Disney does 9/11: history as infotainment

by David Olson, MediaChannel

Get ready for the re-writing of history, folks. For the 45% of you that think that 9/11 needs to be re-investigated, be at ease. And the 44% of all Americans who cynically believe that President Bush has shamelessly exploited the attacks can all relax. The official scribe of our age, television, is ready to put your worried minds to rest.

On September 10th and 11th, ABC (owned by The Walt Disney Company) plans to air a four-hour, two-part ‘docudrama’ called ‘Path to 9/11.’ According to many who have seen the film and the few clips already available, it places heavy blame on the Clinton administration and downplays and even praises the Bush administration for its handling of the terrorist threat.

A website has already appeared and does an outstanding job of cataloguing the controversy surrounding ‘Path to 9/11,’ including statements from Richard Clarke, Madeleine Albright, and The Families of 9/11 survivor/activist group. It also has numerous stories from blogs, and is being regularly updated.

One scene, which can be seen in this clip from the ‘Countdown’ show with Keith Olbermann, has Clinton and Co. declining to literally pull the trigger when bin Laden is located and targeted by CIA agents in Afghanistan during Clinton’s second term.

‘Do they want to get bin Laden, or not?’ and exasperated FBI agent asks Richard Clarke in one pivotal scene where three stone-faced intel-types are stunned to learn that President Clinton simply doesn’t care about stopping terrorism.

‘We’re all in danger,’ Harvey Keitel says in hushed, conspiratorial tones. ‘The fact is, terrorism is perceived by this administration as being a law and order problem. Period.’

A chilling re-enactment of a shameful moment in Clinton’s presidency which sheds much needed light on how terrorism arrived at our shores. We should all be aghast at such enormous ineptitude.

Except that it never happened. Richard Clarke, portrayed by Steven Root in the film, says the conversation simply never took place. And 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste, says the Commission’s official report found that Clinton had personally authorized the CIA and US military to ‘attack and kill’ bin Laden.

Clinton, in fact, was the only president to attack al Queda prior to 9/11, and took heat for launching missile strikes against bin Laden in Afghanistan—with critics crying that he was attempting to ‘wag the dog’ and draw attention away from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Apparently ABC left those facts out of the final cut.

Will the ABC/Disney version of events show counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke begging then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to convene a National Security Council meeting to deal with al Queda? Or investigate her reasons for repeatedly refusing to do so?

I wonder if they will portray this historically important encounter: On August 6, 2001, a CIA briefer handed the President the now infamous memo that included the startling information that al Queda cells were being observed engaged in ‘suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.’ Astounding.

The President was not only told ‘bin Laden determined to attack inside the US,' he was told that terrorists were preparing for hijackings and scouting buildings in New York City.

According to Wall Street Journal national affairs reporter, Ron Suskind, Bush then told the CIA briefer, ‘Okay, you’ve covered your ass,’ and then promptly went fishing—and stayed on vacation on his Texas ranch for another couple weeks. And this is guy being portrayed as being tough on terrorism? I hope he caught a fish.

Don’t expect these or other crucial questions to be touched upon in ABC’s ‘Path to 9/11.’ The network is presenting the official version of events—which is to say, infotainment.

During the Viet Nam war television was still somewhat outside of the establishment, and even slightly iconoclastic. TV and its newscaster/journalists could lay claim to be cracking the official story—think Walter Cronkite reporting on the Mai Lai massacre—live tv of US soldiers burning down villages, replete with peasants wailing loudly as they watch their lives go up in flames. This didn’t fit the official story that we were liberators, not invaders, and CBS knew it.

Today, television IS the official story. There is absolutely nothing iconoclastic or investigative about commercial TV —it is both the cheerleading section and the chronicler of popular history. And don’t forget, it has its corporate clients (advertisers) and government regulators to placate. So nothing to unsettle the great unwashed masses, please. We want them to stick around to watch the Dove ads.

Once upon a time, it was ABC’s prestigious ‘Close Up’ production team that handled documentaries. They were produced in the news division, and subject to news standards and practices. This time around, it’s the entertainment division that got the nod, and that is a sad commentary indeed.

We shouldn’t be surprised that television has decided to present the historic tragedy of 9/11 to the American public as cheap infotainment. For the last five years, with few exceptions, anchorpersons have been reading Whitehouse talking points and, with a straight face, calling it news.

In what might be the most vile stroke, ABC is sending letters to 100,000 highschool teachers, encouraging them to have thier students watch the TV special. Why bother with history books or informed debate when you can simply have the kids watch a fun TV show that dumbs it all down so that you don't have to think about it?

Luckily, there are alternatives to the official story as meticulously crafted by well- paid producers whose main interest is in selling more soap, cars and soft drinks—not in telling the truth. But these alternatives will not be found on television. They can be found, free of charge, on the internet.

[see source article below for links]

article originally published at http://www.mediachannel.org/DisneyDoes911.htm.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey