Tale of Two Tapes

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 8, 2006; 5:56 AM

Now there are a pair of competing movies trying to capitalize on the 9/11 anniversary.

One is made by Osama bin Laden's gang.

The other is brought to you by ABC.

Questions are being raised about both.

The bin Laden tape (distributor credit: al-Jazeera) purports to be footage of the al-Qaeda gang training for the Sept. 11 attacks ( purports being one of those journalistic words we use when we don't know whether something is true). Was this really shot in 2001? Are the weapons real, or just props? Is this supposed to scare Americans or just rally the jihadists?

At least bin Laden plays himself. In the ABC movie, "The Path to 9/11," actors depict government officials bungling the war on terror, in some cases with made-up scenes and equally made-up dialogue.

The flap over this film has heated up to the point that "NBC Nightly News" and (to its great credit) ABC's "World News" covered it last night. I'll have an update in a moment, but first let's check out the blogosphere.

Americablog's John Aravosis is pretty disgusted:

"Well there you have it. Disney/ABC just admitted that they made a Mickey Mouse version of the September 11 story. They fictionalized it. How do you fictionalize one of the greatest tragedies in American history, not to mention a tragedy that only happened a few years ago?It's one thing for Disney/ABC to make up some scenes with fictional characters that no one has ever heard of. It's quite another to use REAL people's names and then just make shit up about them. That's defamatory and fodder for a lawsuit, not to mention total revisionist history. September 11 only happened five years ago. Some of us are still pretty freaked out by what happened that day. You don't just go make [stuff] up, derogatory [stuff] at that, about key players who are still alive no less. You don't market the TV show to children around the country as though it's fact. You don't put out statements claiming the thing is based on the September 11 report when it's also based on fiction. How are viewers supposed to know which part of the libelous broadcast is fictionalized?

"I am simply blown away that Disney/ABC lied about September 11 to the American people. They libeled living officials of our government. And now they plan on pedaling this garbage to millions of Americans right before the election - an election that Disney/ABC is helping to throw."

Firedoglake's Christy Hardin Smith invokes her mother's advice:

"Look, it is perfectly legitimate to provide materials from both sides of the political aisle, to discuss theories with kids in school, to talk about legitimate differences of opinion or approach or philosophy/ideology and political viewpoint. It's called education in terms of political discourse -- and a discussion of how things can be manipulated or used to further one agenda or another is a very, very useful discussion in terms of public education.

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