The Liberty Film Festival, "a forum for conservative thought on film," recently awarded ABC Vice President Judith Tukich, a right-wing evangelical who has described her mission as "evangeliz[ing] the world ... through the media," the festival's "Freedom of Expression Award" for her role in assisting the production and promotion of The Path to 9/11.
On November 10 at the Liberty Film Festival, "a forum for conservative thought on film," ABC Vice President of Synergy and Special Projects Judith Tukich was presented with the festival's "Freedom of Expression Award" for her role in assisting the production and promotion of the factually challenged "docudrama" The Path to 9/11. Tukich is a right-wing evangelical who has described her mission as "evangeliz[ing] the world ... through the media."
The screenwriter of The Path to 9/11, Cyrus Nowrasteh, an outspoken conservative, was also given a "Freedom of Expression Award." In introducing the award ceremony at Hollywood's Pacific Design Center, festival co-founder and co-director Jason Apuzzo declared: "Personally, I think [the airing of The Path to 9/11] was a big victory for us, for ABC, for Cyrus, and we're going to be celebrating tonight."
The Path to 9/11 aired on ABC for two nights during the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. ABC received withering criticism from leading congressional Democrats, former President Bill Clinton, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke and others, including Media Matters for America, asserting that the film was rife with fabricated stories and scenes designed to smear the Clinton administration's record on fighting terror. In a September 5 press release, ABC conceded that The Path to 9/11 was indeed a fantasy version of history, calling the film "a dramatization, not a documentary."
Prior to the airing of The Path to 9/11, Nowrasteh foreshadowed his film's attacks on the Clinton administration's record. In an interview with right-wing activist David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com, a month prior to the airing of The Path to 9/11, Nowrasteh claimed that Clinton's "lack of response" to terrorism "emboldened [Osama] Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests."
Even as ABC denied requests for advance copies of The Path to 9/11 from Clinton's office and former members of the Clinton administration, Liberty Film Festival co-founder and co-director Govindini Murty was given an advance screening of the film and wrote the first review of it a week before critics from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times were able to view it. (" 'The Path to 9/11' is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible," Murty wrote in FrontPageMag.com in August.)
Apuzzo announced his close relationship with Nowrasteh at the festival's opening night. "Cyrus is such a friend to this festival and to so many conservatives in Hollywood," he said.
Standing beside Nowrasteh to accept her award, Tukich expressed her gratitude. "It was really an honor to work on such an important project," she declared.
In 2000, Tukich told the newsletter of the National Religious Broadcasters, the media lobby of the Christian right, "The single greatest way to evangelize the world is through the media." Indeed, in referring to ABC's broadcast of the 2000 animated film, The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus, Tukich also said: "We send our kids off to Borneo and New Guinea, but I reached more people that night than probably every church on the Pacific Coast. This is the reality of it; this is where the power lies. Clearly we touched a lot of people that night." In a newsletter for the fundamentalist Foursquare Church, Tukich is described as "radical about reforming political endeavors ... especially in television and other areas of popular culture. She believes it is the grace of God that has allowed her as a conservative Christian Evangelical in the television and film industry, to influence projects that are released on the air today." Tukich donated $1,000 to President Bush in August 2004.
This year, Horowitz absorbed the festival into his political mini-empire, promoting and producing it through the David Horowitz Freedom Center.