The Path to 9/11: The Highway to Hell

September 10, 2006

With most movies that become flashpoints of controversy, my stance is “so don’t see it!” or better yet, “satirize the heck out of it!” As a rule of thumb, I’ve also thought that people shouldn’t stage protests against works they’ve never seen (or read). Controversy only leads to more ticket sales.

What I have learned about the making of ABC’s “The Path to 9/11,” which will be airing tonight, has so sickened me that I’ve abandoned my usual M.O. This is propaganda presented as a documentary, which is nothing new. It claims to be based upon the 9/11 Commission’s report, yet contains entirely fabricated scenes that directly contradict the report (and serve blunt political purposes right before an election).

“A group of historians…wrote to the CEO of Walt Disney, the parent of ABC, calling the inaccuracies “disingenuous and dangerous.”

“A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it,” wrote the historians, which included Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Sean Wilentz of Princeton University.

Executive producer of the miniseries, Marc Platt, stresses that it is a docudrama: “I hope people will watch the film and draw their own conclusions.”

Well, yeah, of course you do! And you hope they will draw the conclusion that somehow, absent facts and evidence, Clinton was responsible for 9/11.

I’ve been so grossed out by what I’ve read about the creation and promotion strategy of this film, that I did something I rarely do: I sent a scolding, moralizing letter to the prez of ABC. I’m sure my request that he “listen to his conscience” and not “distort history for political purposes” will be truly effective. Alas…

But here’s where the story gets extra heinous, and here’s where moms can actually exercise some power: ABC has entered into partnership with Scholastic, who is hawking this shit movie to school districts. Many sales have already been made, but Scholastic is now pulling the material.

Please read this diary over at Kos. The diarist’s cousin is a senior sales rep at Scholastic, and a Republican to boot.

UPDATE 9/7/06 9:35 EST: I just got off a phone call with my cousin, who says he has spoken to 3 other sales reps this morning, all of whom are very concerned to hear about this controversy. It’s clear that the specific thing that has grabbed all of their attentions is the notion of thousands of people urging school boards and school districts not to buy Scholastic books. Phone calls and emails to Scholastic directly are probably useful, but to emphasize: what the Scholastic people themselves fear right now are calls and emails to their customers. I suggest that we contact the school districts and copy Scholastic higher-ups.

UPDATE 9/7/06 11:07 EST: About an hour ago, I sent an email to lots of my friends urging them to take action on this issue. Since then, several of them have written me back telling me that they had done one thing or another–all young moms with kids in school.

Call your school board. And if you sit on your school board, call Scholastic to complain. They have a “brand” to protect, and if they think they are jeopardizing future sales of educational material by tarring their reputation with this fictionalized junk, they’ll rethink who they do business with.