timeline of the WTC fall on Wikipedia, the first impact was at 8:46am (North Tower) and 9:03 am (South Tower), and WTC Tower 7 fell at just after 5:20pm. The anchor states that they are reporting “some 8 hours” after the attack (i.e. around 5pm). I didn’t spot any clocks in the video or more accurate measures of time.
The video purports to be evidence that the BBC reported that WTC Tower 7 had fallen before the fall had taken place, and in particular:
- the report is apparently made at 5:07pm (i.e. 13 minutes before the tower fell); and
- the apparently live image in the background showed Tower 7 still standing, while the BBC was reporting that it had fallen.
The video overlays state that the falling of Tower 7 was a controlled demolition, but gives no evidence supporting that conclusion. It seems to be implying that the BBC had clairvoyant reporting because a planned press release had been circulated, and that the BBC’s mistake was in reading off the press release before they were supposed to.
The correspondent is cut off from the news feed, which on any other day might be considered unusual, but given the chaos of September 11, 2001, I don’t draw any negative inference from it.
Alas the correspondent, Jane Standley, who would seem the person most able to shed light on this conspiracy theory, seems to not be a public figure anymore. No useful results show up for her on google, as others seem to have tried.
So First, did the BBC report the falling of WTC Tower 7 before the tower fell?
Second, if the BBC did report Tower 7’s fall before the event, does that evidence support the conclusion of the existence of any nefarious conspiracy? (i.e. are there not more plausible explanations, e.g. an error by the BBC as Richard Porter has stated)
How do we know what the correct time of the broadcast footage is? and How do we know that the imagery behind Jane Standley is live?
It is unlikely that the real times estimated above are off by more than a minute. The mpeg files are located in directories on archive.org with names that encode times down to the minute. For example, the directory name bbc200109111654-1736 encodes the time range 4:54 – 5:36 PM. No part of the 41-minute recording that contains the report shows a digital clock, but other recordings do, and suggest that the encoding of times into directory names is as meticulously accurate as the set of recordings is complete. For example, an NBCbroadcast recording with the directory name nbc200109110954-1036, encoding the time range 9:54 – 10:35 AM, shows a clock with minutes and seconds. It displays a time of 10:20 starting at 25:34 in the recording, putting the start of the recording at 9:54:26 AM.
That Jane Standley was standing in front of a live view of WTC 7 as she describes it in the past tense is virtually indisputable. The high-quality mpeg video clearly shows that she is in front of a row of windows in a tall building.
On February 27, 2007, the BBC‘s website published a response by Richard Porter in which he reactively denied the suggestion that there is something wrong with the BBC ( whose “vision is to be the most creative, trusted organisation in the world” 1 ) announcing the third of the only three skyscraper “collapses” in world history before it happened.
1. We’re not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn’t get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn’t receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening.
2. In the chaos and confusion of the day, I’m quite sure we said things which turned out to be untrue or inaccurate – but at the time were based on the best information we had. We did what we always did – sourced our reports, used qualifying words like “apparently” or “it’s reported” or “we’re hearing” and constantly tried to check and double check the information we were receiving.
3. Our reporter Jane Standley was in New York on the day of the attacks, and like everyone who was there, has the events seared on her mind. I’ve spoken to her today and unsurprisingly, she doesn’t remember minute-by-minute what she said or did – like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing; what she was being told; and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services.
4. We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I’d love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don’t help clear up the issue one way or another.
5. If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error – no more than that. As one of the comments on You Tube says today “so the guy in the studio didn’t quite know what was going on? Woah, that totally proves conspiracy… “