On CNN's Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz suggested that "liberal hypocrisy" was inherent in Democrats' objections to ABC's "docudrama" The Path to 9/11. Kurtz highlighted radio host Michael Medved's criticism of Democratic objections to the film and appeared to adopt Medved's assertion that Democrats are seeking to "censor" the film. But Kurtz neglected to discuss the "hypocrisy" in the reaction to the film by some conservatives -- including Medved.
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During the September 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz highlighted nationally syndicated radio host Michael Medved's accusation of "liberal hypocrisy" among those criticizing ABC's "docudrama" The Path to 9/11. Kurtz also appeared to adopt Medved's assertion that Democrats are seeking to "censor" the film, stating, "Liberals usually oppose censorship or knocking things off television." But Kurtz neglected to discuss the "hypocrisy" in the reaction to the film by some conservatives -- including Medved -- as Media Matters for America has documented.
Discussing the controversy surrounding fabricated scenes in The Path to 9/11 that showed Clinton administration officials undermining efforts to capture Osama bin Laden, Kurtz aired a video clip of Medved expressing his "concern" over the "organized campaign by the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee to yank ... that is, to censor, to eliminate the opportunity for people to see" the miniseries. Responding to Medved's remarks, Kurtz asked writer Kurt Andersen if there were "any liberal hypocrisy" in Democratic objections to fabricated scenes in the miniseries because "[l]iberals usually oppose censorship or knocking things off television."
Absent from the discussion was any mention of "hypocrisy" by conservatives -- including Medved -- in their arguments in support of The Path to 9/11, compared to their opposition to the 2003 CBS film The Reagans. As Media Matters has previously noted, in criticizing The Reagans, Medved stated on the November 5, 2003, edition of Scarborough Country: "The whole idea of creating a movie about Ronald Reagan without consulting or involving someone like [former Reagan administration speechwriter] Peggy Noonan. ... Why not have her ... consult on the movie?" In contrast, Medved defended the purported balance of The Path to 9/11 by dismissing a complaint by Jennifer Nix expressed in a September 5 post on the weblog Firedoglake that "no Democrats [were] prominently involved" in The Path to 9/11. Medved suggested Nix was "crazy" to make such a complaint considering that actor Harvey Keitel -- who Medved asserted is a "radical leftist and Democrat" -- provided balance. But Medved did not respond to the more specific criticism that while 9-11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean, a Republican, served as a senior consultant for the film, the filmmakers did not consult with any Democratic officials.
Other conservatives in the media, such as MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III, have been similarly inconsistent in their statements about The Path to 9/11 and The Reagans. Bozell acknowledged on the September 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, that "[p]erhaps two percent of [The Path to 9/11] is wrong" and "[p]erhaps two percent of it is debatable," but then excused the falsehoods by adding: "That leaves you with about 96 percent of the movie that's accurate, and that no one is disputing." Bozell did not similarly excuse alleged misrepresentations in The Reagans; according to a November 5, 2003, CBS News article, he responded to that film by declaring: "There is no such thing as creative license to invent falsehoods about people. ... I don't care who you are. You don't have that right." Similarly, Scarborough declared on September 6 that "Democrats [are] demanding censorship from Disney" and are "calling on ABC president Bob Iger to censor offending parts of the miniseries." But in 2003, Scarborough praised CBS' decision not to air the "cruel parody" The Reagans, because "[t]his isn't about Soviet censorship. This is about Jeffersonian democracy. ... Americans picked Ronald Reagan over Hollywood."
From the September 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
KURTZ: Tom Kean, of course, the Republican former chairman of the 9-11 commission and a consultant to the movie, a co-executive producer, but no Democrats on that commission were contacted by the filmmakers.
Kurt Andersen, I want to play some comments from film critic Michael Medved. He was on with me on Friday night on Paula Zahn Now about the campaign against the movie.
MEDVED [VIDEO CLIP]: What concerns me is the organized campaign by the Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee, to yank -- that's their term -- that is, to censor, to eliminate the opportunity for people to see this thing.
KURTZ: Kurt, any liberal hypocrisy here? Liberals usually oppose censorship or knocking things off of television.
ANDERSEN: Well, of course, there's hypocrisy in there. Of course, there's double standards. I was impressed, however, that the very conservative columnist, John Podhoretz wrote a column saying that Sandy Berger, for instance, and Madeleine Albright have both been libeled by this thing, and ABC ought to be ashamed.
So, at least there are some people without double standards. But I think actually that entertainment films about this subject, 9-11, can adhere to -- can be more scrupulous. Look at this movie, United 93, which did an extraordinary job, as best it could, trying to adhere to the facts that they are known.
So, I don't think we can say, "Oh, it's a movie, therefore, you know, don't watch it. Of course, it's going to be, you know, not adhere to the facts." I think we can hold filmmakers to a higher standard.