The New York Post asserted that "[t]he writer who penned the script for last year's controversial ABC miniseries 'The Path to 9/11' says pressure from powerful supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton is delaying the mini's DVD release." But the Post article failed to address the inaccuracies in the film and the sharp discrepancies between the film's account of certain events and the findings laid out in the 9-11 Commission's report, upon which ABC said the miniseries was based.
A September 6 article in the New York Post asserted that the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 "kicked up a storm of controversy last summer when former President Clinton wrote a letter to ABC brass complaining about how his administration was portrayed in the semifictional docudrama," and -- citing a September 5 Los Angeles Times article that was noted by Media Matters for America -- stated, "The writer who penned the script for last year's controversial ABC miniseries 'The Path to 9/11' says pressure from powerful supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton is delaying the mini's DVD release." But, like the Times article, the Post article failed to address the inaccuracies in the film and the sharp discrepancies between the film's account of certain events and the findings laid out in the 9-11 Commission's report, upon which ABC said in a July 2006 press release the miniseries was based. These falsehoods and discrepancies have been documented by Media Matters and noted by numerous others.
As Media Matters noted, despite ABC's assertion in the July 2006 press release that the network regarded it as "absolutely critical" to "get it right," The Path to 9/11 contained inaccurate and even fabricated scenes that cast the Clinton administration as insufficiently aggressive in combating terrorism and that showed President Bush taking aggressive action not indicated in the 9-11 Commission report. In addition, the film was sharply criticized by former Clinton administration officials, journalists, and conservatives alike, who noted that significant parts of the "docudrama's" content were not supported by the 9-11 Commission's findings.
Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, national security adviser to President Clinton, described one scene in the film as a "total fabrication." Further, Berger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated in a September 8 letter, "Actors portraying us do contemptible things we never did, and say things we neither said nor believed." Conservative author and journalist Richard Miniter criticized parts of the film as "based on an Internet myth" and having "no factual basis." In addition to Miniter, numerous others criticized the film's accuracy, as Media Matters has noted:
- On the September 8, 2006, edition of CNN's American Morning, conservative radio host and former Reagan administration official Bill Bennett acknowledged that "the Clintons had a point" in pressuring ABC to correct the film and admonished ABC for "falsify[ing] the record," adding, "I think they should correct those inaccuracies."
- On the September 7, 2006, edition of CNN Headline News' Showbiz Tonight, Harvey Keitel, the film's star, noted that "[i]t turned out not all the facts were correct" and stated: "Where we have distorted something, we have made a mistake, and that should be corrected. It can be corrected."
- On the September 7, 2006, edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz criticized ABC for "putting a movie on a serious, sensitive topic on the fifth-year anniversary of 9-11 that contains fiction."
- On the September 7, 2006, edition of MSNBC's The Most, Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, criticized the film for treating facts "cavalierly," as well as ABC's response to critiques of the film, noting: "[T]hey [ABC] said that complaints about the film are irresponsible because they are still editing the film, yet they were very happy to send out review copies."
- On the September 8, 2006, edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann interviewed former FBI agent Tom Nicoletti, who said he was hired as a consultant during the film's production but objected to numerous scenes in the film that he said reflected "improper research." In particular, he faulted the film's depiction of former FBI special agent John O'Neill, who was killed in the 9-11 attacks and is portrayed in the film by Keitel. Nicoletti told Olbermann that he resigned as a consultant to the film based on scenes that remained inaccurate despite his input, and that in his opinion The Path to 9/11, "should be reshot and a lot of it corrected."
Moreover, the film's writer and producer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, has admitted that at least one scene was fabricated. That scene falsely portrayed Berger hanging up on CIA Director George Tenet as he asks for authorization to let CIA officers and Afghani fighters raid an isolated compound in Afghanistan in order to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. The New York Times quoted Nowrasteh as saying that "Berger did not slam down the phone. That is not in the report. That was not scripted. Accidents occur, spontaneous reactions of actors performing a role take place."
From the September 6 article in the New York Post:
The writer who penned the script for last year's controversial ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" says pressure from powerful supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton is delaying the mini's DVD release.
The bombshell accusation was reported yesterday by the Los Angeles Times.
The paper interviewed the writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, for a story about why the miniseries, which was recently nominated for seven Emmy awards, has not yet been released on DVD, even though it aired nearly a year ago.
In the story, Nowrasteh quoted an executive at ABC as telling him, "If Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem."
The five-hour "Path to 9/11," which traced the history of the U.S. battle against terror from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 until Sept. 11, 2001, kicked up a storm of controversy last summer when former President Clinton wrote a letter to ABC brass complaining about how his administration was portrayed in the semifictional docudrama.
Under the threat of legal action, ABC execs ordered some of the offending material to be removed from the miniseries, which aired without commercials on Sept. 11 of last year.
Now, Nowrasteh is accusing unnamed supporters of Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president of practicing censorship in blocking the DVD release of the miniseries.
"Whatever anyone may think ... of this movie, this is a bad precedent, a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried," he told the L.A. Times, "because the next time they'll go after another movie."
ABC spokespeople did not return phone calls seeking comment.