9/11 Ticket Agent Suicide: Can We Ever Trust Oprah Again?
An Atrios guest-blogger posts something rather insensitive about a 9/11 American Airlines ticket agent killing herself due to guilt. It becomes a minor left-blogdom in-fight (and wins one of Andrew Sullivan's patented "not funny anymore" awards). The source: an Oprah repeat. The problem: there's not actually any proof that this ever happened.
Our own half-assed investigation, after the jump.
Plagued by sleepless nights and visions of Atta, Tuohey felt another layer of guilt when he learned the ticket agent in Boston who checked in Atta and Alomari for the last leg of their flight committed suicide.
Tuohey, the guy who checked in Mohammed Atta in Portland, has made the TV and print rounds since 9/11/05, retelling his tale of guilt in a fashion that can't be good for his mental health (his extraordinary story is exempt from our PSA). But there's barely any evidence of the suicide of the Boston ticket agent. There's an "Oprah producer" who gave Tuohey a message from said agent's widower (reported in "Yankee Magazine", whatever the hell that is). But the first Lexis mention we could find (and we offer a comments invite to anyone with better Lexis skillz who can find an earlier report) comes from the 9/11/05 Sunday Mirror out of the UK. And the source, once again, is Tuohey's hearsay:
"I later discovered the ticket agent in Boston - who completed their reservation because of my actions - committed suicide. I have to live with a double guilt. But I have been over the scenario a thousand times and, for the life of me, I could not have done anything different according to the procedures that existed.
Not that we'd ever call into the question the honesty of this poor guy (well, we might, but we'd need more reason), but, like, an AP story or a name might be helpful. In the mean time, every left-wing blogger gets our "Gene Rayburn Award" and Andrew Sullivan gets a very special "Unknown Comic Award."
No, those don't really mean anything.