Don't believe the hype. Or believe it. Either way, don't decide either way until you've watched all five hours.
That's pretty much the gist of ABC's message to potential viewers of the network's two-part miniseries The Path to 9/11, which airs commercial-free Sunday and Monday. (Ironically there will now be a 20-minute break Monday at 9 p.m. to accommodate a speech from President Bush.
While ABC has stated that the $40 million production is still in the editing process and is being slightly tweaked in response to concerns that it unfairly attacks the Clinton administration for failure to act on terrorist threats in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the network has not bowed to pressure from former Cabinet members and left-wing groups to "dump," "yank" or otherwise pull the movie from the schedule.
ABC has altered at least some of the scenes that have been criticized:
According to reports, a scene alluding to the idea that then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger put the kibosh on an order to kill bin Laden has been "toned down."
"That sequence has been the focus of attention," a source close to the production told the Los Angeles Times.
ABC has also altered the credits to say that the film is "based in part" on the 9/11 Commission Report rather than "based on" the document.
An ABC executive told the Washington Post that any changes that were made "intended to make clearer that it was general indecisiveness, not any one individual," that left the United States vulnerable to attack on 9/11.
Hopes of opponents of the miniseries were disappointed when 9/11 commission member Tom Keane not only refused to condemn the film but instead strongly endorsed it:
Ex-New Jersey Governor Thomas Keane, who chaired the 9/11 commission and served as a consultant on The Path to 9/11, was asked to pull his weight with the filmmakers to have the project scrapped, but he has since spoken out in support of the picture.
"It's something the American people should see," Keane said during an interview on Good Morning America Friday. "Because you understand how these people wanted to do us harm, developed this plot and how the machinations of the American government under two administrations not only failed to stop them, but even failed to slow them down."
Keane did ask the filmmakers to take some of the complaints into consideration, however.
"These are people of integrity," Keane told the Post. "I know there are some scenes where words are put in characters' mouths. But the whole thing is true to the spirit of 9/11."
My opinion: The events that led up to the 9/11 attack are an important matter for public discussion which greatly merits further analysis, as we should all want to know exactly what in American policy worked and what did not, and the presentation of this miniseries will be a very good thing if it stimulates such a discussion.
From Karnick on Culture.