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Home > Media

Yellow Alert

You couldn't make it up...

5 December 2003

In September America’s Showtime network – a cable channel owned by the same company that owns CBS News and MTV – celebrated the second anniversary of T.T.E.O.S.E. with a ‘docudrama’ called DC 9/11:Time of Crisis. This hard-hitting slice of reality television took viewers behind the scenes of the Bush administration to reveal how masterfully they dealt with the terrorist attacks two years ago.

Despite claiming to be based on extensive research, the film actually was written and produced by a personal friend of Karl Rove – the American Peter Mandelson – who simply asked his friends in the White House what they remember of the day’s events. This fact apparently failed to alarm the network executives who commissioned the film. Nor does it seem to have troubled the Federal Communications Commission, chaired by Colin Powell’s son, that a film purporting to be a history of something that happened two years ago departs so severely from the historical record that it contradicts actual news footage from that day still available to anyone with an Internet connection.

DC 9/11 – which ran five times in prime time on the week of September 11 – is so absurdly sexed-up as to be ridiculous to viewers with even the slightest genuine memory of the disappearing act Bush pulled that day. But it’s unlikely that genuine news junkies are the target audience for a film which quotes the macho superhero President saying things like this: “If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me! I’ll be at home! Waiting for the bastard!”

Any viewer gullible enough to believe that George W. Bush actually said that when told by his Secret Service bodyguards that his life was in danger, will also believe that he later pulled Condoleezza Rice aside to tell her that “modernity, pluralism, freedom, these are good things – and not negotiable on my watch” – and that Dick Cheney felt so threatened by Bush’s commanding manner in the days after the attacks that Bush had to cheer him up by calling him “consiglieri.” In other words, they’ll believe anything they’re told. Like that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11 attacks (69% of Americans in a recent poll) and that there’s a supernatural deity up there in the sky who fights America’s corner (a healthy 48%).

As the film opens, we see an actor playing Bush informed by an actor playing his Chief of Staff that “a second plane has hit the second tower – America is under attack”. This takes place in a perfect replica of the primary school classroom in Florida that the real Bush was sitting in when he really heard these words. But that’s where DC 9/11 and accuracy go their separate ways. After pausing a moment to collect himself, and being careful to make his excuses in a way that will not alarm the children, the fictional Bush rises up and leaves the classroom to take charge of the nation’s response. We next see him ordering Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice about on the phone and personally writing a speech to calm the troubled nation.

In fact, the real Bush – as can still be seen in an on-line copy of a video tape made by the staff of the primary school - reacted by looking a little dazed, opening a children’s book called The Pet Goat and listening politely for several minutes as the children demonstrated their reading skills. He then bantered with the teacher, took a question from a child and told the children to be sure to read more than they watch television. None of this made it onto the screen.

To make things even more ridiculous, most of the actors playing the principal roles (Cheney, Rove - yes, he was in it too - Rice, Wolfowitz and Ashcroft) are played by actors best known for their roles in Star Trek; for example, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is played by the actor formerly known as Sulu.

The actor who plays Bush, Timothy Bottoms, recently starred in a satirical comedy called That’s My Bush! from the makers of South Park. British viewers will be pleased to learn that the actor playing Tony Blair spends most of the film bucking up the actor playing George W. Bush, comes across as something like the loyal English butler played by John Gielgud in Arthur and for some reason displays an enormous crucifix on his desk at all times.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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