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Press for the Truth

It’s been a heck of a week. Consider that it was only last Friday that we learned ABC was planning to broadcast its fictional, yet "based on the 9/11 Commission Report" docudrama, because Rush Limbaugh and all of wing-nuttery were singing the praises of "The Path to 9/11." I wonder what horrific end ABC is planning for the flak who had the idea to send advance copies to Rush et. al. Or maybe, the avowed right-winger screenwriter, Cyrus Nowrasteh, and director, David Cunningham, were so jacked up about the fast one they were about to pull on the American people, they couldn’t stop themselves from getting a little foreplay before the screw.

And now, look. Medialand is rightfully all a-buzz with this controversy because of all the hard work being done. Even ABC News reported today that the network was under an "avalanche of criticism from Democrats." It’s a rare treat to see the left come together so quickly and effectively. But we had to fight for the truth. We did not have a choice. We had to take a stand against ABC’s efforts to airbrush history, and peddle a fraudulent pic with pivotal scenes that old Cyrus saw fit to let actors completely improvise. Believe me, I know there’s plenty of blame to go around regarding 9/11. But this movie goes so far as to use fantasy scenes to smear the Clinton administration, while leaving out many true-to-life scenes that would lay blame on the current administration. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate ourselves. We got the word out, people. And that’s no small feat. But we ain’t done yet. 

ABC’s statement today gives no sign that they will pull this mini-series, but they are supposedly making some final edits. Disney Board Chair George Mitchell is getting an earful in this 11th hour, but it remains to be seen how much power he’ll have.

This afternoon, Scholastic announced that they would be replacing the original "Path to 9/11" lesson plans with new ones that will focus on media literacy and critical thinking skills. That cannot be good for ABC. While it’s commendable that the folks at Scholastic showed the good judgment to actually think about what they will serve up to American classrooms, it ain’t all good news. They’ll still show this fraudulent movie, that relied on actors’ improvisations in many pivotal scenes, to communicate the narrative of this great American tragedy. 

As they are frantically making up the new study guides, to be released tomorrow, I have a couple of suggestions. 

Scholastic: If you simply cannot stop yourself from serving this propaganda up to America’s high school students, how about also showing "9/11 Press for Truth" as well. Allow teachers to lead discussions that will compare and contrast the two movies. You may not have heard about this movie , because it doesn’t have $30 million and a corporate network behind it, but it is a well-documented film, which does not fictionalize scenes but relies on interviews with those who were closest to what happened. The filmmakers have said this film features exclusive interviews with the families of 9/11 victims and 9/11 researcher Paul Thompson, author of the "The Terror Timeline," which pieces together stories from over 7000 media reports about 9/11. 

I also sent this letter to Scholastic today:  

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jennifer Nix <mailto:jennifer.nix@>
Date: Sep 7, 2006 2:18 PM
Subject: congratulations on your decision to produce new Path to 9/11 materials

Hi Kyle,

I was very happy to see the release about the new study guides that will be made available tomorrow.

Might I make a suggestion that you could pass along to your writers/producers/educators working on those materials?

I have been a producer for NPR and staff writer for Variety, and written for a number of outlets over the years. In recent months, I have been working with a number of the progressive bloggers, in part because I am so excited about these new avenues for engaged citizens to better participate in the public debate.

It was the progressive blogs who launched and have led this campaign, since last Friday, to get ABC to reconsider this project, particularly when we learned that right-wing media and bloggers were given advance copies of the film, even as we were denied. Then we learned that even President Clinton and many of the prinicipals portrayed in the film were also denied advance copies. What we saw here were engaged citizens, through the blogs, investigating this story and organizing in real time, to help members of the professional media understand the backstory here and to ask tough questions. 

I think this would all make for a very interesting case study for high school students, as part of your "Path to 9/11" study materials.

I would suggest including in your materials bits from the sites below. Blogs are in their infancy, and the rules are being made up as we go along. But they are becoming more and more important to our media and democracy, in my opinion, and, in this case, they have played a major role in the developing story.

I would be happy to help, pro bono, in the interest of media literacy.
I’m not holding my breath over here. But, if Scholastic calls, I’ll report for duty.  
Video by David Olson, of

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