ABC’s ‘Path to 9/11’ Stirs Criticism

Sep 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC’s “The Path to 9/11” miniseries, set to air Sunday and Monday, is drawing the ire of Democrats and liberal bloggers, who call it a biased account being promoted to schoolkids as history and question writer/producer Cyrus Nowrastean’s impartiality.

The controversy is also drawing congressional attention. Today U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, R-N.Y., called on ABC to repeatedly make clear the film isn’t history.

“ABC has a responsibility to make clear that this film is not a documentary and does not represent an official account of the facts surrounding the Sept. 11th attacks,” Rep. Slaughter said. “We have yet to establish the impartiality and accuracy of the people behind this film and the claims it advances, and the American people need to know that.”

“The whole thing was written with an agenda,” said Judd Legum, research director of the liberal Center for American Progress. “It’s too important to skew it that way.”

Citing critiques by former National Secuirty Counter Terrorism Advisor Richard Clarke and 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste, the film’s critics say one scene dramatically portrays Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger as refusing to order the death of a surrounded Osama bin Laden when that event never happened. The documentary also suggests a newspaper report about the government tracking cellphone use by terrorists prompted bin Laden to quit using his cellphone, making his capture more difficult, though the 9/11 Commission report said that never happened.

The Center for American Progress, on its “Think Progress” Web site, today launched a petition drive at http://thinkprogress.org/tellabc, and the petition is also being promoted by other liberal bloggers including www.dailykos.com and www.americablog.blogspot.com.

An ABC spokesperson in a statement said the program, “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.

“The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate, so it’s not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate. The attacks were a pivotal moment in our history that should never be forgotten and it’s fitting that the discussion continues.”

ABC said a disclaimer will air throughout the movie saying, “The following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.”