In a Sept. 12 NewsBusters post (and matching TimesWatch post), The MRC's Clay Waters does a fine job of summing up conservatives' attitude toward inaccurate portrayals of Democrats in ABC's "The Path to 9/11." In the midst of excoriating the New York Times for "adopt[ing] the POV of the Clintonians that tried to stop ABC from airing the miniseries," Waters quotes the Times noting the film's very first scene shows lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta getting on the wrong airline, Waters succintly describes his reaction:
There you have it -- proof that at the MRC, media accuracy only matters some of the time. Sure, they love to trot out Brent Bozell's grudging claim that inaccurate parts of the miniseries should be edited, but as we detailed, the MRC never acted on it and spent most of its time beating up Democrats who dared to request an accurate portrayal -- and then had a fit over being accused of a double standard when they weren't as harsh on "The Path to 9/11" as they were on a 2003 Reagan miniseries.
Does this mean the next time the MRC gets its knickers in a twist about a portrayal of conservatives that it doesn't we get to dismiss it with a hale and hearty "So?" just like Waters?
A Sept. 12 WorldNetDaily article featuring an after-the-fact defense of the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" by Cyrus Nowrasteh, its screenwriter and chief producers, glosses over the real controversy over the show -- Nowrasteh's conservative politics.
Before Moore even addresses that, though, he and Nowrasteh get in their digs at Clinton administration officials who protested the show's false portrayals of them. Moore cited 'unprecedented pressure from former President Clinton, his aides and top Democratic Party leaders that resulted in edits," then quoted Nowrasteh as saying, "To lose only a minute [due to the edits] is a success, is a victory. ... I think ABC stood tall." Nowrasteh also lamented the elimination of a "masterfully directed sequence" that falsely portrayed Clinton-era national security adviser Sandy Berger hanging up on CIA director George Tenet as Tenet sought permission to go ahead with a capture of Osama bin Laden, even though Nowrasteh himself admitted it was "a conflation of events" and the setup of the scene -- a visual sighting of bin Laden being cornered in his compound -- never happened in real life. Moore also repeated his earlier misleading description of Robert "Buzz" Patterson, one of Nowrasteh's sources for his screenplay, as a "a former military aide to President Clinton" when, as we've detailed, Patterson is in fact a Clinton-bashing conservative activist.
It's not until the 22nd paragraph that Moore touches on the issue of Nowrasteh's political leanings by repeating the claims of Huffington Post blogger Max Blumenthal that a "secret right-wing network" was behind the ABC miniseries, and that was "produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias." But rather than detail Blumenthal's allegations any further, Moore states that "Nowrasteh dismissed the criticism" and quoted Nowrasteh as saying, "This project was generated at ABC at the highest network levels" -- a "denial" that denies nothing Blumenthal reported about Nowrasteh's conservative activism.
Remember that Moore is the same WND writer who's in charge of whitewashing and falsifying Peter Paul's long criminal history in order to play up Paul's attacks on the Clintons, so it's no surprise that Moore would perform a similar service regarding Nowrasteh's conservative politics.
In his Sept. 11 MRC CyberAlert, Brent Baker mostly repeated his Sept. 8 NewsBusters post defending his boss Brent Bozell from Keith Olbermann naming him "Worst Person in the World." (We say "mostly" because rather than repeating his claim that this very blog may have inspired Olbermann's awarding of the honor to Bozell, he lumped us in with unnamed "left-wing bloggers.") This gives us a chance to address one more Baker claim that we missed in our last analysis of his post.
If you'll recall, Olbermann (as we did) pointed out Bozell's double standard on the issue of factual accuracy in TV docudramas; in 2003, he smacked around CBS for "'adding' to the historical record" in a miniseries about Ronald Reagan, but merely stated that ABC had taken "poetic license with history" on the "Path to 9/11" miniseries. In the NewsBusters post, Baker responded, "Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes 'poetic license' is criticism"; for the CyberAlert, that was tweaked to state, "Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes "poetic license" is acknowledging inaccuracies."
But Baker misses the point: The problem is not that noting "poetic license" isn't "acknowledging inaccuracies," it's that "poetic license" is the harshest thing Bozell had to say about those inaccuracies in "The Path to 9/11." By contrast, in his Oct. 23, 2003, column castigating CBS for inaccuracies in "The Reagans" miniseries, Bozell called it "dramatic and quite fictional," said that "no one should expect ... lessons" about "leadership of Ronald Reagan" "to come from leftist Hollywood," asserted that "Hollywood will never catch a glimpse of Reagan’s moral vision," and concluded by stating, "Inquiring minds should also remember that CBS chief Les Moonves won’t be making any Clinton-bashing TV movies."
Bozell may have suggested that inaccuracies in "The Path to 9/11" be edited, but he made no effort to push or fight for those edits, and he certainly didn't castigate the "Path to 9/11" producers for their inaccuracies they way he bashed the producers of "The Reagans" for theirs. That's the double standard Baker apparently can't see.
Meanwhile, at NewsMax's Bush-Fluffing Department ... Topic: Newsmax
Ronald Kessler continues his Bush hagiography efforts with a Sept. 11 article featuring some serious, unchallenged fawning over Bush by Frances Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. How fawning? Take this quote for instance: "The president, not just by his words but by his actions and his decisions, has made perfectly clear that first and foremost in his mind is personal commitment to protecting the American people — even if it results in criticism of him personally."
And Kessler himself puts it this way:
In effect, Bush operates as the CEO of the war on terror, pushing countries to cooperate, keeping track of terrorists, asking tough questions, and guiding the agencies responsible for combating terrorism.
No wonder Kessler didn't challenge anything Townsend said; he agrees with it all.
