MRC's Mixed Message on Editing 9/11 Movie Topic: Media Research Center
We were so giddy at the idea that the MRC thinks we have influence over Keith Olbermann that we forgot to address the mixed message being sent by Brent Baker in that same NewsBusters post in which he credits us for the manner in which Olbermann named Brent Bozell the day's "Worst Person in the World."
Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes “poetic license” is criticism and how on Wednesday's Scarborough Country, Bozell asserted: "I think that if you have a scene or two scenes or three scenes, important scenes, that do not have any bearing on reality and you can edit them, I think they should edit them.”
Bozell's contention, I believe, is that the two movies are not equivalent since The Reagans, which aired on Showtime, was riddled throughout with misrepresentations and was set to air when Ronald Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer's, could not respond; while The Path to 9/11 is about 98 percent accurate with just a few scenes in question and Bill Clinton is fully capable of responding. Plus: the media are making sure everyone knows about Team Clinton's take on the ABC movie.
On Wednesday's Scarborough Country, Bozell also lamented: “I wish that this had stuck to being a documentary and not gone the way of docudramas, but it did. There will be some things that people on the Clinton side disagree with, as do the Bush people, as well. But I don't think, from what I saw, I didn't see any deliberate attempt to bash either the Clinton side or the Bush side. Look, both administrations do bear a degree of responsibility with all the warning signals that we had that were overlooked.”
But Bozell's Oct. 23, 2003, column, rather than detailing how the Reagan movie was "riddled throughout with misrepresentations," cited only two problematic scenes:
-- "a conversation between Reagan and his agent during the Hollywood years about offering the names of communists to Congress, in which fake-Reagan declares "I've never called anybody a commie who wasn't a commie." Bozell added: "In real life, Reagan denied doing that, although he did cooperate with FBI investigations."
-- "During a scene in which his wife pleads with him to help people battling AIDS, fake-Reagan says, 'They that live in sin shall die in sin' and refuses to discuss the issue further."
In a Dec. 1, 2003, review of The Reagans, (which he said was "was every bit as awful as conservatives feared with a belittling portrayal of Ronald Reagan"), Baker called it "condescending" for the head of Showtime Networks for noting that the movie was "criticized by those who have yet to see it." Why is not similarly "condescending" for ABC to point out the same thing to its critics? Baker then ridicules the Showtime guy for saying "Nearly all of the historical facts in the movie can be substantiated and have been carefully researched" -- but "nearly all" is the same factual standard he and Bozell have embraced as acceptable on "The Path to 9/11."
Bozell may have said that inaccurate claims in the 9/11 movie should be edited, but that message is overshadowed by Bozell's and Tim Graham's attacks on the Clinton administration for pointing out those inaccuracies. The MRC is certainly not fighting for those edits the way it fought for the Reagan miniseries to be altered or canceled.
Graham, in an appearance on Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto," said that "the Clinton administration are bunch of babies that can't handle criticism" and that they are engaging in "hyperbolic screaming" that the movie's producers are "delusional or psychotic." (Graham offered no evidence to support that claim.) Graham further issues a partisan attack against Clinton: "Bill Clinton is here to say these ridiculous things about 'Don't put any lies in it.' What does he know about lying and truth?" When Cavuto pointed out that the 9/11 Commission "does not purport to show to show the things and the statements in this documentary," Graham notes that "If you're Madeline Albright or if you're Condoleezza Rice, you're not going to like the way you're portrayed in this movie" but didn't demand edits for accuracy.
Bozell, Graham, and Baker are trying to have it both ways. They can tout Bozell's one-time claim that inaccurate claims should be edited, but they're still running around bashing liberals for criticizing it, even though they themselves took umbrage at being criticized for attacking the Reagan movie. It's still a double standard.
