…has always had special resonance for me, as a constant business traveler. Last night, the Arts & Entertainment cable network presented Flight 93, based in part on records of phone conversations between passengers and their families. I didn’t see the program, but my pal Gerry Nolting says it was great. What’s more, Flight 93 turned out to be the most watched program aired on A & E since the network debuted in 1984.
This is good, I think. The networks have boycotted footage of the September 11 attacks, because they fear–correctly, I think–that reminders of the destruction wrought by the terrorists’ attacks will engender support for the Bush administration. But the public’s enthusiastic reception of Flight 93 suggests that people are ready and, perhaps, eager to know more about that fateful day.
UPDATE: A couple of liberal sites have attacked this statement as “self-contradictory” and “paranoid”:
The networks have boycotted footage of the September 11 attacks, because they fear–correctly, I think–that reminders of the destruction wrought by the terrorists’ attacks will engender support for the Bush administration.
It certainly isn’t contradictory; how does the fact that a cable channel and a movie studio have produced programs on Flight 93 contradict the assertion that the networks have boycotted 9/11 footage for political reasons? It doesn’t.
As for the “paranoia,” I’d love to believe that’s true. But I’m hard pressed to see any other explanation for the networks’ boycott of September 11 footage. They have lots of film; we all saw much of it live. It’s obviously newsworthy and of great continuing interest. So why have the networks refused, to my knowledge, to show that footage for more than four years? Why don’t we ever see the airplanes flying into the World Trade Center on television? Or the towers falling, or people jumping? It’s not because those images are too graphic for television; they aren’t. CNN went to court to get the right to show the bodies of victims of Hurricane Katrina; why is it, like the broadcast networks, allergic to showing the devastation of the terrorist attacks, which would not include anything as graphic?
I think the networks don’t want to show the September 11 footage because they believe it will rile people up, and keep them angry at the terrorists. They’re right; it would. I agree with Darrul Worley: if it was up to me, I’d show it every day. Why don’t the networks want people to stay angry about the terrorist attacks? The only reason I can see is that focusing on the evil done by the terrorists on that day doesn’t fit with the agenda that is almost universal among liberal network executives and producers. For example, to the extent that people are reminded of the horrors of terrorism, they will probably be more likely to think it’s a good idea to intercept phone calls between al Qaeda and its agents in America, and will be more likely to support renewal of the Patriot Act.
Is that theory wrong? I’d like to think so, but what is the alternative? If any network executives would like to explain the virtual absence of September 11 images from network television for the last four years, we’d be happy to publish their explanations.