American Journalism Has Lost A Giant: Rest In Peace Kristina Borjesson, Who Broke The Truth About TWA 800, And Was Exiled From CBS And The Profession Because Of it
"It was just as in Orwell's 1984, An Immediate Rewriting Of History Occurred."
“As a journalist you have to always remember that you are a public servant. If you back down, if you don’t try to find the truth, then you aren’t doing your job. It’s a huge responsibility.”
“On the afternoon of July 17, 1996, broadcast journalist Kristina Borjesson left work early after wrapping up a documentary on Fidel Castro for CBS. Her husband was at JFK International Airport, putting their 11-year-old son on a plane to visit relatives in France, and an exhausted Borjesson climbed into bed for a nap.
“All of a sudden the phone rang,” she says, “and I heard my neighbor’s voice say, ‘Was that your son’s plane that just went down?’” A Paris-bound Boeing 747 had exploded off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., just after 8:30 p.m., killing all 230 on board. “I can’t even describe to you that feeling,” says Borjesson (COM’80). “It was like hot oil was poured on my brain. I started dry-heaving.”
But her son was safe; his Air France flight was five minutes behind the doomed aircraft, TWA Flight 800. “For that moment, I knew what the family members of those victims were going through,” she says. “I lived it.”
The tragedy would remain part of Borjesson’s life for the next 17 years, the subject of her own on-again, off-again investigation. Her documentary, TWA Flight 800, which she wrote, directed, and produced, premiered on the EPIX cable TV channel last July. It is the first film, she says, to focus entirely on the forensic evidence, and it disputes the conclusions of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which spent four years investigating the accident.”
”As she tracked down the cause of the explosion, what had happened became very clear: The physical evidence as well as hundreds of eyewitness accounts indicated that the plane had been struck by a missile. Members of several U.S. government agencies, Borjesson decided, orchestrated a cover-up while unquestioning journalists reported as fact the untenable official claims that a mechanical failure in Flight 800’s center wing fuel tank had caused the crash. The evidence of what she identifies as “high level, multi-agency collusion” led her to a startling revelation: “It was just as in Orwell’s 1984, an immediate rewriting of history occurred. I realized how terrifyingly easy it is to do.”
Powerful forces including the Pentagon, the CIA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as well as other journalists aligned themselves against Borjesson. Despite this, she has spent the better part of two decades digging for the truth about TWA Flight 800 and speaking out against corruption in journalism.”
—Americans Who Tell The Truth
I got a text last last night from Kristina’s phone number;
It was her husband Frederic, writing to tell me she had passed away, yesterday, at 12:30 am.
“Her cancer spread to her bones and lungs,” he wrote. “She’d been in horrible pain now since October.”
I stared at the message and the room started to turn, as I felt certain I was about to read a text message from Kristina.
Sometimes your heart really breaks for another person, and my heart was aching, for Frederic, and for their two adult children, Christopher and Isabelle. Kristina was the center of the family. She would do anything for her family.
She had fought and fended off this cancer for years, and recently, it had come back with a vengeance.
I lived with Kristina and Frederic for 2 weeks this fall, along with Lewis, my cat, and Kristina was working on the Dr. James Thorp book with me. They are both extremely hospitable.
It was like old times.
I did not know how sick she had become but I should have known. She had more or less told me, the last time I saw her, sitting on the edge of her bed, the night before she went in for surgery. She told me she was not going to endlessly stay around and fight and fight, through too much pain. I was too afraid to ask what she meant, so I disassociated. I think it meant she knew. And she was one of the most stoic people I ever knew—she did not feel sorry for herself, ever. A heart of gold, a tough exterior.
An incredible journalist, author, whistleblower, and truth-seeker. She did more work on 9/11 truth than I could ever do justice describing. I trust that community will do its part in acknowledging her contributions.
But it was TWA 800 that was Kristina’s singular story, the one that sealed her complex fate, as well as her historic stature. When we were in her basement, working, or hanging laundry, you’d never sense any of this “historic stature,” but that’s how it is. Nobody sees the story in the basement. What a privilege it was, after all.
Frederic, her husband, would come downstairs and ask what we wanted for lunch, and stroke her hair so tenderly. There was still so much good. She seemed healthy. In fact, she left me behind when we went to the ocean for her morning run, my morning walk.
Extraordinary article about Kristina and TWA 800.
Portrait of Kristina at Americans Who Tell The Truth (Thank you, Doug)
Important piece, “TWA Flight 800 and 9/11.” Veterans Today Archives.
I remember so vividly my first encounter with Kristina Borjesson, who was one of my few journalistic heroes, since I read “Into The Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose The Myth Of A Free Press,” which came out in 2004, and became an instant classic. I recall when I read it, on the advice of the father of my son’s friend, I could not understand who its unlikely author might be.
She was speaking of that which the journalism world at that time did not speak of: How and why journalists get…want word do I want? De-personed/Executed.