On Friday, Keith Olbermann named the MRC's Brent Bozell the day's Worst Person in the World:
OLBERMANN: But the winner, in a related topic, Bozo the Clown: Right-wing hysteric Brent Bozell weighing in in his usual lightweight manner on the controversy over "The Path to 9/11" movie, he writes, quote: 'As a docudrama, it has taken certain poetic license with history.' Three years ago in the middle of the controversy over the CBS docudrama about Ronald Reagan, Mr. Bozell said quote: 'There is no such thing as creative license to invent falsehoods about people. I don't care who you are, you don't have that right.' Hey, Brent, when you look in the mirror, how many faces do you see? The rest of us count at least two. Brent Bozell, today's Worst Person in the World!
Brent Baker, in a NewsBusters post, helpfully noted the sources of the Bozell quotes, then added:
I can't imagine Olbermann tracked down these two quotes himself, so I presume some left-wing blogger or Web site pointed out the supposed hypocrisy. Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch, who on Thursday posted this item, “Bozell's Double Standard,” on his ConWebBlog may have inspired Olbermann and his producers, but Krepel cited a different 2003 quote.
Hey, we're flattered -- not just because Olbermann appears to have used little ol' us for insipiration but because this is the first time in six-plus years of doing this that the MRC has publicly acknowledged our existence. Think of what we can accomplish in another six years ... they might acknowledge us again!
WND: 9/11 Miniseries Screenwriter Relied on Anti-Clinton Author's Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
From a Sept. 8 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore:
A former military aide to President Clinton who claims he witnessed several missed opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden says the producer of the ABC mini-series "The Path to 9/11" came to him in frustration after network executives under a heavy barrage of criticism from former administration officials began pressing for changes to the script.
In an interview with WND, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson said producer and writer Cyrus Nowrasteh called him the morning of Sept. 1, explaining he had used Patterson's book "Dereliction of Duty" as a source for the drama.
Later that day, Nowrasteh brought a preview copy of "The Path to 9/11" to Patterson for him to view at home. Patterson, who says he has talked with the director seven or eight times since then, also received a phone call from an ABC senior vice president, Quinn Taylor.
Patterson's claim to fame is that from 1996 to 1998, he was in charge of the nuclear "football." "Dereliction of Duty," published in 2003 by right-wing publishing house Regnery -- amid dishy Clinton-bashing claims such as allegedly cheating at golf and groping a female enlisted soldier on the galley of Air Force One -- alleges that the Clinton administration essentially did nothing to react to 1996 intelligence document describing a al-Qaeda plan to crash jets into U.S. targets, called "Operation Bojinka."
These days, Patterson proclaims himself to be "The Conservative Military Voice in American Politics." He is vice president and chief operating officer for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and he hosts a talk show on the conservative Internet radio website Rightalk. He distorted John Kerry's record during the 2004 presidential campaign, and has made other false claims about Clinton. His soon-to-be-released book (by Random House's conservative Crown Forum imprint) is called "War Crimes: The Left's Campaign to Destroy Our Military and Lose the War on Terror."
Moore, though, fails to mention any of those hardcore conservative bona fides. He does, chat up Patterson's anti-Clinton claims, such as a claim that "his book put him under intense pressure from Clinton officials – an aide even spoke of taking away his military retirement benefits."
Unsurprisingly, Patterson approves of the fictional depiction of Sandy Berger refusing to authorize a mission to capture bin Laden after CIA operatives and Afghan fighters had the al-Qaida leader in their sights:
Patterson contended, however, the scene is similar to a plan the administration had with the CIA and the Afghan Northern Alliance to snatch bin Laden from a camp in Afghanistan.
Patterson says his recollection is that Clinton was involved directly in several similar incidents in which Berger was pressing the president for a decision.
Patterson appears to be very much an anti-Clintonite, even though, of course, he claims not to be -- the promo copy for "Dereliction of Duty" insists that it is "is not a personal attack on President Clinton" and that "Patterson does not seem to have a political ax to grind." Any chance Cyrus Nowrasteh will get around to admitting using anti-Clinton sources for his movie?
