Choose Your Own Adventure

Tucker Carlson speaks in Hollywood, Florida, on November 17, 2022. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

In 2009 The Onion produced a memorable spoof of inane cable-news “debates.” In one corner: A middle-class 9/11 truther convinced that the attack on the World Trade Center could only have been an inside job by George Bush’s government. In the other corner: A member of al-Qaeda trying and failing to reason with him, annoyed that his organization was being denied the credit it was due.

The clip was a goof on how those two contradictory views in the years after the attack managed to coexist uneasily in anti-American circles, especially abroad. Either 9/11 was horrific and undeserved, in which case Bush or Mossad was responsible, or it was good because America had it coming, in which case al-Qaeda was.

Or both, somehow. The path one took to arrive at a conclusion about the attack seemed less important than the destination, the idea that the United States government was in some sense culpable, morally if not directly, for terrorism perpetrated against Americans.

You could choose your own adventure about what happened on 9/11 so long as you arrived at the conclusion that Uncle Sam ultimately was to blame, one way or another.

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