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Mark Steyn on ABC’s decision to edit their 9/11 mini-series this weekend to pacify the Clintonistas

Thursday, September 7, 2006
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Jed Babbin, guest hosting.

JB: There’s so many things going on, there’s only one guy we can talk to having any sense about sorting this out. Columnist to the world, Mark Steyn, Steynonline.com. Mark, thanks for joining us.

MS: Pleasure, Jed. Good to be back with you on the air.

JB: Hey, it’s great to be talking to you, my friend. Let’s start with, I think, a calmer subject. I’m looking at a lot of the trends going on right now. I mean, the Republicans are in the doldrums. There’s all sorts of doom and gloom. It’s a pretty steady diet. The Democrats are pretty much picking out their new offices and their committee chairmanships already. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to go that badly. The polls are starting to turn. It seems to me…

MS: Yes, I don’t think…I’ve never thought it was going to go that badly, because I think the Democrats and the media, for the most part, live in a self-reinforcing bubble. And they get, as you say, they are practically picking out the drapes for the new offices, and I think they’re not there yet. And I think the basic problem is, is that they’ve assumed that a lot of the antipathy towards the Republican Party is going to express itself at the ballot by voting for Democrats, or staying home. And I don’t think that is the case. There are people who are dissatisfied with the President, dissatisfied with the administration. But at the same time, for a multiplicity of reasons, they’re not going to entrust the nation to the Democratic Party.

JB: Well, I think that’s exactly right. And you know, I don’t know that you take this bet, but I bet you a good steak dinner anywhere in Washington that the Republicans may lose some seats, but they’re not going to lose the House. Pelosi is not going to be Speaker.

MS: No, I won’t take that bet, because I agree with that, too. And you know, I get all these…I had an e-mail from frantic readers saying oh, well, the plan is that they’ll figure out a way to impeach Bush and Cheney, and then it’ll be President Pelosi, and they’ve got it all worked out. By February, it’s President Pelosi. And I keep saying relax, relax, relax. That’s not going to happen.

JB: Well, I think you’re dead bang right. And you know what? If it does, I’m going to probably have to flee to Scotland and claim political asylum. If I buy a pub, you can be my partner over there. Let’s go to the big story of the day. The ABC mini-documentary, two-part series, the Path To 9/11, and apparently, it’s very critical of the Clinton administration, critical of the Bush administration, too. But Bubba went ballistic. Now, the big story of the day is ABC apparently is caving in to the Clintons. Let me just read you a little bit from the release that the ABC people put out just a couple of days ago in terms of…well, actually, back on July 5th, when this thing was actually finished. And when you look at some of their quotes, let me just ask you to react to this. This is Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment. “When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right.” And from Governor Tom Keane, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission, “This film is going to be enormously helpful to those of us who have been working so hard to get the commission’s recommendations implemented.” Mark, how now are they going to take this thing apart, because Bubba went ballistic?

MS: Well, exactly. They supposedly spent years working on it to get it absolutely right, to get the absolute truth, and then they’re frantically staying up late the night before it broadcasts snipping out ten minutes here and there, because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger and various other Clintton apparatchiks object to this or that line here and there. I mean, that makes them look pathetic, it makes ABC, I think, look ridiculous, in fact, because there’s hundreds of these tapes out there. People are going to know exactly what lines were cut and what weren’t cut, and I don’t even think it works for the Democratic Party, because it reminds people that in fact, when…if you’re of a conspiratorial bent about 9/11, and a lot of people are, the only guy who’s actually been discovered to be destroying evidence is old Sandy Pants himself, Sandy Berger.

JB: (laughing) But Sandy baby, he’s out there, he’s one of the principal objectors to this. He says it flagrantly misrepresents my personal actions. He was, and we’re going to get to this later in the show. I don’t want to take the time now, because I value every minute I’ve got with you, but we’re going to take the time to pick it apart, because he’s saying that it is false, that they were basically showing him involved in an attempted, well, a plan for an attempt to take bin Laden that was cancelled at the last minute. Richard Clarke is griping about that, too.

MS: We don’t know about…in a sense, we’re taking this…I’m assuming that Sandy has got the paperwork. He went to an early script meeting for this show, and he smuggled it out in his shorts. And no doubt, (laughing) he can produce the rewrites from somewhere deep in his thong underwear. I think the reality of the situation is, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and we shouldn’t really be having this discussion, because nations fight wars, political parties and administrations don’t fight wars. Nations fight wars. And if it hadn’t been for the sour Democratic Party oppositionism, and the rubbish they spread about the Bush administration in those seven months before September 11th, and no one would even be wasting their time with this going back and going over what happened long ago. We’d all be looking ahead to the future in everything. But the fact of the matter is, that the Clinton administration basically took a kind of holiday for the 1990’s, and they kicked every big foreign policy challenge down the line. And that is something that they ought to be called on.

JB: Well, they’re talking about all of these exaggerations in the movie, saying they didn’t take shots at Osama bin Laden, they didn’t take seriously the threat of terrorism. Let me just read you another little quote. This is from, I just happen to have my copy of the 9/11 Commission Report. Lt. General William Boyken, the current deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and founding member of the Delta Force, told us that, “Opportunities were missed because of an unwillingness to take risks, and a lack of vision and understanding.” Seems like he’s summing up Sandy Berger’s whole career.

MS: Yes, I think that’s right. I think the Clinton…the fish rots from the head down. And I think in the case of the Clinton administration, the problem was he was uncomfortable with the use of military action, not for any other reason other than the fact that he felt awkward about the whole business with Vietnam. And he felt that if he sends people off on missions, and the missions went wrong, that it would come back to affect him. And so he did this…which was well summed up by President Bush a week or so after September 11th, when he said I’m not going to fire a million dollar missile into an empty tent and hit a camel in the butt, which is what Clinton did from time to time. He’d have these desertry lobbings of cruise missiles in Afghanistan, at that aspirin factory in Sudan, even the Kosovo war, where basically, he’d alert the office staff in Belgrade that he was going to be sending a million dollar tomohawk missile down an empty chimney at some Serb office building in the middle of the night. That was all he did. He never understood. He never…he was an appalling commander-in-chief, which is the core responsibility.

JB: Exactly. But now, this is coming…I mean, is this coming from him? Or is he doing this to protect her?

MS: Well, I think…no, I think it’s coming from him. I think they have in a sense, separate agendas here. And oddly enough, I think that if Hillary Clinton ever did become president, she would at least come to the office in the cautionary tale of her predecessor. She wouldn’t want to waste eight years the way he did. I think he’s trying to avoid looking like the sort of bizarre novelty act in the intermission from history between the Cold War and this new struggle. And I think he’s very serious about that. When you look at these terrible, appalling, self-serving speeches he gives for a hundred thousand dollars all around the world, that’s his main concern now.

HH: Well, what’s the basic upshot of this? This is going to go to the core credibility of ABC News. It’s going to go to the problems the Democrats have in manipulating the media. How is this going to play out?

MS: Well, I think it works, actually, to Republicans’ advantage. I think they’re going to be saying what is it? Why is it that ABC is so absurdly deferential to this particular ex-president, yet the media is happy to not only to trash the present administration, but to leak operational details about current programs. It absolutely highlights the difference between this sort of fading dinosaur media’s approach to the two political establishments in this country.

JB: I love it. Mark Steyn, Steynonline.com, author of the forthcoming book, America Alone. I’ve read it, you’ve got to as soon as it’s released.

End of interview.

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