hiding the film from the leftOn September 1, it became evident that ABC had offered previews of "The Path to 9/11" to right-wing bloggers and media personalities, like Rush Limbaugh, and to mainstream media outlets. When it was confirmed that no advance information had been sent to progressive and liberal bloggers and media, an effort was launched to discover how and why this had happened. We have since discovered that President Clinton himself was denied an advance copy of the film. Here is a chronological list of posts and stories to date that reflect the combined efforts of the blogs affiliated with this project. We will be updating this list as we learn of new posts.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
John Aravosis has a nice rundown of what might be coming next.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Protests Outside of Disney HQ, Secret Cash from Right-wing evangelicals?
There are protests outside of Disney HQ today.
And Max Blumenthal has compelling research about the secretive right-wing Film Institute.
"The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision.Read the post by Blumenthal. It's exceptional.
Conservatives Join Democrats
Did I really just type that?
The ThinkProgress folks have compiled the work of Glenn Greenwald, CrooksandLiars and others in reporting on conservatives who are calling on ABC to fix or pull "The Path to 9/11." Maybe the civil cold war is coming to an end. Maybe this 9/11 anniversary--and ABC's outrageous behavior--truly have the power to help heal the nation. Anyway, this is a start.
The criticism against ABC's docudrama The Path to 9/11 isn't isolated simply to Clinton aides. In fact, many conservatives have criticized the film. Here are a few examples:
The portrait of Albright is an unacceptable revision of recent history and an unfair mark on a public servant who, no matter her shortcomings, doesn't deserve to be remembered by millions of Americans as the inadvertent (and truculent) savior of Osama bin Laden. Samuel Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, also seems to have just cause for complaint. [NYPost, 9/8/06]
James Taranto, OpinionJournal.com editor:
And many more, over at ThinkProgress.The Clintonites may have a point here. A few years ago, when the shoe was on the other foot, we were happy to see CBS scotch "The Reagans." [OpinionJournal, 9/7/06]
ABC Lying About Path to 9/11
This is ridiculous. ABC said this week that it was irresponsible for people to criticize the film since the film isn't done being edited. Yet earlier this month, ABC told the National Review that the film was "locked and ready to air."
Leading Historians Call For Cancellation of "Fraudulent" ABC 9/11 Docudrama
Dear Robert Iger:
We write as professional historians, who are deeply concerned by the continuing reports about ABC's scheduled broadcast of "The Path to 9/11." These reports document that this drama contains numerous flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history. The key participants and eyewitnesses to these events state that the script distorts and even fabricates evidence into order to mislead viewers about the responsibility of numerous American officials for allegedly ignoring the terrorist threat before 2000.
The claim by the show's producers, broadcaster, and defenders, that these falsehoods are permissible because the show is merely a dramatization, is disingenuous and dangerous given their assertions that the show is also based on authoritative historical evidence. Whatever ABC's motivations might be, broadcasting these falsehoods, connected to the most traumatic historical event of our times, would be a gross disservice to the public. A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show's broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Lizbeth Cohen, Harvard University,
Nicholas Salvatore, Cornell University;
Ted Widmer, Washington College;
Rick Perlstein, Independent Scholar;
David Blight, Yale University;
Eric Alterman, City University of New York;
Beverly Gage, Yale University.
(List in formation)
The scheduling of the docudrama has raised a firestorm of criticism from educators, congressional leaders and former President Bill Clinton. For additional information on the controversy and the opposition from leading Americans, please check: openlettertoabc.blogspot.com, and thinkprogress.org, and www.firedoglake.com.
Bob Iger: You Gonna Do the Right Thing?
Matt Stoller has some great considerations for ABC's Bob Iger over at the Huffington Post this morning:
There is a window of time now for Mr. Iger to step up, an 'apologize for Tylenol tampering' moment. He needs to cancel this miniseries, and take personal responsibility for inadequate oversight. He should privately fire the people responsible for this total disaster of a project, and apologize. That's the only way to restore Disney's brand among a large group of very angry people. Be brave, be public, and be honorable. It'll work.Come on Bobby, you can do it. You can make a good decision. We know you can.
