Friday, September 8, 2006

Update on the 9/11 "Docudrama" Controversy -- Call to Boycott Advertisers

Dear Friends,
I certainly don't want to beat this issue into the ground.   However since 9/11 is the primary reason that the US and its allies went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq it is important
that fiction not be substituted for fact.   I think many of us recognize that there has already been way to much of that already not only when it concerns the events of 9/11
Of course ABC is not an official branch of the US government.   However, if  ABC makes the claim that they are broadcasting a docudrama based on the findings of the
9/11 Commission then it should be held to the same level of accountability.  So, if you should decide to watch this broadcast be sure to make note of the companies that advertise
during the broadcast.  Afterwards,  if you feel that the "docudrama"  was an intentional distortion of the facts, call for a boycott of those advertisers. 
In the meantime,  Take action now -- join the over 69,000 individuals who have called on ABC to tell the truth about 9/11
Yes, the attacks on 9/11/01 happened on American soil but it wasn't just Americans who died.   Citizens for many other nations lost their lives in that attack.  Since that date, many more have lost
their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Madrid & London.   Don't let a corporation dishonor their memory for politics, network share and advertising dollars.
Pamela Lyn
Taking the 'Docu' Out of 'Docudrama'
courtesy of The Progress Report
a publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund

Scheduled to air around the five-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, ABC's docudrama "The Path to 9/11" has elicited a firestorm of criticism for being an inaccurate and deeply-biased account that blames President Clinton for the 9/11 attacks while praising President Bush's response. Written by avowed conservative Cyrus Nowrasteh, the film claims to be based on the bipartisan 9/11 Commission report, despite containing numerous factual inaccuracies that have no basis in the Commission's work. Senate Democratic leaders, led by Harry Reid (D-NV), wrote a letter yesterday to Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company (the parent company of ABC), urging him to "cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program." Clinton lawyer Bruce Lindsey also wrote Iger, explaining, "The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate and ABC has a duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely." Feeling the heat and recognizing its errors, ABC "has in recent days made changes to the film" and is claiming "the editing process is not yet complete." As the Families of September 11 have said, the events surrounding 9/11 are far too important to play politics with. Take action now -- join the over 69,000 individuals who have called on ABC to tell the truth about 9/11

ALL DRAMA, LITTLE DOCUMENTARY: In recent days, the film's writers and consultants have begun distancing themselves from the factual inaccuracies contained in the film. Nowrasteh has said that a key scene falsely in the movie -- which alleges that former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger failed to pull the trigger on a surefire opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden -- was "
improvised" by the actors on the set. "Accidents occur, spontaneous reactions of actors performing a role take place," Nowrasteh argued. Former 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, who acted as a senior consultant and was credited as co-executive producer of the movie, "admitted...some scenes in the film are fictionalized." Actor Harvey Keitel, who plays FBI special agent John O'Neill in the film, said, "You can't put things together, compress them and then distort reality." ABC and its defenders have evolved their positions on the movie, emphasizing that the miniseries is a "dramatization, not a documentary." But in fact, ABC publicized this film as the official rendering of the 9/11 Commission report. Executive producer Marc Platt and Nowrasteh said earlier that they wanted to "match the just-the-facts tone of the report." ABC producers earlier claimed the film was "based solely and completely on the 9/11 Commission report." For ABC to now suggest that the miniseries was not billed as a documentary is disingenuous. Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, explained the project in the following way: "When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right."

CRITICISM COMING FROM ALL DIRECTIONS: While some conservatives have tried to argue that critics of "The Path to 9/11" are simply partisans who are "
whining," the truth is that complaints have reigned down from all circles, including from conservatives, former Bush officials, and 9/11 Commission members. Conservative author Richard Miniter, who wrote a book blasting President Clinton's counterterrorism policies, has acknowledged that there is "zero factual basis" for the "idea that someone had bin Laden in his sights in 1998 or any other time and Sandy Berger refused to pull the trigger." Conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell said ABC should "correct" the scenes that "do not have any bearing on reality." Former counterterrorism officials Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey, who worked for Presidents Clinton and Bush, have blasted the movie and said that scenes in the movie are completely made-up. Many former members of the 9/11 Commission have also spoken out against the film. Richard Ben-Veniste said that as members of the Commission were watching a private screening of the film, "we were trying to think how they could have misinterpreted the 9/11 commission’s finding the way that they had.” Jamie Gorelick told Iger, "I hope that you will correct the record before series airs," and Tim Roemer told CNN yesterday that the Berger scene had no basis in the 9/11 report. Even Kean said he "had pointed out the issue" with the Berger scene to ABC recently, and according to CNN, ABC told Kean "they would go back and take a look at the scene."

SCHOLASTIC CUTS PARTNERSHIP WITH MOVIE: Scholastic Corporation, one of the leading distributors of educational materials for children, announced yesterday that it was
ending its partnership with "The Path to 9/11" film. Scholastic and ABC had earlier announced a pact to produce "online study guides" related to the film and to send 100,000 educators a letter from Kean informing them of such materials. As Media Matters documented, the discussion guides were "rife with conservative misinformation" and key omissions which resulted in a distorted account of pre-Iraq war WMD capabilities and misleadingly suggested a tie between Iraq and 9-11. In a press release, Scholastic stated the educational materials "did not meet our high standards for dealing with controversial issues." Scholastic will produce a new classroom discussion guide to that it claims will not aid in "promoting the program" but will still encourage the use of the film as as a "teachable moment." Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, called on teachers across the country not to use "The Path to 9/11" to educate their students about the history of 9/11 because of the film’s inaccuracies.

A PRECEDENT FOR CANCELLATION: If the film's inaccuracies cannot be corrected prior to its scheduled airing, ABC should not to run it. There is precedent for such a decision. In Nov. 2003, CBS announced that it would broadcast a mini-series called "The Reagans," which many
conservatives argued contained fabricated dialogues about Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The National Review's Ed Morrow wrote at the time, "Attempts to distort our history must be resisted. Historical truth is simply too valuable to be made a plaything for biased filmmakers rewriting it to fit their politics." Similarly, the Review's Seth Leibsohn said, "We should all be ashamed of bad history, though -- of dressing up fiction as fact." Wall Street Journal editorialist James Taranto acknowledged the similarities in the arguments being made against the two movies: "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.'" Daily Variety reports today that, just as the Reagan documentary was pulled from CBS, a similar fate may soon hit "The Path to 9/11." "Sources close to the project say the network, which has been in a media maelstrom over the pic, is mulling the idea of yanking the mini altogether," the Variety writes.

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