Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House - Carol Felsenthal (2008)

Chapter 7. THE PATH TO 9/11

BILL CLINTON WAS SO EAGER TO TESTIFY BEFORE the 9/11 Commission (officially the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) that as soon as it was appointed in the fall of 2002, but before it started its work, he called his friend Tom Kean, just named the commission’s chairman, and invited him to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Harlem.1

Kean recalls that Clinton, who was accompanied by then New Jersey senator, now governor, Jon Corzine, “was interested in just how we were pursuing it…. I think it was a little legacy protecting. He wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to go off on some tangent that was…going to be destructive as far as [his] legacy went.”2

Clinton often felt the need to “blow off steam,” says Sandy Berger, especially when it came to interpretation of his foreign policy. Clinton would call him every few weeks, Berger says. “It ranges from ‘Do you want to play golf?’…to him reading something in the newspaper about the Clinton years that irritates him and he wants to…remember the facts and set the record straight.”

One of the areas that continues to plague Clinton is the galaxy of issues surrounding 9/11, especially, says Berger, the “effort on the part of the White House in the early days after 9/11 to shift responsibility backwards to the Clinton administration when the fact is that we actually were doing…a great deal before we left and they really dropped the ball.” The oft-asked question that continues to rankle his former boss is, Did Clinton have a chance to kill or capture Bin Laden in 1996? “The answer is no,” insists Berger. “There was never an offer…to give us Bin Laden…. We hit Afghanistan in ’98, targeting Bin Laden, so why in the world would we not take him if we had a chance?”

Berger dismisses the “wag the dog” stories of August 1998, when Clinton took a break from Martha’s Vineyard to announce that bombing, as ridiculous. “We erected an absolute Chinese wall between foreign policy and what was happening in the Congress.” He bristles at the allegation that he or Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or Secretary of Defense William Cohen were “in the tank for Clinton, were creating the pretext for war on a false basis.” Not surprisingly, Berger says that he never saw Clinton distracted during the impeachment mess, “and I was with him every day.”3

Berger’s endorsement aside, Clinton must have recognized that anyone with any common sense at all knew that he had to have been distracted. Former Democratic National Committee chief Don Fowler describes Clinton as spending half to two-thirds of every day dealing with the scandal.4 Larry King, who has talked extensively with Clinton on air and off, says there’s no way that Lewinsky didn’t distract him, any more than Vietnam didn’t distract Lyndon Johnson or Iraq George W. Bush. “It would be abnormal if he wasn’t distracted.”5

“I saw the president just in rages during that time,” recalls Mickey Ibarra. “A couple of times it actually concerned me.” Ibarra worried not that Clinton would have a heart attack, but “that it was a distraction, when you’re dealing with that much anger and hurt and pain.” Asked how the president expressed those emotions, Ibarra says, “I’d say a rant was pretty close to it. When I saw it, it was just the two of us—in the Oval Office, in the limo, once in the bathroom.” Clinton’s profanity-laden complaint was that Ken Starr and his staff were “attempting to overturn the will of the American people, they’re attempting to take me out of office.” The object of his most intense wrath was Ken Starr: “Oh, my God, did he hate that guy.”6

Robert Torricelli was receiving middle-of-the-night phone calls from Bill Clinton during the worst of the impeachment travails, even when the former New Jersey senator was on vacation in Scotland. Clinton’s calls would often awaken Torricelli. “He was in enormous personal pain and I think he was trying to reconcile the mistakes he had made…. I think this was just Bill Clinton needing to talk to friends when he was trying to reconcile what had happened and repair his life.”7 Clinton was also calling Senators Chris Dodd and Tom Daschle, as well as his fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, who writes in his memoir that “night after night the President was calling me around midnight for long talks.”8

WITH SANDY BERGER at his side, Clinton made an impressive witness, says 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey, offering “a brilliant insight” that Americans were “so busy celebrating the end of the Cold War that we didn’t make a good inventory of problems that we were going to be facing…. And one of the most important ones that we missed was the rise of…the capacity of radical Islam with relatively small actions to do a great deal of damage to us.”

Kerrey did not buy a key part of Clinton’s testimony—that he was “unaffected by impeachment…. It’s impossible for it not to have affected him. I think it affected him greatly…. I wasn’t being impeached and I was distracted by it…. He was under investigation by the House. The special prosecutor had [Hillary] go down and appear twice before a grand jury…. I think his interpretation of the impact of the impeachment on the capacity to carry out effective foreign policy is different than mine.”

