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If Only I Had An ABC-Approved Press Pass


(Don’t forget — you can spread the word to journalists about this using the Spotlight function, located at the bottom of every post or here — JH)

ABC is clearly feeling some heat over their fictionalized drama, “The Path to 9/11,” set to air on September 10th and 11th. After pulling the public blog from the movie’s web site and stonewalling progressive and liberal bloggers late last week and through the holiday weekend about requests to preview the movie—for which Rush Limbaugh’s been breathlessly cheerleading—ABC flaks seem to be unwilling to allow bloggers onto a conference call scheduled today with Thomas Kean.

Along with Limbaugh, Kean, who is the Republican co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, has been publicly shilling for this movie. Conspicuously absent from this project is the Democratic co-chair of the Commission, Lee Hamilton. Also conspicuously absent? A truthful representation of 9/11 Commission report, as Sheldon Rampton documented here yesterday. And today we learn from ThinkProgress that Richard Clarke is refuting a key scene in the movie.

One might wonder on what sources screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh has based his movie, if not the actual 9/11 Report, or on interviews with those who were actually, um, there. From the sounds of joy emanating from the right-wing blogosphere over this movie, one might possibly conclude the docudrama is ripped straight from the pages of the Weekly Standard. (h/t Dave Meyer)

ABC entertainment prexy Steve McPherson told Variety, "Some things you do for commerce and some things because they are the right thing to do.” McPherson and others have been cloaking this docudrama wolf in non-partisan sheep’s clothing, despite having no Democrats prominently involved with the project, and allowing only right-wing partisan blogs and mainstream media outlets to preview the film—no left-wing or progressive blogs.

They’ve also plastered images of the 9/11 Commission Report itself all over the promotional materials, despite offering up a movie that directly contradicts the report. With avowed conservatives like Cyrus Nowrasteh and David Cunningham at the helm of this thing, it begs the question of what kind of political motivations lie at the heart of this project. Cuz they sure ain’t blowing truly non-partisan smoke in the public’s face with this so-called public service.

McPherson has said this project was conceived two years ago, and the network has certainly thought a lot about outreach for this Republican airbrushing of 9/11. They’ve even created lesson plans with the help of Scholastic, to pump America’s children full of Nowrasteh’s take on this American tragedy.

There are a few questions I’d like to ask Thomas Kean on that media conference call today, but ABC seems unwilling, as I write this post, to comply with my request to be on the call. So, I guess I’ll ask them here and ask for your help in circulating these and your own questions for ABC and Kean to members of the anointed media.

Questions for ABC:

— Why, if this is a non-partisan project, is only the Republican co-chair of the 9/11 Commission being asked to front this project?

— Why were many of the principals of this film, like Richard Clarke, not shown relevant scenes from the movie early on, so that research and scenes could be vetted—and corrected, if misrepresented?

— Why did you provide the movie to only right-wing bloggers and mainstream media in your advance outreach for this project, and not to left-wing bloggers and media?

— Was it the network’s or the PR firm’s idea to reach out in advance only to right-wing blogs, and to exclude left-wing blogs?

— If you were truly intending to provide a non-partisan public service to the American public, why not produce and air a true documentary actually based on the 9/11 Commission Report and vetted by both Democrats and Republicans?

— Did you know about Cyrus Nowrasteh’s and David Cunningham’s extreme conservative views?

— Will you consider pulling scenes proven to be false?

— Will you consider removing the “based on the 9/11 Commission Report” imprimatur from promotional materials, and from the miniseries itself on the air dates?

— Will you consider giving Richard Clarke and/or prominent Democrats, who disagree with this airbrushing of the 9/11 story, the opportunity to point out the movies flaws on network time?

— Will ABC News report on the controversy over this project in the one-hour news special scheduled to air on September 11, following the movie?

Questions for Thomas Kean:

— Did you have any reservations about promoting this movie without the Democratic co-chair of your Commission?

— Were you a paid consultant on this project, and if you were, do you have any misgivings at this point about trading in on your Commission role?

— Do you think it’s in the best interest of this nation to offer up this docudrama, which directly contradicts your own report in several instances, as being “based on the 9/11 Commission Report?

— Did you recommend to the screenwriter, director and producers that there should be Democratic vetting of this project as well?

— Do you believe that American children should be treated to well-documented and balanced accounts about 9/11, or do you give your blessing to students being served up lesson plans based on this movie, which has been proven to directly contradict your own Commission’s findings?

At this point, I have no way of knowing who will be on the call with Kean today. I’ve sent several requests to ABC, for a review copy of the movie and to be on the call. I’m told they are sending the review copy, but I’ve received no answer about today’s call. Perhaps ABC still doesn’t understand that blogs represent engaged citizens who care about this nation, and who have the right to speak up when something that smells a lot like propaganda is being served up as the truth.

If they’ve got nothing to hide, they should honor serious requests for interviews from reporters representing any outlet with an audience.

Those are OUR airwaves, after all.

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