ABC Might Nix Pic
Variety is reporting that ABC may yank the miniseries:
"The Path to 9/11" is looking a lot like "The Reagans, Part II."Oh, so we're Clinton loyalists just because we demand that the events of 9/11 be portrayed accurately? Please.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Cautious Optimism about Scholastic Move
The original study guides that were to accompany the Mickey Mouse-u-mentary have been pulled, signifying some very good judgment on behalf of the folks at Scholastic. They will still be based on "The Path to 9/11" but they will now focus on media literacy and critical thinking skills. THAT can't be good for Disney/ABC.
Read the full press release here
Suggestion for Scholastic: Why not include in your guides some discussion of the role blogs are beginning to play in matters of media and democracy?
The Mouse Squeaks
In a statement released Thursday afternoon in apparent response to the growing uproar, ABC said, "No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing process is not yet complete, so criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible."
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Clinton Foundation head Bruce Lindsey and Clinton adviser Douglas Band all wrote in the past week to Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., to express concern over "The Path to 9/11."
The two-part miniseries, scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday and Monday, is drawn from interviews and documents including the report of the September 11 commission. ABC has described it as a "dramatization" as opposed to a documentary.
"For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, and time compression," ABC said in its statement. "We hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it."
Scholastic Drops Their Distribution Plans
The Families of 9/11 came out with a statement:
As we mark five years since 9/11, we are inundated with the media's portrayal of that tragic day. Television miniseries, Hollywood films, comic books and countless "documentaries" are dramatizing and sometimes distorting the events leading up to and happening on 9/11.Bill Clinton is furious.
Congresswoman Slaughter and Congressman Pascrell are calling a press conference today titled 'Slaughter and Pascrell to Call on Scholastic and ABC to Keep 9-11 Docudrama Out of Schools'.
ABC affiliates are on the run, and now the movie is apparently in its final stage of edits. Interesting how they sent out advance copies at least a week ago, and now the movie is suddenly still in production.
Hey, RNC and Bill O'Reilly! Remember this?
Glenn Greenwald's got the goods on statements made by the RNC and conservative pundits back in 2003 when they successfully forced CBS to cancel The Reagans--on the grounds that it was fictionalized history and contained fabricated dialogue.
Really? Fictionalized history and fabricated dialogue was of concern to right-wingers? Huh.
The argments they made then apply pefectly to Path to 9/11, but far more so. Glenn compiled the best quotes he could find here.
This is not just garden-variety hypocrisy - it is a standard that was set by them and by CBS, and there is no way to justify not applying it to a much more important topic -
FBI Agent Who Consulted On Path to 9/11 Quit Halfway Through Because 'They Were Making Things Up'
ThinkProgress is reporting that James Bamford, an author and journalist who has written about security issues, appeared on MSNBC to discuss "The Path to 9/11." Bamford revealed that an FBI agent who worked as a consultant to the film quit halfway through production of the mini-series because he believed the writers and producers were "making things up."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Howie Kurtz on the Controversy
It's a pretty good piece.
Top officials of the Clinton administration have launched a preemptive strike against an ABC-TV "docudrama," slated to air Sunday and Monday, that they say includes made-up scenes depicting them as undermining attempts to kill Osama bin Laden.ABC needs to cancel this fraud.
Did Scholastic Inc. Drop Its 9/11 Propaganda?
Scholastic Inc is the educational distribution partner for ABC, pushing out the docudrama-related educational materials throughout the country. Richard Cranium points out that the materials are no longer linked from the Scholastic Inc. website. Media Matters has background on the materials, which are pretty awful. If Scholastic did decide to drop their distribution plans, good for them.
Tom Kean Caught in a Lie
For the last couple of days, Tom Kean's been peddling the line that ABC's "Path to 9/11" docudrama is a "reasonably accurate" depiction of events in the 9/11 Commission's Report, in effect somewhat backing away from the project's marketing line that it is "based on" the bi-partisan commission's investigation.