UPDATE: Max Blumenthal reports that the Horowitz connection to "The Path to 9/11" goes far beyond Patterson.
Dick Morris Issues Disingenous Attack Topic: Newsmax
Yes, we know -- calling Dick Morris disingenous is redundant. But he lives up to it again in a Sept. 8 NewsMax article in which he criticizes "Bill Clinton and his allies" for criticizing the inaccuracies in ABC's "The Path to 9/11."
But never once does Morris address the specific claim being made by the Clintonites -- that a key scene depicting Osama bin Laden as being cornered and the administration refusing to OK his capture -- is entirely made up.
Once more, Morris lets his pathological Clinton hatred get ahead of the facts. Again, a redundancy to point out.
Bozell Favors Editing 9/11 Miniseries -- But Not At MRC Site Topic: Media Research Center
As an aside in a Sept. 8 NewsBusters post about "The Path to 9/11," Tim Graham says of his boss, Brent Bozell: "Brent still believes that if ABC corrects its docudrama if it doesn't have documentation for something being challenged, it's doing the right thing."
But where? Nowhere on the MRC website, that's for sure. No MRC press release has been issued thus far to that effect.
Bozell apparently made this pro-editing statement on the Sept. 6 edition of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," when he said that ABC should "edit" or "correct" scenes "that do not have any bearing on reality." But that appearance is not noted on the NewsBusters blog -- which usually makes note of Bozell's TV appearances -- nor is it currently noted on the "MRC In the News" page, which stops at Aug. 25. (The MRC front page lists only the three most recent MRC media cites, and if the Scarborough clip was there, it has apparently cycled out.)
NewsBusters does offer a video of Bozell's appearance on the Sept. 8 edition of "Fox & Friends" -- but then, Bozell changes his tune. He attacked criticism of "The Path to 9/11" as "classic Team Clinton spin," adding that "perhaps 2 percent of it was wrong, perhaps 2 percent is debatable":
BOZELL: But what does that leave you with? That leaves you with about 96 percent of the movie that's accurate and that no one is disputing. It is sobering, it is frightening, and I think it's disgraceful that people are playing politics with this in the Clinton camp.
Bozell says nothing here about editing the film for accuracy.
If Bozell is as in favor of editing as Graham claims he is -- which would, in fact, put him in league with fellow conservatives like Bill Bennett and Richard Miniter -- why won't the MRC admit to it and issue an official statement to that effect?
Sheppard Tries to Change the Subject Again Topic: NewsBusters
In a pair of posts on Sept. 7, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard tries to change the subject again as a diversion from criticism of the factual accuracy of "The Path to 9/11" by dragging Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" into. Sheppard's basic point is that nobody forced Moore to fix any factual errors in his movie. As Sheppard states in one post:
Moore was not compelled by a political party to re-edit it. Former President Clinton didn’t call the marketing company involved in the distribution of “Fahrenheit 911” and demand changes be made. The cable companies that have aired this schlockumentary since it was released to them haven't been required to amend its contents to better portray historical events.
Sheppard fails to point out in both posts that "Fahrenheit 9/11" was privately distributed and admission was charged to see it, while "The Path to 9/11" will be aired on free, federally regulated public broadcast airwaves. Privately distributed productions are not subject to any federal standards, and other privately distributed productions can counter it; as we've noted, conservatives made no less than three films to rebut "Fahrenheit." Broadcasters using public airwaves, however, are subject to some level of regulation.
Sheppard also fails to note that Disney, whose Miramax subsidiary produced "Fahrenheit 9/11," refused to distribute it, forcing Miramax to find another distributor. That's arguably a form of censorship, though it did ultimately receive wide distribution. And discredited Clinton-hater David Bossie (producer of one of those aforementioned "Fahrenheit" rebuttal movies) did attempt to censor the movie, filing a federal lawsuit to kill advertising for it as a purported violation of federal election laws.
