With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Historians join the protest against the ABC 9-11 docudrama

CHICAGO, IL -- SEPTEMBER 8, 2006 – A group of leading American historians today sent the following letter to Mr. Robert Iger of ABC. Signatories include Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Schlesinger and Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, this year's winner of the Bancroft Prize, the American history profession's highest honor. Stressing the significance of the “traumatic” events of 9/11, the signers of this letter are calling on Mr., Iger to stand up for responsible media treatments of such important historical moments and withdraw the program from circulation.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Robert Iger: We write as professional historians, who are deeply concerned by the continuing reports about ABC’s scheduled broadcast of “The Path to 9/11.” These reports document that this drama contains numerous flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history. The key participants and eyewitnesses to these events state that the script distorts and even fabricates evidence into order to mislead viewers about the responsibility of numerous American officials for allegedly ignoring the terrorist threat before 2000. The claim by the show’s producers, broadcaster, and defenders, that these falsehoods are permissible because the show is merely a dramatization, is disingenuous and dangerous given their assertions that the show is also based on authoritative historical evidence. Whatever ABC’s motivations might be, broadcasting these falsehoods, connected to the most traumatic historical event of our times, would be a gross disservice to the public. A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show’s broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.


Arthur Schlesinger

Sean Wilentz, Princeton University

Michael Kazin, Georgetown University

Lizbeth Cohen, Harvard University,

Nicholas Salvatore, Cornell University;

Ted Widmer, Washington College;

Rick Perlstein, Independent Scholar;

David Blight, Yale University;

Eric Alterman, City University of New York.

(List in formation)

The scheduling of the docudrama has raised a firestorm of criticism from educators, congressional leaders and former President Bill Clinton. For additional information on the controversy and the opposition from leading Americans, please check: http://openlettertoabc.blogspot.com/ , and http://thinkprogress.org/?tag=Path+to+911 , and http://www.firedoglake.com.