Disney Urged to Pull ABC's 'Path to 9/11'

Democratic National Committee Director Calls Movie 'Slanderous'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The political furor over ABC's "The Path to 9/11" docudrama dramatically escalated last night as the Democratic National Committee launched its own last-minute bid to yank the show.
The Democratic National Committee is now entering the controversy and calling on ABC to cancel 'The Path to 9/11.'
The Democratic National Committee is now entering the controversy and calling on ABC to cancel 'The Path to 9/11.'

E-mail rips miniseries
The DNC stepped into the fray days after bloggers and some Clinton administration officials started complaining that the five-hour program airing Sept. 10-11 presented a biased view that conflicts with the 9/11 Commission Report it claims to rely on. DNC executive director Tom McMahon yesterday denounced the show as a "bold-faced lie" in an e-mail sent to more than 3 million Democratic activists.

He also issued a broadside that included a thinly veiled warning to Walt Disney Co. President-CEO Robert Iger about the repercussions of airing it. Disney is ABC's parent.

"ABC is trying to use of the airwaves -- airwaves owned by you and me, and loaned to broadcasters as a public trust -- to slander Democrats and sell a slanderous, irresponsible fraud to the American people, and they're shamefully doing it just weeks away from Election Day," he wrote in urging Democrats to write Mr. Iger.

"We've got to stop this now. ABC/Disney must face an accountability moment. Tell [Mr. Iger] to keep this propaganda off their air."

Mr. McMahon called the program "right wing propaganda."

'Mocks the truth'
"The miniseries, which was put together by right-wing conservative writers, relies on the old GOP playbook of using terrorism to scare Americans. ... It mocks the truth and dishonors the memory of 9/11 victims to serve a cheap, callous political agenda. It irresponsibly misrepresents the facts and completely distorts the truth. The Walt Disney Corporation could have given Americans an honest look at Sept. 11. Instead, the company abandoned its duty to the truth."

The e-mail also ripped Disney partner Scholastic for sending letters and a discussion guide to teachers, saying that the letter encourages "students and their families to watch this irresponsible fraud."

"The discussion guide does not in any way point out the concerns and criticisms that have been raised about the validity and accuracy of the film," Mr. McMahon's e-mail said.

The Democratic Party's involvement is the biggest challenge yet to ABC, which used the 9/11 Commission chairman as an adviser for the show.

Earlier this week, Clinton administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and Secretary of State Madeline Albright both complained that they had never been provided copies of the program and that some program scenes seriously misrepresented events. Ms. Albright called one scene about her "false and defamatory," while Mr. Berger said a scene in which he is portrayed refusing to order Osama bin Laden's death was a "fabrication that cannot be justified under any reasonable definition of dramatic license."

ABC's statement
ABC, in a statement, said: "'The Path to 9/11' is not a documentary of the events leading to 9/11. It is a dramatization, drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report, other published materials, and personal interviews. As such, for dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, and time compression. No one has seen the final version of the film, because the editing process is not yet complete, so criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible. The attacks of 9/11 were a pivotal moment in our history, and it is fitting that the debate about the events related to the attacks continue. However, we hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it."
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