Media reports fail to probe 9-11 Commission chairman Kean's role with ABC's factually flawed Path to 9/11 miniseries


New York Times and Associated Press reports about ABC's miniseries The Path to 9/11 described former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the 9-11 Commission, as a "senior consultant" for the film. But while both articles noted that Kean has defended the miniseries from those who have criticized its reported falsehoods, neither addressed whether Kean has been paid in his role as a consultant and promoter of the film.

On September 7, New York Times and Associated Press reports described former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean (R), chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission) as a "senior consultant" for ABC's miniseries The Path to 9/11 -- a six-hour "docudrama" reportedly based on the findings of the commission's official report -- but did not report on whether Kean is being paid in his role as a consultant. The New York Post reported in its September 6 edition that Kean was a "paid consultant" but did not report Kean's salary.

As Media Matters for America has previously noted, ABC describes The Path to 9/11, which will air over the course of two nights, September 10 and 11, as "a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources." Initial reviews and fact-checks of the miniseries have shown that it twists and invents facts and storylines to create a false picture of the Clinton administration's role in failing to prevent the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while largely ignoring Bush administration failures. In recent days, members of the right-wing media have begun promoting The Path to 9/11 as a film that "really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration" and "honestly and fairly depict[s] how Clinton-era inaction ... allowed the 9/11 conspiracy to metastasize."

As part of his efforts to promote the film, Kean participated in a September 5 conference call for select reporters and also signed a letter sent to 100,000 high school educators advising them on the various ways in which their students can view the film. As the weblog Think Progress noted, Kean admitted during the conference call that one scene in the miniseries depicting Clinton administration officials as "blocking a surefire chance to kill Osama bin Laden" did not occur as portrayed in the film and is not contained in the 9-11 Commission's report; a September 7 New York Times article noted that the film's screenwriter admitted during a radio interview that the scene was "not in the report." The New York Post, in addition to reporting Kean's role as a paid consultant, printed Kean's comments from the conference call and characterized him as being "all right with the made-up scene."

The September 7 New York Times article, by reporter Jessie McKinley, noted that Kean is credited in the miniseries as a senior consultant without specifying whether he was paid for his work in vetting the script and without giving any indication that the reporter had attempted to determine whether Kean had been paid; the article also printed Kean's defense of the film. Similarly, a September 7 AP report by television writer Frazier Moore predicted that Kean, who will appear on the ABC News special 9/11/06: Where Things Stand, might "defend the film's evenhandedness" but did not address the question of whether Kean is being paid to promote the miniseries.

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