Friday, September 05, 2003

Rewriting history -- just in time for the campaign. News Dissector Danny Schechter has written a must-read exposé on about the making of DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, a docudrama about the Bush administration's response to the terrorist attacks that will debut this Sunday at 8 p.m. on Showtime.

This is a media scandal of the first order, and Schechter connects all the dots. Showtime is part of the Viacom media empire, headed by Sumner Redstone and Mel Karmazin, media executives who have repeatedly and actively sought favors from the federal government in the form of deregulation by the FCC. Bush's political mastermind, Karl Rove, was personally involved in getting DC 9/11 up and going, and the film was put together by Lionel Chetwynd, who has "a long history of serving Republican causes."

As Schechter notes, this is the first occasion that a fictional movie about a living president has been made since John F. Kennedy's leadership of the PT-109 was lionized some 40 years ago.

So here we have a favor-seeking media conglomerate making a propaganda film of the Bush presidency just as his re-election campaign gets under way. The idea of using that footage from last spring aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln is getting a little dicey, given that we're losing two or three American soldiers every day.

What we'll get instead is a fictional treatment of 9/11 that is guaranteed to make Bush look a lot more heroic and decisive than the real Bush did two years ago.

Here is Schechter's depressing conclusion:

DC 911 illustrates the direction our propaganda system is taking because it is also the direction that our news system has already taken. More story telling instead of journalism. More character oriented drama. More narrative arcs. More blurring of the line between fiction and truth.

DC 911: Time of Crisis is also a sign of the crisis in our media system. Made by a "liberal company," it may help re-elect a conservative president. It is the latest tool in the media drift to the right, but it is not the last.

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