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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Give 'Em Hell, Harry!

See update at the bottom. I've also added a link directly to the DNC's web page on the series, and a quote from the Senators' letter to Disney.

Ya know, I never intended to watch this thing. What? A broadcast network "docudrama" about 9/11? Gee, I'd love to, but I have an appointment to have a root canal done without anaesthetic while listening to Noam Chomsky lectures.

But now I hear that Bill Clinton didn't like it and Madeleine Albright didn't like it and the Democratic National Committee wants the series not just edited but pulled.

From the official DNC website:

A Despicable, Irresponsible Fraud

Does a major national broadcast network want to stain itself by presenting an irresponsible, slanderous, fraudulent, "docu-drama" to the American public? "The Path to 9/11" mocks the truth and dishonors the memory of 9/11 victims to serve a cheap, callous political agenda. Help keep this propaganda off the air.

That's currently the front page. The main page for The Path to 9/11 is here.

When I first saw that at LGF I thought that it came from one of those semi-nutty pseudo-sites, with names like, which try to lure the unwary into thinking they're the Democratic Party. But, no, this is the Real McCoy.

Well, but Clinton, Albright, and Berger are all retired or whatever, and political parties will be partisan (although if I were ABC/Disney I might be chatting with my lawyers about the laws regarding defamation -- can you even defame a TV show?), so big deal.

Ah, but now honest-to-God US Senators are writing thinly-veiled threats against ABC's broadcast license:

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

As Allah says, was that letter typed, or written with letters cut from magazines?

(And, as someone I've forgotten said earlier today, first they came for Pluto, and I said nothing, and now they've come for Mickey.)

So now I'm wondering just what it is that Bill and Maddy and Sandy and Harry don't want me to see. Now I think I'll record the show and take a squint at it. So good job with the suppression, Democrats. Well done.

Apparently the sticking point is a bit of overheated "drama" involving men on the ground in Afghanistan waiting to capture Bin Laden, and being held up at the last minute by someone high up in the Administration.

It does sound as if the documen -- excuse me -- docudrama has condensed months of planning and dithering and scads and scads of nuance into a simplistic tale of gutless government officials reining in the guys there on the ground, but that's the "drama" part of the "docudrama".

Which is the reason I can't stand the stuff. I hate re-enactments, especially when the characters talk. Look, show documents, do voiceovers, interview the principals, but don't try to show me the expression on Oswald's face as he pulled the trigger, because you weren't there and you don't know. If you're going to do that, call it fiction and have done with it.

(I go a little easier on people who are doing documentaries about, say, the Punic Wars, since Scipio Africanus is notoriously difficult to interview.)

Having said that, though, the incident described does seem to be more or less true. But I thought we'd all known about that forever: CIA agents had a chance to zap Bin Laden but were prevented by their superiors, quite high up in the government. Those superiors seem to be worried that Bin Laden would be killed in a firefight, which might look like an assassination to some people, leading to snippy remarks by our European betters and frosty moments at UN mixers.

Dorkafork[*], writing that INDC Journal post, says that "in retrospect" the reasons for calling off the operation seem "inadequate". Things are usually easier to see in retrospect. It's a shame we can't see them in retrospect ahead of time; it would save so much trouble. Whoever it was who called off the operation -- that person is being very modest about his role now -- may well have been right about the frosty moments. After all, many serious thinkers[**] advised restraint about going into Afghanistan even after 9/11, on the grounds that we couldn't prove that Bin Laden did it and if he did he probably had a good reason and if we were just nice to the Taliban they would have a talk with him and get him to come forward and apologize and promise never ever to do it again and then we'd have a big group hug.

But I'd just like to see the collective colon spasm that would result if the current Administration or the RNC pulled some kind of baloney like this. The Canadian border crossings would be backed up for twenty miles.

Speaking of which, suspected Canadian Damian Penny reminds us that Republicans did pull a somewhat similar stunt when CBS was preparing to air a miniseries on the Reagans. In that instance, RNC chairman Ed Gillespie asked CBS President Les Moonves to let historians and friends of the Reagans vet the show. (Of particular concern was a remark made by the dramatized Reagan, to the effect that AIDS sufferers deserved to die for their sins. According to the CNN article, writer Elizabeth Egloff admitted to pulling the words straight from her hindquarters.)

If the RNC's "request" wasn't met, Gillespie was prepared to get tough, just like Harry Reid:

Gillespie said that if CBS rejects both requests, the RNC would to sell tapes and DVDs on its Web site that would present "the real Reagan record."

OH MY GOD, SELL DVDS! Those capitalist pigs!

CBS responded, in the end, by defiantly curling up into a little ball and whimpering, and moving the series to Showtime. Let's hope the Mouse shows more guts.

Now I'm ticked at Reid for making me care about this nonsense.

[*]The problem with blogs, and the Internet in general, is that you find yourself arguing or agreeing with intelligent, thoughtful people who call themselves things like "Dorkafork". One day someone will want to read something scintillating and insightful into the Congressional Record and they'll have to page through a dozen blogs to get to someone who doesn't call themselves Dorkafork or Wind Rider or Allahpundit. That's where I win. Ha ha.

[**]By which I mean, ninnies.

UPDATE 9/8: Ahhh--HA! I knew it was something like this. Maybe the whole kerfuffle was ginned up by ABC's publicity department, to get us all watching it. And I fell for it like a rube! But who could imagine? I mean, surely only the Dark Lord Rove could hatch a plan so diabolical, right? And he's not working for ABC.

(I did wonder about these "edits". How long would it take to edit a show like that, anyway? Surely you couldn't get it done between yesterday and Sunday.)