Enormous Miscalculation

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I am absolutely stunned at this. I think this may be the biggest miscalculation I have seen this election season. I mean this one is positively biblical.

The Senate Democrats just threatened to go after ABC's broadcasting license if it airs The Path to 9/11. Not fix it, not alter it. Kill it or they will come for you.

September 7, 2006

Mr. Robert A. Iger
President and CEO
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank CA 91521

Dear Mr. Iger,

We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancel this broadcast to cease Disney’s plans to use it as a teaching tool in schools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

Disney and ABC claim this program to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report and are using that assertion as part of the promotional campaign for it. The 9/11 Commission is the most respected American authority on the 9/11 attacks, and association with it carries a special responsibility. Indeed, the very events themselves on 9/11, so tragic as they were, demand extreme care by any who attempt to use those events as part of an entertainment or educational program. To quote Steve McPhereson, president of ABC Entertainment, “When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right.”

Unfortunately, it appears Disney and ABC got it totally wrong.

Despite claims by your network’s representatives that The Path to 9/11 is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Commissioners themselves, as well as other experts on the issues, disagree.

Richard Ben-Veniste, speaking for himself and fellow 9/11 Commissioners who recently viewed the program, said, “As we were watching, we were trying to think how they could have misinterpreted the 9/11 Commission’s findings the way that they had.” [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism czar, and a national security advisor to ABC has described the program as “deeply flawed” and said of the program’s depiction of a Clinton official hanging up on an intelligence agent, “It’s 180 degrees from what happened.” [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

Reports suggest that an FBI agent who worked on 9/11 and served as a consultant to ABC on this program quit halfway through because, “he thought they were making things up.” [MSNBC, September 7, 2006]

Even Thomas Kean, who serves as a paid consultant to the miniseries, has admitted that scenes in the film are fictionalized. [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

That Disney would seek to broadcast an admittedly and proven false recounting of the events of 9/11 raises serious questions about the motivations of its creators and those who approved the deeply flawed program. Finally, that Disney plans to air commercial-free a program that reportedly cost it $40 million to produce serves to add fuel to these concerns.

These concerns are made all the more pressing by the political leaning of and the public statements made by the writer/producer of this miniseries, Mr. Cyrus Nowrasteh, in promoting this miniseries across conservative blogs and talk shows.

Frankly, that ABC and Disney would consider airing a program that could be construed as right-wing political propaganda on such a grave and important event involving the security of our nation is a discredit both to the Disney brand and to the legacy of honesty built at ABC by honorable individuals from David Brinkley to Peter Jennings. Furthermore, that Disney would seek to use Scholastic to promote this misguided programming to American children as a substitute for factual information is a disgrace.

As 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick said, “It is critically important to the safety of our nation that our citizens, and particularly our school children, understand what actually happened and why – so that we can proceed from a common understanding of what went wrong and act with unity to make our country safer.”

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Sincerely,

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Byron Dorgan

Is Alfred E. Newman their chief political consultant? Do they have any idea what they look like to the average American? They look not like defenders of the truth, they look exactly, precisely, like they are trying to hide something. This is an absolutely stunningly stupid move. This may play well to the true, hard-left believers, but to average Americans you just hurt yourselves very, very badly. (Anecdotal: I told my wife about this. She is not at all political. The first words she said were, "What are they trying to hide".)

Talk about blowing it.

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42 Responses to Enormous Miscalculation

  1. Blackhawk says:

    Wow. Nobody went after Farenheit 911 like that. Or that ‘Reagan’ mockumentary.

    And just what chance do they think they have of pulling this off?

    This is outright censorship, plain and simple. This is eerily similar to the Taliban and Hamas recent ‘suggestions’ to journalists (notice that didn’t get much airplay).

  2. Tom says:

    And what would these Democrats really want? Left-wing propaganda? Idiots…

  3. Pingback: The Strata-Sphere » Blog Archive » Senate Dems Demand Elimination Of Free Speech

  4. Blackhawk says:

    http://blogs.abc.com/thepathto911/2006/09/even_futher_cla.html#comments

    That’s the link to ABC’s blog on The Path to 9/11. Looks like DU and the Kos Kids are well aware of it.

  5. Any attempt to screw with ABC would be the biggest gift Karl Rove ever got from the dems.

    Imagine the debate, in a GOP controlled House, where dems are accused of limiting free expression- and chatised for being selective in their outrage.

