Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another in-kind contribution?

Just over a year ago, we were treated to the spectacle of elected officials threatening a broadcast network because they didn't like some of the reported political content of a made-for-TV mini-series. ABC stood up to them, somewhat, after cutting the "questionable" material, and The Path to 9/11 aired. I watched it, and while it's probably not accurate to say that I "enjoyed" it, I thought it was very well done, and I was glad that they had done it. As I said at the time,
Bottom line? The villains in this piece are not the Clinton administration officials who didn't capture Bin Laden. They are not the Bush administration officials who did not stop the attacks. They aren't the FBI agents who under-reacted to Zacharias Moussaoui's flight training or the judges that didn't let the FBI examine his laptop. No, the villains are, as is rightly the case, the terrorists themselves. Ramzi Yousef. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Osama Bin Laden. In hindsight, there were "dots" that could have been connected. There were missed opportunities, there were turf battles, there was red tape, there was bureaucratic infighting. But the villains are the ones the planned and executed the attack, not the ones who failed to prevent it. And that is clearly what the movie shows. All things considered, it's an impressive accomplishment.

I recorded it, and I've got it burned to DVD, though I've not watched it again. But if I hadn't burned it to DVD, I wouldn't have a DVD of it. And anyone who didn't do it then, hasn't got it. ABC has not re-broadcast it. Even more surprising, in an entertainment industry where virtually all movies go to DVD in 4-6 months, is that The Path to 9/11 is still not available. The NBC series Heroes, which debuted a short time later and ran its last episode during the May sweeps period, was released on a DVD set in August. For example.

They had a DVD release scheduled for January. January came and went.
They had a DVD release scheduled for June. June came and went.
They don't have a DVD release scheduled anymore.

Are they still protecting the Clintons, still invested in the storyline that Bill Clinton and his administration were "focused like a laser beam" on terrorism?

Anna Nimouse*, writing at National Review Online, has an interesting take, an angle that I'd not considered.
...where is the fiscal responsibility of Disney/ABC to their stockholders? With 28 million viewers one might reasonably expect sales of a third of that, or roughly $200 million in proceeds. That’s money that would eventually make its way into dividends in some retirement accounts. I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. By not releasing a highly successful film on DVD, when even Poseidon (an incredible $160 million flop), was released on DVD not even four months after its theatrical release, the Walt Disney Company seems to be purposefully not trying to make money, and that’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility.

And that's got me thinking. Could that $200 million that Disney is forgoing by leaving The Path to 9/11 in the vault be considered an in-kind contribution to Hillary Clinton campaign?

* - Yes, that is clearly an anonymous nom de plume. It's interesting that the atmosphere in Hollywood is such that the people who love to make movies praising the blacklisted writers of the McCarthy era can't be trusted not to blacklist actresses expressing Anna's sentiments...

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