Yet, Fox News just reported that ABC producers of the film told them the project was "based solely and completely on the 9/11 Commission Report."
Head over to ThinkProgress for the rest of the story.
And over at CrooksandLiars, John Amato has some great video of Roger Cressey blasting "The Path to 9/11" as "something out of fantasyland."
ABC Lying About the Source Material for the Film
According to this diary, ABC affiliates are sending emails out on the film that something along the following lines.
As stated by an ABC Spokesperson, "'The Path to 9/11" is a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.ABC Producers are saying that the film is based on the 9/11 Commission report, not the 9/11 Commission report and other sources. But they are also telling some reporters that the film is based solely on the 9/11 Commission report. Here's an email that Mekeisha Madden of the Detroit News sent to a commenter who asked him about why he reported that the film was based on the 9/11 Commission report.
---------- Forwarded message ----------So ABC is telling reporters that the film is based on the 9/11 Commission work, that it's based on the 9/11 Commission report and other sources, and that it's fictionalized. And Tom Kean says that the film is 'reasonably accurate', but that it's also not accurate.
ABC needs to pull this film.
A Few Updates
Charlie Gibson: What Say You?
Will ABC News cover or whitewash the controversy over "The Path to 9/11"?
Jesse McKinley at the New York Times and even the New York Post have weighed in about ABC airing a fictional and inaccurate account of 9/11, under the imprimatur of "based on the 9/11 Commission Report."
From the NYPost account we also learn that Thomas Kean is indeed a paid consultant on this project, thus trading in on his role with the 9/11 Commission. Very tasteful, Gov. Kean. No misgivings about making money off this American tragedy that contradicts your own Commission's report.
And now, after meeting all through the weekend, Disney execs are bending over backward to reassure right-wing partisans that the movie will still blame Clinton! This, when they can't even be bothered to provide the former president with a review copy?
Have you no sense of decency, ABC Entertainment?
Once again, Charlie: Will you set the record straight, or will we have to rely on Katie Couric and Brian Williams?
On Disney's Ties to the Political Right
Digby has an imporant post on Disney's behavior with regards to partisan politics and liberalism. Disney likes to hide behind the veneer of being a liberal entertainment company, and is only too happy to have wingnuts like Hugh Hewitt publishing internal emails pretending like Disney is a bunch of hippy Clinton-loving liberals. The record is starkly different.
Disney blocked its Miramax division from distributing a Michael Moore film, claiming that "it's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle." Disney executives are high dollar donors to Bush, were going to make holocaust-denier and anti-semite Mel Gibson's nonfiction miniseries series on the holocaust, and canceled a reality show with a gay couple because James Dobsen threatened to pull his support for the conservative movie and expensive potential franchise movie Narnia. Does this sound like a bunch of liberals to you? I don't think so.
Disney/ABC is a major multinational corporation with deep political interests. Their most prominent political demand is for an extreme copyright extension, and they even have a law named after their signature character, Mickey Mouse, whose likeness should have passed into the public domain a long time ago. At this point it's simply political corruption that allows Disney to profit from works that are part of public popular culture, and we know which party is home to political corruption and blind corporate support.
Richard Iger, watch where you're treading.
Entertainment Reviewers Chime In
This diary at Kos has run down the reviews from the entertainment press. Apparently the Path to 9/11, aside from being a movie based on right-wing fabrications, isn't very good.
Yes, Virginia. There are Republicans in Hollywood
Get thee to Unclaimed Territory. Amidst all the damning evidence Glenn Greenwald is proffering today, about Bush's lack of attention to terrorism prior to 9/11, is this bit about Bush supporter Mark Coffey.
