“The Path to 9/11” Criticized by Film Critics, Historians, and Others

“The Path to 9/11” is under attack from many sources beyond members of the Clinton Administration and liberal bloggers. Personally I protested to investor relations at Disney as both a long time stock holder and Annual Pass holder at Walt Disney World. I previously noted the comments of the Families of September 11. At The Moderate Voice Joe Gandelman protests on journalistic grounds:

If you were on a newspaper (I was) and someone mentioned in a story called up and said: “Hey, I heard you’re doing this series on me. What I heard you have is wrong and I want you to hear my side of it and include it in whatever you run” it WOULD be included (even if it was just a short paragraph).

But in this case, ABC and the filmmakers are saying its ENTERTAINMENT — yet, this film is was originally (before the outcry) going to be presented to viewers, and to young people, as FACT. A quickie disclaimer isn’t going to offset glaring sections that are inaccurate or dramatic embellishments.

How many liberal or centrist bloggers were invited to see an advance DVD? If the number is small, then it’s clear the intent was to market the movie from the right as a dramatization that would tell the “real” story of 911 from ONE point of view without all those bothersome loose ends (you know, those pesky nuances from the 911 Commission report that didn’t paint only the Clinton administration as the ONLY screw up administration…since administrations of both parties actually fit in that category — including the present one).

Doug Elfman, film critic at The Chicago Sun-Times, writes that, Accuracy aside, ABC’s ‘9/11’ deserves to bomb. Elfman gives it zero stars and says, “This is the most anticlimaticic, tension-free movie in the history of terrorist TV.” Variety predicts the film might be pulled in light of the controversy. Disney is far more accustomed to attacks from the right for the liberal values it promotes than from the left. Even the star of the film has criticized it for inaccuracies according to Editor and Publisher:

Harvey Keitel, the lead actor in the film, said in a TV interview that changes must be made in the film. He said when he was hired for the role he was told the movie was a “history” but then found that certain facts were “wrong.” This led to “arguments,” he recalled. “You can compile certain things as long as the truth remains the truth,” he told Showbiz Tonight. “You can’t put these things together, compress them and then distort the reality….

“You cannot cross the line from a conflation of events to a distortion of the event. Where we have distorted something, we made a mistake and it should be corrected.”

A group of professional historians has also sent Robert Iger a letter of protest over the inaccuracies in the mini-series:

Dear Robert Iger:

We write as professional historians, who are deeply concerned by the continuing reports about ABC’s scheduled broadcast of “The Path to 9/11.” These reports document that this drama contains numerous flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history. The key participants and eyewitnesses to these events state that the script distorts and even fabricates evidence into order to mislead viewers about the responsibility of numerous American officials for allegedly ignoring the terrorist threat before 2000.

The claim by the show’s producers, broadcaster, and defenders, that these falsehoods are permissible because the show is merely a dramatization, is disingenuous and dangerous given their assertions that the show is also based on authoritative historical evidence. Whatever ABC’s motivations might be, broadcasting these falsehoods, connected to the most traumatic historical event of our times, would be a gross disservice to the public. A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show’s broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.

Arthur Schlesinger
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Lizbeth Cohen, Harvard University,
Nicholas Salvatore, Cornell University;
Ted Widmer, Washington College;
Rick Perlstein, Independent Scholar;
David Blight, Yale University;
Eric Alterman, City University of New York;
Beverly Gage, Yale University.
(List in formation)

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  1. 1
    J says:

    The politicians lie and put their spin on events. Surely you don’t doubt it. Why shouldn’t anybody else be allowed the same leeway? Why would you believe the official version anymore than a crackhead’s denials? We live in the age of b. s… Deal with it.

  2. 2
    liberalhomo says:

    There is nothing wrong with calling people out when they lie. The notion that it is perfectly OK to lie is a cancer on our political culture.

  3. 3
    Michael Brito says:

    all of you who are questioning the accuracy of this movie are probably the same ones who believe that Faranheit 911 is completely true.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Completely true? I think that even most people who generally agree with Michael Moore realize he stretches the truth at times. Still, F 911 was far closer to the truth than The Path to 9/11, with its inacuracies discussed in several posts here.

    At least in the case of a Michael Moore documentary, everyone knows his biases. Moore’s documentaries are not aired first run on network television, and they are not billed as being based upon a government report (as Path to 9/11 initially was). The Path to 9/11 was potentially far more dangerous in its distortions of the truth–especially with groups like Scholastic planning to use it as teaching material until they found out how biased it is.

    There is no question as to the fact that The Path to 9/11 is inaccurate. Not only have we quoted many people here regarding its inaccuracies, ABC even agreed to remove some of the most inaccurate scenes and to add disclaimers as to its accuracy. They also removed the claims that it was based upon the 9/11 Commission report.

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