Sheppard's attempts at diversion fail to conceal the fact -- just as it didn't earlier in the day, when he claimed that ABC's docudrama was only a movie, which would seem to contradict his whining about "Fahrenheit" -- that "The Path to 9/11" is still factually inaccurate, something that Sheppard apparently has no problem with.
You gotta love the irony of someone who baselessly smears people passing judgment on others, but here we have Dan Riehl in a Sept. 8 NewsBusters post weighing in on Scholastic's decision to withdraw and revise its "Path to 9/11" materials to more accurately reflect reality. Quoth Riehl: "This is getting entirely out of hand. What a crock. This is disgusting."
Funny, that's what we thought about what his baseless attacks on S.R. Sidarth.
Another Anonymous Klein Attack on Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 7 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein once again uses anonymous sources to attack Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. This time, unnamed "Israeli military leaders" are criticizing Olmert for lifting an aerial blockade against Lebanon.
Kincaid Dissembles Again on Secret Prisons Topic: Accuracy in Media
Apparently, we won't be getting that apology from Cliff Kincaid.
In a Sept. 7 Accuracy in Media column, Kincaid again dissembles and parses about the CIA secret prison issue. This time, he takes on reports that President Bush admitted that the secret prisons exists. Au contraire, Kincaid says:
Leave it to Bob Schieffer, the former CBS Evening News anchorman, to admit the truth as he was being interviewed about the speech by new anchor Katie Couric on the Wednesday broadcast. "He never used the term 'prison,'" said Schieffer.
But if the President didn't use the word, then how can the media report that he did so? It's called "interpretive reporting." It's been taught in journalism classes for decades.
In other words, because Bush didn't say the magic words, those "secret prison" magically don't exist as far as Kincaid is concerned -- just as he did when he attacked Washington Post reporter Dana Priest for exposing these nonexistent "secret prisons" in the first place. He will admit, though, that "a secret CIA program to interrogate terrorists, including the architects of 9/11, did exist" and that "the President acknowledged that the CIA has maintained an interrogation "program" in which "a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States," but Kincaid never says what the difference is between that and a "secret prison."
Kincaid also repeats his claim that "AIM contended, and still does, that the story was essentially false," but again, he won't explicitly say why it's "false" to use the term "secret prison" when 1) it was secret and 2) people were imprisoned.
Kincaid is playing a game of sematics: He refuses to call them "secret prisons," so therefore, it's wrong for anyone else to call them that.
Just heard a quick news report make that claim on WABC radio out of NYC while in the car. No statement or confirmation from Disney at this time. The report claimed at least one scene drawing criticism from Dems may be altered.
If so, this is outrageous.
No, Dan, smearing S.R. Sidarth and not apologizing for it is outrageous. Clean your own house first, dude.
Bozell's Double Standard Topic: Media Research Center
Here's what Brent Bozell has to say about a certain TV "docudrama":
Hollywood should never call its historical fiction "meticulously researched." Rather, they should be forced to carry a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen saying "We made some of this stuff up."
Half of our dismay at this messy crossroads of entertainment and propaganda should be directed at Hollywood, which should be greeted with a shaker of salt every time a movie is "Based On a True Story." ... To those Americans who get their history from the movies (and their news from the late-night comedians), we can only plead: read a book, or a newspaper, or else please don’t bother to vote.
What’s worse in this film are what the producers and writers are "adding" to the historical record.
Nobody said those fictional "history" movies can’t be very political. And very dishonest.
No, this wasn't about "The Path to 9/11" -- this is from an Oct. 23, 2003, column about a planned CBS miniseries on Ronald Reagan. After CBS pulled it from the schedule and shunted it to Showtime, Bozell crowed: "for once, conservative pressure, and the national outcry of Reagan-loving Americans, was the deciding factor in a program’s cancellation."