Coffey fairly considers the evidence [about the "Path to 9/11" controversy] and concludes that parts of this film are almost certainly inaccurate, and then draws exactly the right conclusion: "Again, the partisan aspect interests me not at all; this is 9/11, and 'reasonably accurate' isn't good enough. Either go completely fiction or stick to the facts."And then go visit with Digby over at Hullabaloo. Yesterday afternoon, I was on a conference call with reporters and Thomas Kean, the Republican co-chair of the 9/11 Commission. Kean laughed out loud at the notion that Disney, or anyone in Hollywood would be behind anything with any kind of right-wing slant. Yes. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Mr. Kean. It's all very funny. Read this, and just keep laughing.
DNC Sending Out an Email, Politicians Sending Letters
The Democratic National Committee is sending out this email asking people to keep the movie off the air. It links to this site.
Meanwhile, Representatives John Conyers, Jr., John Dingell, Jane Harman, and Louise Slaughter are demanding that ABC correct the factual inaccuracies in the movie.
It's not strictly partisan, as Bush's top counterterrorism official has sharply criticized the movie.
Conyers and Leading House Democrats Weigh In
For Immediate Release: Contact: Jonathan Godfrey
September 6, 2006 (202) 226-6888
Conyers and Leading House Democrats Demand Accuracy in ABC 9/11 Film
Congressman John Conyers, Jr., joined by Reps. John Dingell, Jane Harman, and Louise Slaughter, today called on ABC to fix the inaccuracies in its mini-series The Path to 9/11, before its scheduled airing on September 10th and 11th. A copy of the letter from the four ranking Democratic Members follows.
Mr. Robert A. Iger
President and CEO
The Walt Disney Company
Dear Mr. Iger:
We are advised that ABC is scheduled to air a two-part mini-series entitled "The Path to 9/11" on September 10 and September 11. While we have not yet seen this program, news reports raise serious questions about its accuracy. Therefore, we request that the inaccuracies described herein be addressed immediately and that the program be thoroughly reviewed and revised for accuracy before it airs.
Among our concerns about the program are the following: first, it reportedly contains a scene in which Sandy Berger, the National Security Adviser to President Bill Clinton, declines to give Central Intelligence Agency operatives the authority to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, and in which those operatives are outside a house where Bin Laden is located. This account has been expressly contradicted by Richard Clarke, a high-ranking counterterrorism official in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations.
Second, the film reportedly contains a scene in which the Central Intelligence Agency declines to share information about the 9/11 hijackers with the FBI and ascribes that failure to the so-called "wall," limiting information sharing by the Department of Justice in certain circumstances, and established by the Department of Justice in an internal memorandum.
This scene is puzzling at best, and inaccurate at worst. According to a Republican Member of the 9/11 Commission, former Senator Slade Gorton, the "Department of Justice guidelines at issue were internal to the Justice Department and were not even sent to any other agency. The guidelines had no effect on the Department of Defense and certainly did not prohibit it from communicating with the FBI, the CIA or anyone else."
These two examples alone create substantial doubt about the overall accuracy of this program. September 11th is a day of mourning and remembrance for every American. We do not believe that it is appropriate for it to be tainted by false assertions of blame or partisan spin.
To avoid that occurrence, we urge you to review this film and correct these and other inaccuracies. We appreciate your prompt attention and reply to this time sensitive matter.
Representatives John Conyers, Jr., John Dingell, Jane Harman, Louise Slaughter
More on the ABC 'Path to 9/11' Blog
We noted yesterday that the Path to 9/11 blog wasn't actually allowing new comments. They have set up a moderated system where the blog author must approve comments before they are posted publicly, and the author didn't approve any new commens.
Apparently that changed. Since yesterday at 3:31pm, the Path blog has allowed two whole new comments to be posted, one in favor of the film and one neutral but interested.
Way to encourage that free-wheeling debate!
Kean Backing Off Support of 'Path to 9/11'
So we have this quote from Tom Kean.
Neither Berger nor Ben-Veniste was consulted on the film. Kean, however, is an official adviser; he says the incident was a fictionalized composite. It was "representative of a series of events compacted into one," he replied to Ben-Veniste at the time. In a phone interview a few days later, he added, "It's reasonably accurate."And then there's this one.
