Patterico's Pontifications


Rutten on “Path”: You Take the Good with the Bad

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

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.

Meanwhile, liberals galore got copies. TIME and the New York Times got copies. Charlie Rose got a copy. got a copy.

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.

10 Responses to “Rutten on “Path”: You Take the Good with the Bad”

  1. Ten of us saw the 3 disc show on Saturday AM at my house. It was provided to us by a Disney/ABC employee. I’d just comment that if he got it everybody got it and by the end of the week the “unsanitized” version will be on U-Tube and 50 other sites. I believe that had the stupid Democrats kept their mouths shut Paths would have died a quiet death. IMHO, the style of the movie, which used machine gun intercutting within every scene, results in mind numbing confusioin and viewer exhaustion. I mean at times it looked like there were as many as forty different cuts within a one minute segment. I learned nothing I didn’t know….we have a bureaucracy interested only in preserving turf and jobs and to hell with the country….and was of limited interest.

    BTW we stopped watching before the third disc was played because we were all exhausted by the tricky presentation and the Notre Dame game came on.

    Howard Veit (28df94)

  2. OK: who were the 10 of you? Were you bloggers? Did you get it because you’re a blogger or because you know someone at Disney or ABC? I didn’t e-mail every blogger I know because I figured if Insty & Co. didn’t get it for being bloggers, nobody did.

    So do tell more.

    Patterico (de0616)

  3. I saw the show Sunday night and it was a bit slow. We were having a family dinner Saturday night and one woman, who has become a doctrinaire lefty in recent years, started up on the Democrat talking points. I had a copy of the 9/11 Report right there with a bookmark in the page about the Berger story and the bin Laden hit. She read the page and got quiet. What I saw of the show was what I already knew from reading but a lot of people who have not followed the story closely probably got a whole new view and an accurate one.

    I didn’t watch Monday night but my overall impression was of an accurate, albeit condensed, version. The Democrats hurt themselves by drawing so much attention to it. The Rutten column was right out of the DNC hard drive and I was much less impressed with it than you were. My son TiVoed the Monday episode as we were having a birthday party for my grand daughter so I’ll watch later. My impression from watching about 1/3 is that it was pretty good and trying to address all the Clinon people’s complaints about condensing the story would have made it a week long and unwatchable. Sandy Berger could spend his time more usefully explaining what was in those marginal notes to the documents he stole and destroyed. Why isn’t he is prison or parole ?

    Mike K (416363)

  4. Response to Patterico: I’m not going to list ten of my friends but so far as I know none of them blog but most surf the net for news. The guy with with discs works for ABC/Disney and I’m not going to tell you his name. However he didn’t get the discs by stealing them from a safe, he just picked up a set that was lying around. AND from what I read on the net almost everyone who is anyone had an advance copy, except you and me. BTW cut scenes were on the net last week.

    [Those cut scenes were on Red State, and Dan McLaughlin tells me they didn’t get it from Disney or ABC — nor did Aravosis. As to everyone getting a copy, you’re just wrong about that. Did you read the post you’re commenting on? Instapundit, Power Line’s Hinderaker, LGF, and Captain’s Quarters didn’t get it. — P]

    Howard Veit (28df94)

  5. I watched both parts of the ABC movie broadcast. Nothing I saw made me want to “blame” Clinton, Albright, Berger, Clarke, Tenet, W, Rice, etc. Everything I saw made me blame Zawahiri, OBL, Yousef, KSM, Atef, the hijackers, etc. I despair over the fact that perhaps a majority of Americans now want to blame our past and present leadership for atrocities committed by our enemies. What will become of us if we can’t get our heads screwed on straight?

