Censorship is OK if you’re a Democrat

If you think that the Democratic leadership in Congress believes in free speech, you would be wrong[*1] .  Read the whole thing below (emphasis added).

This is bald-faced prior-restraint censorship. Senior members of theUnited States Congress are openly threatening private broadcasters dueto the content of a planned broadcast. If President Bush had sent a similar letter, impeachment proceedings would quite rightfully be contemplated.

With this letter, Reid, Durbin, Stabenow, Schumer, and Dorgan haveshown themselves to be unfit for office. They are the ones who shouldimmediately resign in disgrace.

The complete text of the infamous letter:

The text of the letter, signed by Senate Democratic Leader HarryReid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, and Senators DebbieStabenow, Charles Schumer, and Byron Dorgan, is below.

September 7, 2006

Mr. Robert A. Iger

President and CEO

The Walt Disney Company

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank CA 91521

Dear Mr. Iger,

We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast ofThe Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reportsfrom experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous andserious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform theAmerican people about the tragic events surrounding the terribleattacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program hasbeen developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bentunbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and wellrespected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancelthis broadcast to cease Disney’s plans to use it as a teaching tool inschools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeplyflawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American publicand to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate andcivic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to thenation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a freebroadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of yourprinciple obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves inserving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligationmore apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needsof a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion ofpolitical ideas and events.

Disney and ABC claim this program to be based on the 9/11 CommissionReport and are using that assertion as part of the promotional campaignfor it. The 9/11 Commission is the most respected American authority onthe 9/11 attacks, and association with it carries a specialresponsibility. Indeed, the very events themselves on 9/11, so tragicas they were, demand extreme care by any who attempt to use thoseevents as part of an entertainment or educational program. To quoteSteve McPhereson, president of ABC Entertainment, “When you take on theresponsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, itis absolutely critical that you get it right.”

Unfortunately, it appears Disney and ABC got it totally wrong.

Despite claims by your network’s representatives that The Path to 9/11is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Commissionersthemselves, as well as other experts on the issues, disagree.

  • Richard Ben-Veniste, speaking for himself andfellow 9/11 Commissioners who recently viewed the program, said, “As wewere watching, we were trying to think how they could havemisinterpreted the 9/11 Commission’s findings the way that they had.”[“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]
  • Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism czar,and a national security advisor to ABC has described the program as“deeply flawed” and said of the program’s depiction of a Clintonofficial hanging up on an intelligence agent, “It’s 180 degrees fromwhat happened.” [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate andBiased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]
  • Reports suggest that an FBI agent who worked on9/11 and served as a consultant to ABC on this program quit halfwaythrough because, “he thought they were making things up.” [MSNBC,September 7, 2006]
  • Even Thomas Kean, who serves as a paid consultantto the miniseries, has admitted that scenes in the film arefictionalized. [“9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate andBiased,” New York Times, September 6, 2006]

That Disney would seek to broadcast an admittedly and proven falserecounting of the events of 9/11 raises serious questions about themotivations of its creators and those who approved the deeply flawedprogram. Finally, that Disney plans to air commercial-free a programthat reportedly cost it $40 million to produce serves to add fuel tothese concerns.

These concerns are made all the more pressing by the political leaningof and the public statements made by the writer/producer of thisminiseries, Mr. Cyrus Nowrasteh, in promoting this miniseries acrossconservative blogs and talk shows.

Frankly, that ABC and Disney would consider airing a program that couldbe construed as right-wing political propaganda on such a grave andimportant event involving the security of our nation is a discreditboth to the Disney brand and to the legacy of honesty built at ABC byhonorable individuals from David Brinkley to Peter Jennings.Furthermore, that Disney would seek to use Scholastic to promote thismisguided programming to American children as a substitute for factualinformation is a disgrace.

As 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick said, “It is criticallyimportant to the safety of our nation that our citizens, andparticularly our school children, understand what actually happened andwhy – so that we can proceed from a common understanding of what wentwrong and act with unity to make our country safer.”

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factualrecord, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and thereputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of theAmerican people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged.We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold yourresponsibilities as a respected member of American society and as abeneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel thisfactually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward tohearing back from you soon.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid

Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Byron Dorgan