Friday, September 08, 2006
Dem's Disgrace on 9/11 Miniseries
Posted by: Michael Medved at 9:22 PM
As of this posting (Friday afternoon, 6.30 Pacific Time) the liberal campaign to censor the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" has reached new heights of demagogic hysteria. Tom McMahon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee sent out an e-mail to supporters that began: "This is it: crunch time for getting the slanderous ABC television docudrama 'The Path to 9/11' yanked off the air. The network schedule has this slanderous attack on Democrats slated to start on Sunday night, September 10, at 8 o'colck -- and as long as it stays ont he schedule, we have work to do. Take a minute right now and tell Disney president Robert Iger to keep this right wing propaganda off the airwaves."
Unlike Mr. McMahon and his hyperventilating Democratic colleagues, I've actually watched the miniseries in question-- in its entirety -- and there is no chance that any sane observer who bothers to sit through all five hours of this riveting presentation could ever describe it as "right wing propaganda." As a matter of fact, the miniseries is particularly hard on the Bush administration and Condaleezza Rice, as well as highlighting the way that Clinton and his aides fell short in their dealing with the terrorist threat. In terms of running time of the presentation, at least ninety minutes of the mini series focuses on events during the Bush presidency-- representing at least 30% of the total program. Meanwhile, Bush was president during the period covered by the miniseries (February, 1993, through September 11, 2001) for only eight months; Clinton was president for eight years (less a single month). In other words, Clinton occupied the White House for 93% of the actual historical period under consideration, but his shortcomings occupy less than 70% of the miniseries running time.
In other words, by one easily quantifiable measure, "The Path to 9/11" doesn't inapporpirately focus on Clinton and his failures; if anything, it concentrates disproportionately on the disappointing performance of President Bush at the very beginning of his term.
The most depressing aspect of the concentrated Democratic campaign to "yank" (their word) this 40 million dollar production from the ABC schedule would be the message such censorship would send to other networks and producers. If ABC does (God forbid) decide to cancel the much-hyped showing of the miniseries because of liberal pressure, then everyone in Hollywood would learn the lesson that you must avoid serious projects, at all costs; you can easily get away with "Wife Swap" or "Temptation Island" or "Fear Factor," but if you attempt to broadcast a chilling, carefully crafted, deeply moving investigation of our national, bi-partisan failures in responding to terrorism, then some yahoo will squal and protest and attempt to shut you down. This is the text-book definition of censorship: prior restraint. That means cutting off speech before it even occurs, rather than protesting - or correcting the record- after you've actually heard what the other guy has to say.
Nor is the current Democratic effort to censor ABC in any substantive sense comparable to the conservative protests against the CBS miniseries about "The Reagans." The objection to that show was that President Reagan, stricken with Alzheimer's disease, had no possibility of responding to the sleazy, intimately personal attack on his reputation. By contrast, Bill Clinton can easily respond to any perceived cheap shot in the "The Path to 9/11" --- in fact he already has responded, while admitting he hasn't even seen the thing. The network is already making adjustments to the final edit to register some of President Clinton's objections. One can only hope that they stop there, rather than surrendering to the mob mentality, complete with pitchforks and torches, mobilized by Democratic Party demagogues who demand the cancellation of the miniseries.
That cancellation would represent a tragedy for the producers --who've already experienced the most vitriolic personal attacks, complete with publication of their home addresses, accompanied by death threats (one of them pronounced on my radio show, earlier today, by a troglodyte caller who talle writer-producer Cyrus Nowasteh "I hope you die") and warnings that "the gloves are off."
Please, put the gloves back on. Recognize that weeks ago ABC scheduled a one hour panel discussion after airing the miniseries so that people who objected to it in any way could make their opinions heard. As Justice Brandeis famously observed, the best remedy for bad ideas is good ones; the best response to bad speech is good speech. Free discourse -- and the whole medium of television -- will suffer if ABC buckles to pressure to stifle one of the most significant and substantive productions in TV history.