Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC and unbelievable right-wing hypocrisy

ABC's 9/11 "docudrama", The Path to 9/11 -- which, among other things, claims in a highly publicized dramatization that Clinton had his finger on the button to take out bin Laden but declined to do so because of potential "political fallout" from Arab nations (all controverted by the 9/11 commission report, BTW) -- is raising cain in the blogosphere, not least because only right-wing media outlets have been permitted to view it. Not on the list of screeners: Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and virtually any other Clinton official you can imagine.

President Clinton and his attorneys have lodged a letter of protest with ABC, and rightfully so. As Glenn Greenwald points out, it wasn't too long ago that Bush supporters were fighting for historical accuracy in media portrayals of their own favorite president:
When CBS announced in November, 2003 that it would broadcast a mini-series it produced about Ronald and Nancy Reagan called "The Reagans," Matt Drudge obtained excerpts from the script and published them. That led to right-wing bloggers, organizations and pundits, along with the RNC itself, demanding that CBS cancel the broadcast, which it did (moving it instead to Showtime, with a panel discussion afterwards filled with critics of the film).
Here's what Ed Gillespie, the then-RNC chair, said about "The Reagans" back on 11/06/2003 [emphasis Glenn's]:
GILLESPIE: And I think it was important that it be historically accurate. And if they didn't intend to make it historically accurate to make sure that viewers understood that it was not intended to be historically accurate but a fictional portrayal. So we made two requests: One is having historians review it for accuracy if you're going to broadcast it. And if you're unwilling to do that, inform the viewers that it's not historically accurate. That's not censorship, that's common sense ...

I've sent a similar letter to the head of Showtime making the same point: "If you're not willing to have it reviewed for historical accuracy, make sure your viewers understand that it's a fictional portrayal. You know, in this society that we live in and with the media culture that we have, there's infotainment and docudrama and reality TV, and the lines between fact and fiction blur. That's fine when it's entertainment, but when you're talking about the formative phase of the Reagan legacy formation, I think that it's important that we get things right. ...

I think that same standard should apply to the late president John F. Kennedy or to Jimmy Carter or any president. If you're going to portray a presidency and a president, I think you should do all you can to make sure it's accurate. ...
The irony is so deep now that that even Al Franken is running satirical "excertps" from the Path to 9/11 involving Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Bill Clinton all snorting coke off the chest of Madeleine Albright.

Read Glenn's entire post to see the increasingly long and updated list of hypocrisy by some of conservative media's most strident voices.


SClerkin63+ said...

It's not news--it's docudrama, and unless we've decided to adopt a purely Platonic view of society, the creative artist still can be creative in how they hold the mirror up to the world. If the public is unable to distinguish between fact and fiction, it is not incumbent upon the creative artist to cease and desist all fictitious acts.

Matt said...

But many the public are indeed unable to distinguish fact from fiction. And the ABC has an FCC license to think about, as well the support of sponsors. No, I think you can call it what you like, it will have the effect of distorting the public's perception of events leading up to 9/11 and following them. Much of what is in the "docudrama" is fact. Unless you're well read and connected to the news, how will you know what is fiction?

And let's not go so far as to call this art.