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Fact or Fiction?


Can someone explain to me how, exactly, ABC thinks that marketing a fictional docudrama about 9/11 through the scintillating stylings of Hugh Hewitt is going to get them over the ratings hump against Monday Night Football on ESPN?  As Sheldon said here yesterday:

If the goal were simply to inform the public, however, ABC would have produced an actual documentary rather than a docudrama, which gives the producers license to distort facts whenever and however they wish, while also pretending that their work is somehow a re-enactment of reality.

Sheldon documented a number of right-wing bloggers who had received copies of the film, and written reviews, and noted that left-wing bloggers were not included in the film’s publicity loop.  But why did only right-wing bloggers and pundits get their hands on the unedited preview copies? 

I don’t know about you guys, but it sounds to me like the people involved in making the film had an agenda — and it was not to do CYA and fact-checking on behalf of ABC.  (In fact, the right-wing bloggers are already setting things up so that any changes made in the interests of historical and factual accuracy get portrayed as caving to a left-wing agenda — because, you know, "reality has a well-known liberal bias.")  You tell me how and why right-wingers got their hot little hands on screeners prior to final edits being made….and I’ll tell you about setting up a backlash strategy beforehand in case you need one.  Why the folks involved in making the film thought they might be on shaky enough ground to need a ratfuck strategy against ABC as insurance…well, that’s another question altogether, isn’t it?

Were I, say, on the Disney Board of Directors (ABC’s parent company), I’d be asking plenty of questions due to my fiduciary obligations to my shareholders as to just how the list of pre-screening persons was determined, by whom, mailed by whom, and so on — and why they were needed in a film that was pre-hyped as being an historical drama.  Because it certainly seems to me that factual inaccuracies should be clearly labeled as "fiction" or corrected — because they ought not be allowed to claim any reationship to history if they aren’t going to portray it as accurately as possible.  (Including consulting with the principals involved.  See, e.g., Richard Clarke, who is ABC’s terrorism analyst for the news division and who, I am told, was not consulted regarding the film.  Classy.  And so much for every effort at accuracy.)

Crooks and Liars has posted a number of clips on straw man arguments made by the Bush Administration and their surrogates, but none is more painfully pathetic than the attempt to whitewash the Bush Administration’s knowledge of the threats posed by al qaeda that were known to the Bush Administration prior to 9/11 — this clip from Bob Kerrey is but one example of many from C&L.  (Transcript here.  And while you are at it, check out some of these documentaries from Frontline on some of these same issues, based on interviews with real people who were actually on the scene — and which come at the issues from multiple political vantage points.  Refreshing.)

9/11 happened on George Bush’s watch — and no amount of pointing fingers elsewhere changes that fact.  Period.

Digby posted a YouTube yesterday of Richard Ben-Vineste’s questioning of Condi Rice during the 9/11 Commission public hearings that is well worth another viewing.  Especially because the filmmakers claim the their ABC docudrama film is based, on some level, on the work of the 9/11 Commission. 

Gee, can’t wait to see if they’ve included the whole, unvarnished scoop on George Bush’s reaction after reading the "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." PDB while on vacation in Texas before the attacks on 9/11 ever occurred, and what actions he took after reading it (or not, as the case may be).

How about you guys?  Think that will be in the film?  In the interest of historical accuracy and all.

I mean, I like historical fiction, I just think it is more honest when it clearly comes with the "fiction" label.  Otherwise, I might be tempted to think of it as a fraudulent attempt at partisan hackery veiled in the thin veneer of Tom Kean’s tattered reputation, all tied up in a Rovian ratfuck bow.  But I wouldn’t want to be accused of politicizing 9/11 or anything, now would I?

PS — For readers who are parents of children in grades 9-12, are you aware that the Scholastic Corporation has put out a teaching guide for teachers in those grades based on this ABC mini-series?  You might want to discuss with your child’s social studies teacher your concerns about this mini-series, that you want your child to learn information that is factually and historically accurate, and whatever other concerns you may have about this.  You might also want to contact your child’s principal and/or your local school board with concerns.  As we get factual information on the movie, we’ll certainly link it up for you, but I wanted to give all of our parents a heads up that this was potentially out there for social studies classes, at least in grades 9-12.

(For more fun with Charles Schultz and the Peanuts gang, check out the Snoopy website.)

UPDATE:  Richard Clarke shares his thoughts on the docudrama’s inaccuracies at ThinkProgress.  And when I say "shares his thoughts," I mean tears them a new one for making crap up…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com