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September 09, 2006

The Story Behind ABC's "Path to 9/11"

This travesty of a "documentary" is clearly a propaganda piece designed to plant the impression that the fault for the 9/11 attacks and all that has come after them lies with the Clinton Administration.  It turns out that this secret $40 million project was a partnership between a  Christian evangelical group called "Youth With a Mission" or YWAM and a hitherto secret right-wing Hollywood group led by David Horowitz and probably funded by Richard Mellon Scaife. 

Max Blumenthal, writing at Huffington Post, lays out the story.  Right-wing activist David Horowitz has been working since the beginning of Clinton's presidency to create a network of politically active conservatives in Hollywood.  They call themselves the "Wednesday Morning Club" and meet weekly to burrow into the film industry to counter what they see as the traditionally liberal Hollywood bias.  Their meeting place, Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, has been bankrolled by the same cabal of right-wing funders, like Richard Mellon Scaife, who funded the Arkansas Project which spent $2.3 million to take Clinton down.

They hooked up with a young director, David Cunningham, who had started an organization called The Film Institute as an offshoot of YWAM, which his father and mother had started years earlier.  Blumenthal found the mission statement for The Film Institute (now deleted but cached): "dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry."   The Film Institute had a similar strategy as Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club - to help place interns from YWAM in film industry jobs "so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out," according to a YWAM report.

The specifics of how ABC/Disney asked Cunningham to take on the project are not yet fully known.  What we do know is that this was Cunningham's first big project.  It was developed under a shroud of secrecy and called by ABC, "Untitled Commission Report" and by the producers, "Untitled History Project" according to a New York Post article written in late July. 

Cunningham brought on an outspoken conservative as screenwriter and producer, Iranian-American Cyrus Nowrasteh.  Nowrasteh was a speaker at the Liberty Film Festival (LFF), an annual event founded in 2004 to promote right-wing, conservative-themed films.  The LFF is a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. 

The impact of this show may be lessened by all the controversy surrounding it now.  But we have not been able to prevent it being shown yet. 

We may have been able to prevent Scholastic from compounding the travesty of "The Path to 9/11" although I'm not sure we'll know that until next week. You see ABC teamed up with education publisher Scholastic to provide a teaching guide for the movie to be used by teachers in high school classrooms all over America next week.  These discussion guides are filled with conservative misinformation on the lead up to 9/11 and to the connections between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.  Scholastic announced it was removing the materials from the website after a concerted campaign by the blogs to get them to reconsider.  Media Matters reports that Scholastic said, "[T]he materials did not meet our high standards."  In a press release, Scholastic further stated: "A new classroom discussion guide for high school students is being created and will focus more specifically on media literacy, critical thinking, and historical background."

This is how the right-wing infrastructure, built up over four decades and funded by about five inter-locking foundations, works and why it is so insidious.  This is why we on the left need something similar.  We are far more creative.  A lot less money would go a lot farther.  We have to begin doing this on a systematic basis.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 9, 2006 at 10:50 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


Lynn, so far I have found seven petitions and two call in confirmations demanding that ABC pull this propaganda piece.

I am hoping that every little bit of outrage helps.

Apparently it was the public pressure that moved Scholastic to reconsider.

Posted by: Anjha | Sep 9, 2006 1:59:37 PM

Scholastic has since pulled the original materials and have replaced them with materials stressing media literacy.

Their letter about it is at: http://www.scholastic.com/medialiteracy/
and there is a link to the new lessonplan materials from there. Focus is now on critical thinking of how and what is being presented.

Obviously, to use the lessonplan, the teacher would need to show at least segments, but there would be some context setting and discussion first.

Posted by: Robert Eiffert | Sep 9, 2006 2:23:41 PM

Thanks for writing on this. I did a post today at www.MajorityRules.org/blog on this also. I am amazed at the propaganda that was incorporated into this film.

Principals in the film like Secretary of State Madeleine K Albright are given made up dialogue to speak that is false. Madeleine Albright is not dead and anyone trying to represent what happened honestly could ask her for feedback on what they wrote. They could ask her to review what they have her saying.

But instead requests by President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and others have been denied.

This is a propaganda piece by the right wing that is attempting to re-write history by shifting all the blame for 9/11 onto Clinton.

One telling example of this is that the film does not contain the 5 minute sequence where Bush on 9/11 is in a public school in Florida and is told that a terrorist attack has occurred. Rather than responding as Commander in Chief, he instead sits another 5 minutes, looking around awkwardly, like he is in some kind of stupor..

You can see a copy of this film at http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/2006/09/pet-goat-excised-from-abc-911-fantasy.html
This film sequence was also in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11".

The current "Path to 9/11" film has Bush's speech to America instead. That says it all. This film is an election year propoganda piece.

Posted by: Steve Zemke MajorityRulesBlog | Sep 9, 2006 9:54:39 PM

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