Idol Chatter

Despite protests, petitions, and threats of boycott, the first part of ABC’s mini-series “The Road to 9/11″ aired last night. Many political pundits and liberal media watchdogs were crying foul–even though some of them hadn’t seen an advance copy of the movie–because they felt it was spinning the facts to be sympathetic to Bush’s handling of the terrorist attack while portraying Clinton’s lack of response to Bin Laden as the cause of the 9/11 tragedy. ABC’s official stance–repeated often during last night’s broadcast–has been that this is simply a fictional recreation of some of the events leading up to 9/11 and is not meant to be a documentary.

The first part of the mini-series started with the collapse of the Twin Towers but then began working its way back in time to 1998, when journalist John Miller broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden. The film then goes back further still, to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Through all of this, we are reminded in scene after scene that not only were there many warnings of what was to come in 2001, but also that many government operatives were feverishly working to capture Bin Laden, only to be hampered by beareaucracy. In short, this movie tells us what we already know: Hindsight is always 20/20.

Quite honestly, I don’t know how closely this mini-series adheres to the Commission Report on 9/11–which is what ABC has claimed the script is based on. What I do know is that the liberal political conspiracy theories and verbal attacks surrounding the mini-series are unfounded and make me automatically doubt any other argument about how the events surrounding 9/11 are being portrayed.

Specifically, director David Cunningham has been under attack on sites like Ariana Huffington’s blog. He’s been called a right-wing activist simply because his father is the founder of a missionary organization called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). YWAM is not an organization involved in political activism of any kind, but an organization that offers Bible training and coordinates relief efforts in other countries as well as the U.S. And while David Cunningham is a Christian, perhaps the reason he was hired to direct this movie was simply because ABC used him in the past to direct other historical dramas (he did ABC’s version of “Little House”) and they liked his work. In fact, Cunningham posted a sensible response to detractors over on ABC’s website, but it attracted such inflammatory comments in response that ABC temporarily took it down.

My point is simply this: The mini-series, so far anyway, is actually not that poignant or insightful or revelatory–but the controversy around the mini-series is. While there are better examples in the media of coverage of the events surrounding 9/11, perhaps the controversy surrounding this mini-series underscores that the depth of the political and cultural divide in this country is a long way from being bridged.

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