Friday, September 08, 2006

The Path To 911

The big story of the week, media-wise, is the upcoming ABC miniseries, "The Path To 9/11." There's been a lot of coverage everywhere. Newsbusters, in particular, has been all over this story (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) but I haven't had anything to offer, preferring to wait until I've had a chance to see it.

But I do have a couple of comments to make at the moment. It appears that ABC, in the editing process, has altered or deleted a couple of scenes under pressure from former Clinton administration officials. I don't know that for a fact, but it is certainly being reported as a fact in various places. There are people fulminating all over the place, on both ends of the spectrum, and it warrants comment.

The biggest comment is this - if ABC really has scenes in it which are libelously wrong, then they've brought this entirely upon themselves. If they're portraying Sandy Berger as hanging up a phone rather than authorize capturing Bin Laden and that never happened, if they've got Madeline Albright tipping off Bin Laden by telling the Pakistanis, and that never happened, then they're not asking for trouble - they're insisting on it. I've got nothing but contempt for Sandy Berger, but you'd expect a mouse to be able to generate some righteous indignation over a specific like that, and he is, by definition anyway, a man.

You absolutely cannot produce something like this, something that you know will be controversial, and start with big, specific things that are wrong. As soon as you give someone the opportunity to stand up and say, "That never happened!" you call into question the entire effort. ABC may have been looking at this project as an entertainment piece, but they have to have known the way people would react. Sometimes, you've got to be extra careful. They, apparently, were not.


  1. The Path To 911. It is not a documentary. It was never portrayed as a documentary. It is a drama, a fictionalized portrayal of the basic timeline of persons and events that led up to the attacks in September of 2001. There are scenes which represent real events, scenes that are composites of real events, and scenes which are dramatic fiction or speculation. It is based on the work of the 911 commission, and the story that was pieced together from the commission hearings. It is not a documentary.


  2. The Clinton Administration. Apparently, the portrayal of the Clinton administration in this drama is not flattering. The drama, apparently, portrays the administration as having done virtually nothing to seriously combat terrorism in the wake of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. This has the officials of that administration up in arms. My reaction to that is to laugh. As if the world somehow needs a fictionalized drama to understand that they never took terrorism seriously. The Clinton administration never did anything, never took any action, to make anyone think that they were seriously concerned about the potential threat to the United States that was forming in the muslim middle-east, and there's no way that ABC could "edit" this program to make it look like they were.


  3. The Clinton Legacy. There isn't one, not the way he wants there to be. This ABC drama will have no effect on that.


  4. The Hypocrisy of the left. There are many on the left who were grossly offended when the political right savaged the CBS fictional biopic on The Reagans. The series was, as this one is, dramatized history that was, in places, slanderous. The people on the right wanted CBS to pull it, they started boycotts, they raised a fuss, and CBS eventually capitulated. The leftists were outraged. Free speech! The first amendment! How could they!? Many of those same people who were outraged that CBS would be pressured to not show a dramatized history the reflected negatively on Ronald Reagan are now outraged that ABC might show a dramatized history that reflects negatively on Bill Clinton.


  5. The Hypocrisy of the right. Unfortunately, the right doesn't look any better here, from a hypocrisy point of view. Many of the same people who were outraged by the Reagan picture and wanted CBS to change or pull it are now outraged by the left demanding the same thing on the Path to 911.


  6. The First Amendment. There is bound to be, no matter what ABC does, a lot of fulmination about damage to the first amendment and free speech.

    Poppycock.

    As long as there is no official government intervention, there's no harm done to the first amendment. ABC has the free speech right to produce a dramatized history. Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright and Sandy Berger have the right to wave their fists and stamp their feet and write letters to Robert Iger. There's plenty of free speech taking place, more than enough to go around. No harm, no foul.


  7. There is one exception to that, however. Bill Clinton's a private citizen, he's got no authority over anything, he can send all of the letters he wants. Likewise with Sandy Berger and Madeline Albright.

    But the Democrats in the Senate are elected officials wielding power in the United States government. They have sent a letter to ABC in which they spoke of ABC being a "beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves." That's a problem. That is nothing more nor less than a veiled threat, and it is completely inappropriate. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin should be ashamed of themselves. They're not, of course - I don't see any evidence that either is capable of it. But that's embarrassing and completely inappropriate conduct, an abuse of power. (I'll not hold my breath waiting for that commentary from the mainstream press.)


  8. I'm still looking forward to it.





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