Mr. Kean conceded that some points might have been more drama than documentary. “Some of the people shown there probably weren’t there,” he said.So Kean acknowledges errors in the film. I wonder if he's still ok with sending out 100,000 letters to educators under his name encouraging the use of this film in classrooms, knowing that the film is inaccurate.
No Copies for You!
The folks at ThinkProgress and Eschaton are reporting that ABC is refusing to provide copies not only to progressive and liberal bloggers, but to President Clinton's office and other Democratic officials who are requesting to see the "The Path to 9/11" before the docudrama's air dates on Sept. 1Oth and 11th.
Read more at http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/06/abc-dvd/
ABC has been aggressively advancing this inaccurate and politically slanted miniseries, "The Path to 9/11," to the right wing. Big players like Rush Limbaugh have been provided copies, as have obscure right-wing bloggers like Patterico.Here is an excerpt from Albright's letter:
What is ABC trying to hide? Tsk, Tsk.While I have requested a copy of the broadcast, I have yet to receive one. I have been informed by some who had been given the right to view the broadcast that the drama depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred; it asserts as fact things that are not fact.
Path to 9/11 Blog Blocking Comments
Ok, I tried putting up a comment over at the Path to 9/11 blog, to no avail. The site hasn't allowed a new comment to be put up since 3:31pm.
Hmm, so it's a blog that has comments enabled, only when you post the comment it doesn't show up. It's kind of like the producer asking people not to criticize the movie until they see it, while not actually showing it to people who might want to criticize it until it airs to the nation.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Dkos Found Us
We're not live, but apparently we are now since this diarist at Dkos found us. Pardon our appearance.
Let's remember that Bush was warned of the threat prior to 9/11, and did nothing, according to Bob Kerrey, who was on the 9/11 Commission.
I wonder if Tom Kean Sr thinks this is 'reasonably' accurate.
Why did ABC/Disney create a $40 million miniseries, lie about its sourcing, and refuse to sell advertising? Digby guesses that this may be extortion to protect their Narnia franchise from the religious right.
Regardless, this is not a very profitable business model. What is going on at Disney?
CQ has an important article out. According to Richard Ben-Veniste, another Commissioner, significant scenes from the movie are fabricated.
And Kean stands by them.
Neither Berger nor Ben-Veniste was consulted on the film. Kean, however, is an official adviser; he says the incident was a fictionalized composite. It was “representative of a series of events compacted into one,” he replied to Ben-Veniste at the time. In a phone interview a few days later, he added, “It’s reasonably accurate.” And he offered a prediction that the show will “get just as many howls from Republicans.”
On Tom Kean Sr
Well this is surprising. Tom Kean Sr's reputation as a well-respected Republican is coming under attack from locals. Bluejersey goes over Kean's legacy of voter suppression, his misuse of his position as a Board Member of United Health to force company executives to donate to his son, and his misuse of Drew University's (where Kean is President) funds to indirectly solicit monies for his son's political career.
Kean Sr is dirty. It's not surprising that he'll add his name to this 9/11-related fraud.
Representative Slaughter Speaks Out
Disney/ABC is upsetting some very high-profile Democrats with this propaganda. Here's Slaughter's statement.
"ABC has a responsibility to make clear that this film is not a documentary, and does not represent an official account of the facts surrounding the September 11th attacks," Rep. Slaughter said. "Disclaimers noting that The Path to 9/11 is a docudrama should be shown throughout its airing. We have yet to establish the impartiality and accuracy of the people behind this film and the claims it advances, and the American people need to know that."
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is this controversy about?
On September 10 and 11, ABC Television is planning to run a historically inaccurate film called 'The Path to 9/11' depicting the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks. The film was written by a conservative activist who has called Michael Moore an 'out of control Socialist weasel', and who has an avowed conservative agenda.
2) How is this film inaccurate?
