I saw somewhere that Tim Rutten had said some good stuff about Democratic thuggery on free speech with respect to “Path to 9/11.” I’ve been meaning to look up his column, and finally did last night. Now that I have read it, I’m both impressed and underwhelmed, all at the same time.
The slam on Democrats was indeed impressive:
One of the most unfortunate consequences of all this was that most of the news media completely overlook a stunning affront to 1st Amendment freedoms that occurred when the Democratic leadership of the U.S. Senate sent Iger a letter Thursday appearing to threaten the network’s licenses unless “The Path to 9/11” was altered or killed:
“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 … ,” the lawmakers wrote. “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’ve all become accustomed to a Congress that behaves as if it’s divided between Bloods and Crips rather than Republicans and Democrats — but this was a thuggish new low.
Excellent. Well said.
And — while I haven’t seen “The Path to 9/11” and don’t know whether I will — I can’t even disagree with this bit:
But did the people who run ABC Entertainment — the network division directly responsible for this mess — really believe that Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger would watch themselves on television doing and saying thing they never did or said and not object? When these fictional incidents were portrayed as contributing to the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent people, did they think that the former Clinton administration officials and others so caricatured simply would shrug and say, “Well, that’s dramatic license for you?” Did they really expect anyone to accept the preposterous notion that — as some at the network argued this week — the film’s facts were wrong, but its “essence” was true?
Although, as I have argued, the Clinton Administration did drop the ball on Osama, that’s no excuse for distorting the facts. Also, Republicans were at fault as well — rushing to scream “Wag the Dog!” when Clinton took even weak steps to do something about Osama. Sure, initial and primary blame for Monicagate falls on Clinton, but Republicans can’t claim they had their eye on the terrorism ball throughout.
But here’s where I think Rutten falls down on his fact-checking:
Over the past weeks, the network flooded the country with advance copies of its film. Some sources put the number of DVDs in circulation at 900. An ABC spokeswoman, who demanded to be “off the record” said Friday that she couldn’t confirm 900 copies, but that the number “certainly was more than 500.” She promised to e-mail back an accurate count; she never did. Many of those copies were directed at right-wing talk show hosts and, some, to Republican bloggers, who long have argued that — however complacent the Bush administration may initially been concerning radical Islamic terrorism — Clinton and his people overlooked far more signs of Al Qaeda’s lethality for a far longer period of time.
I think Rutten has bought into the Greenwald/Think Progress/FireDogLake set of myths about ABC marketing this program to right-wing bloggers, while sternly denying it to lefties.
When Rutten says: “Many of those copies were directed at right-wing talk show hosts and, some, to Republican bloggers . . .” I think he means to say: “Hugh Hewitt got a copy.”
I have shown that no copy was sent to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, John Hinderaker of Power Line, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, or Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters. Every lefty on the planet said Rush Limbaugh was mailed a copy, but apparently ABC did not mail him a copy; he saw a premiere attended by a mix of liberals and conservatives.
Liberal blogs galore claimed that “obscure” blogs like mine got copies, but that turned out to be a myth — based on the fact that heavy-hitter talk-radio host Bill Handel, who is not a doctrinaire conservative by any means, got a copy which was borrowed by my guest blogger, who is one of Handel’s producers.
I said yesterday that this is a stupid issue to be discussing, but this did appear in the L.A. Times, which, for all its woes, is still widely read. If it’s wrong, it should be fixed.
I’m writing Rutten to a) praise him for his recent excellent column on Reutersgate; b) praise him as well for his observation about Democrat free-speech thuggery; and c) ask him who are all these right-wing talk show hosts and Republican bloggers who got copies. I think they are all Hugh Hewitt, but we’ll see.