A few days ago, the"Kossacks" -- regular contributors -- at Daily Kos began decrying an upcoming film called"The Path to 9/11," to be aired by the ABC network this coming Sunday and Monday. It was, they averred, a thinly-veiled piece of political propaganda that attacked the Clinton administration and exonerated the Bush administration concerning what the Report of the 9/11 Commission concluded was a massive systemic failure of U.S. intelligence that happened on the watch of both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Initially I was angered to learn that 9/11 was yet again being exploited for partisan political purposes. Then I took a breath, poked around the Internet a bit, and saw a number of blog posts that portrayed the film as really quite arresting and dramatic and not slanted toward any political agenda. So I swept the Kossacks' outcries from my thoughts.
Then came last evening.
I was driving down to Lancaster, Ohio, to visit a conservative evangelical church and had the radio set to a conservative Christian radio station that is fairly prominent in these parts. A Michael Medved plug for"The Path to 9/11" was played twice in ten minutes. It strongly reinforced the right-wing propaganda interpretation.
The second time I captured most of it on a digital recorder. Here's a transcript:
... The truth is that terrorist strikes against America began long before 2001, and a superb upcoming mini-series on ABC-TV,"The Path to 9/11," makes that point unforgettably clear. The five-hour dramatization begins with the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, highlighting eight years of confusion and passivity in the Clinton administration, while Bin Laden and colleagues intensified their anti-American jihad. As early as 1983 Hezbollah had killed 241 Americans in Beirut, and even four years before that, the embassy hostage crisis in Iran highlighted the new threat from Islamic extremism. Terrorism was hardly a response to the war in Iraq but that war was part of our response to a long series of atrocities reaching back more than twenty-five years. I'm Michael Medved.
When I got home a wrote a Daily Kos"diary" post about the Medved plug. It generated a fair amount of response, including some suggestions concerning other blogs and Kos diaries that were exploring"The Path to 9/11," especially this one. It transpires that former Governor Thomas Kean was signed to the film as a co-executive producer, but no Democrats; that conservatives were invited to pre-screenings of the film, but again no Democrats; that the film was made in collaboration with the conservative evangelical Film Institute, whose maiden production, coyly termed,"The Untitled History Project," turns out to be"The Path to 9/11"; that 100,000 press kits have gone to schools encouraging the use of"The Path to 9/11" as a tool to teach the history of the WTC/Pentagon attacks; and that former Clinton administration officials are assailing the film for massively distorting their actions, but are having to base their objections on what they've heard about the film, since ABC is refusing to supply them with an opportunity to screen the film in advance.
There's an argument to be made, I guess, that judgment ought to be postponed until the film is aired. But the swift boating of John Kerry is much on the minds of those who have followed this story, and the consensus is that this is a time to contact ABC and object. I'm not usually one to go in for these things, but I've sent an email of protest to ABC via a web page set up by the Democratic Party. If the film is as slanted as Democrats suspect, and as Michael Medved's plug strongly suggests, then a protest is in order on those grounds. And if the film proves more or less balanced, a protest is still in order concerning the blatantly partisan way it has handled the advance publicity. It may be an intentional publicity campaign based on the premise that no publicity is bad publicity. I've thought of that. So have others. But you don't exploit 9/11 that way.