Persistent Pierre p.8

By: ALLAN WOLPER PIERRE SALINGER IS taking issue again with the American media's refusal to accept his contention that TWA Flight 800 was downed by a U. S. naval missile.
"I still believe that the plane was unfortunately and mistakenly shot down by a naval missile," Salinger said in an interview from his Washington office.
Salinger alleged that French and German intelligence sources have told him the FBI is close to coming around to his point of view.
"Many countries in Europe believe the TWA plane was shot down by a missile," Salinger insisted. "I don't know why people are attacking me. I wouldn't attack someone who provides information on a story. I am not crazy.
"A lot of people say I am not reliable. I am an exceedingly reliable person. Fox Television just conducted a poll showing that 54 percent believe there is a coverup of what happened."
Salinger, a former ABC-TV correspondent with extensive military ties dating back to his tenure as White House press secretary to the late President John F. Kennedy, said he has jousted before with journalists who challenged his work.
"I have covered a lot of stories during my 40 years that people challenged, but they all turned out to be true," said the 71-year-old journalist.
He said the news media seem obsessed with attacking him personally instead of conducting their own independent investigations of his missile theory allegations.
"I have not been happy with the way the newspapers have reacted," Salinger said.
The veteran newsman announced last November at the American Group aviation conference in Cannes that he had proof that TWA was knocked out of the sky by a naval missile.
The FBI at first asked Salinger to document his allegations, but later announced that Salinger's material had floated around cyberspace for months and been discredited.
Salinger insists, however, that the Internet material represents only a small part of his research. "I have nothing to do with the internet," he said.
Salinger published his allegations in the March issue of Paris Match, a French magazine, and again was ridiculed by federal officials and the news media.
He said his television news career with ABC should have earned him a better hearing from his colleagues.
"I produced a documentary on the Iran crisis two days after the hostages were released and told the American public what happened," he said.
Salinger said he wrote detailed memos for ABC every December predicting either trends or upheavals on the international scene.
"In 1980, I said that Anwar Sadat would lose his power and he did, not politically, but he was assassinated," Salinger said.
"In 1988, I told ABC to be on the alert for the collapse of the East Communist countries, and that turned out to be true," he said.

Reaction to Salinger
The international press has covered Salinger's allegations, especially in France, where he worked as an ABC-TV correspondent from 1978 to 1993 and where he has a home.
"He has credibility in France mainly because he is one of the few American journalists who speaks French," said one reporter. "And any time anything happens in the U.S.A., he is called on to comment."
Reuters News Service uses the balanced scale approach to Salinger.
"We are always careful to include the FBI in every story we run on Mr. Salinger because he contradicts everything they say," said David Storey, the national security editor for Reuters. "He would not be covered all that seriously if he were in Washington."
Agence France-Presse, the French wire service, also covers Salinger's missile theory with skepticism.
"His colleagues thought he screwed up in November when he said he got his documents from the secret service," said Frederic Bichon, the AFP New York correspondent.
"We all had the same documents. It had been on the Internet for months. He also made his statement in Cannes when reporters who knew about the story were sleeping. It was then covered by colleagues who were not familiar with the story. After that he even lost some credibility in France."
John McDonald, a spokesperson for Trans World Airlines, also cast a shadow on Salinger's missile theory.
"It appears to date that the information provided by Mr. Salinger to the investigators had been previously reviewed or is not reliable," McDonald said in a telephone interview from TWA's St. Louis headquarters.
?(Former White House press secretary Pierre Salinger is surrounded by newsmen at a press conference last month where he presented what he claimed was fresh evidence that TWA Flight 800 was accidentaly shot down by a missile.) [Photo & Caption]
Web Site: http://www.mediainfo. com.
copyright: Editor & Publisher - April 19, 1997


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