As Media Matters for America and others have noted, the upcoming ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 is rife with errors, inaccuracies, and omissions, relying on scenes the network admits are fabricated in order to blame former President Bill Clinton for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while simultaneously letting President Bush off the hook.
But in 2004, ABC's corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., refused to distribute Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, which was highly critical of President Bush, even though it was produced by a Disney subsidiary, Miramax Films. Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner explained that the company "did not want a film in the middle of the political process where we're such a nonpartisan company and our guests, that participate in all of our attractions, do not look for us to take sides."
ABC's current promotion of an admittedly "fictionalized" attack on former President Clinton is not only inconsistent with Disney's statements about Fahrenheit 9/11, it appears at odds with the company's approach to a 2005 book written about it by journalist James Stewart. Disney representatives reportedly threatened to sue the publisher of Stewart's DisneyWar (Simon & Schuster) if it contained inaccuracies, according to a February 7, 2005, Los Angeles Times article:
The book, which won't hit stores until later this month but already is the talk of Hollywood, couldn't come at a worse moment for [Robert] Iger. He is widely seen as the front-runner to become Disney's next CEO, a candidacy now backed by Eisner.
"The timing isn't good at all," said New York media analyst and longtime Disney watcher Harold Vogel.
Disney cooperated extensively with Stewart while he researched his book. But in recent weeks, the Burbank entertainment giant has been battling behind the scenes with the author and his publisher, Viacom Inc.-owned Simon & Schuster, over unflattering passages about Iger and Eisner that Disney executives have insisted are slanted or erroneous. Some of those complaints, according to a source familiar with Disney's communications, have been addressed in footnotes, parenthetical sentences or rewording in the book's final version.
Representatives for Disney, which also obtained a draft of "DisneyWar," have suggested that legal action could be brought against Simon & Schuster if the book were found to contain inaccuracies, according to two sources. For its part, Simon & Schuster sternly warned Disney in a letter not to disseminate copies of the draft, which was obtained without the publisher's permission.
Asked by The Times to comment on the draft of Stewart's book, a Disney spokesman would say only: "This flagrantly irresponsible article does not rise to a level that merits the dignity of a response."