Clinton Supporter Robert Iger: DGA Honors Exec Who Banished 'Path to 9/11' Miniseries

Clinton Supporter Robert Iger: DGA Honors Exec Who Banished 'Path to 9/11' Miniseries

Want to relive season five of Paris Hilton’s reality show “The Simple Life?” No problem, it’s on DVD. The complete first season of Jane Curtin’s sitcom “Kate & Allie?” It’s just a click away on Amazon.com. Oliver Stone’s surreal 1993 miniseries “Wild Palms?” Get it on Netflix. Virtually any miniseries or TV show you can think of, from any season, no matter how insipid, forgettable, or obscure, is readily available and continues to earn profits (often inexplicably).

But you will look in vain for a DVD of the extraordinary and controversial Disney/ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11.”

A $30+ million project that aired without sponsors on two September nights in 2006, “The Path to 9/11” dramatized the historical thread that connected the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Islamic attacks on American interests throughout the ’90s, and the terrorism of that fateful morning in 2001. 
Prior to its premiere, the producers at ABC were so proud of the impending project that they had high hopes of airing “Path” every 9/11 anniversary and showing it in schools across this country as an engaging educational tool – until an accusation of “conservative bias” (horrors!) on the part of the filmmakers quickly spun into liberal hysteria that the project was actually a “well-honed propaganda operation” on the part of a secretive, right-wing network-within-a-network. 
(Honestly, how divorced from reality must one be to believe that a supposed stealth cabal of conservatives could conspire to get a $30+ million miniseries green-lit in Hollywood? That’s damn near impossible for liberals to achieve. The whole outrageous story is narrated in John Ziegler’s inimitable style in his riveting documentary “Blocking the Path to 9/11.”) 
Clinton administration alumni, fearing the miniseries would highlight their flaccid response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism and tarnish their political legacy, pulled out all the stops to suppress it. The show very nearly wasn’t aired at all – Robert Iger and Disney were pressured by the Senate Democratic leadership, led by Harry Reid – it hasn’t aired since, and today you cannot even obtain it on DVD
And why not? Disney President and CEO Robert Iger explains without elaboration that it’s a “business decision.” Oh, well then, case closed. Not only does he refuse to re-air “The Path to 9/11” or release a DVD, but he has no intention of even selling the DVD rights to another company. I’m no financial wizard, but I can recognize that, as business decisions go, willfully taking a $30+ million bath on your product when there is a vast audience hungry for it and distributors making offers, is not one of the more lucrative marketing strategies I’ve ever heard of. 

Tom Borelli, however, is not baffled by this business plan. Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project and a Disney shareholder, Borelli knows that this has less to do with a “business decision” and more to do with an ABC television project that drove former President Bill Clinton to near-apoplexy in his infamous interview with Chris Wallace, and which by extension is perceived to be a threat to the political future of Mrs. Clinton.

Borelli has pointed out that Iger has been a steady Clinton donor since before the former first lady was elected to the Senate, and has accused Iger of protecting Hillary’s presidential campaign at the expense of shareholders. (Path screenwriter/producer Cyrus Nowrasteh himself was told privately by an ABC executive that “If Hillary weren’t running for President, this wouldn’t be a problem.”)

Borelli has publicly pressured Iger at shareholders’ meetings and twice made formal offers to purchase the DVD rights, only to be ignored. He has become such a thorn in Iger’s side over this apparently touchy issue that, after Borelli finished a presentation at one shareholders’ meeting, the Disney chief responded to Borelli’s outstretched hand with an obscenity that would have set Mickey Mouse’s bow tie spinning. Borelli promptly returned to the podium and announced what had just happened, to the astonishment of the shareholders. A publicly cursing Disney head honcho more closely resembles a South Park parody than the squeaky-clean image Walt’s company has cultivated for many decades. 

And how has this corporate self-sabotage and political favoritism affected Mr. Iger’s standing in the industry? Well, this Saturday night, the Directors Guild of America will honor him with their Honorary Life Member Award at the 62nd Annual DGA Awards. The Award is given “in recognition of outstanding creative achievement, leadership in the industry, contribution to the DGA or to the profession of directing.” Past recipients have included Walt Disney, Darryl F. Zanuck, Barry Diller, and Jack Valenti.

I can’t speak for how Mr. Iger has “contributed” to the DGA or to the profession of directing, but “leadership in the industry”? I would think that the most basic requirement of business leadership in the entertainment industry would be to ensure the highest possible profit for your company and its shareholders, not to suppress a product with significant market potential to protect your political friends. Above and beyond that, real leadership would be to stand behind one of the finest docudramas in television history, and to assert the primacy of free speech in the face of an hysterically politicized campaign for censorship. As Mr. Nowrasteh wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Corporate timidity is preventing millions of Americans from finding “The Path to 9/11” on DVD – though other politically controversial movies are readily available, such as “Loose Change,” which argues that the Bush administration targeted American citizens for death in an elaborate and sinister plot; or Michael Moore’s unabashedly biased “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  These highly-charged movies, which don’t even offer a pretense of balance, and others can be found online or in retail outlets and DVD rental stores across the country.

And so they should be – just as “The Path to 9/11” should be.

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