Bozell is much more sanguine about error-filled "docudramas" when the falsehoods are told about Democrats. From Bozell's Sept. 6 column:
Serious scholars of current events, not to mention some of those named in the film, may take issue with parts of this presentation. The movie is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, which itself is not infallible in its conclusions on what went wrong and what needs to fixed. Moreover, up front the moviemakers note it has composite characters and manipulates the time of events for a better movie experience. As a "docudrama" it has taken certain poetic license with history.
When Reagan was the target, Bozell insisted Hollywood "made some of this stuff up." When Democrats were being defamed, Hollywood was taking "poetic license with history." Nice double standard there, Brent.
A Sept. 7 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones on a proposed no-confidence vote on secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, promoted by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, quoted six Republican congressmen attacking the resolution but failed to quote a single supporter of it -- not even Boxer. The end of the article reproduces the resolution; Jones added that "it reflects many of the Democratic arguments advanced on the Senate floor Wednesday."
In other words, a somewhat lazy way out. None of the Republicans Jones quoted actually address the allegations in the resolution; their focus, as Jones wrote (and abetted), was to portray it as "political grandstanding."
Sheppard Walks Back Inaccurate Post on 9/11 Miniseries Topic: NewsBusters
Remember Noel Sheppard's eager-to-smear NewsBusters post attacking critics of ABC's 9/11 miniseries? Well, never mind.
A Sept. 7 NewsBusters post by Sheppard walks back some of those claims. After hearing from Michael Scheuer (who, if you'll recall, is "no friend of the Bush administration!"), Sheppard seems to be conceding that a scene in the miniseries in which the CIA and Northern Alliance purportedly have Osama bin Laden surrounded only to have the operation called off by the Clinton White House is not as accurate as he previously suggested.
Then, after channeling Scheuer for some more Richard Clarke-bashing, Sheppard tries to change the subject:
Finally, on a personal note, it appears necessary to clear up some misunderstandings about the focus I have given to this issue the past couple of days. The truth is that I have not yet seen “The Path to 9/11,” and, frankly, have no opinion on it. How can one have an opinion on something one hasn’t seen?
In reality, that has been my point from the start.
Well, it appears this has happened with “The Path to 9/11,” and all those guilty of rendering an opinion without having seen it should be ashamed of themselves. This is especially true of those in the blogosphere that have fanned the fires of discontent concerning this program before it even aired.
In the end, “The Path to 9/11” is just a made-for-television docudrama…nothing more, nothing less.
We suspect that Sheppard didn't feel the same way about the Reagan miniseries that was similarly assailed before its airing (by conservatives).
Sheppard, however, makes no attempt to correct his other inaccurate claims, such as falsely stating the circumstances surrounding the Sandy Berger case or his straw-man claim about Think Progress' post on the miniseries.
A Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Lyford Beverage claims that it is "non-news" that President Bush acknowledged that the CIA operates secret prisons:
To the extent that the CIA prisons were "secret," they remain secret today. The fact that the President had never officially announced that prisoners were being held by CIA operatives in undisclosed locations is not remotely the same as stating that anyone was unaware of the fact that prisoners were being held in undisclosed locations by CIA operatives.
Beverage might want to chat with Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid about the news value of Bush's admission; he's been demanding proof of these prisons for months now. He also might want to check with his fellow NewsBusters, who thought it was a badthing when the Washington Post reported it.
'Liberal and Dishonest' Topic: Media Research Center
From the Media Research Center front page earlier today:
The CyberAlert item that this is promoting offers no evidence to support the claim that Joseph Welch is "liberal and dishonest" -- in fact, it doesn't even make that claim at all, let alone that he "mocked" McCarthy when saying it. From the item:
Olbermann concluded by his own historical comparison, asking Bush: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" an echo of remarks made by Joseph Welch to 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The guy who writes the copy for the MRC front page is apparently unconstrained by even fewer factual bounds on his rhetoric than the MRC's researchers.