Tuesday's Arts section fronts L.A.-based reporter Edward Wyatt's "More Questions of Accuracy Raised About ABC Mini-Series on 9/11 Prelude."
From the start, Wyatt adopts the POV of the Clintonians that tried to stop ABC from airing the miniseries:
"The first half of ABC's dramatic mini-series 'The Path to 9/11,' which drew fierce advance partisan reaction last week over its portrayal of Clinton administration officials, drew an estimated 13 million viewers Sunday night, several million more than a rebroadcast of a CBS documentary about Sept. 11 but far fewer than NBC's opening-week National Football League game.
"In response to complaints from former members of the Clinton Administration and their supporters, ABC edited several scenes in the film that critics said suggested Clinton officials had been negligent in their efforts to stop Osama bin Laden in the years leading up to the attacks, including historically inaccurate scenes that they said had been simply made up.
"But other disputed scenes remained, and several notable mistakes or inventions remained. Among them was the film's opening scene, which showed Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the terrorists who hijacked four airplanes on Sept. 11, buying a ticket to board an American Airlines flight in Boston on that morning. In fact Mr. Atta boarded a USAirways flight in Portland, Me., which connected in Boston to an American Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles."
"ABC repeatedly stated that its intention was to produce a drama that did not cast blame and that was objective in its telling of the events leading up to the attacks. But two retired F.B.I. agents said on Friday that they had declined or resigned from advisory roles on the miniseries because of concerns about the program's accuracy."
The Times allow unnamed and unlabeled leftwingers to accuse the scriptwriter and director of being, gasp, conservative:
"But critics of the film have focused on political statements by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who wrote the script, and some affiliations of the director, David L. Cunningham, to claim that the film's makers were biased against the Clinton administration.
"The project would appear to have more benign roots however. Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC Entertainment, and Quinn Taylor, the senior vice president for motion pictures for television and miniseries at ABC, first conceived the idea of a mini-series based on the independent Sept. 11 commission's best-selling report in 2004."
"Mr. Nowrasteh drew subsequent attention for his political remarks about the 9/11 film however. He told the conservative Internet site Front Page Magazine that the mini-series shows how the Clinton administration lacked the will to stop Mr. bin Laden. The mini-series 'dramatizes the frequent opportunities the administration had in the 90's to stop bin Laden in his tracks but lacked the will to do so,' he said, according to an interview posted Aug. 16 at frontpagemag.com.
"Mr. Cunningham too has drawn attention for his links to a nondenominational Christian group based in Hawaii called Youth With a Mission, which was founded by his father, Loren Cunningham, and which promotes youth involvement in religious outreach around the world.
"But Mr. Platt and Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for ABC, said the political and religious affiliations of the two men had nothing to do with and did not influence the mini-series in any way.
One eagerly awaits the Times' expose of liberal influence in Hollywood, which is probably just slightly more widespread. As Mickey Kaus writes on Slate: "If you put Hollywoods's entire network of right wing people in David Horowitz's living room, you wouldn't have much trouble getting to the hors d'oeuvre tray. If you tried to put Hollywood's network of left wing people in the Los Angeles Convention Center, the fire marshal would close it down."
Tim Graham at Newsbusters catches the Times in hypocrisy. "In 2003, the New York Times editorialized against the CBS decision to yank its personal-attack film 'The Reagans' and said conservatives 'helped create the Soviet-style chill embedded in the idea that we, as a nation, will not allow critical portrayals of one of our own recent leaders.'
"But Tuesday's Times carries an editorial that never mentioned a 'Soviet-style chill' in the attempts of Clinton and his staffers to kill ABC's 'The Path to 9/11.' Instead of decrying 'fierce' ideological assault on the media,the Times again finds its villains on the right, attacking Rush Limbaugh and moderateRepublican Thomas Kean....The editorial's title attempts to dismiss the entire ABC film as a fiction: 'The Fictional Path to 9/11.'"
Strange for the Times to be critical of ABC for not bowing to political pressure. It makes quite a change from the tone of its May6, 2004 editorial, "Disney's Craven Behavior,"on another movie, "Fahrenheit 9-11," a piece of left-wing propaganda that was clearly false incountless respects. (Coincidentally, Disney owns ABC, the network which showed "The Path to 9-11.")
Back then, the Times bravely stood for free speech against corporate cowardice: "Give the Walt Disney Company a gold medal for cowardice for blocking its Miramax division from distributing a film that criticizes President Bush and his family. A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary. The documentary was prepared by Michael Moore , a controversial filmmaker who likes to skewer the rich and powerful. As described by Jim Rutenberg yesterday in The Times, the film, 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' links the Bush family with prominent Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden. It describes financial ties that go back three decades and explores the role of the government in evacuating relatives of Mr. bin Laden from the United States shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks....But it is clear that Disney loves its bottom line more than the freedom of political discourse."
The paper's love of the "freedom of political discourse" seems to have done a political disappearing act in the intervening two years, given that it has yet to criticize or even mention in its news pages several veiled threats against ABC's broadcast license made in a letter from the Senate Democratic leadership.