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Saturday, September 9, 2006
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."

Baker wrote:

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:06 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 9, 2006 5:11 PM EDT

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