Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tabb on CNN


On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, CNN did a very cool thing. They had George Tabb--a gifted author and musician who is extremely sick with illnesses related to the toxicity produced by the collapse of the buildings--on an anniversary segment.

The way it went down, however, was not so cool.

I mean, it wasn't terrible. I'm grateful he was on the program. But read for yourself. The host continually leads Tabb and refuses to go down the obviously interesting path here. Yes, Tabb has PTSD, but for him the trauma isn't over.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the apparent media lock down on this issue is turning me into one. I've personally pitched this story to Spin, Rolling Stone and the Oprah magazine and been turned down by all three (bless the folks at Harp, who now run Blurt, for taking it earlier this year). I know for a fact that other journalists are pitching similar stories. Why has this story not been told? Why did CNN look it in the face and deny it exists last Thursday?

HARRIS: Let's get a market check now. New York Stock Exchange, New York City. As you can see, the Dow is down 37 points. It's been a mostly down week so far. A lot of triple digit losses on the day, for much of the week. We're going to check in with Susan Lisovicz and get the latest information on the markets for you in just a couple of minutes.

The New York Stock Exchange joining the nation in marking the seventh anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. Financial traders paused for a few minutes just before the opening bell this morning. A few blocks away at a tearful ceremony at Ground Zero, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the attacks as the day our world was broken. The names of each of the 2,751 people killed at the World Trade Center were read aloud and four separate moments of silence were observed marking when each plane hit and each tower fell.

You know, a man famous in punk rock circles for his connection with the band, The Ramones, and his own band, Roach Motel, was one of the folks living in lower Manhattan during the September 11th attacks. George Tabb ran from his TriBeCa apartment just four blocks away with his wife and dog and saw all of the carnage that day. People jumping out of windows. His apartment condemned because it was so full of dust and debris. A day that has permanently affected his life and his health in many ways. He joins us now with his dog. Because the dog, named Scooter, there he is, is a big part of his story and he can't go anywhere without him.


HARRIS: George, maybe let's start there. Hey, Scooter, good to see you. You literally can't go anywhere without Scooter?

TABB: I can go other places without Scooter, but I like to go everywhere with Scooter and that's why he's here today actually.

HARRIS: Well, George, tell us why he's so important to you.

TABB: Well, scooter is very important because we both escaped 9/11 together from that fiery mess that the terrorists brought in. It was horrible. And I had been sick with different diseases, beside PTSD, that we'll talk about. I got a bunch of other illnesses, physical illnesses.

HARRIS: But the point about -- that's important to make about Scooter is that he was helpful to your recovery and he was coming back from --

TABB: Yes, he was. Yes, he did. He was very helpful to my recovery. Being sick a lot, being in the hospital a lot with different surgeries for different genetic diseases that I've got from 9/11, Scooter was there and helped me feel better because he knew where the pain would be and licked there. And I found that to be so helpful that I wanted to share that with others.


TABB: And through the St. Vincent's Hospital here in New York City, through my friend and therapist Bob Kupferman (ph), and my shrink, David Cordon (ph), they got me involved with the pet therapy program, where I bring Scooter to visit sick patients.

HARRIS: Well, Scooter couldn't be cuter.

Let's talk for a moment about the post-traumatic stress disorder. We most often associate that with people who come back from war. Describe the symptoms you were living with and to the extent that you're still living with symptoms.

TABB: I'm still living with symptom. I still have the nightmares, you know, which are terrible. Like giant buildings chasing me or monsters or . . .

HARRIS: Giant buildings actually chasing you? You see that sometimes?

TABB: Yes, I do. And I had nightmares of the carnage and different things representing those buildings. And I wake up screaming. I still wake up scared out of my mind. When I hear airplanes, I'm very -- I get very nervous. Helicopters. Police sirens.

But through the help of St. Vincent's and through their PTSD health program -- which was funded by "The New York Times," by the way, did a great thing by funding them I learned -- it is behavioral therapy. They taught me to listen to sirens, not as a sound of danger, but the sound of people helping each other.

HARRIS: Right. And, George, what do you think about on a day like today? Another anniversary?

TABB: I think it's sad that Americans don't know the extent of how much still downtown people are still sick. How many people downtown are still affected by the events of that day. How many people are poisoned. How many people are dealing with terrible, terrible illnesses. How police and firefighters cannot talk about it because their pensions are being threatened, who want to talk about this and how sick they are but can't get their pensions.

HARRIS: But, George, what about your emotions? Are you -- seven years later, are you angry? Are you -- have you made some kind of peace with this?

TABB: I was very angry for a long time and very depressed and even locked up a couple times for being so depressed about it. But now, with the help of the pet therapy program and just myself and my friend, Monica, which her and I are starting an organization called the Whirlwind Coalition, which is online, where we're trying to raise awareness of people being sick from 9/11.

By being an activist and by doing all this stuff, I'm feeling a lot better. I feel like I'm taking control of the situation. I'm able to fight back. To sort of say, and make things better for the world. And that way the PTSD doesn't get me as bad. I found that sitting around idly and just worrying about it and not doing anything was the worst thing for it.

But by taking action, with my dog, Scooter, here, and I'm doing something good for -- giving back. Like John McCain said in his speech, although I'm voting for Obama, McCain said that when young people, when they become part of something bigger than themselves, it brings a lot of joy. And that's absolutely the truth.

HARRIS: Well, George, thanks for sharing the story. Your amazing story.

TABB: Thank you.

HARRIS: And our thanks to Scooter there.

TABB: Oh, thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: And, George, we wish you all the best.

TABB: Thank you. You too.

HARRIS: Thank you.

TABB: Thank you. Bye-bye.

HARRIS: Moments ago a moment of silence in the Senate chambers.

Since CNN has not and will not post a video of this interview, here is the latest Tabb YouTube video.

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