    QF (72be5d)

  6. Not to continue this more than is necessary, since it is a pretty lame topic. But, I’m not sure that it’s clear that actually received a copy of the movie. It may be that their editor was invited to a screening, much like Rush Limbaugh was. But, I’m not sure it makes much of a difference.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  7. Patterico: what are you trying to say? That I’m lying? Are you nuts or just out of your mind? I saw it Saturday AM, and if that pisses you off who cares? BTW, Libertas also had a copy…

    [You misunderstand me. Of course I believe you saw it. But you say every blogger out there got a copy, and I gave you a list of major ones on the right who didn’t. — P]

    Howard Veit (28df94)

  8. All of this nonsense about “fake but accurate” and “getting the facts straight” seems a bit beside the point.

    Of course it would be better if, in a perfect world (which none of us lives in) docudramas faithfully adhered 100% to reality.

    Ummm…yeah. Whose reality?

    The “government-approved, Gospel according to the 9/11 commission”?

    Do we REALLY want to establish that as a standard for what – lets face it – was an open attempt by 4 Democrat Senators to intimidate a network into changing the content of a docudrama?

    Am I the only one here who sees that as dangerous, no matter who does it? To whom?

    Say Joe Wilson wants to produce the story of his life. I hate Joe Wilson. I think he’s a scumbag. Is the NY Times going to come out in favor of a Republican Senate attempt to force him to adhere to the SSCI Report that openly concludes he lied?

    Guess what: I would have to side with old Joe on this one. Let him air his crockumentary and let the old First Amendment take care of the fact-checking.

    Hollywood has been able to get away with all sorts of nonsense in the name of “creative license”. And there is some justification for this: if a docudrama were 100% faithful, it would have to include literally everything that happened in real time or critics could claim it lied by omission and we’d have partisan groups trying to censor everything they didn’t like out of everything.

    Are we now going to pull Fahrenheit 9/11 from the shelves? It is well documented that several scenes in that film “never happened”. By this standard, that film should have been censored too.

    Principles are principles, whether they hurt or help your side. I found the Reagan miniseries distateful, but it was their right even to air lies about Reagan. And it was the right of PRIVATE citizens to protest, and even to pressure the network.

    But Harry Reid is not a PRIVATE citizen. Chuck Schumer is not a private citizen. What just took place should alarm every American. And frankly I find it astounding that so many on the Left are so complacent about real, open, and notorious government censorship when it happens right under their noses. That Chill Wind just blew right up your skirt and you’re so busy whining about non-existent violations of your rights you missed the real thing.

    Cassandra (c9069a)

  9. The Path to 9/11

    The very notion of a “Path” upsets the Left. A path not only begins at an established point, it also clearly marks out the route to a known destination.

    This is anathema to the true believers on the Left who want to escape responsibility for a failed Clinton administration too distracted by a series of scandals to protect the nation from terrorist attack.

    Clearly, there are paths which should not be taken, and one of the most important of them begins when Democrats seek high office. Reject them, they are incapable of protecting the country.

    Black Jack (507b6e)

  10. Black Jack — are you honestly saying that all democrats are incapable of protecting the country? That strikes me as being about as reasonable a claim as the claim that all republicans are religious zealots who wish to impose their moral beliefs on everyone else. (I’m picking that because it’s the standard make-you-afraid-of-the-right line that is used in my liberal circles, not because I endorse it).

    I would argue that “the Left” is extremely willing to accept the notion that there was a ‘path’ to 9/11; the idea that choices made in one set of events lead inexorably to other events is a fairly standard leftist belief. But the path that “the Left” sees as having led to 9/11 is very different; it begins with the United States and Pakistan encouraging the use of religious extremism in the fight against the Soviet Union, and then abandoning Afghanistan after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, leaving said religious extremism to run wild.

    Note, too, that one of the key moments in the path “the Left” sees as having led to 9/11 is the moment when Clinton made a half-hearted attempt to take out bin Laden in Somalia, and was accused by angry conservatives of trying to distract attention from the more-important Lewinsky scandal.

    [I am not trying to blame conservatives for 9/11; I think the blame is shared by almost everyone who was in high public office in the 1990s, and is so diffuse as to not be sticky, as it were. I’m merely trying to refute the absurd notion that “the Left” has no mental image of a path leading to 9/11.]

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

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