The Lauer-Brokaw Dialectic of the Event

I’ve been attempting to avoid the 9/11 reminisces, not least for the reasons Paul Krugman identifies, so I’ve had on MSNBC‘s replay of NBC’s coverage from that day. You can almost time the moment–I wish I could find it online–that the event begins to be sutured over by nationalist narratives of War on Terror. It happens at 10:14 am. Matt Lauer, who for the rest of the broadcast is admirably bringing things back to catastrophe itself, is interrupted by Tom Brokaw, who announced that this is an “official declaration of war by Terrorists.” He will repeat this phrasing time and again, then interviewees will say, “as Tom Brokaw noted before…” and we’re off to discussing retribution, etc., and Brokaw himself will outline what will happen in the next ten years: “we are at war”; “we will have to revisit our freedoms in light of this”; “have no doubt, America has changed today”; “we are vulnerable…because of what makes us so great…our freedoms and so forth”; etc. (I mean, Brokaw’s interjections are just remarkably perspicuous or ominous, or both.) And between each interjection is Lauer simply trying to bring things back to the mourning underway, a testimony to the dialectic of mourning, of testimony to the event, and the Brokaw-esque war narrative that will take hold.