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I guess I should consider this progress. CNN, the semi-official news agency of the United Nations, had Christopher Ruddy on its “Sunday Morning” show.

Knowing how CNN manages the news, how it has ignored both the Vincent Foster cover-up and the Ron Brown controversy and understanding the activist political agenda of its founder, I didn’t get my hopes up that this appearance would result in a quantum breakthrough for truth. Even with that psychic preparation, though, this was a program for the future archives of establishment media disinformation.

Because you will think I’m exaggerating, at the end of this column I will invite you to jump to CNN’s own transcript of the show, which will verify everything I am about to tell you.

The segment involving Ruddy was titled, “Conspiracy Theory Craze.” No matter what might be discussed under such a heading, viewers are being warned in advance not to take anything seriously. Then came the inevitable set-up piece. Precious minutes tick by as CNN anchor Miles O’Brien explained how some wacky fruitcakes are still wondering who killed JFK. Others are obsessed with the UFO incident at Roswell. More recently, he said, there’s been all kinds of “speculation” that TWA Flight 800 might have been brought down by a Navy missile.

“And now, the death of former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown,” he segued. “Killed in a plane crash in Croatia. African-Americans especially have become increasingly public about speculation of foul play. Autopsy photographs of Brown reportedly show a round hole in the top of his skull, leaving to assertions in some quarters that he was shot.”

Stop the tape! Notice that word “reportedly”? As if there is some question that there is actually a round hole in Brown’s head? There is no dispute about this. Every one of the military forensic pathologists who examined Brown admit that much. The photos are available for one and all to see on this very web site. Even CNN anchors can view them if they can figure out how to surf the Internet without mussing up their hair.

This is not conspiracy theorizing. We’re talking about the findings of highly trained, coolly dispassionate military doctors — scientific experts in death causes. They are the ones, along with intrepid investigative reporter Chris Ruddy, who brought this story to the attention of the American people. Do some people leap to conclusions based on the facts reported? Of course — just as they do with every other significant news story.

But this wasn’t a show designed to answer any real questions. This was psycho-babble, pure and simple. It was a program “to help dissect the enduring fascination with conspiracy theories,” as anchor-dude O’Brien himself explained. To his credit, Ruddy made the most of it. First with a little historical background, he then addressed one of the issues in the set-up piece.

“When TWA 800 went down, and you had 200 witnesses saying there looked like a missile, and some of them were qualified pilots, well, I think that’s serious and should be investigated and not dismissed as a conspiracy theory,” said Ruddy.

More predictable psycho-babble ensued before Ruddy got another shot. Then, whammo.

“Well, I think conspiracy theories are being fueled by the fact that reporters don’t want to ask some legitimate questions,” he said. “I’ve been labeled a conspiracy theorist because I’ve questioned the death of Vince Foster. And I don’t argue any conspiracy theory. I say that the official story that we’ve been told — and this is what I state in my book — is a cock and bull story of what happened, that there needed to be a proper investigation.

“We talked about the Ron Brown case at the opening of this segment. I don’t know what happened with Ron Brown. I don’t argue a conspiracy theory. But we now have three, high-ranking military officers, forensic pathologists, who are claiming that there was a perfectly circular hole on Ron Brown’s head that appeared to be a gunshot and should have necessitated an autopsy.

“What we found out is, no autopsy was ever conducted on Secretary Brown. In fact, the Air Force determined the plane went down as an accident before any investigators even got to the scene. And this sort of fuels the conspiracy theory. And that now anyone can imagine any possibility because they know that proper procedures weren’t followed.”

Thank you, Chris Ruddy. You just showed how it’s possible to redeem even the most stacked and biased television program — at least for a few minutes.

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