What’s Next?

John Aravosis is planning an “all-out war” against Disney/ABC. I’m glad to see that he’s come up with a number of ideas beyond boycotts of Disney – ABC programs and products. I’ve never heard of a boycott against a product or company that had any impact other than a little media attention.

Jennifer Nix, posting at firedoglake, has more. Three of her suggestions merit special attention, IMO. Briefly,

1. Work to get the widest possible distribution and viewing of the film 9/11 Press for Truth.

2. Urge media to cover the 9/11 Press for Truth press conference with the filmmakers and 9/11 families at the National Press Club. Meke noise to advocate more investigation.

3. Work to get “Press for Truth” learning materials into schools.

Nix fills in more details.

I want to say something about Scholastic’s role in the “Path” scandal. I used to work for Scholastic and know a little about how these things happen. I suspect it went down this way:

Somebody, probably ABC, contracted Scholastic to produce and distribute the classroom materials. And that somebody probably provided Scholastic with a script and graphics to work with. (Disney publishing could have produced the classroom materials just as well as Scholastic; ABC probably approached Scholastic because of its public school distribution chops.)

However, it’s unlikely Scholstic staff did all the actual work. The writing of the materials was almost certainly subcontracted to a “packager,” a company that will do any or all tasks from writing/editing through warehousing and distribution for a fee. Scholastic (and most textbook/ educational publishers) work with packagers a lot because publishing textbooks or other school materials doesn’t keep keep a full-time, permanent staff busy on a regular basis. There will be long periods of big, complex, tight-deadline projects followed by (sometimes) months with not much to do but re-arrange paperclips. So it’s common for the big educational publishers to keep a minimum in-house staff to provide editorial and artistic direction, hire by short-term contract as needed during crunch periods, and farm out the rest of the work to packagers.

When I was a production manager for Scholastic the biggest part of my job was coordinating the work of several different packagers and vendors scattered all over the country. Work would come into Scholastic at various stages to be reviewed by the in-house team, but it was actually being written and put together by people other than Scholastic employees.

I’d bet money that whoever in upper management worked out the contract details with ABC didn’t spin his wheels much over the content of the project. It was income, it was Disney/ABC, how bad could it be? The in-house editorial-production staff may have given the project no more than a cursory glance, requested bids from packagers, and farmed out the whole thing. It’s possible Scholastic staff acted only as brokers, passing the produced material on to ABC for review and back to packagers for revision.

I don’t know that’s what happened; I’m just saying that’s how these things usually work.

My entire department, from the Vice President down, was laid off in 2000, which is why I’m not still there, and I don’t believe anyone I used to work with is working there now. So I have no reason to be loyal. But Scholastic’s main office building is on Broadway between Prince and Spring streets, which places it in the Soho section of Manhattan. It was well within the area barricaded from all but essential workers after September 11. I’m sure there are people on the Scholastic staff who care about the truth deeply.

See also:
Tom Shales, “ABC’s Twisted ‘Path to 9/11′”

12 thoughts on “What’s Next?

  1. So there are no commercials being run during ABC’s Republican propaganda film. Perhaps Scholastic is not the proper place for a market response. Is ABC vulnerable, is Disney.

    I hate censorship. I work in the film business, sometimes television. 6 weeks ago I was surrounded by security guards on a public street and threatened with arrest by a local sheriff if I failed to turn over b roll taken from the street of the Exxon plant near New Orleans. I was shooting a documentary about storm related pollution issues along the Gulf.

    So should people be able to make films from there perspective. Yes, even this political tripe. However if a corporation such as Disney is using its position and its free access to the public airwaves to create partisan propoganda then the same timeslot should be made available to the opposite perspective. Since this is not the case, perhaps a grassroot anti Disney campaign should be begun. I realize the fundi right has been doing this for a while and I find it problematic. Yet, sometimes fire must be fought with fire and as we’ve seen with the current cabal in DC, playing nice counts for nothing.

    At the very least, the company that would not distribute Michael Moore’s film would think twice before consorting with David Horrorwitz.

