Much the same way I wrote yesterday, Hugh Hewitt is uncomfortable with the “fake but accurate” stance some people have taken with the ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11.” He writes about the Sandy Berger scene and sums it up in two ways:
The preceding leaves us with two possible explanations regarding the controversial scene. One is that the filmmakers have unearthed a previously unknown jewel that they can fully document; that Berger really did slam down the phone on a field agent looking for guidance. If that’s the case, then this entire conversation is irrelevant and you should cease reading this essay.
The other explanation is that, being a docudrama, the filmmakers included a fabricated scene (which was a composite of many real factors) to dramatize the ineptitude and fecklessness that so characterized the Clinton administration. One can (if one so chooses) give the filmmakers artistic license to do such a thing. But if that is what they have done, conservative analysts who back this movie as a historical document will mortgage their credibility doing so.
YOU MIGHT NOTE THAT the defense of the scene offers a rationale that Dan Rather would probably be comfortable with — fake but accurate. I’m uncomfortable embracing such a rationale, and I suspect most other bloggers who have rushed to tout the film will feel the same way once they think it through.
I’m especially uncomfortable with this controversy since it’s so unnecessary. The record of the Clinton administration on terrorism is an embarrassment and a disgrace. All serious studies of the matter have reached the same conclusion.
But you won’t get a committed supporter of President Clinton to admin that. In related news, Justin Levine posted a great article at Patterico.com about this issue. Here are some of his basic points:
Let’s also try to all stipulate and agree about a few things:
1. The terrorists were ultimately responsible for 9/11. Period. They, and they alone, are to blame (Though blame is admittedly different than mere “criticism” which is what this film inspires debate over in regards to our leaders.)
2. If there were someone in the government (of any administration) who clearly could have prevented 9/11 and failed to do so, it would be unlikely that they would clearly admit to that to the 9/11 Commission, the press, or anyone else.
3. Some partisans on both sides were added to the 9/11 Commission to essentially try and “protect” their own side — resulting in a document that only included what everyone could agree on. Omissions and limitations in the 9/11 Commission report were inevitable, and the Commission itself was aware of that. As a result, the Commission report is certainly not the last word on historical fact (though it can still be a useful tool as a starting point).
Can we at least all agree on that???
[I would also add that Sandy Berger's attempt to remove documents from the National archive while the 9/11 Commission was meeting casts suspicions on his credibility in the final report himself -- but I don't even expect a unanimous opinion about that in the current political climate, so I won't include it in the above list.]
So are there inaccuracies in the film? Of course!
But are these inaccuracies enough to torpedo the movie? It depends on which side of the political fence you come down on, apparently. Democrats have been up in arms over this movie, which the vast majority have not seen, and they appear to have succeeded in making ABC alter some of the miniseries. News Busters is reporting that ABC has caved to Democrat demands and altered the miniseries, and there is still a possibility that ABC will pull the whole miniseries.
News Busters also points to a comment made by Rush Limbaugh about this mess:
I’ll tell you, the thing that is stunning to me, when you compare Bill Clinton the man, and other presidents, George Bush the man, how many times did George Bush or any in the Republican administration demand that Fahrenheit 9/11, that stupid, lying, so-called documentary by Michael Moore not be shown in theaters? Republicans were even going to the premieres of those things. Republicans appeared in it, even though they may have been sandbagged by Moore, they were in it. But the president nor his administration said a word about it. I’ll tell you something else. Sandy Burglar is all upset about the way he’s portrayed in this movie. Sandy Burglar gets a major break. This movie does not portray Sandy Burglar stealing documents in his pants and his socks from the National Archives.