"This is John Miller, reporting live from Khartoum . . . Go behind the cops and do it again," says the reporter in the soundtrack of a behind-the-scenes clip at the website of ABCs controversial forthcoming miniseries, "The Path to 9/11" Shades of Pallywood? No. This is the real thing, a "fake but accurate" product of Hollywood, Only this time, the shoe is on the other foot. From the script: "The rioting here deflects criticism that President Clinton is getting back home, where he is under fire from Republicans and media pundits accusing him of launching the cruise missile attacks in a vain effort to distract attention from the President's recent confession of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky." No wonder Bubba's upset. Note inset of local extra above left, hamming it up for the camera.
"Hollywood stands accused of something it rarely is," says Brit Hume this evening, "aiding and abetting Republicans." The blogosphere is all over the story, the usual suspects coming down on the right or the left or somewhere in between. The Clintonistas are up to their old tricks again, doing their best to stifle free speech by intimidating ABC into either bowdlerizing or pulling its product, which threatens to tarnish the pristine Clinton "Legacy":
ABC's upcoming five-hour docudrama "The Path to 9/11" is quickly becoming a political cause célèbre.
The network has in recent days made changes to the film, set to air Sunday and Monday, after leading political figures, many [many? try all] of them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies. Meanwhile, a left-wing organization [aka the Democratic Party, as Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs points out] has launched a letter-writing campaign urging the network to "correct" or dump the miniseries, while conservative blogs have launched a vigorous defense.
The movie dramatizes what it deems intelligence and operational failures of the Clinton and Bush administrations, relying heavily on public records. Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 commission, served as a consultant.
"It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known," huffed former White House aide Bruce R. Lindsey -- head of the William J. Clinton Foundation -- in a shameless attempt of his own to mislead the American public:
Top officials of the Clinton administration have launched a preemptive strike against an ABC-TV "docudrama," slated to air Sunday and Monday, that they say includes made-up scenes depicting them as undermining attempts to kill Osama bin Laden.
Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright called one scene involving her "false and defamatory." Former national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger said the film "flagrantly misrepresents my personal actions" [could anyone misrepresent his personal actions more flagrantly that Sandypants himself?]
Unconscionable, indeed. Our favorite huffer was former White House anti-terror chief Richard Clarke, who "has made a career in retirement of blaming 9/11 on George Bush, while claiming he manfully tried to hunt bin Laden down until the last second of his government service," as Fox News puts it. Dr. Sanity, as always, gets the gist:
The truth will exist independently of whatever you or I feel about it. I'm content to let history decide. I am not willing to let those who have an axe to grind make the determination. It is insulting to even have to listen to their hysteria. I can make up my own mind.
"So, how does one create a riot on film?" asks the voiceover at ABC's riveting -- have you ever been rivited? -- multi-media "The Path to 9/11" website. The bit on "How to create a riot" is Pallywood without evil intent:
First off, you gotta to find the right location, and Morocco's an incredible place, and the town of Ouarzazate . . . The entire economy is made up of people who work in the movies . . . Some are second- and third-generation extras going all the way back to "Lawrence of Arabia." We are dressing up our camera teams so that they can be among the rioters . . . Really, it's up to the extras to create the energy . . . We've put some stuntmen there as well to throw Molotov cocktails and to blow up a car, hoping no one will get hurt . . . Our goal is that the film will be so authentic that you can't tell the difference between what we have filmed and what you would see on the news [there's a difference?] . . . We're basically we're going to light the fuse and see if we can get that same kind of energy that a mob mentality gives in any situation.
For the "real" thing -- false but inaccurate -- check out Richard Landes's "The Al Durah Trials: Portrait of French Culture at the Beginning of the 21st Century."