Some of you might be familiar with an Internet movie called “Loose Change.” Addressed by NewsBusters in August, this low-budget schlockumentary suggested that much of 9/11 is a fantasy created by the Bush administration to advance the war on terror.
With that in mind, “Democracy Now” host Amy Goodman invited the writer/director and researcher of this film on her program today to debate a couple of editors from Popular Mechanics magazine about this issue (video and transcript links to follow).
Popular Mechanics was invited on due to a March 2005 cover-story it did entitled “9/11: Debunking the Myths.” More recently, PM has taken a strong position against this film in an article at its blog:
The New York Times' reliably liberal television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley offered up a surprising assessment in her mostly favorable review of “The Path to 9-11," a review which ran on Friday when there was still some doubt as to whether or not ABC would cave in to the Clintonistas and various left-wing bloggers furious at the network. The first part of the miniseries ran last night with some selective edits but with the essence of the story intact, further infuriating the left with its picture of a Clinton administration unwilling to take terrorism seriously.
Rosie O’Donnell and her fellow "View" co-hosts delivered a mostly restrained show on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. The women talked about the terrible loss of life and where each person was on that fateful day. However, during a discussion of the world’s support for America, post-September 11th, the liberal Ms. O’Donnell had to be reined in by the usually equally left-wing Joy Behar.
O’Donnell: "And it’s hard to believe that in the five years since, that's all gone away. And we have sort of squandered, the, you know, the world's, um-"
Behar: "We’ll get to that on another day."
O’Donnell: "Yeah. Well, we’ll get to it, I’m sure."
I wrote, earlier today, about how The Early Show began the broadcast this morning by politicizing 9/11. I had stopped watching after the Axelrod segment to write about it, and just recently got back to it. I was almost stunned by how right my headline had been. I just didn't know the half of it. The first hour of the show was filled with politics, the vast majority of it negative towards the Bush administration and the rest just inappropriate.
First, we had the Axelrod piece, as referenced earlier.
Axelrod: The President's aides have made it clear this is no time for politics, although his very presence here is a reminder of the lost popularity for Mr. Bush in the past five years....In the days and weeks after the President climbed that rubble pile at Ground Zero and promised revenge, the President had an 89% approval rating. Five years later that number is 36%. Later today the President will head from here in Manhattan to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At 11:45 A.M., Mr. Bush will participate in a ceremony in Shanksville. He will then fly to Washington to lay a wreath at the Pentagon. At 9:00 tonight the President will address the nation in what we're told will be a non-political speech.
While NBC's Matt Lauer baited Sen. Hillary Clinton to admonish the administration to say we're not safer, he attacked the President for, in fact, trying to make the nation safer. Lauer prompted Clinton: "Are you comfortable that the United States did not break the law in conducting that kind of interrogations in those secret sites?" Then later in the program, as first noted by MRC's Brent Baker, Lauer repeatedly attacked Bush over interrogation methods worrying: "Are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people we're trying to protect us against?"
Video clip of Lauer's combative exchange with Bush over treatment of terrorists (3:20): Real (5.6 MB) or Windows Media (6.5 MB), plus MP3 audio (1.1 MB)
The 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, is clearly an event that needs to be marked and acknowledged. One can only imagine the furor that would arise if the President of the United States were to neglect observing and commenting on the day. On the other hand, if he were to choose this particular time to come out with partisan political attacks, to attempt to take advantage of the anniversary observances in purely political ways, I believe we can say, with some confidence, that the mainstream press would be vociferous in their condemnation. History suggests to us that the media in this country is on the lookout for any signs of partisanship from the President today. (It also suggests that that vigilance is, shall we say, one-sided. Attacks against the President for allowing the towers to be destroyed "on his watch," as it were, would be unlikely to arouse the same sense of outrage.)
On this solemn occasion, our hearts go out to all who lost friends, colleagues, and family members five years ago, as well as to those who worked tirelessly and selflessly to save them. God Bless America.
For those that watched “The Path to 9/11” last evening, and were interested in which scenes were targeted by the Clinton administration for editing, you should see Dan Riehl’s post on the subject here.
