On September 10 and 11, ABC-TV aired a docudrama, “The Path to 9/11.” Because word got out that the miniseries did not paint former President Bill Clinton in a particularly favorable way, a campaign to kill the program quickly got under way, the result of which was some last-minute editing by ABC. The reaction to the film was so extreme and dishonest that it occasioned the following news release on our part:
“When ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was in production, the Catholic League raised a red flag, the result of which was that we were denounced for criticizing a film before we had seen it. When we asked Ron Howard to put a disclaimer in the movie, we were condemned for disrespecting his artistic liberties. To top it off, we were told to lighten up—’it’s just a movie.’ But when everyone from Bill Clinton to the more than 100,000 protesters garnered by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) demand that ABC cancel ‘The Path to 9/11,’ no one denounces them for criticizing a movie they haven’t seen. Moreover, they suffer no condemnation for tampering with artistic liberties. And no one tells them to lighten up—the refrain, ‘it’s just a movie,’ is nowhere heard.
“The double standard is not the most upsetting aspect of this fiasco. Censorship is. Bill Clinton and the DNC’s troops have every right to complain, but sitting government officials are a different animal altogether. The letter sent to Robert Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, by the senate Democratic leadership shows contempt for the First Amendment: they are not registering a complaint—they are demanding that the film be cancelled.
“Senator Harry Reid, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Byron Dorgan should be censured from the senate floor for their attempt to censor ‘The Path to 9/11.’ In their letter of September 7, they literally invoke a federal law, the Communications Act of 1934, warning ABC that their ‘free broadcast license’ is predicated on acting responsibly. Are they the new tribunal? And in vintage McCarthyite fashion, they even go so far as to say that the film ‘raises serious questions about the motivations of its creators.’ Maybe a special prosecutor can be appointed to discover what they are.
“The failure on the part of media commentators to express outrage over this abuse of power is the real story behind ‘The Path to 9/11.'”
This is the kind of issue that should have galvanized people across political lines, but, alas, it did not. The country is so torn on so many different levels that to expect a principled response from either side is probably unrealistic. This doesn’t bode well for the future regardless of one’s politics.