'The Path to 9/11' largely places the blame for failing to prevent the attacks on the Clinton administration while whitewashing the failures of the Bush administration.
One key scene involves Clinton National Security advisor Sandy Berger refusing to order the CIA to take out bin Laden, a frequently cited right-wing fabrication that has been discredited, most recently by Richard Clarke.
We would document other inaccuracies, but preview copies of the film have not been sent to left-wing bloggers. As copies trickle out, we will put a blogroll up on the side of this side linking to inaccuracies that have been uncovered.
3) Why is this significant?
Aside from the tragic dishonesty surrounding 9/11 inherent in the film, there is a massive marketing push to turn this film into an established version of what happened. The film is being marketed as 'an objective telling of the events of 9/11, and promos for the film are claiming that it is largely based on the 9/11 Commission report. Republican Tom Kean Sr has been a prominent and public advisor to the project, but no Democratic members of the 9/11 Commission have been represented.
While marketed aggressively through advance copies among right-wing bloggers, radio hosts, and pundits, no left-wing bloggers have been given access to the film until this week, and left-wing bloggers were nearly prevented from attending a press conference with Tom Kean Sr advocating on behalf of the film.
Finally, ABC is planning to distribute this film free through iTunes and ABC.com, with a letter from Tom Kean Sr. to 100,000 educators encouraging the use of this film for educational purposes.
4) What are you looking for?
We are looking for ABC to take the following steps.
- ABC needs to remove outright fabrications in the film, or refuse to air it. We will try to catalogue link to those debunking errors in the film. So far, Thinkprogress is the most comprehensive site.
- Prior to airing the film, ABC should explicitly call this a work of fiction, and say that this does not represent the findings of the 9/11 Commission. ABC should stop using any and all promotional material linking the film to the 9/11 Commission findings.
- ABC should publicly list the marketing operators responsible for hiding this film from left-wing opinion leaders.
- ABC should not send 100,000 letters to educators, or should send follow-up letters warning educators about the inaccuracies in the film.
5) Why would ABC do this?
Honestly, we're not sure. Disney/ABC is either unaware of the political ramifications of airing this fabrication, or is willfully and maliciously producing and distributing false propaganda. We hope that Robert Iger, President of Disney, considers his reputation and that of Disney and ABC before allowing this to be aired.
6) Why would Tom Kean lend his reputation to such a film?
We assume it's because Tom Kean Sr's son, whose name is also Tom Kean, is running for Senate in New Jersey, largely based on his father's reputation. Tom Kean Jr. has for instance droppd the 'Jr' from his campaign's website. We're not entirely sure why Tom Kean Sr. decided to throw away his reputation on such a sordid propaganda piece, but that's our best guess.
7) Who are you?
We are a group of activists that are trying to provide one place for content about the controversy over the film 'Path to 9/11'. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Path to 9/11, to be aired over the weekend of September 10 and 11 on ABC, is a historically inaccurate portrayal of a national tragedy.
Here is why we protest the airing of this film on so sensitive a topic.
1) This film contains outright fabrications that are not in the 9/11 Commission report.
2) None of the Democratic commissioners on the bipartisan 9/11 Commission have certified this film.
3) No left-wing bloggers were given an advance screening, though many right-wing bloggers and pundits have seen copies of the film. Right-wing ideologues have loudly pronounced their satisfaction with the film. The failure to allow left-wingers to critique this film prior to its screening means that the political slant will be clear.
4) ABC removed its blog discussing controversies with the film. When the blog was functional, the blog writers were stating outright lies to justify not showing the film to liberals. Update: The blog has returned, lies intact.
We are asking ABC and its parent company Disney for four things to remedy this shameful right-wing propaganda.
1) ABC needs to remove the outright fabrications in the film.
2) ABC should explicitly call this a work of fiction, and say that this does not represent the findings of the 9/11 Commission.
3) ABC should publicly list the marketing operators responsible for hiding this film from left-wing opinion leaders.
4) ABC should refuse to send out this film as an educational aid for students in understanding recent American history.