Up till now, I’ve viewed the debate about the recent 9/11 docudrama (what ever the hell that means) “The Path to 9/11” with great amusement. I found it funny that the right wing now stood in defense of the mini-series when not three years ago they were up in arms about the broadcast of another silly mini-series about Ronald Reagan. I thought it just another futile political infight about the portrayals of national leaders in entertainment television. Or in other words, a much ado about nothing.
However, I just came across a letter from Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Debbie Stabenow, Charles Schumer and Byron Dorgan to Disney about the broadcast. An excerpt from that letter truly set chills down my spine:
Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.
The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.
Am I to get this straight? Has the government gotten so powerful, that they have the audacity to publicly threaten a television network with the removal of their license not on terms of obscenity (not that I’m a big fan of that statute) but instead on the political content of their programming? Are we to the point where this type of letter is to be tolerated?
Now I don’t remember any threat like this during the Reagan “controversy”, however, I would also strongly oppose it. Any government official making such a suggestion is not only a constitutional disgrace but also a direct threat to liberty.