Monday, September 11, 2006

ABC-TV Airs Path to 9/11 with very few cuts

Rush Limbaugh has just said it on his broadcast. He has sources inside Disney/ABC, and he called them. The cuts from the first night of The Path to 9/11 add up to one minute!

So why did ABC-TV feature a special edition of Nightline? Simple: they originally had filmed two hours and forty minutes of footage for the first night, and had intended to plump it out with commercials. Then came the decision to air it straight through, without interruption.

I have seen edited and unedited versions of a key scene. In the original version, Sandy Berger, as NSA, hangs up on George Tenet, the DCI. In the version that aired last night, Berger simply dithers, and nobody gives the go to the CIA and Northern Allied forces on the ground. Sportsfans, that is a distinction without a difference--because both versions show the feckless political culture that prevailed in Washington. You can therefore understand why, in both version, the head of the Northern Alliance asks, "Are there any men left in Washington, or are they all cowards?"

The second night airs tonight. But from where I sit, ABC-TV made a few edits to tighten up the story--and that was all. My guess is that they were prepared to edit it more severely, until Senators Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, et alti made a fatal mistake. They threatened Robert Iger, President and CEO of ABC, with suspension or revocation of broadcast licenses if he did not severely edit the film and cancel its showing.

Now I don't know Robert Iger at all. But when you threaten a man, his honor demands that he do the opposite of what you are trying to tell him to do. And so might be the case here. I had not thought that anyone in the broadcast media had any honor left. Robert Iger has--maybe--proved me wrong. And sometimes, finding out that you might be wrong about somebody feels good.

I'm preparing a video archive of the second night, and will await Rush Limbaugh's description of the before-and-after versions, since he is the most consequential commentator to possess a full-length preview copy.

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