Disney Challenged on DVD Sales For 'Path to 9/11'

March 11th, 2008 8:54 AM
A critically acclaimed, widely viewed docudrama that ties in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing with the 9/11 attacks has not been released on DVD because the Walt Disney Company’s chief executive officer is protecting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and her husband’s legacy, a mutual fund manger argued at the company’s annual shareholder meeting last week.

Disney’s unwillingness to make the film available on DVD suggests Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is working to advance his own political interests at the expense of shareholders, Tom Borelli, a portfolio manager with the Free Enterprise Action Fund contends. Iger has been a consistent and steady contributor to Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.), Borelli pointed out. He also asked Disney officials to explain why they have thus refused to sell the film rights to Lionsgate.

The exchange between Borelli and Iger is available here.

“The Path to 9/11” is a two part ABC television miniseries that aired on Sept. 10 and 11 in 2006. It is based in part on the 9/11 commission report and presents viewers with a dramatization of the events that lead up to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. in 2001. The film highlights the U.S. government’s ineffective response to terrorism in the 1990s and in the first few months of the Bush administration.

The film was “extremely well received” when it was aired, receiving almost 28 million viewers and earning seven Emmy nominations, Borelli wrote in a letter addressed to Iger this past January. Nevertheless, shareholders stand to lose $40 million on what could be a profitable enterprise because the film was shown without commercial sponsorship and because Disney will not release a DVD version, Borelli explained in his letter.

Top Democratic Party officials, including former members of the Clinton administration, claim the film is laced with inaccuracies. Madeline Albright, the secretary of state under President Clinton, Sandy Berger, the former national security advisor and Bruce Lindsey, a Clinton attorney all expressed strong reservations about the film to Disney in written correspondence. Lindsey called on Disney to cancel the film in one of his letters. (http://www.newsbusters.org/node/7509)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other leading Democrats, also demanded Disney officials withdraw the film in a letter dated Sept. 7, 2006.

“That Disney would seek to broadcast an admittedly and proven false recounting of the events of 9/11 raise serious questions about the motivations of its creators and those who approved the deeply flawed program,” the letter states.

The film has come under criticism not because Democratic officials are suddenly concerned about objective facts but because they are concerned about safeguarding President Clinton’s legacy particularly as it pertains to the ineffective counter-terrorism practices in the 1990s that are exposed in the film, Borelli contends.

In his letter Borelli suggested that Disney officials had succumbed to political intimidation orchestrated by the Clintons and their defenders. However, at the shareholder meeting, Borelli indicated that Disney officials may be complicit in silencing freedom of speech.

For his part, Iger denied this was the case and said the decision to refrain from selling the DVD was made purely for business reasons. He also said many of the points Borelli raised simply were not accurate. Iger also characterized “The Path to 9/11” as being “highly controversial.”

Borelli responded by saying Iger’s answers were “confusing” because Disney helped finance Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, which was also controversial.

Meanwhile John Ziegler, a former Los Angles radio host, is currently at work on his own film project that will explore the controversy surrounding the “The Path to 9/11.” He feels a strong need to “correct the historical record” with his own documentary because in his estimation the original film was, if anything, an understatement on President Clinton’s dereliction during the 1990s.

“This film was easy on the Clinton administration,” he said in an interview. “The reality is that there were far more liberals involved who were integral in the making of this film [The Path to 9/11] than there were conservatives.” Clinton defenders are antagonized because unlike the 9/11 commission the film reaches back to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ziegler surmises.

“When people see my movie they will find out what the real story is and they will see we were sold a bill of goods by the media and the Clinton apologists during this controversy,” he said. “There was an enormous amount of disinformation treated as facts by the media. This is one of those colossal examples of media malpractice and suppression of free speech.”

Ziegler also said his documentary will more fully un-package the connection between the initial attack on the WTC under Clinton’s watch and the 9/11 attacks. The upcoming film also delves into the connections between the 1993 WTC bombing and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. These connections are quite strong and “go beyond coincidence,” Zielger added.

However, the overriding point the filmmaker hopes most to drive home most in this new documentary – tentatively entitled “Blocking the Path” – is how constrained Clinton became in fighting back against terrorism in the midst of impeachment.

“Clinton was relying on his approval ratings to remain in office,” Ziegler said. “So he couldn’t go after Bin Laden and risk disaster and risk losing American operatives”

This “historical fact” was expunged from the “Path to 9/11” film, Ziegler pointed out. But this connection between the Clinton impeachment and ineffective counter-terrorism will assume a prominent position in his documentary, he promises.

“Blocking the Path” is set for release this coming summer.