Those that are interested in what apparently was altered in the final edition should see Al Brown's post here, as well as Editor & Publisher’s article on the subject.
With that as pretext, I wanted to offer my impressions of Part I.
ABC's entertainment division refused to knuckle under to intense pressure from supporters of former President Bill Clinton, including the Democratic National Committee and MoveOn.org, and aired the first part of their miniseries, "The Path to 9/11", with some additional edits:
On today's episode of Meet the Press (Sunday, September 10, 2006), Tim Russert interviewed Vice President Cheney. In the interview, Russert took issue with the fact that the Vice President once stated on his show that it was "pretty well confirmed" that Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001.
Here's the craftiness by Russert: Mr. Cheney made the "pretty well confirmed" remark in a December 9, 2001, appearance, over four-and-a-half years ago. Russert failed to inform his audience this morning when the remark was originally made. In addition, in three following appearances on Meet the Press (3/02, 9/02, and 9/03), when the Vice President breached the topic of the Atta-Prague allegation, he essentially told Russert that he "[didn't] know" if the visit occurred, that it was "unconfirmed," and that intelligence had been unable "to nail down a close tie between the al-Qaida organization and Saddam Hussein." The Vice President's stance on the issue was certainly modified from the one he originally aired in 2001.
In fact, in the very last appearance that the Vice President made on Meet the Press (in September 2003), Mr. Cheney specifically told Russert that "we just don't know" if such a meeting ever happened. And in his September 2002 appearance, the Vice President said almost the opposite of it being "pretty well confirmed"; he said the meeting was "unconfirmed"! Yet this morning Russert harked back to the original 2001 appearance over four-and-a-half years ago to try and hammer the Vice President for the "pretty well confirmed" words. Fairness, anyone? Not at all.
The Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, as well as Commissioner John Lehman, were George Stephanopoulos’s guests on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, and they both spoke out strongly in favor of the upcoming miniseries “The Path to 9/11” (video link to follow).
At the beginning of this discussion, Stephanopoulos presented concerns expressed by Clinton administration officials about the docudrama, and asked Kean if the program should be aired. Kean responded:
Oh, of course, it should be aired. I mean, I'm not for censorship or not allowing people to see things. In my experience with these people who’ve been working in the film they've been responsive to criticism, mine and other people’s, and have made changes that were necessary. I haven't seen the final cut. It's a miniseries. It's not a documentary. It's not done by ABC news. It's done by ABC news entertainment, but as I've seen it, I think it'll make a contribution.
Stephanopoulos then reiterated concerns of the Clinton administration, in particular about a couple of scenes in the film, and asked, “Did you ask the filmmakers to change those scenes and did they change them?” Kean responded:
Sometimes, in spite of itself, ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" shines a light on liberal thinking that liberal political strategists would prefer remain dark. Today Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the Left's answer to Michael Savage, revealed that her thinking remains firmly stuck in pre-9/11 mode.
This is not a source I would normally search out, but I have to admit that actor Donnie Wahlberg gives one of the most thoughtful responses I've seen to the controversy over ABC's "The Path to 9/11" miniseries in this TV Guide interview:
TVGuide.com: What do you think of the brouhaha that's going on now? You had to know that this project could be a hot potato. Wahlberg: I didn't think it was a hot potato. I think there's a stink being made because certain people aren't happy with the way they're being portrayed, but the reality is that in most cases, the producers took a gentle hand with this stuff. The writers and the producers and the director tried to use as much integrity as possible.
While it remains unclear to what extent ABC may alter their upcoming 9/11 docu-drama based upon pressure from the Democrat Party, six clips said to include the controversial footage have made their way onto the Internet.
They can be viewed here via RedState. In the event of trouble with that link, they are also available via a website identified as The Traditional Values Coalition.
With all the ballyhoo and discussion surrounding ABC’s “The Path to 9/11,” very few people have actually seen any of the controversial docudrama about to air (hopefully) beginning Sunday. However, to whet your appetites, here is a trailer of the series that has been airing on European television.
In the middle of all the controversy surrounding ABC’s upcoming docudrama “The Path to 9/11,” something very important has been lost: Regardless of the protestations of the left, there were indeed some missed opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden before our nation was attacked. In fact, on March 16, 2004, the NBC “Nightly News” did a report on one such chance the Clinton administration passed on.
