Surveying the smoking ruin that is ABC's reputation after the "The Path to 9/11" debacle, it's hard to know whether you're looking at the consequence of unadulterated folly or of a calculated strategy that turned out to be too clever by half.
At the end of the day, it probably doesn't make much difference because, either way, the lacerating controversy surrounding the network's docu-dramatic re-creation of events leading to Sept. 11 is an entirely self-inflicted wound. For most of the week, ABC rather haughtily attempted to characterize itself as the victim of philistines, or self-righteously as a champion of free speech or, more pathetically, as just plain misunderstood by people who just don't understand how television is done.
It is none of those things.
It's an opportunistic and self-interested organization that somehow thought it could approach the most wrenching American tragedy since Pearl Harbor with the values that prevail among network television executives — the sort of ad hoc ethics that would make a streetwalker blush — and that nobody would mind.
The network has made some edits.
And the reviewer says of the pre-edit version: "many false moves" and "big-time" partisan politics.