Meltdown: Dean, Berger, Albright, lefty historians demand "Path" be edited cancelled (Update: Clinton's lawyers, too)

Nothing else will do at this point, it seems:

Former national security adviser Samuel R. Berger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose depictions are at the center of the controversy, asked Thomas Kean, the Republican ex-governor of New Jersey who led the commission looking into the attacks, to use his influence with filmmakers to pull it.

“You can’t fix it,” Berger said on CNN. “You gotta yank it.”…

In a statement Friday, former Vice President Al Gore said, “I am deeply concerned that ABC is considering going forward with their plans to broadcast this so-called docudrama.”

Several Democratic senators have also urged that the movie be canceled.

The message sent out this afternoon by DNC Executive Director Tom McMahon also ended with a call for ABC “to keep this cheap right-wing miniseries off our airwaves.”

This was all said today, after ABC agreed to edit the controversial scenes. So it’s not about getting them to correct the record anymore; if it were, they’d be asking for only those scenes to be changed or cut. They’re obviously after something more, and they either don’t grasp or don’t care how thuggish it makes them look — presumably the latter, since the fightin’ nutroots is forever begging them to be more venomous and intractable. It doesn’t even pay to call them thugs because they’ll either wear it as a badge of pride or dismiss it as invective designed to cow them into backing off. It isn’t, sincerely. I say it because they’re genuinely goddamned thugs, whatever their reaction to that term. And if I had to guess, I’d guess that the only point of this browbeating at this point is as a demonstration of raw political power. Either that, or it’s an exercise in Lakoffian “branding,” whereby they’re finally going to show America that they too can demand unconditional surrender from an enemy. Just like Harry Truman. Except with Mickey Mouse in place of Hirohito.

Again: the New York Times has seen it and pronounced it evenhanded. One of Time’s TV critics saw it and said, if anything, he’d expected Bush supporters to be the ones throwing fits. Webloggin reports that one of the producers of the anti-Bush war-for-oil agitprop “Syriana” wrote today on the film’s official website that it’s “absolutely essential viewing” (and that his post, for unknown reasons, was subsequently purged). With that as background, go check out the DNC’s official blog and just start scrolling. All the way down. The only bump you’ll hit is a post about the drug trade in Afghanistan that principally targets the GOP, not the Taliban.

Here’s what’s at the top of the page as I write this. From the Chairman himself:

It’s deeply disappointing that ABC would put something on the air that has been proven to have factual inaccuracies about one of the most important events in our nation’s history. ABC should not air this distortion of history.

“The fact that the writer/producer of the piece is a well known conservative raises additional concerns and questions. The American people deserve to know who funded this $40 million dollar slanderous propaganda. Use of the public airwaves is a privilege conferred upon broadcasters in the public interest. It comes with a responsibility to the American people and a responsibility to the truth.

That’s yet another threat to ABC’s broadcast license, if you’re keeping score at home. The key here, though, is his suggestion that the screenwriter’s conservatism is evidence enough to warrant an investigation into a possible right-wing conspiracy. Never mind that George Mitchell is chairman of the board at Disney, that Bob Iger attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton as recently as five months ago, or that Marc Platt, the film’s producer, has actually donated money to Bill Clinton’s campaigns in the past. One drop of conservative blood is enough to cast doubt on the entire production. And in fact, up-and-comer Max “Son of Sid” Blumenthal claims in a post at — where else? — HuffPo to have discovered “the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC’s 9/11 Deception”:

Early on, Cunningham had recruited a young Iranian-American screenwriter named Cyrus Nowrasteh to write the script of his secretive “Untitled” film. Not only is Nowrasteh an outspoken conservative, he is also a fervent member of the emerging network of right-wing people burrowing into the film industry with ulterior sectarian political and religious agendas, like Cunningham… [But unlike the producers of, say, “Syriana.” — ed.]

While this network claims its success and postures as the true victims, the ABC network suffers a PR catastrophe. It’s almost as though it was complacent about an attack on its reputation by a band of political terrorists.

Max unravels the whole scary-smart conspiracy, except for the identity of the heroic liberal saboteur who somehow snuck into the editing suite and made the film evenhanded enough for the New York Times. Among the “political terrorists” named are David Horowitz and Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty of Libertas, so head on over post haste and breathe deep the controlled-demolition theory of how “Path” came to be.

But then come on back. Because I’ve saved the most repulsive bit for last.

In order to convince the public that this is all about factual accuracy, not politics, the Dems enlisted a few of America’s leading historians — all of a decidedly “Olbermann-friendly” bent, shall we say — to draft a letter to Bob Iger. Read it for yourself at TPM Cafe; it won’t take more than 30 seconds. After you’re done, read it again and ask yourself where that very same letter was when Michael Moore was releasing “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Some leftists have been trying to downplay comparisons to F9/11 on grounds that it was a private theatrical release whereas “Path” makes use of the public airwaves, and therefore demands a higher standard of accuracy. That’s nonsense on stilts, of course; if CBS wanted to air F9/11, you could count on one hand the number of American liberals who’d demand that they pull it. (It’s doubly foolish since more people likely will have seen F9/11 here and abroad than will see this.) But even that’s besides the point: from the historian’s perspective, one hopes, it makes little difference whether propaganda appears in a public or private forum. Facts is facts and lies is lies, and posterity suffers either way if the two are confused.

The top signature on the Dems’ letter belongs to Arthur M. Schlesinger. Has Arthur M. Schlesinger seen Fahrenheit 9/11? Yes, he has. And what did Arthur M. Schlesinger think of Fahrenheit 9/11? Quote, from a June 2004 issue of the New York Observer:

The day after the film, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the 87-year old Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, former special assistant to President Kennedy and former film critic for Vogue, said, “I think it was a powerful film showing the folly and futility of the war against Iraq, but it seemed to me it could have been more effective if it had any perceptible structure. I think it could have an effect: It crystallizes a lot of apprehensions and anxieties about the war. And because the media have been in favor of the war, I think it’s very useful.”

Rarely will you see an example of hypocrisy as shameful as that. But even that’s besides the point. The real point here, quoting from the letter Schlesinger et al. sent today, is that instead of demanding that Iger re-edit the controversial scenes in “Path,” they told him they “strongly urge you to halt the show’s broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.” Consider that. ABC’s done a great public service here by putting together a big-budget, big-name showpiece about a critical period in American history. They could educate a lot of people with it. But they screwed up some facts that have liberals angry — and rather than simply ask them to correct those facts and preserve an otherwise valuable teaching tool, this gang of ostensible educators would have them tear the goddamned thing down entirely. It’s as though someone printed up free textbooks for the public, and upon finding some political bias in it — correctable political bias — they decided it’d be better to just pile them up and light them on fire.

We’ve gone from Fahrenheit 9/11 to Fahrenheit 451.

Update: Patterico thinks we’re all fools for being surprised.

Update: Top of the page at Drudge. Goddamned thugs.

Update: Moran unloads on Mad Max. Take it easy, Rick. If Sid Blumenthal was your pops, you’d be a disingenuous partisan hack too.

Update: Mary K joins the pessimists.