The Path to 9/11” was a two part mini series that aired on ABC September 10th and 11th, 2006 that dramatized the events leading up to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Capital. ABC got itself into trouble when it promoted the film as being heavily based on factual information found in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Controversy arose as clips came to surface before the films release. One such clip involves CIA operatives who have surrounded a house they believe Osama Bin Laden is hiding in. They contact up the chain of command and all the way to the whitehouse, where the field operative speaks with Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.

The operative asks permission to storm the house and capture or kill Bin Laden. Berger and Clinton fear political back lash if the mission results in civilian casualties and instruct the operative to stand down.

Multiple sources from all parties involved quickly came forward to assure that those events never took place. And in fact, they didn’t. Because the author later admitted that it was a complete fictionalization.

Even conservative author Richard Minter, the political enemy of the Clinton administration, couldn’t believe the outright lie that the film portrays. When interviewed by Wolf Blitzer he said, “the idea that someone had bin Laden in his sights in 1998 or any other time and Sandy Berger refused to pull the trigger, there’s zero factual basis for that.”

The same day that Minter went on CNN, ABC published a statement on the film. “The Path to 9/11 is a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.”

This was a weak response to these allegations. The real issue here is that from the first pieces of marketing, this film was marketed as bieng a factual retelling of events, based on the findings of the 9/11 commission. Face it ABC, you didn’t do your research.

You agreed to produce a mini-series written by an author known to include conservative undertones in his work. Anyone who sees any of the scenes involved in the controversies could likely be confused by the authenticity of the film, and believe the events to be factual.

The real crisis started in the marketing process. Either its entirely factual, or its fiction thats based on fact. There is no such thing as fact based on fiction. If you believe even one minor event to be fictionalized, then you must make that clear from the beginning. That is your responsibility as a news source.

The crisis with the film, was just one of several reasons why the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America named ABC its third annual “Misinformer of the Year” award in 2006.