Calling the upcoming ABC television show about the events that led to 9/11 inaccurate, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, called on school teachers today to avoid the use of the program as an educational tool in their classrooms.
Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Workforce and Education Committee, also applauded Scholastic, Inc. for disassociating itself from the ABC program for similar reasons.
The statement carries political overtones at a time when President George Bush is traveling the country to talk about the importance of the Iraq War in the fight against terrorism on the home front.
Democrats, in contrast, hope voters will view the Iraq War as a failed GOP policy that has made the world less safe when they go to the polls in November. The Democrats need to win 15 seats in order to take majority control of the House of Representatives.
Here is Miller’s statement issued at 2:30 today:
“Since 2002, the Bush Administration and its congressional allies have repeatedly and misleadingly tried to link the U.S. war in Iraq to the war on terror. There is no such link. Iraq and Saddam Hussein did not attack us on September 11 – Al Qaeda did.
The war in Iraq is not a part of the nation’s efforts to combat terrorism – it is a distraction from those efforts.
“With so much at stake, it is essential that we separate fact from fiction.
“That is why I was so concerned when we learned about ABC’s fictional movie about 9/11 and educational materials related to the movie that might increase confusion about the war in Iraq and the war on terror and might give Americans misleading and inaccurate information about the
events that led up to the war and about the course the war is taking today.
“But I am very pleased to have learned this afternoon that Scholastic Inc. is disassociating itself from the ABC film because of problems with the film’s accuracy. Scholastic will instead produce a teaching guide that will focus on the 9/11 Commission report and on the difference between
documentaries and docudramas. I think that is very important.
“I had a conversation today with Scholastic’s chairman, Richard Robinson, in which he told me of the company’s planned changes to its teaching guide. I look forward to seeing the new guide and I appreciate Chairman Robinson’s attention to the importance of getting this story right. Scholastic is demonstrating that it takes its responsibilities to our society and our children
seriously. It shows that it values accuracy and fair-mindedness.
“As of now, the same cannot be said of ABC and its parent company, the Walt Disney Company.
“Broadcasters have a right in our society to produce the programs they wish for their viewers. And that is an important right. But it comes with an equally important responsibility. When powerful media companies blur the lines between news, education, and entertainment, and between fact and fiction, it hurts the way people come to think about and relate to and make
decisions about their communities and their country. This is particularly true for children and young adults.
“Disney and ABC have an obligation to be fair and responsible with all of their material, but particularly with the most pressing issue of our time. They should treat this topic with all the seriousness it deserves – nothing less. If they can’t produce a program that strives for accuracy and fairness and greater understanding, then they shouldn’t air it.
“But ABC apparently intends to go forward with its program and therefore it is important for teachers across the country to recognize that this is a fictional account and not a history lesson and that they should work with different, more credible material when teaching about the meaning and importance and history of 9/11 to their students.
“The fact is that the standard for what is acceptable in America’s classrooms is
different than for what is acceptable in America’s living rooms. And we depend on our teachers to defend that standard.”