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Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Where's Evidence That Bush Was Unfairly Bashed in 9/11 Miniseries?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

One of the claims of conservative defenders of ABC's "The Path to 9/11" is that the Bush administration was as misleadingly portrayed as the Clinton administration. For instance:

  • "Last night's episode included scenes that were not flattering to the Republican Bush administration, which took over eight months before the 9/11 attacks." -- Sept. 12 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore, the same article that whitewashed scriptwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh's conservative politics.
  • "The film doesn't play favorites, and the Bush administration takes its lumps as well. Condoleezza Rice, for one, takes a hit." -- Brent Bozell, Sept. 6 column.
  • "'The Path to 9/11' also depicted President George W. Bush's administration in an unfavorable light, but Republicans made no similar totalitarian threat against ABC." -- Lowell Ponte, Sept. 13 NewsMax column.

But both Bozell and WND are conflating "not flattering" -- which nobody disputes; it's hard to quibble with an unflattering depiction of events if it's factually accurate -- with false and misleading, which is what the Clintonites were complaining about. Neither WND nor Bozell offer any examples of misleading or inaccurate depictions of Bush administration officials or their actions in "The Path to 9/11," as Clintonites did of their depictions.

That may be because, to the contrary, the Bushies are shown as acting more heroically than the historical record shows. As Media Matters documents, President Bush and his administration are shown as being more proactive against terrorist threats and, on 9/11 itself, quicker to call for shooting down terrorist-hijacked planes than the facts warrant. One might even call it flattering.

Have we heard conservatives -- who, in their attacks on the CBS miniseries on the Reagans, to be sticklers for historical accuracy -- demand that "The Path to 9/11" tell the truth about the Bush administration? Nope -- because those falsehoods make Republicans look good.

UPDATE: Added Lowell Ponte quote. 

Posted by Terry K. at 6:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:13 PM EDT
CNS Suddenly Tells the Truth About GOP Hearings

A Sept. 13 article by Susan Jones begins:

In 13 states this summer, Republican lawmakers held "field" hearings on immigration reform, trying to get a sense of where voters stand on the issue.

On Tuesday, the Republican committee chairmen reported their findings to the Republican Policy Committee -- prompting complaints from Democrats, who called Tuesday's Republican-only gathering a "sham hearing."

That's not a point of view CNS offered up when it covered one of those hearings. As we documented, in an Aug. 17 article, CNS writer Kevin Mooney misleadingly claimed that the entire House Judiciary Committee was involved in those field hearings, even though he quoted only Republicans in his article, unquestioningly repeating their spin points on immigration.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:41 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 5:42 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Is Ann Coulter Writing for the MRC?
Topic: Media Research Center

The promotion on the daily CyberAlert at the top of the front page of the Media Research Center website has grown noticeably more hostile of late. First, this Coulteresque writer bashed the man who told Sen. Joe McCarthy "Have you no sense of decency?" as "liberal and dishonest." Today, he/she is suggesting that Keith Olbermann was drunk when he excoriated President Bush on his Sept. 11 show:










As before, the item to which it links is not nearly so hateful as the front page indicates; it merely calls Olbermann's lecture "one of his most vitriolic attacks on the President." And while the anonymous blurb-writer asserted that "Olbermann, of course, presented no evidence to back up his claims," the MRC presented no evidence to contradict Olbermann's claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:50 PM EDT
'On Either Side' = Attack on Bush
Topic: Media Research Center

How ultra-sensitive are the employees of the Media Research Center to any real or perceived criticism of President Bush? Take this Sept. 12 CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker. Otherwise laudatory of CBS' Craig Ferguson for expressing a "refreshing attitude" for his "overall unashamed sentiment and appreciation for our country" in a monologue on his late-night show, Baker couldn't shake the feeling that there was liberal bias lurking about:

I could have done without the criticism of “all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own,” which could be seen as a cryptic shot at President Bush since it matches a liberal talking point about him -- but Ferguson's overall unashamed sentiment and appreciation for our country was pleasing to hear on a broadcast television network.

Yes, Baker apparently believes that criticism of crass, opportunistic behavior on either side of political debates is focused only on Bush; he seemed undisturbed that non-Republicans were also targeted by that "crypic shot." What part of "on either side" does Baker not understand?

Posted by Terry K. at 4:46 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 4:53 PM EDT
Topic: NewsBusters

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?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:00 PM EDT
WND Whitewashes Nowrasteh's Conservatism
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 PM EDT
On 'Poetic License'
Topic: Media Research Center

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 12:38 AM EDT
Monday, September 11, 2006
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:37 PM EDT
CNS Misrepresents Opposition to 9/11 Ad

A Sept. 11 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 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:05 PM EDT
Klein's Latest Olmert Smear
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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 also rehashes various alleged Olmert scandals, ominiously claiming at one point that "Olmert also is facing possible criminal charges."

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?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 PM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EDT
A Look Back
Topic: The ConWeb

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 ConWeb quickly moved on to branding any criticism of President Bush as tantamount to treason.

-- 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

Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 AM EDT
Sunday, September 10, 2006
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:44 PM EDT
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:22 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 10, 2006 6:29 PM EDT
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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