Once upon a time there was a scandalous Hollywood story, involving no Hollywood stars, but plenty of deception, outrage, and back-biting politics. (Note: this has nothing to do with Paris Hilton – in the improbable case you consider her a “star.”) The star of our story is a film, but I’m getting ahead of myself. There once was a principled young man named Cyrus, who loved to write and direct.
Fast forward to ABC commissioning him to write a script about the events surrounding the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, eager for his assurance that he could beat NBC to the punch. ABC thought this compelling story would be good for their bottom line, which is why it’s current status is of such concern.
Cyrus went to work. His job would be to edit an almost insurmountable collection of information and put it into a screenplay that was at once compelling and absolutely honest. He combed through not just the 9/11 report, but also books, magazines, newspapers, court transcripts; interviewed multiple advisors and people involved in the events. It was in his heart that while this story should not be politicized, the truth should be publicized. The public deserved, nay, needed, desperately, to know the series of events making up this life and death tale. In the end Cyrus delivered a script that ran 300 pages with over 260 speaking parts.
Because ABC insisted that Cyrus accompany each scene with no less than two footnotes, two sources to verify that the assertions were true, the annotation was 50 pages longer than the script itself.
ABC and their lawyers and fact-checkers approved the script, and it went into production. A mini-series emerged, the likes of which people had never seen before. ABC scheduled it to air. And then, they showed it to the press. Actually, they showed the first episode to the press, and gave out the second part on DVD.
Because it deals mainly with the lead-up to the terrorist attacks, the first part paints Clinton in perhaps not the most flattering light. The second part is equally condemning of Bush, but the press didn’t bother to watch it, they were so outraged at the treatment of Clinton’s impotence (I really can’t think of a better word there.)
Rumors started and fury grew over the allegedly unfair treatment of the Clinton administration. One scene particularly goaded the press: it was a retrospectively tragic scene, in which The U.S. had Bin Laden surrounded and no one, least of all National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, would give the go ahead. Berger, on CNN, objected to the scene, claiming “The one time we had good information about bin Laden’s whereabouts was in August of 1998. We fired 50 tomahawk missiles into the camp where we believed he was… There was no other occasion while we were in office that we had an opportunity to get bin Laden or eyes on bin Laden.” Then, when asked about the specific incident portrayed in the movie, he answered, “I believe in that situation the CIA itself called off the operation because they didn’t believe it was reliable.”
Methinks he doth protest too much. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the OBL unit at the CIA’s counter-terrorist center, sent ABC News an email, claiming, “the core of the movie is irrefutably true: the Clinton administration had 10 chances to capture or kill Bin Laden.”
Gary Schroen, former CIA field agent who was the first American into Afghanistan after 9/11, said publicly, “…the movie is remarkably accurate.” He also maintains that there were 13 such opportunities to capture Bin Laden. Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, chief White House military aide to President Clinton, said, “In terms of conveying how the Clinton administration handled its opportunities to get bin Laden, it’s 100 percent factually correct… I was there with Clinton and Berger and watched the missed opportunities occur.”
Bill Clinton commented, “I don’t want any lies in there parading as truth, that’s all.” Now THAT’s a refreshing change of pace, so major media outlets took up the chorus.
In fact, Wolf Blitzer provided Sandy Berger and William Cohen prime time on CNN in order to disparage the movie and demand that it be pulled off the air. None of them had, in fact, viewed the film, which de facto prevented them from lying about it. In Berger’s interview, Blitzer even failed to inquire about Berger’s 2003 incident, in which Berger stole original documents from the national archives and destroyed them, then lied about it. It would have been a valuable and highly pertinent part of the interview, since Berger was in fact sent by Clinton, ostensibly to prepare for their testimony at the 9/11 Commission, and since Berger pled guilty to charges in April of 2005. Apparently there wasn’t space to squeeze in a bit of worthwhile information when interviewer and interviewee are set on discussing a movie both have admittedly not seen. In their own words, “only on CNN.”
In the case of Sandy Berger, the important thing to concentrate on is what was in the documents he risked himself and his career to destroy. Too bad we will never know, but guaranteed, it wasn’t porn.
Incredibly, Harry Reid and five other senators sent a letter to Disney/ABC threatening revocation of their station licenses if they didn’t pull or re-cut the movie. That’s your tax dollars at work. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, on the house floor, recommended the need to “consider the backgrounds of the people behind this.” Excuse me, Ms. Slaughter, but this is AMERICA, not Venezuela. Censorship of free speech and the threatening of broadcast licenses are actually illegal in this country, as yet.
The extent of hysteria surrounding this project knew no limits. Ultimately, ABC did indeed re-cut the scene in question and some other footage of Clinton testifying (lying?) about Monica. All in all, about 3 minutes was lost, but, thankfully, the battle was won, almost.
“The Path to 9/11” had almost 28 million viewers over 2 nights, winning outright in the ratings on night two. So the question remains:
Why has Disney/ABC not yet released the DVD?
They had slated it for a January release. Then they rescheduled it for June. June has come and gone, and no release, and no future date, and no explanation. Thousands of bootleg copies have been sold on the Internet, such that Disney attorneys threatened EBay, and EBay took down the ads.
Incredibly, the Clinton gang, with Bob Iger, might be the reason there is no scheduled release of the DVD of this fantastically successful show. Is Bill Clinton in bed with a mouse? (Sorry…) More importantly, is the mouse afraid for its broadcast license?
Otherwise, where is the fiscal responsibility of Disney/ABC to their stockholders? With 28 million viewers one might reasonably expect sales of a third of that, or roughly $200 million in proceeds. That’s money that would eventually make its way into dividends in some retirement accounts. I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. By not releasing a highly successful film on DVD, when even “Poseidon,” an incredible $160 million flop, was released on DVD not four months after its theatrical release, the Walt Disney Company seems to be purposefully trying not to make money, and that’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility.
One wonders, if Hilary weren’t running for president, would Disney be showing more of a profit? It’s appalling that a public company’s executive could be turning his back on two hundred million dollars because of a personal friendship or political partisanship. In fact, it’s downright scandalous.
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