Abc News Pounds Abc Entertainment's Path
ABC aired Pt. 1 of its controversial The Path to 9/11 miniseries largely intact Sunday amid protests from former government officials depicted in the film. It was immediately followed by a special edition of Nightline that contradicted virtually all of the film's allegations against the officials. (The controversy was also covered earlier in the week on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson.) Among those who had expressed outrage over the film's content were former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. In addition, the network had reportedly received hundreds of thousands of messages from Democrats. Protests were also organized outside the ABC headquarters in New York and Burbank, CA. On its website, ABC News posted "a sampling of written complaint regarding ABC Entertainment's film." They included comments from former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who served under both Clinton and George H.W. Bush and is depicted in the film, who called the film "an egregious distortion that does a deep disservice both to history and to those ... depicted." Bruce R. Lindsey, CEO of the Clinton Foundation, wrote, "As a nation, we need to be focused on preventing another attack, not fictionalizing the last one for television ratings. ... [The film] cheapens the fifth anniversary of what was a very painful moment in history for all Americans." On the other hand, the ABC News site also posted a message from the Traditional Values Coalition, which posted the deleted footage on its website at http://traditionalvalues.org/clinton_abc.html. The group's chairman, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, wrote: "ABC-TV has surrendered. ... ABC-TV has now been proven to be owned and operated by Mr. Clinton and the vast left wing conspiracy. ABC's lack of spine is what is 'despicable,' not this factual program." On ABC's primary website, www.ABC.com, David Cunningham, the film's director, wrote, "The eight years from the first WTC bombing to the day of 9/11 involved two administrations with plenty of culpability all around. Something needs to explain how that happened."