Upon learning Friday from ThinkProgress that Rush Limbaugh was shilling for the ABC docudrama, “The Path to 9/11,” which will air on ABC on September 10th and 11th, I smelled something rotten emanating from the Mickey Mouse Network. Having worked at Variety years back, I got out the old Rolodex and started making calls and sending emails. By mid-morning yesterday, I’d gotten the name of the exec-in-charge, Steve McPherson, his direct phone line and I’d sent email requests to two ABC flaks and three PR company flaks listed on the movie’s online press release. Later that afternoon, I sent a follow-up note to all five of these folks, repeating my request for a preview copy of the mini-series.
Apparently, it was impossible for all five of these people to answer me during business hours on either the East or West Coast, in order to get me the requested advance copy.
So, let’s review. This very high-profile movie is airing next weekend, and all five of the listed contacts were out all day yesterday, making it impossible to get advance copies? This, after ABC made the mini-series available to a plethora of wing-nut bloggers and media personalities like Mr. Limbaugh? How very, very odd.
These are the exact words that ABC’s Alison Row (not sure that’s the correct spelling, but pronunciation rhymes with “cow”) left on my voicemail at 5:07 pm PT:
"We are certainly happy to send [a copy of "Path to 9/11"] to you. It’s a…there’s no, you know…we’re not sending it to only specific partisan groups, or…um…bloggers who lean a certain political way. We would love to get it to you as well. Unfortunately, everyone is gone today, but we can get it out to you Tuesday for Wednesday."
I’m sure advance copies are currently sitting with reviewers at major MSM outlets, and that they are timing their pieces to run and air closer to the air dates for “Path to 9/11. But with the early advance materials going exclusively to "friendly" right-wing partisan media, ABC was certain to get a first wave of favorable, sycophantic coverage from Limbaugh and the right-wing blogs, to perhaps—wink, wink—influence other reviewers.
ABC claims this is a non-partisan project, but according to Sheldon Rampton over at www.prwatch.org, the screenwriter is an avowed conservative and personal friend of Rush Limbaugh, and the project is fronted by only the Republican chair of the 9/11 Commission.
I ask you, ABC: Where are the Democratic contributors to this “non-partisan” project?
And whose idea was it to send preview copies to right-wing partisan bloggers, while excluding leftist partisans from viewing this “public service” project? Was it your network, or mPRm, the firm you hired to execute the outreach campaign? If it is indeed so non-partisan, why is the Democratic co-chair of the 9/11 Commission not out in front of this thing, giving it his official oky-doky?
And one more question: Is Kean a paid consultant? If so, how much is he now making by trading off his work as a former 9/11 Commission co-chair?
We’ll know more Tuesday, after ABC offers up Thomas Kean in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. I hope the reporters on that call have the guts to ask the tough questions about ABC’s docudrama