After spending over a decade promoting President Bush, the PATRIOT Act, and the Iraq War, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation appears to be up to the same tricks, this time with an hour-long promotional video about Bush’s leadership during the 9/11 attacks. Although News Corp. is perhaps best known for its Bush cheerleading through its Fox News subsidiary, the Bush documentary is airing on another News Corp. company with a better brand image, National Geographic.
The documentary has not aired yet, but is scheduled to come out a few days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Early reviews of the program, however, paint Bush as a hero who discarded politics and his right-wing agenda once the planes hit the towers. The film also depicts Bush as a leader bent on capturing Osama bin Laden, no matter what:
“It’s not one of those moments where you weigh the consequences or think about the politics,” [Bush] adds. ”You decide. And I made the decisions as best I could in the fog of war. I was determined. Determined to protect the country. And I was determined to find out who did it and go get them.”
In reality, within hours of the 9/11 plane hijackings, Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began drawing up plans to launch a war in Iraq “even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.” Indeed, Bush aides quickly went to work undercutting the proposed commission to study the events leading up the 9/11, and despite the growing evidence linking the terrorist act with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda group, Bush never made bin Laden a priority. By January 2002, Dick Cheney told the press that bin Laden “isn’t that big a threat.” The next month, Bush said bin Laden was “not the issue.”
Will producer Peter Schnall critically, and accurately, explain to the public Bush’s actions during and after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks? In a recent interview about the program, Schnall said he tried not to push “it too far” with the former president, and that he was “less interested in facts than how” Bush “was feeling”:
“He would only take it to so far,” Schnall tells Zap2it. “If I had pushed it too far, he might have shut down a bit more, and my goal was to get him to talk about those four or five days. I was less interested in facts than how he was feeling.”
News Corp. has a long and complicated relationship with the Bush administration. In addition to promoting the Bush political agenda for two terms on Fox News, former Bush aides have flocked to the corporation as employees (Bush’s top strategist and spokeswoman, Karl Rove and Dana Perino, are among the many Bush admin alumni seen every day on Fox News). Bush’s assistant attorney general Viet Dinh, the “chief architect” of the PATRIOT Act, is an influential board member of News Corp. now overseeing the investigation of the hacking scandal now embroiling the company.
But if there’s any doubt that News Corp. isn’t serious about its latest attempt at Bush hagiography, take a look at the publicity effort around the documentary. On Tuesday, Matt Dornic promoted a special viewing of the documentary on the FishbowlDC website. Dornic is a staffer for Quinn Gillespie, News Corp.’s lobbying firm and public relations agency in Washington, DC