ABC Slams New Iraq Documentary, Ignores Own 9/11 Right-Wing Fantasy
With this weekend's upcoming mockumentary "The Path to 9/11," Disney and ABC are breaking dangerous new ground in the conservative propaganda war. Even as the ABC network follows in the footsteps of Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ in "mobilizing the base," ABC News on Sunday declared Robert Greenwald's new documentary "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers" a left-wing hatchet job "produced like a political campaign."
A pre-election salvo designed to pin the blame for the September 11 attacks on Bill Clinton and the Democrats, the "Path to 9/11" is right-wing revisionist history packaged as fact. Laughably billed as "based on the 9/11 Commission report", ABC's "Path" is the work of conservative activist Cyrus Nowrasteh. Nowrasteh, who Rush Limbaugh deemed "a friend of mine," was featured in a panel in 2005 titled "How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood's Next Paradigm Shift."
According to early reports, the distortions, smears and inventions in "The Path to 9/11" are legion. "The Path" features a CIA agent blaming the Washington Post for revealing that the U.S. was intercepting Bin Laden's calls, when the disclosure actually came from reliable conservative mouthpiece, the Washington Times. A critical scene showing Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger blocking a 1998 CIA assault on Osama Bin Laden is made up out of whole cloth. Berger labeled Nowrasteh's fiction "a total fabrication. It did not happen." He was seconded by Richard Clarke, former counterrorism chief for Presidents Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, confirmed this scene never happened and was completely made up. As ThinkProgress documents, the 9/11 Commission Report on page 199 sets the record straight, noting that CIA Director George Tenet had the green light from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden.
To promote its 9/11 fantasy just in time for the fifth anniversary of the attacks, ABC and the producers of the docudrama are taking a cue from Mel Gibson and the launch of Passion of the Christ. Just as with the Passion, the true-believer market is being seeded, while skeptics are being kept at bay. Conservative bloggers are receiving pre-release DVDs in advance of this weekend's screening on the mini-series, while progressive bloggers are banned from participating in conference calls regarding the film. (ABC briefly took down the film's blog, only to see it return after two days of withering criticism.) Copies of the film are being sent to 100,000 teachers nationwide as well as to schools in the UK and India, complete with cover letter from Republican 9/11 commission chairman Tom Keane. (Keane's son just happens to be running for Senate in New Jersey against Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez.) In comparison, Sinclair's 2004 election eve Swift Boat faux documentary smearing John Kerry seems like small potatoes.
While ABC is complicit in doing the bidding of the conservative propaganda machine, ABC News has maintained a seeming vow of silence. Instead, ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson focused its venom on the new "Iraq for Sale" documentary from "Outfoxed" producer Robert Greenwald. Without investigating the allegations of contractor fraud and profiteering detailed in the film, ABC's Dan Harris suggested Greenwald's documentary was purely partisan:
Critics of these kinds of documentaries remind viewers not to expect balance from left-leaning documentaries, such as Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and former Vice President Al Gore's global warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
"Finally, the left has figured out their answer to talk radio - and it's documentaries," said Prof. Richard Lichter of George Mason University.
"Iraq for Sale" was produced more like a political campaign than a traditional movie, largely funded by 3,000 small donations made on the Internet.
This weekend, all of America will be watching as ABC becomes a de facto appendage of the Republican Party. Everyone, that is, except ABC News.