Taking its cue from left-wing bloggers (as noted by NB's Noel Sheppard), California-based New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley files a respectful story today on left-wing complaints about the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11," "9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized As Inaccurate And Biased." "Criticized" by left-wingers and former Clintonites, though the Times tries its best to hide that fact.
"Days before its scheduled debut, the first major television miniseries about the Sept. 11 attacks was being criticized on Tuesday as biased and inaccurate by bloggers, terrorism experts and a member of the Sept. 11 commission, whose report makes up much of the film’s source material.
"The six-hour miniseries, 'The Path to 9/11,' is to be shown on ABC on Sunday and Monday. The network has been advertising the program as a 'historic broadcast' that uses the commission’s report on the 2001 attacks as its 'primary foundation.'
"On Tuesday, several liberal blogs were questioning whether ABC’s version was overly critical of the Clinton administration while letting the Bush administration off easy."
McKinley fails to identify Clarke as a former Clinton administration official and Bush critic: "In particular, some critics -- including Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar -- questioned a scene that depicts several American military officers on the ground in Afghanistan. In it, the officers, working with leaders of the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel group, move in to capture Osama bin Laden, only to allow him to escape after the mission is canceled by Clinton officials in Washington.
"In a posting on ThinkProgress.org, and in a phone interview, Mr. Clarke said no military personnel or C.I.A. agents were ever in position to capture Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan, nor did the leader of the Northern Alliance get that near to his camp.
"'It didn’t happen,' Mr. Clarke said. 'There were no troops in Afghanistan about to snatch bin Laden. There were no C.I.A. personnel about to snatch bin Laden. It's utterly invented.'
"Mr. Clarke, an on-air consultant to ABC News, said he was particularly shocked by a scene in which it seemed Clinton officials simply hung up the phone on an agent awaiting orders in the field. 'It’s 180 degrees from what happened' he said. 'So, yeah, I think you would have to describe that as deeply flawed.'"
ThinkProgress.org, not incidentally, is affiliated with the Center for American Progress, run by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.
McKinley does run a defense of the program by the chairman of the Sept. 11 commission former New Jersey Republican Gov. Thomas Kean (also unlabeled by McKinley)in which Kean is said to think "the disputed scene was an honest representation of a number of failed efforts to capture Mr. bin Laden."
Here's some labeling disparity:
"Online commentators seized on remarks made last week by Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host, who said 'The Path to 9/11' had been written and produced by a 'friend of mine out in California' named Cyrus. 'From what I’ve been told,' Mr. Limbaugh said, according to a transcript on rushlimbaugh.com, 'the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration.'
"Reached Tuesday, Cyrus Nowrasteh, the film's screenwriter and one of its producers, said he had met Mr. Limbaugh on the set of “24,” the serialized thriller on Fox.
"'I met him briefly,' Mr. Nowrasteh said, declining to say if the two men were close. 'And that’s it.'
"As for criticism that his movie was soft on the Bush administration, Mr. Nowrasteh said, 'Let the movie speak for itself.'"
Notice how unlabeled liberal bloggers are pitted against "conservative radio host" Limbaugh.
"But Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said genre confusion would not be a problem for commission members, several of whom saw part of the miniseries last week.
"'As we were watching, we were trying to think how they could have misinterpreted the 9/11 commission's finding the way that they had,' Mr. Ben-Veniste said. 'They gave the impression that Clinton had not given the green light to an operation that had been cleared by the C.I.A. to kill bin Laden,' when, in fact, the Sept. 11 commission concluded that Mr. Clinton had."
As if Ben-Veniste was just some impartial committee member, not a hard-core Democratic and Clinton partisan who defended the former president as minority special counsel to the Senate Whitewater committee.
McKinley doesn't explore rumors that the Clintonistas are trying to get the script changed. (Imagine the howling from the Hollywood left if the Bush administration had tried that!)
That's a change in tone from the accusations of censorship and ignorance from various corners of the Times when conservatives protested CBS's grossly unfair portrayal of Ronald Reagan in its 2003 miniseries "The Reagans" (later moved to the cable network Showtime).
For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.