Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Ignores Democrat Senators’ Thuggery

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:47 am

Democrat Senators threatened ABC’s free speech rights yesterday, and the L.A. Times has failed to report it.

Yesterday several Democrat Senators signed a letter to ABC that mentioned the network’s free broadcast license, and implicitly threatened to pull it due to the content of “The Path to 9/11”:

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.

. . . .

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Predictably, today’s L.A. Times story mentions nothing of the United States Senators’ implicit threats to ABC’s broadcast license. Rather, it quotes the portions of the letter dealing with the movie’s alleged factual inaccuracies:

[Complaining former Clinton officials] were joined Thursday by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and fellow Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, who sent a joint letter to Iger asking that the broadcast be canceled.

. . . .

In their letter, the senators questioned the political leanings behind the miniseries.

“Frankly, that ABC and Disney would consider airing a program that could be construed as right-wing political propaganda on such a grave and important event involving the security of our nation is a discredit both to the Disney brand and to the legacy of honesty built at ABC by honorable individuals from David Brinkley to Peter Jennings,” the letter said.

There is a mafia-style threat by elected U.S. representatives to the political free speech of a major U.S. broadcasting network — and the L.A. Times blows the story, even though it’s right under their nose.

Did you expect anything different?

UPDATE: I should note that the article states that it is “from the Associated Press.”

31 Responses to “L.A. Times Ignores Democrat Senators’ Thuggery”

  1. Ditto for the NY Times. This has become the new bias of the media, to ignore news that is newsworthy, but doesn’t suuport their (DNC) view.

    Happened at the NY Times when Lieberman broke ranks with other Democrats and supported the President of the war. They didn’t report on it for a week, despite it being headline news in the other two NYC papers and the Wasington Post. They only covered it to show the reaction from other Democrats, a week later.

    Incidently “Broadcasting and Cable Magazine” hasn’t covered it yet either as of this writing.

    Corky Boyd (a8cc75)

  2. Unbelievable thuggery. Screw them.

    Wilson (4d1921)

  3. I understand Clinton & Co. are threatening to file suit for slander against ABC, or already have.

    I’d be very interested in the legal opinions here re: if they actually have a case that has any odds of holdin gup in court or are simply trying to intimidate ABC with threat of lawsuit, however frivolous.

    My own layman’s understanding is that the legal definition of what constitutes slander is *notably* different if the alleged target is a politician or other public figure, than if it is a private citizen, and that virtually nothing short of ABC claiming that Bill Clinton ate babies on the White House lawn could violate them. But my understanding is precisely that, a layman’s, hence I’m asking.

    Chuckg (c2b49e)

  4. like it or not, the broadcast spectrum is limited, and a license to broadcast in it is a publicly granted franchise which can be conditioned upon serving the public interest.
    interaction of this nature between legislators and broadcasters is nothing new. when janet jackson flashed her nipple at the super bowl, moralist bluenoses waxed wroth from sea to shining sea (i thought it was tasteless myself, but i didn’t demand heavy fines against cbs; just about everything the jackson family does is tasteless, and i’ve seen a number of breasts in my time).
    i don’t see how i can address the underlying merits because i haven’t seen the film, i don’t know how it comports with the truth, and i wouldn’t be able to judge its accuracy even if i did see it. there is a distinction between perceptional reality (that which you see, hear or otherwise personally sense) and representational reality (accounts rendered to you by others) and as this blog has noted on several occasions, mainstream media accounts are not always 100% accurate. for those of us who are not new yorkers, all of 9/11 is a matter of representational reality and the best we can do is look at a number of accounts and form a representational synthesis in our heads of what most likely happened. all we know for sure at this point is that clinton administration officials and some senate democrats have disputed the accuracy of the film. that’s why i accused some of you of parsing shadowy ephemera.
    finally, i hate to sound like a language pedant, but i expect u.s. senators to know the difference between “principle” and “principal”, and they booted it in the quote from their letter patterico gave us.

    assistant devil's advocate (61277a)

  5. There’s a simple solution to all this. They just need to preface the film with a caption that says:

    “This is a work of fiction based on real events. It tells the story of the events leading up to 9/11 from a conservative perspective.

    The problem with this film, as others have pointed out, is that it’s being presented as a non-partisan work even though it was made by conservatives and is presenting the conservative view on how 9/11 happened (because Clinton didn’t do enough, and Bush didn’t do enough to change Clinton’s policies). Admit that this is a partisan film like Farenheit 9/11, and the controversy will fizzle.

    Or if they want they can follow this up with another film that gives the liberal perspective (Clinton instituted good anti-terrorism policies over the objections of the Republicans; Bush came in and ignored the threat of terrorism and has never bothered to re-institute Clinton’s successful terrorism policies). But they need to stop pretending that this is not a partisan conservative movie.