    Not even the dems are that stupid- and that’s sayng something.

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  7. Diffus says:

    Come on people. We’ve already meekly accepted restrictions on our political speech via BCRA. (I haven’t yet noticed anyone stepping forward to commit acts of civil disobedience.) What makes anyone think that the American public is going to get all worked up over the government stifling a network?

  8. Gaius says:

    Two words – prime time.

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  10. Blackhawk says:

    Uh oh. From Hot Air’s comment thread:

    Auspatriotman, Disney’s Chairman of the Board is one George Mitchell. He’s a former Senate Majority Leader for the Democrats.

    Bryan on September 7, 2006 at 10:55 PM

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  12. Pingback: The Real Ugly American.com » Blog Archive » Dems Threaten to Revoke ABC’s License over Path to 9/11

  13. Jim C. says:

    They did the EXACT SAME THING with that Kerry movie before the 2004 election. Strike 2 against free speech.

  14. actus says:

    “Is Alfred E. Newman their chief political consultant? Do they have any idea what they look like to the average American? They look not like defenders of the truth, they look exactly, precisely, like they are trying to hide something”

    Do you think someone would really look at this scandal, and think that its about hiding the truth? The entire complaint is that the truth is more complex, if not different than, whats in the movie. How can you say that something that itemizes the wrongs and points people to the 911 commission hides the truth?

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  16. Gaius says:

    Yes, actus, they will. This is a serious miscalculation. Do not mistake what political junkies think with what the average voter does. The two are not the same – and often not compatible.

  17. actus says:

    “Yes, actus, they will.”

    It really depends how you pitch it, right? Senate democrats want parts out of an ABC movie? Sounds bad. Senate democrats are concerned about the ABC saying its based on the 911 commission report while at the same time contradicting that? Not so.

    Which way will you pitch it?

  18. actus says:

    But I suppose, on second thought, its exactly because of your point that ABC has nothing to worry about. Do you see the senate taking away one of the major network’s broadcast license? Has that ever even happened?

  19. Gaius says:

    Did you actually read the letter? They do not want parts out – they want it gone.

    “…cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.”

    Stunningly bad move.

  20. actus says:

    “They do not want parts out – they want it gone.”

    Even parts out sounds bad. But canceling something thats based on lies, when the lies are itemized, and when the truth is pointed to? you think that comes off as hiding the truth?

    Like I said, which way will you spin it?

    Now, the fine for indecency has just been raised. How about the one for lies? that doesn’t even exist. Don’t think the moral majority will be agitating for one either.

  21. Knemon says:

    A new low, actus. A new f’n low.

  22. Roland Hesz says:

    “Wow. Nobody went after Farenheit 911 like that. ”

    Wow. You saw Farenheit 911 on TV? Marvelous….

  23. a reader says:

    Now we just need some jihadis to threaten ABC with attacks if they whitewash the decadent infidels’ revisionism, and we’re set. Pass the popcorn.

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  25. Roland Hesz says:

    Hm…
    it does not say anywhere that the license is threatened.
    It just says that “oh, guys, you got a public, free license, to serve the public, and please remember that”.

    Nowehere is that “we will take away your license if you don’t pull it”.

    So, the statement: “threatened to go after ABC’s broadcasting license” is absolutely false.

  26. Gaius says:

    Perhaps you should go and read some of the people on the left who are crowing about this. Go read Patterico, too. Maybe then you’ll get it.

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  28. Roland Hesz says:

    I can read as many comments on the left or right as many as I want.
    As long as the actual people who write the letter don’t say they want to invalidate the license, the comments won’t change anything.

    An example.

    I write on my blog that I don’t like vanilla icecream.

    A bunch of people jump in, and start to say, that I want to ban vanilla icecream or that “you go boy, I do agree, ban vanilla icecream”.

    Do those comments make the claim true? No.
    What will make it true?
    If I write that I want to ban vanilla icecream.

    “Perhaps you should go and read some of the people on the left who are crowing about this. Go read Patterico, too. Maybe then you’ll get it.”

    You mean the guy, who linked you?
    So, you effectively tell me to read you, this same post, and that will make me see truth???

    Gaius?

  29. Gaius says:

    His illustration may help explain it. I have no idea whether Hungarian has an equivalent and am not sure if you are familiar with the idiom.

  30. actus says:

    “Perhaps you should go and read some of the people on the left who are crowing about this. ”

    You still haven’t told me which way you pitch it. Do you pitch it as suppression, or do you pitch it as a promotion of the truth of the 9/11 report?

