Under Pressure from Left, ABC Alters 9/11 Miniseries

September 8th, 2006 2:17 AM

9/7 14:08. Just heard a quick news report make that claim on WABC radio out of NYC while in the car. No statement or confirmation from Disney at this time. The report claimed at least one scene drawing criticism from Dems may be altered.

If so, this is outrageous.

Update 14:51. ABC has altered the series under pressure from Democrats:

The network has in recent days made changes to the film, set to air Sunday and Monday, after leading political figures, many of them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies. Meanwhile, a left-wing organization has launched a letter-writing campaign urging the network to "correct" or dump the miniseries, while conservative blogs have launched a vigorous defense.

After much discussion, ABC executives and the producers toned down, but did not eliminate entirely, a scene that involved Clinton's national security advisor, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, declining to give the order to kill Bin Laden, according to a person involved with the film who declined to be identified because of the sensitivities involved.

"That sequence has been the focus of attention," the source said, adding: "These are very slight alterations."

In addition, the network decided that the credits would say the film is based "in part" on the 9/11 commission report, rather than simply "based on" the bestselling report, as the producers originally intended.

ABC, meanwhile, is tip-toeing away from the film's version of events. In a statement, the network said the miniseries "is a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews."

Update by Matthew Sheffield. ABC caved, despite the fact that the CIA's former head of operations against Osama bin Laden said that Clinton administration official Richard Clarke opposed an operation to capture or kill the terrorist.

Ace has much more on the story.

Update by Matthew Sheffield. Jason Smith has more info on how Democrats' claims against the show are not entirely factual.

Update by Matthew Sheffield. Behind the change: House Democrats sent ABC a letter protesting the series, Senate Democrats went a step further and outright threatened to revoke the network's FCC license. Ex-president Bill Clinton got into the act, demanding that ABC cancel the series or remove material critical of him. Meanwhile, grassroots liberals have contributed their part, threatening to Google bomb ABC with spin.

NB's Noel Sheppard adds an important free speech note: "If [...] ABC really has caved into political pressure from Democrats – in particular, former President Clinton – to edit the miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” such rights have changed forever. At the very least, this would demonstrate that these rights – which Jefferson said were inalienable, by the way! – apply differently to Democrats and Republicans."

How does this situation compare with complaints about the canned CBS series "The Reagans?" Ed Morrissey found this at the DNC's archives:

"No, there are no First Amendment violations here. The RNC protested the content of a program, which is its right, and CBS voluntarily pulled that program off the air, which is its right.

"But the decision makes it very easy to imagine a future where representatives for the Bush administration have the power to disapprove of any content that touches politics, policy, or history — including news programs."

Allahpundit, who's doing a roundup of his own, adds this:

I remember Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee saying a while back how disappointed he was in the Democrats over something, and I told him there’s an easy fix for that: expect nothing from them, like I do, and you’ll never be disappointed. Turns out I was wrong, though, because even with zero expectations, I can’t quite believe they’d stoop to this. As naked an example of intimidation as you’ll see this side of British Muslims playing good cop/bad cop with Tony Blair. If the GOP pulled this crap, it’d be top of the f’ng fold tomorrow in the Times. As it should be.

Mary Katherine Ham's roundup is also worth a click.

Update by Matthew Sheffield. Rush Limbaugh compares Clinton's reaction to "Path," with President Bush's reaction to "Fahrenheit 9/11:"

This illustrates just how flimsy the surface on which the Clinton legacy is built. This illustrates the desire that they have to get this whole thing not shown. You know, I've always told you, when somebody says something about you, and you scream the loudest, that's the indication, "man, they must have hit gold, must have hit the bull's eye with the criticism." The Clinton administration and all of its members have tried for years now to build a legacy where one does not exist. We had a president in the nineties who did not tackle big issues, preferring, instead, to score phenomenally high approval ratings, creating the image that we had a happy-go-lucky carefree decade of rampant economic expansion, no threats anywhere, while Americans are being bombed and killed all over the world and not a single act of retaliation that had any substance was taken to avenge any of it. [...]

I'll tell you, the thing that is stunning to me, when you compare Bill Clinton the man, and other presidents, George Bush the man, how many times did George Bush or any in the Republican administration demand that Fahrenheit 9/11, that stupid, lying, so-called documentary by Michael Moore not be shown in theaters? Republicans were even going to the premieres of those things. Republicans appeared in it, even though they may have been sandbagged by Moore, they were in it. But the president nor his administration said a word about it. I'll tell you something else. Sandy Burglar is all upset about the way he's portrayed in this movie. Sandy Burglar gets a major break. This movie does not portray Sandy Burglar stealing documents in his pants and his socks from the National Archives. [...]

Contrast these two administrations and contrast these two men. Does Bush whine and moan about what's in the media about him, ever? No. You know why? Because Bush is not depending on the media to write his legacy and his history. Clinton has to because there was nothing of any real substance in his administration, other than welfare reform, which was a product of the Republican Congress, that he can point back to. "We were safe, Limbaugh, we didn't have--" No, Mr. President, we were not. Do we have to go through this? You want me to go through it? World Trade Center attacks '93, we cut-and-run in Mogadishu. An ABC reporter gets an interview with bin Laden. Mogadishu showed him we didn't have the guts, we can't take casualties. Happened on your watch, sir. You guys are the ones that pulled out of there in the middle of a victory just because some bad pictures on television involving Army Rangers being dragged through the streets.

Update by Matthew Sheffield. John at Power Line further demolishes the argument that the Clinton admin was particularly vigilant about terrorism with a must-read timeline of terrorist events that took place. "However Path to 9/11 portrays the Clinton administration, it can be no worse than the reality," he says.