Though it aired a week ago, the Times continues to show outsized sympathy for critics of ABC's miniseries "The Path to 9-11."
Edward Wyatt piles on with Monday's post-mortem,"A Show That Trumpeted History but Led to Confusion ." The text box: "A mini-series on ABC attracts no sponsors, but much criticism." Criticism mainly from Clintonites and left-wing activists.
"It's little wonder that ABC's mini-series 'The Path to 9/11' drew stinging criticism earlier this month for its invented scenes, fabricated dialogue and unsubstantiated accounts of how the Clinton and Bush administrations conducted themselves in the years encompassing the World Trade Center attacks of 1993 and 2001."
By contrast, here's what the New York Times' TV critic Alessandra Stanley said about the 2003 TV movie "The Reagans," which had the very same problems of authenticity the Times assigns to "The Path to 9/11" (and which was moved from CBS to the cable network Showtime after conservative outcry):
"Anyone eagerly anticipating or dreading a hatchet job on the 40th President is bound to feel confounded. James Brolin's portrayal of Ronald Reagan is uncannily convincing and respectful....'The Reagans' is reasonably accurate, at times engrossing, at other times silly and sometimes even dull."
Wyatt quotes a favorite liberal academic omnipresence: "'Saying it is a public service is the same as claiming ideological ownership,' said Robert J. Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. 'If it is being packaged as a way to expose people to the contents of the 9/11 Commission report, and you're encouraging it to be used in schools, then you do have to present it as factual. It doesn't do a good job of that.'"
It was back to Thompson for the conclusion:
"One person close to the project at ABC who spoke only on the condition of anonymity said the network believed that its 9/11 presentation fulfilled its purpose, and that compromises were necessary to squeeze more than eight years of history into five hours of television.
"Mr. Thompson asserted that however that form of entertainment was categorized, it did little teaching about history. ' "Richard III" is one of the greatest plays ever written,' he said, 'but it is not very good history.'"