    Its an interesting letter. Unprecedented, to me, for an unprecedented, to me, situation. But ABC’s license getting pulled? Give me a break. However, its clear that ABC is pissing off a lot of people with their lies. With the way they made their lies, and how they are promoting their lies. No problem with the people who are pissed off letting ABC know that ABC is acting irresponsibly.

  31. Roland Hesz says:

    ” Wonderful network youÂ’ve got there. ItÂ’d be a shame if something happened to it.

    You mean this one?

    Well, I agree, if you want to, you can read it into the letter.

    But then,

    ” I shot the guy, he came toward me, it was self defense, I saw that before they attack you, they come toward you.
    Dunno if it would be enough ground for justified self defense.”

    Still, if I assume that they are dirty bastards, and I assume that they wuold dare to pull something like this, then I can assume that it was actually a threat.

    Assumptions are a great thing.
    Also is contemporary literary criticism which shows us that you can read everything into anything.
    It’s just a decision.

    But ok, all the democrats are lying, maffia type bastards, bent on the destruction of the USA, with the aim of spreading the Islam all over the world.

  32. Roland Hesz says:

    Oh, the link was not going through:
    Contemporary literary criticism

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  34. Blackhawk says:

    Roland,

    Your ‘ice cream’ analogy is based on a flawed premise: you do not have the power to provide production license/copyright protection to the ice cream maker.

    For your analogy to be more accurate, substitute ‘your blog’ with ‘senior representatives of one of the two major political parties’ in your state. States have the sanction to use force. This drastically changes the implications of communication.

    For the State (in this case, these Senators) to mention the FCC license in an official communication to ABC constitutes an implied threat; certainly without immediate clarification from this group of Senators, that door is still open. If I were in charge at ABC, I would demand an immediate, and public, clarification on this issue. This is a free speech issue.

    Roland, I’m not sure if your Fahrenheit 911 comment is a snark or what. My point is that I don’t recall any government agency threatening adverse action which would constitute censorship (or the threat thereof) against the distributors of that movie. There was certainly a lot of blog traffic, but blogs don’t have the constitutional responsibilities of the government.

  35. pst314 says:

    “Come on people. We’ve already meekly accepted restrictions on our political speech via BCRA. (I haven’t yet noticed anyone stepping forward to commit acts of civil disobedience.)”

    Banco Central de la República Argentina? Bay Cities Racing Association? British Cave Research Association? Oh, you mean the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act.

    Well, as a matter of fact, a number of bloggers have stated that they will not abide by the Act’s restrictions and the the FEC can go to hell.

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  38. Wake Up says:

    The authors of the letter are saying that ABC is abusing the public airwaves that it has been entrusted with by airing the miniseries. The reason ABC would be abusing this trust is that the miniseries has been advertised as based on the 9/11 Commission report…it has been proven that the miniseries is NOT based on the report and has many fictional aspects. They through in the part about the upcoming elections just like any Republican would do if the tables were turned. If a liberal-leaning docudrama were to air, conservatives would through a HUGE fit. Get over it. Disney is evil anyway.

  39. They aren’t that stupid.

    Obviously the dems really belive what they’re trying to hide is even more damaging than being seen as attempting to hide something…

    …in many ways they would be right. It is. If the public understood exactly how badly Clinton dropped the ball, it would be a long time before another democrat ever called 1600 his address.

  40. Jim Carmine says:

    Oh yeh, I am definitely going to vote Dem now!

    Michael Moore and Dan Rather sank them last time, this time it will be “The Path to 9/11.” Well Santorum if you win definitely write Reid a thank you note! I actually think the Dems are just stupidly arrogant. Somehow they think Americans don’t notice their bummbling attempts to manipulate the media. Maybe they just don’t realize tv/ print media is everyone’s whore. I mean the Dems ought to at least guess that the Republicans are beating them in the media game, because the Republicans realize Americans are at least a little cynical of the media, and the Republicans accordingly use the media’s natural inclination to spin for profit which of course then feeds into our growing cynicism about the media. Honestly, noone really believes what the head says. I mean imagine the clear irony of the greatest spin master on the tube pretending “The Spin Stops Here.” That is comedy, and whether or not OReilly realizes it, Fox certainly does. The Dems just try to bludgeon the media and as a consequence Dems look like whiners and weinees over and over and over again.

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