Feature

ABC’s 9/11 Movie

History or propaganda?

We all have painful memories of Sept. 11, 2001, said the New York Post in an editorial. But no one seems less keen to dwell on those terrible events than members of the Clinton administration. The former president and his minions have spent the last few weeks trying to stop the airing of ABC's The Path to 9/11, claiming that the five-hour docudrama unfairly blamed them for failing to take out Osama bin Laden back in the '90s. Never mind that the 9/11 Commission did fault the Clintonistas for dropping the ball, or that the miniseries lays just as much blame on the Bush administration. To an administration used to fawning treatment by Hollywood, no account of 9/11 'œthat doesn't place 100 percent of the blame on George W. Bush' could ever be acceptable. So after a relentless pressure campaign by Democrats on Capitol Hill, ABC yielded—littering its program with disclaimers, and cutting some scenes suggesting that Clinton was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal to take bin Laden seriously.

Actually, the Clintonistas had a point, said Kathleen Parker in the Orlando Sentinel. One cut scene in Path to 9/11 showed national-security advisor Sandy Berger slamming down the phone on a CIA officer who only needed his say-so to attack bin Laden. Another shows Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warning the Pakistanis—and thereby possibly bin Laden—ahead of the 1998 cruise missile strikes. Berger and Albright say these events never happened, and if so their 'œoutrage is understandable.' This so-called docudrama is nothing but a lurid dramatization of 'œright-wing myths,' said Joe Conason in Salon.com. The screenwriter, Cyrus Nowrasteh, is a devout conservative and personal friend of Rush Limbaugh, who promised his right-wing radio audience before the fact that the miniseries would be 'œjust devastating to the Clinton administration.' Lo and behold, he was right.

Can we all at least now agree that docudramas 'œare a poor way to teach children and adults history'? said John Fund in Opinionjournal.com. It's a shame that those leveling these—justified—criticisms at ABC 'œwere silent or worse' back in 2003 when CBS produced a docudrama in which President Reagan callously shrugged off the plight of AIDS victims with the words, 'œThey that live in sin shall die in sin.' Fabricating dialogue and scenes in the name of 'œartistic license' and 'œnarrative flow' might be permissible when making a movie about, say, the siege of Troy. But with events as significant, and recent, as 9/11, 'œhistory is too important to be left to storytellers who emphasize drama ahead of accuracy.'

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