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Why I WON'T Be Watching 9/11 10th Anniversary Coverage
September 8, 2011  | By Eric Mink
 
[TVWW contributor Eric Mink and I were colleagues -- TV critic co-equals -- at the New York Daily News a decade ago, when terrorists steered planes into the Twin Towers and elsewhere. I was watching from the safety of my basement office in Cherry Hill, NJ, 90 miles away. Eric was much, much closer to what we now call Ground Zero.

Ten years later, I'm watching all the anniversary documentaries and coverage presented by the various TV networks, but Eric is not. In the very personal and memorable essay that follows, he explains why. - DB]

By Eric Mink

twin-towers.jpg

Early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, life stirred in the television department at the New York Daily News, pretty much as it had every workday since Dave Bianculli and I had become colleagues more than eight years earlier. As we soon learned, every workday after that would be different from those that had come before. Three months later, I left the newspaper.

The collegiality and mutual respect with which Dave and I had worked throughout our tenure together at The News were never more crucial than in the demanding and draining weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We both watched, thought, talked and wrote, inevitably concentrating on programming and issues connected in one way or another to the attacks and their aftermath. As ever, the pieces we wrote embodied our individual personalities and styles; and, as ever, our efforts were never in conflict.

I've just written a freelance column for The St. Louis Jewish Light about my determination to avoid television coverage of the 10th anniversary, and why. I'm grateful that Dave found it worthwhile and wanted to share it with the readers of TV WORTH WATCHING.

A link to that piece is HERE.

Your comments, as always, are encouraged and welcome.

6 Comments

I too am avoiding the coverage. Initially I thought I was just in denial, but the more I
thought and saw previews and heard radio stories about 9/11 I found myself having to change channels or pull over to the side of the road to gather myself. Vert little has passed in the last ten years to make me feel better about the horrilble events of that day or our nation's deplorable reaction to it. Angry people did a despicable thing and we as a nation went a bit crazy and did despicable things as revenge. I don't need to revisit that!

Comment posted on September 8, 2011 5:22 PM
 
peggy said:

Very good column, Mr Mink. Spouses of women I knew died that day. I live in a NJ suburb of downtown NYC.

I know how you feel. No one close to me died that day. I wasn't in NYC but it made me incredibly sad.

I didn't need help afterward but I find myself on the verge of tears each time a TV piece comes up or the NY Times has an article about that awful day (it brings me back to reading their profiles of each and every person who was killed that day).

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to watch either. I do want to bear witness to the ceremony at the World Trade Center Sunday morning, if I can.

Comment posted on September 8, 2011 6:32 PM
 
Rich said:

heart-felt words from Eric Mink. I myself watched the events from home (as I had graduated from school and did an over-night job & had not ventured into college). I actually have a VHS copy of the events of that morning as it happened as I flip from channel to channel the tape never stops for 4 hours.
I've never actually watched it - I just keep it as a reminder.

You were IN NYC at the time it's understandable you have issues with it as it was something you lived through. Doesn't make you a bad person. It sounds like the event effected you in ways you never thought possible.

I was intrigued by your "where was God?" questioning (in relation to the PBS show you mentioned). All I can say is, I'm sure people on the Titanic, During the Civil War, Pearl Harbor Attacks, Columbine Shootings, and Kennedy Assassination all must've thought the same thing. As a nation it's important to have these "After the Event" shows for the people that come later or to see how you've grown or changed. Atleast we can say it's the 1st Anniversary since killed UBL.

This coming from a guy who avoids or downplays most major Holidays because I dislike how over-board so many people go with the 'Rituals'.

Comment posted on September 9, 2011 3:05 PM
 
Neil said:

Eric, that was beautifully written.

Even though I've spent the bulk of the last three decades on the west coast, my first three decades were spent in and around NYC, and I consider myself an "ex-pat" New Yorker, rather than a California transplant. I went to college in downtown Brooklyn, right across the river from lower Manhattan, and I watched those towers going up in the late 60's and early 70's. And due to business demands, I was back in the New York area just a few weeks after 9/11/01, flying into Newark Airport past lower Manhattan and internalizing in a way not possible from all those horrific TV images that the WTC complex was indeed gone.

I too have a low grade, lingering case of PTSD. Many of us do, and this mass pathology has affected America in ways both overt and subtle over the last decade, similar to how we were affected by the Challenger explosion in '86, the assassinations of the 60's, or even Pearl Harbor, depending on how old we each are.

It will be historians and psychological researchers that write the final chapters on this era, because none of us who are currently adults will ever be able to have the distance and perspective it'll take to do that job properly.

Comment posted on September 9, 2011 4:44 PM
 
Eileen said:

Beautifully written and expressed. I always used to look forward to the beginning of September, as my birthday is September 12th. Not so much anymore.

I worked in Operations at St. Vincent's Hospital on 9/11, and although I feel great sadness with each yearly anniversary, I also remember the many kindnesses I saw that day.

Perhaps the most shocking sight was walking to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street to get coffee mid-morning. Walking up Sixth Avenue by the thousands were those who escaped the Twin Towers. Most covered with dust/ash/soot, many shoeless, many cut and bruised, walking as zombies. All just trying to go north and get away from the horror. If I close my eyes I can still see it. And yet, amid all that insanity, the lovely owner of the Sixth Avenue local green grocer had placed a giant tub of ice water on the sidewalk, loaded with bottled water, and the handwritten sign, "Please take one"; it was the little actions like that which truly touched my heart. The Snapple Company set up a kiosk outside the hospital for anyone coming or going to help themselves. The James Beard Foundation sent chefs to take over our hospital cafeteria; they prepared wonderful meals for the staff free of charge for a week. The local Dominos Pizza sent pie after pie (gratis) for staff, patients and families of patients. People think New Yorkers are just hard hearted, but underneath that tough exterior are some pretty great people.

We each need to commemorate this anniversary in our own way. For some, it's just the knowing, and that can often be more than enough.

Comment posted on September 9, 2011 10:35 PM
 
Eric Mink said:

First, I apologize for not responding sooner. Thanks to all of you for taking the extra step of clicking over to the Jewish Light site and then going to even MORE trouble of filing a comment.

ROBERT: I decided to avoid the political issues in my piece, though I certainly weighed in, during my Op-Ed tenure, on the nation's actions after 9/11. Even without that dimension, though, the lingering effects of the attacks themselves possess much power.

PEGGY: Bearing witness is a beautiful and apt way to put it. I didn't watch the Sunday morning service, but the accounts I've read suggest that it was done right.

RICH: Thanks for your understanding comments. I'm sure that some of the programs were well done and valuable (and that others were crass and worthless).

NEIL: Thanks for your very kind assessment of the piece. You seem to know exactly what I was talking about.

EILEEN: The kindnesses you saw and those you doubtless delivered to others were things of beauty that grew out of the profound ugliness of the attacks. I saw other examples of it, the transmission of pure, honest humanity, almost everywhere I went in the city in those terrible weeks. It made me proud to be a member of our community, to be part of New York. Thank you so much for making that point.

Comment posted on September 13, 2011 6:42 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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