“Buzz-sawed,” we might say, to borrow Kristina’s verb. Buzzsaw had no elite mainstream media snobbery radiating off the pages, and I wondered: Who was this woman?
She sounded like she didn’t come from the United States, I remember thinking that— and indeed, she did not.
She was raised in Haiti, her father was Swedish, and she always referred to her upbringing by saying she was raised “by the morally repugnant elite of Haiti.” (You can read more about Kristina’s background, her father, and more, in the links below.)
American journalists are very aware of power, it’s like a second language to them. They know how to get people away from them if they will undermine power (and money;) These forces are kept in place by careful cultivation of what Kristina called “six inch” truth seeking and telling. Seek and tell all you want inside approve super-structures and over-arching paradigmatic narratives. Stray outside and you’re dead.
”We’re 12 inch journalists,” she would say.
If you grow up outside the US, you don’t get this memo.
Kristina was interested in truth and did not “speak” power or money, but she did speak fluent Creole, and got to speak it with my father on his death bed. She was an outstanding journalist, and human being.
That (when she came to be with me one night when I thought my father was going to die) was one of the many times she came to my aid when I needed her. She was that kind of friend. If you were in a crisis, and you called Kristina, she got in her car and she came and got you, came and helped you. Not a person prone to flowery niceties, but precisely the kind of person you’d be blessed to have near you in a crisis, in a ditch.
The first time I met Kristina was when Mark Crispin Miller, (circa 2019) convened a panel of journalists who were destroyed or almost destroyed by exposing a big story about which they were correct. It was myself (AIDS was fake science all the way) Kristina (TWA 800 was taken down by missiles) Steve Jimenez, (Matthew Sheperd was not killed because he was gay, but rather, was in a drug-dealing mènage à trois with his killers,) Professor Darrell Mahamoto, and one more.* Mark was trying to convey to his students the dark side of “journalism.” Mark’s students looked very disinterested, and I remember being worried for Mark, based on examining the faces of his students.
After I gave a rather disjointed and trauma-broken talk, (which Mark had to lead me through with verbal prompts,) I returned to my seat and next thing I knew, Kristina had stood up, walked over, in front of the panel table, and come round to me. “Let me give you a hug,” she said.
You know I don’t do “heroes,” but Kristina was a personal hero of mine and here she was in real life, in this one gesture, coming down from the Mt. Olympus I had her on and understanding why I needed a hug.
That was how our friendship began.
We teamed up, joined forces. Kristina wanted a radio show, (as I still insist on calling it,) and I had a pouch of magic dust. I could call Gary Null on his cell phone and voila, we had a show. No pay, but a good studio. It was Kristina’s brainchild and its name was “The Whistleblower Newsroom.” Her preparation and production values, her boldness, her interviewing virility, were way past my own. For our first show, this was her idea: “Celia, we have to get Julian Assange, Ed Snowden, and Bill Binney. Together.”
I looked at her, baffled. She didn't even think this was ambitious, or out of range, she just thought it was what needed to be done.
I was struggling with “brain fog” at the time. On the show, I didn't say much, I was frankly, intimidated. I had a nightmare that she and I were being chased by dark entities through the streets of Greenwich Village, late at night. Kristina speculated that it was a deep worry that if we stuck our heads up again they would kill us again.
Yeah. Also, I was depleted. I didn't have it in me anymore, and the disservice I did to her was that I couldn't admit it.
Eventually, Kristina let me know I was not carrying my weight and I agreed, so I was off the show.
I wondered if Gary Null ever understood that he had a top shelf former network journalist but not corrupt like they are producing shows for free deploying network level standards. (I did tell Gary.)
One time I showed up barely aware of who we were interviewing and it was Epstein victims power attorney David Boies. I had brought some baked goods for the table. (No wonder I had brain fog.)
Here’s a clip that is interesting in that Boies concedes that Alan Dershowitz got the Epstein story canceled at ABC.
It kind of unbelievable that this power attorney showed up at the PRN studio to talk to two Buzz-sawed earnest, older journalists but it was the power of Kristina Borjesson that made it happen.
My favorite Kristina story was theoretically NOT FUNNY AT ALL, but still, I begged her to let me tell it and she agreed. It says so much about her.
During the time after she had been booted from CBS, and was working with a physicist (who I won’t name) on their TWA documentary called “TWA 800” they needed to conduct an experiment in explosive forensics to verify something. They needed to blow up an airplane wing inside some kind of structure. It would be expensive. She went to her wealthy brother in Haiti, and secured $100,000 to carry it out. Small problem: The physicist had made a calculation error. After the detonation, this calculation error rendered the experiment useless. Did she go ballistic, no pun intended? Of course. I’m glad I was not part of any of this. Luckily the brother is very wealthy. And I think, in the end, they re-did it. And it worked. But imagine that kind of tenacity for truth. For the record, she still held her colleague in high esteem.