What follows is a full transcript of this report, with emphasis given to draw attention to statements that are quite relevant to the current controversy. Those that are interested can watch the video here courtesy of GOP Video.
I guess we all should have expected that mere changes to the story weren’t going to placate Team Clinton, for another letter was sent to ABC President and CEO Robert Iger on Friday, this one asking for “The Path to 9/11” be cancelled. For those that are interested, and can tolerate yet another example of extraordinary political hypocrisy, here it is:
Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time” Friday evening had some truly disgraceful things to say about America’s president that even at times seemed to shock and offend his typically liberal audience. In his seemingly habitual need to question Bush’s intelligence, Maher stated, with a picture of the president on the screen, “Amid all the 9/11 anniversary talk about what will keep us safe, let me suggest that in a world turned hostile to America, the smartest message we can send to those beyond our shores is ‘We’re not with stupid!’” Maher punctuated this vitriolic statement with a plea to his audience: “Therefore, I maintain that ridiculing this president is now the most patriotic thing you can possibly do.”
This sad episode in American history continues, folks. Now, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, is requesting that ABC reveal “who funded this $40 million dollar slanderous propaganda.”
Of course, he’s talking about “The Path to 9/11.” What else?
As reported by the left-wing blog Raw Story on Friday: "It's deeply disappointing that ABC would put something on the air that has been proven to have factual inaccuracies about one of the most important events in our nation's history," said Dean in the press release. "ABC should not air this distortion of history."
Why wasn’t Dean so concerned with the reporting of “factual inaccuracies about one of the most important events in our nation's history” back in 2004 when Michael Moore released “Fahrenheit 911”? Why has the Democratic Party’s seemingly universal support for that piece of propaganda as addressed here been totally forgotten by its members?
The Washington Post has a way of celebrating anniversaries in an odd way -- say, highlighting an anti-war activist on Memorial Day. Friday's Washington Post, just days shy of the fifth anniversary of 9-11, devoted a long lead article in the Style section to the idea that the Bush administration was behind the almost 3,000 deaths on 9/11. That's a horrendous concept to entertain. But reporter Michael Powell not only found it entertaining. He praised the reasonableness of its proponents.
Notice how he pays tribute to one liberal expert:
It was a year before David Ray Griffin, an eminent liberal theologian and philosopher, began his stroll down the path of disbelief... "To me, the report read as a cartoon." White-haired and courtly, Griffin sits on a couch in a hotel lobby in Manhattan, unspooling words in that reasonable Presbyterian minister's voice. "It's a much greater stretch to accept the official conspiracy story than to consider the alternatives."
This morning’s Wall Street Journal carries an editorial summarizing the findings of a new study from the Media Research Center that documents how the broadcast networks have skewed their coverage of the War on Terror in favor of those most concerned about civil liberties, not protecting the American people from another homeland attack. Here’s how it begins:
The title of a CBS special report Wednesday night posed the question that haunts us all after 9/11: "Five Years Later: Are We Safer?" Given the show's brevity--an hour minus commercials--and the complexity of the subject, CBS's treatment was predictably shallow. After host Katie Couric asked President Bush a few questions of the "your critics say . . . how do you respond?" sort, and we toured the federal antiterrorism command center, there was little time left for an in-depth examination of anything.
The following is the actual text of the letter sent to Bob Iger, the President and CEO of ABC, by folks representing former president Bill Clinton et al asking for “The Path to 9/11” to be re-edited (hat tip to TPM Café):
September 1, 2006
As you know, ABC intends to air a two part miniseries, “The Path to 9/11,” which purports to document the events leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. ABC claims that the show is based on the 9/11 Commission Report and, as Steve McPherson, President of ABC Entertainment, has said: “When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right.”
MRC president Brent Bozell appeared on Friday's "Fox and Friends" in the 8am hour beginning at 8am Eastern. The topic discussed was the censorship campaign mounted by Democrats against the ABC miniseries, "The Path to 9/11."
