Fox News to air deleted, false scenes from ABC's The Path to 9/11

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

According to a January 26 Los Angeles Times article, Fox News will rebroadcast "footage from ABC's controversial miniseries 'The Path to 9/11' that was edited out of the docudrama amid criticism that it inaccurately portrayed the Clinton administration's response to the terrorism threat."

As Media Matters for America documented, The Path to 9/11, the two-part miniseries that aired on ABC on September 10-11, 2006, contained inaccurate scenes that maligned the Clinton administration's counterterrorism efforts and bolstered the Bush administration's. The Path to 9/11 drew sharp criticism from former Clinton administration officials, journalists, and conservatives who noted that significant parts of the "docudrama's" content were not supported by the 9-11 Commission's findings, despite the claims of ABC and writer Cyrus Nowrasteh that the film was largely based on the commission's report.

Fox News, in promoting the January 28 edition of Hannity's America, claimed the program will feature "the video Bill Clinton doesn't want you to see," adding that Clinton "forced ABC to cut out an entire scene," and that Fox News will "expose the clip at the center of the controversy." While Fox News did not identify which "scene" or "clip" it intends to air, the Los Angeles Times reported that Fox News obtained "outtakes" from the film "by taping a public talk that Cyrus Nowrasteh, writer and producer of 'The Path to 9/11,' gave to a World Affairs Council chapter last Friday at Cal State Channel Islands." According to the Times, included in the "outtakes" were two falsified sequences involving Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

ABC reportedly edited the dialogue for a scene from the first part of the miniseries that falsely portrayed Albright defending a purported decision to inform the Pakistani government of a 1998 missile strike against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, despite the criticism of then-CIA director George Tenet, who protested that "the Pakistani security service, the ISI, has close ties with the Taliban." However, a September 11, 2006, Editor & Publisher article noted that even though ABC edited the dialogue, the scene's central falsehood remained -- it "still indicted [Albright] for telling Pakistan about the later missile attack on bid [sic] Laden." The 9-11 Commission report noted that while "[o]fficials in Washington speculated" that the United States may have inadvertently "sent a warning to the Taliban or Bin Ladin," it did not assign blame or suggest Albright had any involvement. Albright herself noted the commission's findings in a letter to Robert Iger, president and CEO of ABC parent Walt Disney Co., in which she disputed the "false and defamatory" scene before it aired, and added that she "supported the strike" and did not "insist[] upon" notifying Pakistan.

Prior to broadcast, ABC also edited out a shot from another scene from the first part of the miniseries in which Berger hangs up on Tenet as the CIA director asks for authorization to let CIA officers and Afghani fighters raid an isolated compound in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms in order to capture or kill bin Laden. While that specific shot was removed from the film, the scene itself still falsely portrayed Berger abandoning an opportunity to capture bin Laden. According to the 9-11 Commission report, Tenet stated that "he alone had decided" to abort the mission weeks before the target date of June 23. The report further noted that both intelligence and military officials had serious doubts about its probability of success. Berger claimed that the scene represented a "total fabrication." Nowrasteh himself acknowledged that the scene was "improvised."

A September 11, 2006, Associated Press article described the many last-minute edits made to the film prior to its debut.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Hannity's America producer John Finley defended Fox News' decision to air the footage:

Finley said the footage merited exposure because the original miniseries provoked such strong debate.

"It was a story that was so controversial at the time," he said.

"We here at Fox -- and myself personally -- feel the American people deserve both sides. We have the opportunity to show the viewers what they missed in September, the full story of the controversy surrounding the scene. We think people should see it and judge for themselves."

The Times also quoted Jay Berger, executive director of the California Central Coast chapter of the World Affairs Council, questioning Fox News' decision: "I can't imagine what the news is here."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Show/Publication
Hannity's America
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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