She had a strong, forgiving heart.
Kristina was one in a million.
Selfie taken in October 2023, Kristina at home, while baby-sitting my Lewis. Lewis loved Kristina and her husband Frederic.
I was laying awake last night, thinking about it all, my son called, I started talking.
About the bigger picture, which is a tragedy. The way American journalism wears down, beats down, drains down, renders broke, its finest journalists. Such as Kristina Borjesson. (NO, she did not take the shots, absolutely not.) It’s extremely stressful to be “Buzz-sawed” and even I hesitate to talk about it. Because I don’t want to think about it.
This is a phenomenon in which you are placed in another dimension from which you spend the next 20 years (or more) trying to escape. You never really work again, you never really access energetic “success” of any kind again, your marriage is rocked, (in some cases breaks apart) your social life disintegrates, you start to get sick, you start to get mentally confused, and you battle a chronic sense of shame, (primarily because if you fail to make money, shame follows—read The Death Of A Salesman.) Said shame body is not alleviated by knowing you were not wrong and did not commit the journalistic sin of being dead wrong. Main myth of “a free press” is that you get punished for being wrong. No, you get punished for being right.
In Kristina’s case, she had all these things happen to her, but blessedly, her marriage held. Her husband Frederic adored her, as did her two children, Christopher and Isabelle, who she was so proud of. But still, I can’t help but ponder, in hindsight, how serious it is when a journalist gets “buzz-sawed,” and how it affects the entire family, how all the pressure of bread-wining falls on one spouse. I’m angry, on her behalf. I’m angry, on all our behalf. CBS assigned her to that story! (TWA.) She brought them Emmy awards, plural. She should have worked comfortably, earned money comfortably.
So I’m not only thinking about, and grieving, a friend and a great journalist, I am grieving for her whole family, her husband and kids, who also had to live through an extended kind of punishment. And of course, stress causes illness, causes cancer.
I told my son that this was my second friend from TV journalism who died after years of un-due punishment at the hands of corporate media. "The first was Rob.” My friend Rob was a brilliant, successful ABC producer with a hit talk show whose career was torpedoed when he booked Peter Duesberg and myself on a show in the early 90s.
What happened next?
His show, with great ratings, got canceled. The fickle host (a Buddhist) never spoke to him again. Rob never worked in media again. His wife Janine had to support them both. Eventually, the anxiety and shame of not being able to make money bloomed into shame and depression. He lost control of his mind. He was subject to conventional psychiatry, including electro shock and heavy medications. This went on for years. One day I got a call from Janine, in early 2020, telling me that Rob had died of a heart attack, the same day as he was discharged from one of his many hospitalizations.
They killed him, I thought.
This brilliant, hilarious producer, who could have done anything, but he had to be executed slowly, over many years. I recalled sitting with him in his parked car in our Upper West Side neighborhood in New York, as he struggled to learn the verbal script in hopes of getting a job selling some kind of ventilation system. I forget what it was. He didn’t get the job. And around that time, I was trying really hard to get a job as a coat/hat girl, in high end restaurants. It was this top secret underworld in which we kept secret our compensations, our attempts, in which we told each other we would spring back, come back, re-build our lives. We did laugh. We sometimes had enough money for chicken, rice and beans at Flor de Mayo. And the door on Rob’s car was held in place with gaffer’s tape. But one day, one day, we were going to come back, we were going to make it.
Rob and Kristina and I, at one time, schemed about doing a documentary show together. Kristina laughed uproariously, in Rob’s presence, and I remember having that feeling that maybe we did have a chance. Maybe the Fatwah was somehow magically over, withdrawn.
But the truth is, there is an undetectable force in the ether around us sinners of journalism, that seems to move in, seems to stop our progress. It’s also within us. We stop aspiring. You can never quite put your finger on it.
I always wanted to see Kristina in a media position with a proper paycheck. She was disinterested in money. This is, I think, one of the symptoms of the shame we carry.
I miss you Kristina. Your work is eternal and so are you.
Please everybody, pray for Frederic, Isabelle and Christopher.
At their expense, the world got to know the truth about something massive, and probably, they would have preferred if she had picked a different story. But this one had her name on it, probably before she was born. And TWA 800 was actually the first time they (mass media sorcerers) straight up made something hundreds of people saw with their own eyes (missile flares going from the water to the plane) appear not to have happened. These people were told over and over that they didn’t see what they saw. Kristina once told me she felt a moral obligation to tell the truth about TWA and keep it alive, she felt indebted to each and every one of the family members.
As she explained in the articles at the top, her empathy came in part from the fact that for a few horrific moments, she believed her own son was on that plane.
”But her son was safe; his Air France flight was five minutes behind the doomed aircraft, TWA Flight 800. “For that moment, I knew what the family members of those victims were going through,” she says. “I lived it.”