Josh Marshall

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Articles by Josh

TPM Reader RF on the Gitmo shell game ...

I don't think Bush's political gamesmanship with the transfer to Gitmo of the 14 prisoners is such a big deal. Clever, yes, but not "spectacular ambush" or "best maneuvers of his presidency": (1) Bush's trustworthiness is still below 50%, so there's fertile ground for Dems to argue that he's once again manipulating events for political advantage - if they'll only say so (unlike Pelosi's tepid response yesterday) (2) The big issue is still Iraq - Dems should be saying this, too.

The really big issue is Bush's incompetence. Why the Dems haven't made this a theme in this election - in fact, a constant theme since 2002 - escapes me. Like Charlie Brown, everything he touches gets ruined. Dems should have an obsession about reminding people in detail how much Bush knew, or was in a position to know, about 9/11 (or Iraq/Katrina/deficit ...) and then rhetorically asking how any more knowledge could improve things. To get specific about the congressional elections, Representative X (or Senator Y) should point out how Repubs in both houses of congress have refused oversight and accountability. Just my $0.02.

RF is right on in noting that most people no longer trust the president. And that is very fertile ground.

Okay, I guess that's his final answer. Tennessee GOP senate candidate Corker categorically refuses to debate Harold Ford on Russert's Meet the Press.

The response from WCVB, the ABC Boston affiliate ...

Thank you for contacting us regarding the ABC special, “The Path to 9/11.”

This Sunday and Monday WCVB-TV Channel 5 will air ABC’s commercial-free broadcasts of “The Path to 911. On Monday, Part Two will be followed by a special edition of “Primetime Live,” an electronic town meeting.

We will forward your concerns to the ABC Network, since they are still in the final edit of the program.

The following disclaimer will air throughout the movie: “The following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression."

ABC further states, “The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate, so it’s not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate. The attacks were a pivotal moment in our history that should never be forgotten and it’s fitting that the discussion continues.”

From talk shows to internet blogs, the discussions about “The Path to 911” have generated much heat, but precious little light. It is interesting to note that viewers, who have been kind enough to contact us directly, arise from two distinct camps: pro-President Bill Clinton and pro-President George W.Bush. That is correct -- both sides have been complaining.

Having reviewed a copy of this mini-series, the management at Channel 5 feels strongly that viewers should decide for themselves the merits of this movie. Unfortunately, there is plenty of blame to go around – Republican, Democrat, government official and everyday citizen.

Neil Ungerleider | Assistant News Director | WCVB | 5 TV Place Needham MA 02494

Also of note, a lot of stations, like the ABC affiliate in Cleveland, seem to be fibbing to their viewers, claiming that they have no choice but to air the movie, even though that's not true, since they are independent ABC affiliates.

WSOC in Charlotte is sending out the ABC Network press release to viewers.

TPM Reader L chimes in on Scholastic ...

On the more mundane matter of Scholastic ... just as with ABC affiliates, the best pressure is financial. This dKos diary quotes a Scholastic sales rep as saying that pressure on the school districts not to buy Scholastic products would get their attention in a hurry. It recommends contacting school districts to complain about Scholastic and urge a boycott of Scholastic material, and then letting Scholastic know about it.

Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB is apparently telling viewers they have no choice but to run the ABC 9/11 movie. But I'm not sure that's true since they're an independent affiliate. The station is owned by Hearst, not ABC.

Let me return for a moment to my comments last night about the Lee Siegel/Sprezzatura controversy. As I said last night, what Siegel did seemed to me at some level just not honest with readers. But it wasn't clear to me precisely why. Emails from a number of readers, however, have allowed me to parse the technological and ethical contours of the question and clarify the problem. All or most commenters may be anonymous. But to be an 'anonymous' commenter on your own site is not to be anonymous but rather to impersonate, since you are claiming to be a third party, someone other than yourself. I think that clarifies it for me.

Of course, Siegel was scotched on lame-assery clause regardless. But this only adds to his infamy.

TPM Reader DT on the ABC bamboozle and Scholastic ...

I think Scholastic may be the weak link here. Scholastic is in the business of teaching children -- and that requires that it present factual material. ABC will not readily pull The Path To 9/11 because it has advertised it so heavily and because it can pretend that its semi-fictional account is based on facts, etc. Also, I doubt ABC can reshoot made-up scenes between now and Sunday or find a replacement on its schedule. The best we may see from ABC is a more prominent display of the falsity of its docudrama.

Scholastic, on the other hand, does not have the same investment as ABC does in the program. It would not surprise me if Scholastic executives were unaware of the liberties that the docudrama takes with the facts. Scholastic will suffer much more reputational harm from teaching lies to children than ABC will from airing a "docudrama." We can already see that while still prominently advertises The Path To 9/11, Scholastic has, at least temporarily, scrubbed its site of 9/11 materials. The corporate offices of Scholastic are at 212-343-6400. (I note that a customer service representative offered me this number without prompting when I mentioned the 9/11 controversy, so I'm not handing out a number that Scholastic is hiding.)

If Scholastic pulls out of the project because the docudrama is inaccurate, that would increase pressure on ABC to admit that its program contains gross falsehoods.

This may be true. I would also say, though, that you get the names of the key advertisers with your local ABC affiliates and contact them, and you'll hear people squeal very quickly.