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    Geraldo and “BuildingWhat?”: The Story Behind the Story Print E-mail
    Written by Eli Rika   
    Friday, 03 December 2010 19:30
    Geraldo Rivera, Bob McIlvaine and Tony Szamboti

    Many AE911Truth supporters have heard about recent coverage of the “BuildingWhat?” campaign on the Fox News show Geraldo At Large.

    On November 13, Geraldo Rivera interviewed 9/11 victim family member Bob McIlvaine and mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti about the destruction of WTC Building 7. During the show Geraldo played the “BuildingWhat?” TV ad – previously seen only on the Internet and on TV in the New York Metropolitan Area – to a broad nationwide audience.

    How It All Began

    The initial concept for the “BuildingWhat?” campaign was born in the spring of 2010, as members of the New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN) were thinking about ways to generate public support for the New York City Council to open an investigation into the destruction of WTC Building 7, which occurred late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

    NYC CAN members Ted Walter and Manny Badillo with New York City Council Member Simcha Felder

    Ted Walter, director of NYC CAN, and Manny Badillo, a NYC CAN member who lost his uncle, Thomas Sgroi, on 9/11, decided that getting footage of Building 7's destruction on television was crucial to generating further momentum towards a new and proper investigation.

    When asked about the rationale behind this strategy, Walter said, “The surest way to get people to listen is to show them something they’ve never seen before.”

    “It’s going to give people basic knowledge about a major event that took place on the day of my uncle’s murder,” Badillo added. “Hopefully it will inspire people to think more critically and become active in pursuing justice and accountability.”

    After deciding that a TV advertising campaign would be the most effective way to achieve this goal, Badillo, Bob McIlvaine, whose son Bobby perished in the World Trade Center, and two other 9/11 family members, involved with NYC CAN, sat down to shoot the ad with filmmaker John Kirby, director of The American Ruling Class.

    The ad debuted at BuildingWhat.org in late August and NYC CAN began raising the money needed to air it on TV stations in New York City. By the end of September, almost $100,000 had been donated with the help of AE911Truth and other 9/11 Truth organizations. “We knew that we would need the help of dedicated people everywhere to make this idea a reality,” Walter said. “The support we received was tremendous.”

    The “BuildingWhat?” TV ad began airing on Election Day, November 2, and ran through the week of November 29.  It was played at least 350 times, and estimates indicate that it was seen by at least 900,000 unique viewers in the New York Metropolitan Area, reaching core target audiences multiple times. Thirteen channels carried the commercial, including MSNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, VH1, and CNBC.

    “BuildingWhat?” Meets Geraldo Rivera

    On November 10, NYC CAN received a request from an unexpected source. Geraldo Rivera’s producer emailed Badillo and Walter, expressing interest in interviewing a family member about the “BuildingWhat?” ad.

    “When I asked the producer why she was interested, she told me that Geraldo had seen the ad on TV and was moved,” Badillo said. “As soon as he saw the Building 7 footage, he knew he wanted us on his show.”

    Upon hearing the news, McIlvaine was ready for the opportunity. “I’m always prepared to do something like this interview,” he told popular alternate media outlet, the Reality Report. “If someone calls me, I’m ready to go.”

    Choosing mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti to represent AE911Truth was also easy. As a resident of New Jersey in close enough proximity to New York, Szamboti had participated in meetings with members of the New York City Council to discuss opening a new investigation into Building 7's destruction. In addition, he had served as a panelist for the AE911Truth mock debate at the National Press Club, and he penned an article explaining how the lack of deceleration of the North Tower’s upper section proves that explosives were used.

    “I was pleased that the “BuildingWhat?” campaign drew such media attention” Szamboti remarked. “I thought a newspaper might cover it, but to get the attention of TV personality Geraldo Rivera was very good.”

    On the Set

    Geraldo Rivera, Bob McIlvaine, and Tony Szamboti

    Once the cameras started rolling, Rivera got right down to asking about the nature of the building's destruction and the 1,300 architects and engineers that are calling for a new investigation.

    “I appreciate how Geraldo went about interviewing us,” Szamboti said. “We got a chance to make our points and he was genuinely interested in hearing them.”

    Even McIlvaine, who calls himself a pessimist, noted, “I don’t like to get my hopes up, but the fact that this was on national TV was very important to me,” he said.

    To follow up, AE911Truth sent Rivera a package that included the 9/11: Blueprint for Truth DVD and the 9/11 Investigator, as well as the TV video of the appearance of founder, Richard Gage, AIA, on Fox affiliate KMPH. “We hope this information motivates Rivera and his team to continue asking questions about 9/11,” Gage noted.

    Building 7 Discussion Grows in the Media

    Andrew Napolitano and Geraldo Rivera Discuss WTC Building 7 on Freedom Watch

    Would Rivera’s positive review of the Building 7 evidence lead to a ripple effect amongst other news hosts? Walter thought so. “Other people in the media are seeing what’s going on,” he explained, “so hopefully it will spur them to continue the discussion.”

    Actually, it took only a few days for the revealing interview to start raising the eyebrows of another national media personality. On November 19, Fox Business Channel host Andrew Napolitano invited Rivera onto Freedom Watch to discuss Building 7 and his interview with the “BuildingWhat?” team. After stating that he “loathed” conspiracy theories, Geraldo went on to say that, “What caught my eye here… is this commercial that the families put out. Not only do they ache and want these questions answered, but they also have these 1,300 architects and engineers who doubt the official conclusion about how Building 7 was brought down.”

    When pressed by Napolitano about what he thought happened to Building 7, Geraldo acknowledged that, “The building does appear to come down in a way that is reminiscent of a controlled demolition.”

    Napolitano took Rivera’s lead later that week, giving his viewpoint on the events of 9/11 for the first time. “It's hard for me to believe that [Building 7] came down by itself,” he said on the Alex Jones Show. “[The 9/11 attacks] couldn’t possibly have been done the way the government told us.”

    Napolitano’s revelation caught the attention of CNN, as well as Keith Olbermann, who in an ironic manner called upon FOX to fire Napolitano in order to be consistent with its usual policy of smearing anyone who questions the official account of 9/11. Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog group, published a flurry of articles associating Napolitano with “conspiracy theories,” while ignoring more than 1,300 architects and engineers and the many family members of 9/11 victims who spurred the discussion about Building 7.

    What’s Next?

    If you ask the leaders of NYC CAN and the “BuildingWhat?” campaign, they’ll tell you that this step forward is just the beginning. They’ve already raised money to conduct a professional survey about public awareness of Building 7, and they plan on taking the advertising efforts to the next level. This week they are beginning a new fundraising drive for the second round of TV spots, which will most likely be launched in early January.

    With the aid of supporters from around the world, the “BuildingWhat?” campaign broke through the media blackout in a way that had never before been accomplished. Now, combined with the efforts of NYC CAN and AE911Truth, you can help end the blackout completely, so that the light of a new investigation can finally shine through.