    The Red State Baron (d706bb)

  6. A conservative movie from Holywood? What has the Red State Baron been smoking? President Bush had less than 8 months to change the joke terrorism policies developed in 8 years, give us a break. The president was still operating with holdovers that developed the failed policies because congress wouldn’t approve his appointments. For instance the FBI director finally got in office on 9-10-01 so he had less than 24 hours to stop a secret attack that had been in the planning stage since 1993. Duh. Funny thing is the dimwits woke up after 9-11 for a few months and then went back into anti-American cruise mode.
    Nothing has changed in the dimwit party, they are obstructing every policy or law designed to prevent another attack. Fact is they are doing every thing possible to help the terrorists carry out another massive attack. Something in their warped mind makes them think an attack will help their ‘political’ position. You die, they gain votes is a good policy to the democrats? The problem as I see it is that if the terrorist are smarter than the democrats the next attack will wipe congress (while in session) from the map. That may be a good plan all the way around, congress dies and America wins. At least it sounds better to me than me dying so they can get a vote.

    Scrapiron (71415b)

  7. Cyrus Nowrasteh isn’t a conservative. He’s written works that angered conservatives in the past (“The Day Reagan Was Shot”). And keep in mind that the only part that was previewed was the first 1/2 of the miniseries. The second half, which deals with the Bush administration, is not kind to it.

    No, The Red State Baron, what we have here is the kind of liberal hysteria we’ve come to know and love. How DARE anyone notice that Bill Clinton treated OBL as a law enforcement issue and that that approach failed!!! Protecting the Clinton legacy (snicker) is all important and damn the facts!

    sharon (03e82c)

  8. “This is a work of fiction based on real events. It tells the story of the events leading up to 9/11 from a conservative perspective.”

    What color IS the sky on your planet, Red State Baron?

    Go over to iTunes and listen to Hugh Hewitt’s three hour interview with the writer/producer of the movie. He was a Clinton supporter, with contributions to the Democrats listed on Take a look at his IMDB listing – obviously a conservative working under ultra-deep super secret cover.

    BTW, what, exactly, were “good anti-terrorism policies instituted over the objections of the Republicans”? Names of legislation and date passed please. And which Republicans objected? Names, dates and links.

    Face it – 9/11 came at the end of a long string of inadequate responses by both parties and the media. The idea that somehow Bush bears the principal responsibility after 8 MONTHS in office. while Clinton is blameless for 8 YEARS of inaction (including the first WTC attack, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack and the planning and prep for 9/11) is ludicrous.

    Paul in Brookline (73446e)

  9. The leftist half of the blogosphere is awash with petitions against Path to 9/11.

    Here’s an opportunity to get our own views heard.

    A little late in the day, and probably not as compelling to ABC as threatened lawsuits – but still: worth signing.

    Dick (40be6c)

  10. like it or not, the broadcast spectrum is limited, and a license to broadcast in it is a publicly granted franchise which can be conditioned upon serving the public interest.

    That’s a fair point, as far as it goes. But conflating “the public interest” with “my political preferences” is dangerous, probably unconstitutional, and certainly immoral ground upon which to tred. I would object to the Senator’s letter even if the film in question consisted of the rankest falsehoods.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  11. Face it – 9/11 came at the end of a long string of inadequate responses by both parties and the media

    Paul: I completely agree.

    It is totally clear to readers of this blog that many on the left seem to think Clinton is blameless and Bush completely to blame. What I think is less clear to readers of this blog is that many on the right seem to think that Bush and the mid-90s Republican congressional majority are blameless and Clinton completely to blame.

    If we’re going to play the blame game, which I’d prefer we didn’t, there’s plenty to go around. But we’d be better off if we went with your opening statement: none of us took the threat seriously at the time.

    Can’t we focus on whether or not proposed responses [x] are appropriate rather than fighting about who had the best response a decade ago when nobody had responses which were particularly good?

    aphrael (e7c761)

  12. Scrapiron — my memory of the politics of the mid-to-late 1990s has the Clinton administration proposing several bills to do things like allow the FBI and CIA to talk to each other (for example), increase the ability of the government to use warantless wiretaps, and otherwise promote government snooping, and the Republican majority in Congress joining with outraged civil libertarians to shoot the bills down.

    I remember this largely because I was an outraged civil libertarian who was puzzled to find myself allied with Republicans on the issues.