9/7 14:08. Just
heard a quick news report make that claim on WABC radio out of NYC
while in the car. No statement or confirmation from Disney at this
time. The report claimed at least one scene drawing criticism from Dems
may be altered.
network has in recent days made changes to the film,
set to air Sunday and Monday, after leading political figures, many of
them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies.
Meanwhile, a left-wing organization has launched a letter-writing
campaign urging the network to "correct" or dump the miniseries, while
conservative blogs have launched a vigorous defense.
After much discussion, ABC executives and the producers
but did not eliminate entirely, a scene that involved Clinton's
national security advisor, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, declining to give
the order to kill Bin Laden, according to a person involved with the
film who declined to be identified because of the sensitivities
This is getting entirely out of hand. What a crock. This is disgusting.
New York, NY (September 7, 2006) -- Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, today announced that it is removing from its website the materials originally created for classroom use in conjunction with the ABC Television Network docudrama, “The Path to 9/ll,” scheduled to air on the ABC Television Network on September 10 and 11, 2006. A new classroom discussion guide for high school students is being created and will focus more specifically on media literacy, critical thinking, and historical background.
“After a thorough review of the original guide that we offered online to about 25,000 high school teachers, we determined that the materials did not meet our high standards for dealing with controversial issues,” said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic. “At the same time, we believe that developing critical thinking and media literacy skills is crucial for students in today’s society in order to participate fully in our democracy and that a program such as ‘The Path to 9/11’ provides a very ‘teachable moment’ for developing these skills at the high school level. We encourage teachers not to shy away from the controversy surrounding the program, but rather to engage their students in meaningful, in-depth discussion.”
Undoubtedly, the anger fomenting as a result of a television docudrama about the most serious attacks on America since Pearl Harbor has to be confounding the most seasoned of cynics.
After prominent House Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to Disney President and CEO Robert Iger requesting a re-editing of “The Path to 9/11” even though they admitted that they “have not yet seen this program” (as reported by NewsBusters here), another such request came from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Byron Dorgan on Thursday.
Did you hear that sound Thursday afternoon? That was the Constitution weeping as one of the nation’s major political parties trampled all over the First Amendment. Remember what that is…that right bestowed upon us by our Founding Fathers guaranteeing freedom of speech?
Well, if what was reported by NewsBusters here, and the Ostroy Report here (hat tip to Hot Air) are correct, and ABC really has caved into political pressure from Democrats – in particular, former President Clinton – to edit the miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” such rights have changed forever. At the very least, this would demonstrate that these rights – which Jefferson said were inalienable, by the way! – apply differently to Democrats and Republicans.
Egged on by NBC’s Ann Curry, 9/11 widow and media fave Kristen Breitweiser attacked Ann Coulter and the President on this morning’s Today. On to promote her new book, Wake-Up Call, Breitweiser was portrayed as merely a non-partisan 'stay-at-home-mother,' as Curry never mentioned her 2004 support for John Kerry.
Before playing a clip of Coulter with Lauer, Curry asked Breitweiser: "You know conservatives, as you know, well know, have attacked, criticized heavily 9/11 widows for, including you, for, for some of what you've said over these years, over these five years. In fact on this program, Ann Coulter, the writer, said something to, to Matt Lauer. Let's take a quick listen to what she said."
Four would-be committee chairmen, all Democrats in the House of Represenatives, just sent ABC a letter demanding that the network review its upcoming miniseries, "The Path to 9/11." No overtly threatening language is used in the letter (reprinted below the fold) but the implication seems pretty clear: If Dems take control of the House in November, ABC should expect hell from the various committees John Conyers, John Dingell, Jane Harman, Louise Slaughter head.
Which party was it that advocates censorship of "incorrect" speech again?
Thursday’s off-lead story in the New York Times on a new CBS/NYT poll, “9/11 Polls Find Lingering Fears in New York City,” dwells on the fears that remain five years after the terrorist attacks in Manhattan and at the Pentagon.
But the national poll itself (the consortium also conducted a separate poll of just New Yorkers) found some interesting responses to three questions not mentioned in the story, perhaps because they conflicted with one of the Times’ irresponsible security scoops -- its revelation of the National Security Agency’s program to monitor communications between terror suspects without warrants