Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: the disney version

September 11, like all commemorative days, is an event during which our collective memory is actively shaped. And this year Disney owned ABC is vying for significant influence over how 9/11 is remembered. Last night and tonight ABC stations nationwide are broadcasting “The Path to 9/11” a two-part miniseries described by Salon’s editor-in-chief Joan Walsh as “an anti-Clinton hit job written by a conservative Iranian-American, Cyrus Nowrasteh, a friend of Rush Limbaugh, that lards blame for the tragedy on President Clinton and his cabinet and airbrushes the culpability of George W. Bush and friends.”

Clinton spokesman Jay Carson told the LA Times that the film, which ABC is billing as a “docudrama” based on the 9/11 Commission’s findings, is "indisputably wrong." Cyrus Nowrasteh admits that the film’s most controversial scene – where a Clinton administration official passes up an opportunity to kill Osama Bin Ladin — was based on nothing at all, telling a right-wing radio station that the scene was “improvised.”

Media Matters reports that a New York Times story on Saturday September 9 falsely attributed a petition of 200,000 urging ABC to cancel the show to the Clinton Administration and Democratic party officials when in fact the petition was signed by people across the political spectrum. On Saturday, ABC claimed that criticisms were unfair because they were not yet done editing. You’ve got to wonder then, why they sent out review copies to conservative media organizations and conservative bloggers. Editor and Publisher’s Greg Mitchell said it “raises eyebrows” that review copies were not sent to liberal bloggers and liberal media outlets.

The Washington Post describes one of the most outrageous scenes of the film:

“Clinton himself is libeled through abusive editing. A first-class U.S. operative played by Donnie Wahlberg argues the case for getting bin Laden while the al-Qaeda leader is openly in view in some sort of compound in Afghanistan. CIA officials haggle over minor details, such as the budget for the operation. The film's director, David L. Cunningham, then cuts abruptly to a TV image of Clinton making his infamous "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" remark with regard to Monica Lewinsky. The impression given is that Clinton was spending time on his sex life while terrorists were gaining ground and planning a nightmare.”

Disney also planned to distribute the historically false “Path to 9/11” to tens of thousands of American classrooms, via lesson plans created by Scholastic – the world’s largest publisher of children’s books – with whom Disney enjoys content sharing deals. The study guide suggests that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had a role in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Scholastic cancelled distribution on Friday after thousands wrote the company to complain.

Blogger Deborah White called The Path to 9/11 “ classic” Disney:

“a live-action cartoon complete with heroic white men (in suits) and a token white heroine (in a skirted suit), brooding Middle Eastern men, very artful and pretty photography, and oodles of dramatic background music.”

Sometimes its difficult to pinpoint precisely how big media conglomerates inhibits democracy. But not last night. And not tonight. For more on who owns what media and to join the protest movement against media consolidation go to Stop Big Media.


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