I get a lot of e-mails from the Democratic party. Howard Dean, Rahm Emmanuel and a guy named Tom McMahon are frequent visitors to my in-box. This one was from McMahon and it was called “RE: A Despicable, Irresponsible Fraud.” Here’s how it started:
This is it: crunch time for getting the slanderous ABC television docudrama “The Path to 9/11” yanked off the air. The network schedule has this slanderous attack on Democrats slated to start on Sunday night, September 10, at 8 o’clock — and as long as it stays on the schedule, we have work to do. Take a minute right now and tell Disney president Robert Iger to keep this right-wing propaganda off our airwaves:
Here’s the good news: the suits at ABC and the Walt Disney Company have started panicking under pressure, thanks to your ferocious response to the outrageous decision to put this irresponsible miniseries on the air. But until Disney quits defending its plan to broadcast conservative propaganda — fraudulently presented to Americans as “based on the 9/11 Commission Report” — the company should plan to keep taking every bit of heat we dish out.
I really don’t get the party’s strategy — at all. Here are the problems with it that I see:
1) They’re calling attention to something that they don’t want people to see. Which means curious people are more likely to want to see it. Human nature.
2) They’re associating the Democratic Party with censorship, e.g. boycotts and pressure to push for prior restraint of a program. Why aren’t they mindful of the precedent they’re setting? “If we don’t like it, take it off the air,” is now an official party position. I have a feeling that’s going to come back to haunt them when the right wing objects to a pending TV program that offends them. Dems are supposed to be for free speech.
3) A related point: Will the entertainment leaders so critical to the party’s fund-raising agree that such pressure tactics are appropriate? Has anyone asked Rob Reiner, or David Geffen, or Larry David how they feel about this?
4) The position they’re defending isn’t credible. Clinton turned over the White House keys to Bush in January 2001. The attack was in September 2001. It’s pretty apparent the plannng for the attack started before 2001, and was preceded by a number of Al Queda-sponsored attacks on American assets that all took place during Clinton’s tenure. So why is it out of bounds to criticize the Clinton Administration’s record on this issue? How could you review the “path to 9/11” and avoid doing so? I don’t hear Bush people complaining about what is supposed to be some very harsh criticism aimed their way in this show. Which leads to…
5) The program is going to air. People will watch it, more than would have because of curiousity. Many will be expecting it to live up to the description: “Right-wing propaganda.” But I bet it won’t strike most viewers that way. “What are they fussing about?” will be the response, I bet. Or worse: “What were they trying to hide?” The net effect will be to give the show more credibility than perhaps it deserves. If “The Path to 9/11” isn’t a drooling right-wing fantasy, it will be regarded as fair, and its critics will be taken as over-sensitive.
Could be that the party is once again trying to catch up with the left-wing blogosphere, which has been hysterical on this topic, and probably has been pressuring the party to “stand tough.” It’s fine for grassroots, independent people to be upset. But the party itself should be above this sort of thing. It should have adopted a more sober “wait and see” approach, keeping powder dry until after the show aired rather than demanding that the show be censored. Really, the Democratic Party, as an institution, should have done nothing whatsoever to call attention to it.
Am I wrong? If you understand the point of the party’s strategy, please, enlighten me in the comment section below.