Friday, September 08, 2006

The Swiftboat Path to 9/11 Exploitation

David Brin compellingly turns the tables on ABC's right-wing propaganda exploitation of national tragedy, "Path to 9/11" (which Bill Clinton has now blasted), which prompted me to respond thus (cross-post):

As for the potentially libelous depictions of Democratic officials that are apparently featured in ABC's Swiftboat Path to 9/11, John Dean made a compelling argument two years ago that Kerry should have immediately sued the "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" - not only for the direct purpose of the disinfecting sunlight a court can bring to bear of the otherwise hopeless disputes between different flavors of truthiness, and dissuading against the use of similar tactics in the future, but also to immediately prove a public relations point - that we are confident enough that you are lying your ass off that we are sure the truth will come out on our side.

The various defamed Clintonistas should have filed just such a suit against Disney as soon as the facts on this came out, with a motion for a temporary restraining order against showing it and seeking relief in the form of a permanent injunction to the same effect, and in case it is shown, for a massive damage award and an injunction against further distribution and to issue public retractions. I don't think there's any really good argument against this plan, and again on a public relations perspective, it would give the public the idea, like no amount of bloviating and indignation would, that there is something seriously wrong with the way the facts are being depicted.

And, if one of the defamed officials can come up with standing to sue in someplace like the U.K. or Australia with far more severe standards and penalties for defamation, which shouldn't be too hard, we could compound ABC's reasons to regret their September Surprise.

As for the idea of more reverse September/October surprises, like the new Senate report showing the intelligence indicated no connection, and in fact active enmity, between Saddam and al Qaeda, the release of which was apparently engineered by the Senate Democrats - anyone want to venture what other closet doors Democrats, journalists, or critics of the administration will be able to yank open before the election?

On the other hand, the GOP Congress is pretty effectively pulling a September Surprise against itself - when their political lives are on the line, they've accomplished far less this term than the infamous Do-Nothing Congress of 1948, and the nation is beset with compelling concerns - they parody themselves with a torrential debate about what to do with aging horses, for what even the GOP majority leader referred to as "the horse-shit bill". Are they just trying to get swept? (For what it's worth, I used to eat fried horsemeat on a stick from the corner friet stand when I lived in Belgium. Naturally, it tastes like chicken.)

Dana Milbank puts this Congress's lotus-eating in shocking perspective:

"Even before the horse bill, House leaders had been a bit sensitive about their legislative pace. The People's Representatives have been in session for all of 80 days this year, and with 15 days remaining on the legislative calendar, the House is on pace to shatter all records for inactivity. The "Do-Nothing" House of 1948 was positively frenetic by comparison, passing 1,191 measures in 110 days in session.

The current House has passed barely 400 measures..."

Come to think of it, it seems like the Disney shareholders may also have a decent lawsuit to bring against Disney, for its officers violating the business judgment rule and their duty to maintain and increase shareholder value, by (apparently) pouring tens of millions of dollars into a knowingly defamatory program that is fraudulently represented as being true to the 9/11 Commission Report despite factually contradicting it, and that any reasonable manager would have foreseen would offend and alienate from Disney the two thirds of Americans who disapprove of the Bush administration, thereby damaging the goodwill and customer loyalty attached to Disney and restricting the market for its products and services.

This would be all the more damaging if it turns out, as it now begins to appear, that Disney's production was effectively co-opted by an internal group explicitly dedicated to right-wing propaganda - you know, as opposed to profits, which the corporate officers are responsible for protecting and generating.

Disney might mitigate that liability if they yank the miniseries, although the money has been spent and the damage is already underway.

Of course, shareholder lawsuits aren't my thing, but I'm looking forward to seeing what a corporate lawyer type thinks of this.

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