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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

ABC's Bullshit Smear Campaign

ABC's new 'docudrama', The Path to 9/11, is looking more and more like an election year smear campaign. By painting Bill Clinton as being weak on terrorism, it clearly hopes that implication will rub off on all democrats.

The lefty blogs are making a good case for this -- while ABC is making a pretty lousy case against it. According to the show's breathless web site:

The 9/11 Commission Report instantly became a national bestseller when it was published in July 2004. Writer Cyrus Nowrasteh ("The Day Reagan Was Shot") uses this historic document as the basis for a powerful story with action as gripping and far reaching as the source material itself. Shot in Toronto, Morocco, New York and Washington, DC, actors portray the famous and infamous, along with the formerly anonymous and often heroic people thrust onto history's stage.

The problem is, it's not based on the 9/11 Commission Report so much as a bunch of fantasies rightwinger have about what they wish had happened. ABC say admits it's "a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources." But looking at the info that's out there about it, it's mostly from those 'other sources'.

Think Progress tells us that Rush Limbaugh was a fan before he even saw it:

A friend of mine [Cyrus Nowrasteh] out in California has produced and filmed — I think it’s a two-part mini-series on 9/11 that ABC is going to run in prime-time over two nights, close to or on 9/11. It’s sort of surprising that ABC’s picked it up, to me. I’ve had a lot of people tell me about it, my friends told me about it…And from what I have been told, the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration in doing anything about militant Islamofascism or terrorism during its administration. It cites failures of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Sandy Burglar.

Bush, however, get's a pass, as a Salon review shows:

Condoleezza Rice gets that fated memo about planes flying into buildings, and makes it very clear to anyone who’ll listen just how concerned President Bush is about these terrorist threats — despite the fact that we’re given little concrete evidence of the president’s concern or interest in taking action. Maybe my memory fails me, but the only person I remember talking about Osama bin Laden back in 1998 was President Clinton, while the current anti-terrorist stalwarts worked the country into a frenzy over what? Blow jobs. In the end, “The Path to 9/11″ feels like an excruciatingly long, winding and deceptive path, indeed.

I'm not sure what 'fated memo' we're supposed to be talking about here and it's damned clear that this doesn't come from the 9/11 Commission Report. In fact, in testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Rice said:

The briefing item reviewed past intelligence reporting, mostly dating from the 1990s, regarding possible al Qaeda plans to attack inside the United States. It referred to uncorroborated reporting that from 1998 that terrorists might attempt to hijack a U.S. aircraft in an attempt to blackmail the government into releasing U.S.-held terrorists who had participated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This briefing item was not prompted by any specific threat information. And it did not raise the possibility that terrorists might use airplanes as missiles.

Further, Rice denied that the briefing said anything about any attack on the US, despite being titled, Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States:

[COMMISSION MEMBER RICHARD] BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Now, the...

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...

BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...

RICE: I would like to finish my point here.

BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.

RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.

BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.

RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

So much for any similarity to the 9/11 Commission Report.

ABC's also been getting rightwing blogs to push the show. Jennifer Nix at Firedoglake tells us:

ABC is clearly feeling some heat over their fictionalized drama, “The Path to 9/11,” set to air on September 10th and 11th. After pulling the public blog from the movie’s web site and stonewalling progressive and liberal bloggers late last week and through the holiday weekend about requests to preview the movie—for which Rush Limbaugh’s been breathlessly cheerleading—ABC flaks seem to be unwilling to allow bloggers onto a conference call scheduled today with Thomas Kean.


ABC entertainment prexy Steve McPherson told Variety, "Some things you do for commerce and some things because they are the right thing to do.” McPherson and others have been cloaking this docudrama wolf in non-partisan sheep’s clothing, despite having no Democrats prominently involved with the project, and allowing only right-wing partisan blogs and mainstream media outlets to preview the film—no left-wing or progressive blogs.

Sheldon Rampton reports, "The show's political slant is evident from the fact that Rush Limbaugh is talking up the movie, noting that its screenwriter, Cyrus Nowrasteh, is a personal friend. Several weeks prior to the broadcast, publicists sent out advance DVDs of the film to conservative bloggers, and screenings have been held for conservative pundits like U.S. News & World Report writer Michael Barone. Even relatively obscure right-wing blogs such as Patterico's Pontifications, written by Los Angeles County attorney Justin Levine, have been favored with advance screenings. Levine reciprocated by declaring that the film is 'free of political spin, politically correct whitewashing and partisan wrangling' and 'one of the best made-for-televison movies seen in decades... The Clinton administration will likely go ballistic over this film.' In its politically-spin-free way, Patterico pontificates, the film also 'lays out viscerally powerful arguments in favor of the Patriot Act and airport profiling.'"

Big surprise.

This is a shameless and cynical attempt to use propaganda and outright lies to rewrite history -- in other words, it's completely typical of modern conservatism. This is the swiftboating of Bill Clinton to make George W. Bush look competent.


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