The last academic project I developed before being removed from my tenured associate professor position at Florida Atlantic University was titled, “Covering 11/13: The Stagecraft of Reliable Sources,” an invited contribution to Dr. Kevin Barrett’s 2016 edited volume, Another French False Flag? Bloody Tracks From Paris to San Bernardino, from which the passage below is excerpted.
A gifted Islamic studies scholar, Barrett was witch hunted out of the University of Wisconsin system by State GOP operatives in the mid-2000s for repeated public questioning of the tragic September 11, 2001 events. As the experiences of Barrett and myself attest, combined public comment and academic research on such complex events is unacceptable in the Anglo-American university system. At the same time, such research is crucial for coming to terms with occurrences such as the June 12, 2016 ISIS “attack” in Orlando Florida being touted by major news media throughout the West as “the worst mass shooting in US history.”
“Covering 11/13” places mainstream reportage of the Paris attacks in the framework of journalistic ethics routinely emphasized to undergraduate journalism students at university and rookie reporters alike. The article contends that consulting sources and overall reporting of contemporary terror events is stage-managed, and thus necessitates a complete abandonment of such ethical guidelines. Indeed, we would be poorly served to confuse genuine journalism with the government and corporate media’s stark promotion of these increasingly surreal and doubtful incidents.-JFT
James F. Tracy , Ph.D.
An unquestioning faith in the integrity of journalistic institutions is a cornerstone of modern secularism which has to a large degree replaced religious faith in France and throughout the West. Journalism holds power in check, so this catechism goes, ensuring free exchange in the “open society.” In this line of thinking, close study of news reports and the information contained therein suggests apostasy to the secular credo, perhaps even “conspiracy theory” if the analysis is developed alongside careful consideration of political power to any significant degree.
This chapter interrogates an important feature of news coverage as it pertains to the Paris 11/13 “attacks.” As with reportage of most any significant event in social life, the coverage of a terrorist attack is only as credible as the testimony of eyewitnesses, those otherwise immediately impacted, such as victims’ family members and close friends, and relevant government officials. In fact, fundamental journalism ethics codes theoretically adhered to by news gathering organizations emphasize the importance of tapping trustworthy sources, disclosing their identities, and discerning whether they may have certain motives for providing information.
This very principal aids in developing the secular faith in such institutions by developing trust in news media, and was recognized as such almost a century ago when journalism was becoming professionalized throughout the United States and Europe. “Good faith with the readers is the foundation of good journalism,” the 1922 American Society of Newspaper Editors Canons of Journalism declares. “Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sites are presented fairly.” 
To this day the professional tenet emphasizing accuracy is echoed in virtually all professional journalism codes of ethics. In these various documents there is express concern with securing credibility and the public’s trust, and it is suggested that these are maintained largely through the quality of sources and appropriate attribution. “No reader should find cause to suspect that the paper would knowingly alter facts,” the New York Times declares in its “Guidelines on Our Integrity.”
The authenticity of information is thus key, and if a reporter hasn’t witnessed the event the editorial expectation is that s/he must access reliable sources. For example, the BBC emphasizes how its reporters “should try to witness events and gather information first hand. When this is not possible, we should talk to first hand sources and, where necessary, corroborate their evidence.” There is an understanding, Reuters likewise counsels its reporters, that “every statement in every story” must be sourced “unless it is an established fact or is information clearly in the public domain, such as court documents or in instances when the reporter, photographer or camera operator was on the scene.”
Along these lines reporters are expected to hold to greater scrutiny information from sources that seek partial or complete anonymity. For example, the New York Times states that “the general rule is to tell readers as much as we can about the placement and known motivations of the source.” The Society of Professional Journalists similarly recommends assessing “sources motives before promising anonymity.” The Washington Post seeks “to disclose the source of all information when at all possible,” and that “before any information is accepted without full attribution reporters must make every reasonable effort to get it on the record. If that is not possible, reporters should consider seeking the information elsewhere.” Full disclosure of sources, Reuters maintains, is necessary to safeguard against reporting false information and contrived events: “Good sources and well-defined sourcing help to protect the integrity of the file from overt outside pressures and manipulation and such hazards as hoaxes” [sic].
With the above in mind, what journalistic institutions theoretically espouse and how they go about their craft are two entirely different things, and this has not been lost on the public. The secular faith in journalism and democracy is hardly monolithic, and is in decline even in recent years. A 2015 Gallup poll found that forty percent of Americans proclaim “‘a great deal’” or “‘a fair amount’ of trust and confidence in mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” This figure was fifty-three percent in 1997. What makes the news media an integral but by no means exclusive element of enforcing belief in events such as Paris 11/13 is the fact that political and administrative officials are journalists’ foremost sources for information, and in the wake of a terror attack there is a tendency to unquestioningly accept their pronouncements.
The basic journalistic tenets concerning the quality and careful identification of sources witnessing or impacted by the 11/13 Paris “attacks” was seriously lacking, with many of the stories unrealistic and broader context of the events pointing to a false flag. Yet the still powerful secular impulse toward the news media collectively allowed for these anomalies to be overlooked. Much like reportage of other complex events ostensibly involving Islamic-inspired terrorism, such as 9/11, the London 7/7 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, or the large number of mass shootings in the US, is that overriding belief in the “free press”
As of this writing most 11/13 coverage has not been appropriately revisited or amended and thus cannot be accepted as a trustworthy or valid record of the event. There should be little wonder, then, that the public is left with a set of subjective impressions on the Paris attacks that is far distanced from what actually took place that night. Is it possible that the event was manufactured by state actors with the aid of media and public relations practitioners strategically positioned to provide quotable information for on-the-scene reporters? Close study of many sources providing key information indicates an unusual number of linkages to media-related entities. One such figure is directly related to a “training exercise” that transpired on the morning of November 13, while others are in especially advantageous proximity to the specific events as they occur, or claim a relationship to the deceased. The verbal or visual testimony of each source is carried widely by major news outlets in the immediate wake of November 13, thus decisively shaping how the public came to understand and accept the incident.
 American Association of Newspaper Editors, “Statement of Principles.” (http://asne.org/content.asp?pl=24&sl=171&contentid=171).
 “New York Times: Guidelines on Our Integrity.” May 9, 1999. (http://asne.org/content.asp?pl=236&sl=317&contentid=317). See also Byron Calame, “The Guidelines on Our Integrity’ from 1999 Are Worth a Look.” New York Times, May 4, 2007. (http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/the-guidelines-on-our-integrity-from-1999-are-worth-a-look/?_r=0).
 “BBC: Editorial Guidelines: Accuracy.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/guidelines/accuracy/gathering-material).
 “The Essentials of Reuters Sourcing.” (http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=The_Essentials_of_Reuters_sourcing#When_to_source).
 Society of Professional Journalists, “Code of Ethics.” (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp).
 “The Washington Post Standards and Ethics.” (Available at http://asne.org/content.asp?pl=236&sl=19&contentid=335).
 “The Essentials of Reuters Sourcing.”