    (No, I don’t have specific bill names or dates; this was 7-9 years ago, and my memory is not that good).

    aphrael (e7c761)

  13. @aphrael:
    don’t you know that every man jack and woman jill in washington, d.c. conflates “the public interest” and “my political preferences”? i’ve done it myself!

    assistant devil's advocate (61277a)

  14. aphrael,

    I appreciate your reasoned discussion, but is it not well known that Jamie Gurelick (Spelling wrong) was behind the policy of not letting the CIA and FBI talk to each other? That her policy was more stringent than any law made necessary? And laws to clarify this were part of the Patriot Act, which Sen. Reid was so elated over “killing it”?

    Yes, I am sure there are many who think Republicans can do no wrong. But if you listen to prominent conservative radio shows like Hewitt, Medved, Bennett, Limbaugh, they are always happy to talk about how they dislike something the Bush administration is doing.

    Either the ABC people who made this film were lying through there teeth, or the Dems are way out of line. It supposedly was an accurate account based on the 911 commission and other interviews, and somebody high up in ABC talked about having a responsibility to “do it right”. Either they were lying to begin with, or they did a reasonable job and the Dems just can’t stomach it. (BTW, it doesn’t make the Bush administration look too good either).

    Seriously, I think someone is probably still trying to figure out how to blame Pearl Harbor on President Bush as well.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  15. Chukcg, when the First Amendment can be interpreted to protect the right of dancers in titty bars to perform naked but not political speech, who can possibly predict the results of any legal action>

    Diffus (ead439)

  16. What I still find to be amazing is that the Times does not report that former Democrat Majority Leader George Mitchell is currently Disney’s Chairman of the Board.

    It’s especially important to note because Clinton reportedly offered Mitchell a nomination to the Supreme Court in the mid-’90’s.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  17. Doesn’t a threat have to have some possibility of actually being carried out for it to be considered a “threat”?

    To me, the wording about “public interest” and mention of the broadcast license is a (not necessarily persuasive) plea to ABC’s conscience, basically saying “look, we’re the nice guys who gave you this licence, in the hope that you’d serve the public interest. Now you’re crushing our hopes.”

    That certainly seems the more plausible explanation for the language, when you consider how remote any “threat” to take away ABC’s license really is.

    Since the “threat” isn’t really a threat, there’s no story for the LA Times to cover.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  18. Naivete, thy name is Phil.

    Diffus (ead439)

  19. Phil,

    I hope to never be in a situation with you that involves the possibility of physical conflict.

    Desert rat,
    sir, are you kidding me??? I didn’t know that. i wonder why I didn’t know that. I’m sure ABC, CBS, and NBC have covered that aspect of it…not. Thank you.

    To quote P.D.Q. Bach in his work “Black Forest Bluegrass”- “The sky is green and the grass is blue, where the devil am I.” That makes more sense than the nonsense going on in the public arena today.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  20. “Seriously, I think someone is probably still trying to figure out how to blame Pearl Harbor on President Bush as well.”

    Well, that damned Bush foiled the project by being born a few years too late, but that does not stop leftists from blaming Prescott Bush for the National Socialists and WWII.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  21. Has ABC stated that they felt threatened?

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone on the right quivering in fear over the possibility of government censorship of the media. Quite the opposite.

    And now you guys are opposing censorship efforts that you’ve simply made up. It’s goofy, to say the least.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  22. Hey Phil,
    read the letter.

    The Dems are complaining about “having their hopes crushed”?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  23. Phil and company, I’m sorry to bring this (bad) news.
    Erwin Chemirinsky (pardon my misspelling) just said on national radio that the Senator’s letter is a serious challenge to the First Amendment.

    If you don’t know, Erwin is so liberal he is still suing Rove on behalf of Wilson and Plame in spite of Armitage publicly saying he was Novak’s source. When he agrees with the Conservatives….

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  24. This is the SMELL A TIME the west coasts version of the New York Times why should we be surprised for these crappy news papers and i dont ever want them on the bottom of my cage SQUAWK SQUAWK dont you dare or i,ll get violent SQUAWK SQUAWK

    krazy kagu (3067be)

  25. Has ABC stated that they felt threatened?


    No, no…WE should feel threatened! It’s our rights they will be after next. I don’t know about anyone else but I do NOT want or need ANYONE telling me what I can and cannot see, hear, or read. All this bull about whether or not the scenes are 100% accurate is just that…B U L L!! The first admendment does not mention accurate or inaccurate, but one thing it DOES mention is that political and religious speech is to be protected.

    This world is twisted up beyond all belief when movies like Fahrenheit 9/11 are lauded as truthful (NOT) and therefore protected…but films that may have an opposing view (Stolen Honor anyone?) are not allowed to air. Damn, everytime I go to the bookstore, I see wall to wall Bush-bashing books but, if I can find the other books at all they are few and hidden away like porn.