  2. Pingback: Neptunus Lex » So…

  3. Path to 9/11 is not the only inaccurate and misleading docudrama.
    The movie United 93 is described as “meticulously researched” and “based on fact”, but there is not any indication that the German passenger Christian Adams was indeed a coward and appeaser and tried to stop the American heroes from storming the cockpit as the movie shows. The Guardian’s film critic writes: “The film United 93 finds old Europe literally standing in the way of US derring-do. The only trouble is, it didn’t happen that way.”
    Perhaps you are interested in my take on this in the Atlantic Review: German 9/11 Victim Defamed in “United 93” Movie.

  4. A friend from Europe –

    The whole United 93 tale is nothing more than a total fabrication. The story was crafted right from the get-go to deceive the public, and shape the Administration’s spin. Americans love when their hero prays with a mobile operator for courage from Jesus before they lead their fellow passengers to martyrdom in the American way. Why not have a cowardly European in the plot? I guess there wasn’t a Frenchman on the passenger manifest to play that character so they settled for a German..Don’t take it personal

  5. What bothers me here is not this one show, but rather the bigger picture. The entire media is gradually abandoning a commitment to tell the truth. First, it was just talk radio. Then, it was Fox News. Then CNN. Now ABC/Disney. This show is just one more step down the road toward total abandonment of truth. When intentional falsehood becomes the order of the day among all media outlets, what’s left?

    I used to think the market would sort this out, but it’s clear that this is a losing battle. We may be able to make ABC/Disney pay a small price for this, but it won’t be enough. The media is not moving toward truth – it’s moving toward falsehood. We may make a step forward every now and again, but then it’s two steps back.

    This makes me wonder – is it time to alter the libel/slander laws? The problem is that they contain a terrible loophole: you’re not guilty of slander if you didn’t know you were telling a falsehood. The purpose of this loophole is to let people off the hook who merely made a mistake. But the problem is that this loophole makes it almost impossible to prosecute – I have to prove that you knew that you were telling a lie? How can I do that?

    I would be tempted to change the law, by adding the following rule: any person who anticipates that another person is going to publish a falsehood, may send a cautionary notification. Such cautionary notifications should describe the anticipated falsehood, and should explain why the statement is a falsehood. If the falsehood is published despite the cautionary notification, and if a libel court agrees that it is indeed a falsehood, then maliciousness shall be presumed.

  6. That’s a good idea Josh Yelon.

    Actually, Maha, years ago the public boycotted beef. ( At the time, backyard barbeques had just been “discovered” and Americans were going steak crazy so a sudden drop in beef sales was very noticable.) People bought chicken etc. and beans (of course their price skyrockted) instead of beef and the beef industry has never really recovered – or at least been what it once was. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember why we staged the boycott.)

  7. felicity — I don’t remember a beef boycott at all. I remember a beef shortage, when people were hoarding more frozen T-bones than they could ever eat, but I don’t remember a boycott. About how long ago was that?

  8. Could that have been the Oprah brouhaha? Didn’t she say something on her show about not eating beef and then she got sued by the beef industry? I know that this happened but I don’t know if that caused a beef boycott.

  9. If it’s a free speech issue, I guess ABC has the right to air a misleading docudrama. I don’t plan to watch it. ABC got me hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, so I guess I’m not boycotting the network, either. I agree that the key is to get accurate information out there. I think the only thing we can make ABC do is change their advertising: it’s drama loosely based on an actual event, but it’s fiction, with actors, not “Based on the 9/11 commission report.”

    There was some kind of 9/11 programming on almost every channel last night. I opted for Law & Order. But I think every year it will get worse, and it will become more difficult to sort through the facts.

  10. Maha, I think it was in the late fifties or early sixties. There definitely was a boycott. We did that sort of thing way back when. We had a grape boycott, can’t pin the time down, when Chavez was protesting the sub-human wages being paid to Mexican workers so we didn’t buy grapes. How different times are now. Perhaps you can come up with why.

    I’m 74 years old which is not excuse for my memory lapses, but at the same time it does indicate that I have lived through a lot of stuff.

  11. felicity — I remember boycotts on grapes and lettuce, but I don’t remember beef. My Republican steak-and-potatoes parents did not participate, in any event. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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