A Media Matters for America review of the conclusion of ABC's two-part miniseries, The Path to 9/11, contained scenes that were factually inaccurate, and that showed President Bush taking aggressive action there is no indication he ever took.
The New York Times and The Washington Post framed President Bush's prime-time address as part of an effort to avoid partisanship on the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, but much of Bush's rhetoric echoed his remarks at recent campaign appearances and in stump speeches during the 2004 presidential election.
A Media Matters for America review of 12 reports on network evening news broadcasts covering President Bush's speeches and statements on Iraq, terrorism, and national security policy in the week preceding September 11 showed that the reports included responses from just five Democratic officials.
Numerous newspapers ran positive reviews of the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 -- calling it "factual," "meticulous," and "completely true" -- failing to inform readers that it has been sharply criticized as inaccurate and even defamatory.
Columnist John Fund claimed that Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright "persuaded ABC to alter the scenes involving them" in the miniseries The Path to 9/11. But while the scenes were apparently edited from earlier versions, both still presented depictions contradicted by both Clinton officials and the 9-11 Commission report.
On Fox News' The Beltway Boys, Morton M. Kondracke aired portions of two advertisements about the "war on terror" by Progress for America and the Center for Security Policy, but he identified these organizations only as "basically pro-defense groups" and did not note their misrepresentations of the criticism directed at the Bush administration over its conduct of the "war on terror" and the war in Iraq.
On Fox News Sunday, William Kristol attacked Democrats for "turn[ing] every event, including now the fifth anniversary of 9-11, into a partisan fight," and claimed that it is "a totally false charge that [President Bush] has played the politics of fear." Kristol also claimed that Bush "has never said a word about the Clinton administration. He has never tried to blame past [national security] failures on them."
NBC News and the Associated Press uncritically reported Vice President Dick Cheney's claim that the absence of an Al Qaeda attack in America since 9-11 is proof that the Bush administration has done "a pretty good job" or "a hell of a job" with counterterrorism. But neither outlet contrasted Cheney's assertion with investigative reporter Ron Suskind's recent disclosure that many CIA analysts believe Al Qaeda leaders have declined to attack the U.S. again for strategic reasons.
In its miniseries The Path to 9-11, ABC retained a controversial scene that depicts Clinton administration officials declining to authorize the CIA to capture Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, despite the fact that the scene is contradicted by the 9-11 Commission report, on which the network originally claimed the film was based.
NBC's Tim Russert did not challenge Vice President Dick Cheney's broad declarations that allegations regarding Bush administration actions in Iraq and against terrorism were "wrong" or untrue, letting Cheney make his assertions without asking the vice president to specify what widely-reported and in some cases seemingly irrefutable facts he was taking issue with.
Numerous news outlets have uncritically reported President Bush's assertion in a September 6 speech that the CIA's controversial interrogation methods led detained Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah to disclose crucial information. But The New York Times and The Washington Post have highlighted disclosures that contradict Bush's account of both Zubaydah's value as a source and the efficacy of the interrogation methods used on him. Will the other media outlets report this conflict?
ABC has issued a number of different, even conflicting statements as it has promoted -- and subsequently defended -- the miniseries The Path to 9/11.
Various news media have uncritically reported ABC's statement that criticism of The Path to 9/11 is "premature and irresponsible," because the film has not yet been finalized, even though the network reportedly said the previous week that the film was "locked and ready to air," screened the film at the National Press Club, and has provided preview copies to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and a number of right-wing bloggers.