Tom McMahon, Democratic National Committee
Does a major national broadcast network want to stain itself by presenting an irresponsible, slanderous, fraudulent, "docu-drama" to the American public?
Not if you and I have the last word -- but either way, we're about to find out.
The ABC television network -- a cog in the Walt Disney empire -- unleashed a promotional blitz in the last week for a new "docudrama" called "The Path to 9/11". ABC has thrown its corporate might behind the two-night production, and bills it as a public service: a TV event, to quote the ABC tagline, "based on the 9/11 Commission Report".
That's false. "The Path to 9/11" is actually a bald-faced attempt to slander Democrats and revise history right before Americans vote in a major election.
The miniseries, which was put together by right-wing conservative writers, relies on the old GOP playbook of using terrorism to scare Americans. "The Path to 9/11" mocks the truth and dishonors the memory of 9/11 victims to serve a cheap, callous political agenda. It irresponsibly misrepresents the facts and completely distorts the truth.
ABC/Disney executives need to hear from the public and understand that their abuse of the public trust comes with a cost. Tell Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger to keep this right-wing propaganda off the air -- we'll deliver your message:
This story is breaking quickly. The bias of the "docudrama" only became known when ABC began circulating previews recently. Less than two weeks ago, 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste confronted a lead writer of "The Path to 9/11" after watching the first half of the miniseries at a screening, but most of what we know amounts to bits and pieces because ABC chose to screen the miniseries to conservative bloggers and right-wing media outlets exclusively. Almost none of the Democrats portrayed in the film have even been asked for their thoughts.
But we still know enough, thanks to news accounts and crack research, to fact check "The Path to 9/11" as a biased, irresponsible mess. Here's what you need to know:
Richard Clarke -- the counterterrorism czar for the Clinton administration, now himself a consultant to ABC News -- describes a key scene in "The Path to 9/11" as "180 degrees from what happened." In the scene, a CIA field agent places a phone call to get the go ahead to kill Osama Bin Laden, then in his sights, only to have a senior Clinton administration official refuse and hang up the phone. Sandy Berger, President Clinton's National Security Advisor, called the same scene "a total fabrication. It did not happen." And Roger Cressey, a top Bush and Clinton counterterrorism official, said it was "something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It's factually wrong. And that's shameful."
Another scene revives the old right-wing myth that press reporting made it impossible to track Osama bin Laden, accusing the Washington Post of blowing the secret that American intelligence tracked his satellite phone calls. In reality, responsibility for that blunder -- contrary to "The Path to 9/11" -- rests with none other than the arch-conservative Washington Times.
The former National Security Council head of counterterrorism says that President Clinton "approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda," and the 9/11 report says the CIA had full authority from President Clinton to strike Bin Laden. Yet chief "Path to 9/11" scriptwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh, a friend of Rush Limbaugh, says the miniseries shows how President Clinton had "frequent opportunities in the '90s to stop Bin Laden in his tracks -- but lacked the will to do so."
ABC asked only the Republican co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean, Sr., to advise the makers of "The Path to 9/11". The producers optioned two books, one written by a Bush administration political appointee, as the basis of the screenplay -- yet bill the miniseries as "based on the 9/11 Commission Report."
This is a picture of bias -- a conservative attempt to rewrite the history of September 11 to blame Democrats, just in time for the election.
Tell Walt Disney president Robert Iger that you hold his company responsible -- and that this community demands that ABC tell the truth:
ABC is trying to use of the airwaves -- airwaves owned by you and me, and loaned to broadcasters as a public trust -- to slander Democrats and sell a slanderous, irresponsible fraud to the American people, and they're shamefully doing it just weeks away from Election Day.
The Walt Disney Corporation could have given Americans an honest look at September 11. Instead, the company abandoned its duty to the truth -- and embraced the fiction known as "The Path to 9/11."
But ABC isn't the only company pushing this gross revision of history. ABC has enlisted the reputable education and children's entertainment company Scholastic, Inc. to send 100,000 letters to high school teachers, urging them to show students "The Path to 9/11". Scholastic has also created a discussion guide for teachers to use to encourage students and their families to watch this irresponsible fraud and then discuss it in school. The discussion guide does not in any way point out the concerns and criticisms that have been raised about the validity and accuracy of the film.
We've got to stop this now.
ABC/Disney must face an accountability moment. You can ratchet up the pressure on ABC by sending your own letter to Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger -- tell him to keep this propaganda off their air.