CNS Misrepresents Opposition to 9/11 Ad Topic: CNSNews.com
A Sept. 11 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal misrepresented the nature of opposition to a Republican senator's campaign ad using an image of the burning World Trade Center towers:
In July, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) aired an ad picturing smoke rising from the World Trade Center Towers, implying that his opponent Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is soft on terrorism.
DeWine was heavily criticized for the ad, but Republican strategist and pollster David E. Johnson with Strategic Vision said 9/11 is "still a potent issue."
In fact, DeWine was criticized not only because his campaign used an image of the burning towers but also because that image was a graphic illustration, not an actual photo, and thus not reflective of reality. As U.S. News & World Report stated:
"This particular image is impossible," says W. Gene Corley, a stuctural engineer who led the Federal Emergency Management Agency's building performance study of the World Trade Center after the attacks. Corley reviewed the ad at www.brownvotes.com for U.S. News. "The north tower was hit first, [so] the south tower could not be burning without the north tower burning." Corley says. "The smoke is all wrong." The day of the attacks, the plumes of ash were drifting to the southeast. "The smoke on 9/11 was never in a halo like that," he added.
DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik says the image of the burning towers in the ad was a still photo with computer-generated smoke added.
It's not just that DeWine used a 9/11-related image; it's that the image itself was false. Bansal should have noted that.
A Sept. 11 WorldNetDaily "news analysis" by Aaron Klein is headlined "Desperate Olmert resorting to radical moves." That sets the negative tone of Klein's piece that fits in with his (and WND's) history of anti-Olmert bias.
Klein starts by asserting that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is "radical moves aimed at saving his flailing government, even at the expense of Israel's security." Klein noted that "Instead of forming the national commission, which would be run independently and would have the authority to recommend the resignation of top officials, the prime minister appointed two much weaker government-run committees to probe the war" that would be "controlled largely by Olmert's office." But he offered no historical perspective -- specifically, the fact that President Bush also originally opposed an independent commission to look into 9/11 and instead favored investigations conducted by Republican-dominated congressional committees.
Klein also described Olmert's base as "centrist and left-wing," but in describing Olmert's efforts to "mov[e] toward the right" to shore up support, he didn't describe the Israeli right wing as such; instead, he referred to "nationalist parties." As we've noted, Klein has a problem with applying the labels "conservative" and "right-wing" to Israel's conservatives and right-wingers.
Klein seems to lament that Olmert won't be punished to the level that Klein clearly thinks he deserves:
Also, with each passing day, the momentum shifts more in Olmert's direction. The Israeli public is known for its short-term memory. As the news cycle continues and new events dominate the agenda, it becomes more and more difficult to prosecute the prime minister for his management of the war in Lebanon.
Klein clearly has a bias against Olmert. Why does WorldNetDaily allow him to be a reporter on anything related to Olmert?
New Article: The Path to 9/11 Bias Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center meekly suggests that an inaccurate ABC miniseries be edited, but it expends much more effort attacking Democrats upset with fictionalized portrayals of the Clinton administration. Read more.
How did the ConWeb react to 9/11? The ConWebWatch archive has the answers:
-- The bodies weren't even cold before WorldNetDaily and NewsMax blamed it on Clinton, with NewsMax adding for effect: "The president has been eloquent. He has been confident. Real Americans support him 100 percent."
-- The MRC was actually nice to Dan Rather, and WorldNetDaily's Anthony LoBaido went on his infamous tirade blaming the U.S. for the attacks and noting that "All that is evil in the world can be found in New York -- a screed too extreme even for WND, which eventually deleted it.
-- NewsMax couldn't decide whether to attack or embrace Bill Maher's "cowards" remark. So it didn't, then it did.
-- Hugh Hewitt went wobbly on supporting the president post-9/11 if that president was Al Gore.
-- It was never too early to start deifying Barbara Olson -- and to profit by plugging her books.
Corsi, Gilchrist Push Unsupported Claim on Illegals Topic: Newsmax
A Sept. 7 NewsMax article by Jerome Corsi and Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist promotes their claim that there are 30 million illegal immigrants in America. But they offer no actual evidence to support their claim.
Here's what they claim:
Based on our research while writing our book, when groups the federal government excludes from its "official" estimates are properly counted, we conclude that there are currently 30 million illegal immigrants in the United States. That's right — 30 million, or nearly three times the number that DHS is guessing.
What's more, the evidence also suggests there are 10,000 more illegals crossing our unguarded borders every day. This translates to approximately 75,000 illegal immigrants crossing each week, with 4-6 million new illegals entering the U.S. each year.
While Corsi and Gilchrist attack the way the federal government and the Pew Hispanic Research Center -- who both estimate that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is around 11 million -- compile their statistics, they offer no details on how their "research" making that conclusion was compiled, which casts a cloud over their claim.
As we've noted, Corsi's boss at WorldNetDaily, Joseph Farah, has also promoted this inflated number -- but at least he grudgingly admits, "I'm guessing, too."
NewsBusters Downplays GOP Ties of 9/11 Commissioners Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 10 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard praised the comments of 9/11 Commission co-chairman Thomas Kean and commission member John Lehman in favor of airing ABC's "The Path to 9/11," While Sheppard includes a long quote from Lehman identifying himself as "a Republican having lived with the hostility of Hollywood through the last 30 years" (which Sheppard called "brilliantly offered"), he fails to note Kean's Republican affiliation.
Why does this matter? Because NewsBusters has been quick to highlight the Democratic links of other 9/11 Commission members who have spoken out on the film. A Sept. 6 post by Clay Waters, for instance, described commission member Richard Ben-Veniste as "a hard-core Democratic and Clinton partisan."
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?