    Carol Johnson (8e06de)

  26. Carol, the reason for the “Bush-bashing” is that he is an arrogant, ignorant liar who has used the tragedy of 9/11 to further his own twisted ambitions, turn the US into a rogue state and international pariah, and send tens of thousands of people to their graves in illegal and unjustifiable acts of war.

    Max Gross (2f07be)

  27. Perhaps the reason ABC does not “feel threatened” is… Well, I stand ready to be corrected, but to the best of my knowledge, ABC (the network) does not *have* a “broadcasting license” that can be revoked. The American Broadcasting Company is not actually a broadcaster itself (except through its wholly owned stations), but rather a content provider for affiliated broadcasting stations. Only broadcasting *stations* are licensed by, and have licenses (theoretically) revocable by, the FCC (which, oddly, does not stand for “Fr**k*ng C*mm*n*sts *n C*ngr*ss,” but perhaps will, if the Messrs. Conyers et al. have their way…).

    The Red State Baron: “The problem with this film, as others have pointed out…” Others? What others? Not anyone in the posts preceding yours, at least. Perhaps you mean some of your hoodlum friends hanging out on the DU corner…but how are we to know? A name or two, not to mention the venue(s), would be welcome.

    Carol Johnson: “The first admendment does not mention accurate or inaccurate, but one thing it DOES mention is that political and religious speech is to be protected.” Regrettably, I must disagree — if only in spirit. Though the First *is* silent on the matter of accuracy, the laws against libel and slander are not. And while I would normally argue that it is virtually impossible to slander or libel Sandy “Captain Underpants” Berger or Madeleine “Jewish When Convenient” Albright, in this case we’re not talking about political or religious speech, but a purportedly accurate depiction of official acts. No matter how otherwise despicable the “victims” may be, it is wrong — not to mention corrosive to the debate — to falsely impute acts and utterances to them. Sandy *ought* to be in the pen, and Madeleine ought to be ignored in every public venue but the one where she purchases her daily crust — but neither ought to be “lied” about.

    aphrael: [Somewhat off-topic] While I am not (quite) ready to suggest you are suffering from False Memory Syndrome [“my memory of the politics of the mid-to-late 1990s has the Clinton administration proposing several bills to do things like allow the FBI and CIA to talk to each other (for example)”], it *is* difficult to reconcile your recollection of events with the infamous “wall” [see MD in Philly, #14] erected by Jamie Gorelick. The most shameful aspect of the 9/11 Commission was a) its eagerness to criticize the lack of information sharing between domestic and foreign intelligence gatherers while b) engaging in the studied pretense that one of its own Commissioners (who was herself shocked, shocked! to discover noncommunication going on here!) had played no part in stifling that very sharing. –And *I* am shocked, shocked! to find politics going on here…

    porkopolitan (0503ea)

  28. Send BILL CLINTON and his lawyers and the other demacratic thugs to PLEASURE ISLAND where they can smoke cigars drink eat make a mess and turn into donkeys at the end let them make asses of theselves since they are real close but the real donkeys are more intellegent

    krazy kagu (cf73c3)

  29. Sandy Berger’s Nightmare…

    One of the more vociferous critics of “The Path to 9/11” has been Sandy Berger. After viewing the unbowdlerized version at Red State (clip 1 of 6), it’s pretty clear what he’s upset about. Basically he’s been caught with his……

    The Interocitor (ca7e8c)

  30. Pleasure Island? You mean St Helena?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  31. Dear Assistant Devil’s Advocate,

    If, as you state, – “like it or not, the broadcast spectrum is limited, and a license to broadcast in it is a publicly granted franchise which can be conditioned upon serving the public interest.”

    How then do you justify the activities of the Pacifica Foundation, holders for five extremely valuable FM bandwidth assignments (big watts too) in major US markets (SF, NYC, LA, DC, and Houston)?

    Why don’t we hold these people to the same standard the Democrats want to impose on “Paths to 9/11?” Listen to their babble for a while and you find all sorts of insane moonbattery, easily rebuttable by objective observers. Is moonbattery in the public interest?

    If prior provable accuracy is the criterion for allowed speech, then Pacifica should have had their half a billion dollars worth of FM licenses pulled decades ago, using the Senate Democrats’ reasoning.

    The problem is that “accuracy” is too often in the eye of the beholder. Freedom of speech is conditioned on libel and slander but those are post-evaluations. In the case of Berger slamming the phone, it could easily resolve into a “he said/she said” evaluation which is unconvincing to a jury.

    As one leftie commentator noted elsewhere, for ABC the legislative vulnerablities may lie more in piracy protection, copyright extension (why is Mickie Mouse still a protected property?) and digital information distribution. The target was not only ABC but any and all legacy media.

    whitehall (fb39f2)

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