Kerrey is specific about instances in which he believes the Clinton administration dropped the ball; he cites the attack on the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “We knew that Bin Laden organized that…. It was pretty shockingly successful…. There was no follow-up attack on Bin Laden’s camps and we knew where he was…and identified him on the ground and we didn’t pull the trigger…. It’s true that 9/11 was the first successful attack inside the United States, but it was the eleventh or twelfth attempt at a successful attack against the United States”—he gives as examples Somalia, USS Cole, Khobar Towers, the embassies.9

Tom Kean rates Clinton the witness as “terrific. He answered every question…. His memory was very, very detailed as far as the events we were asking about…. I think he was putting his administration’s…best foot forward as far as what they had done, but I don’t think he was particularly defensive.”

Kean agrees with his Democratic colleague Bob Kerrey: “You have to be distracted. If someone’s being impeached,…you’re not distracted?” Kean, however, gives Clinton more credit for superhuman concentration than does Bob Kerrey. “Now the question is was he distracted away from the really important things, such as Osama Bin Laden, and I don’t think so…. He’s one of the few people I’ve ever met in my life with that kind of a mind who can compartmentalize things.”10

Another commissioner, Republican Slade Gorton, calls Clinton “a wonderful private witness…. He was loquacious and he was open.” He said that the commission did not ask Clinton all that many questions, but he was there a long time anyway. (More than four hours.) “You can ask Bill Clinton a one-sentence question and get a fifteen-minute answer.”11

Clinton’s testimony was also impressive, Bob Kerrey says, because “these guys were being called back in, they didn’t have any staff, they had uneven access to the documents…. It wasn’t easy to prepare.”12

In helping Bill Clinton to prepare to testify, Sandy Berger ended up embarrassing his former boss, and permanently damaging his reputation. Berger went to the National Archives, with Bill Clinton’s authorization, to examine documents. While there, Berger stole documents from the Archives, hid them in his pants and in his socks, hid some at a construction trailer to be retrieved later, took some home, destroyed some—and lied about it all. (In an agreement, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. He was let off with a $50,000 fine and with community service—picking up trash in a Virginia park—and having his security clearance canceled for three years.)

The more conspiratorially minded thought that Berger had stolen and possibly destroyed original, uncopied, uncatalogued, and highly classified terrorism documents, some of them containing handwritten notes or edits. Berger’s motive, they charged, was to keep from the commissioners documents that showed holes in Clinton’s record on fighting terrorism.13

Steve Emerson, a well-known terrorism expert, speculates that Berger “was trying to clean up,…to change history…. It was obvious that he was trying to excise material [that] was unflattering.”14 U.S. News & World Report senior editor Michael Barone went further: “I have known Berger more than 30 years and find it unlikely that he would have done something like this on his own. Did Bill Clinton ask him to destroy documents that would make him look bad in history? I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I ask that question. But this or something very much like it seems to be the only explanation that makes sense.”15

Lanny Breuer, who worked for Clinton as his counsel during impeachment and also represents Sandy Berger, calls that charge “ludicrous…. The president had absolutely nothing to do with it. Sandy Berger made a mistake, he has publicly said that…. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether at times when he’s busy he’s less than the most organized person, or forgetful.”16

Slade Gorton terms Berger’s behavior “bizarre” and says there’s no way to answer the question of whether Berger was acting on Clinton’s orders. Members of the commission and its staff, he adds, had determined that Berger’s destruction of documents “had no impact on us; that we had seen and had available everything.”17 Tom Kean calls Berger’s actions “puzzling,” because “it makes no sense that someone of that eminence, that experience with national security, would be violating the law to that extent.” Like Gorton he believes the commissioners “saw all the documents including some of the ones he made off with, since there were copies.” Asked about a claim that documents went through renditions as editing was done, and that commissioners never saw those documents, he says, “Well, that’s possible,” but he adds that he does not consider it possible that Berger was acting on Clinton’s orders. “I don’t believe Bill Clinton would do that.”18

Berger was fired as an adviser to presidential candidate John Kerry; he is currently, quietly, advising Hillary Clinton, even though the canceling of his security clearance is in effect until September 2008. That did not go unnoticed. Writer Andrew Sullivan blogged at Atlantic.com: “A thief and liar is hired by Clinton. But his thievery is less important to Clinton than his loyalty. After all, his theft was an attempt to keep President Clinton’s failures with respect to al Qaeda under wraps.”19

THE FIVE-HOUR ABC miniseries that so angered Clinton aired, commercial free, on September 10 and September 11, 2006. It opens on September 11, 2001, with Mohamed Atta and coterrorists boarding the planes that they would crash into the World Trade Center towers, into the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. From there it travels back to the quasi-thwarted terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993. The star of the miniseries is FBI agent John O’Neill, an expert on al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, played by Harvey Keitel.20

Cyrus Nowrasteh, the miniseries’ screenwriter and one of its producers, attributes the angry reaction by Clinton and his people to Clinton trying to “control history, control his legacy.”21

The miniseries seemed to be on no one’s radar until ABC arranged a screening at the National Press Club in Washington on August 23, 2006. The network expected seventy-five people; three hundred showed up. “People from all political stripes were there,” Nowrasteh claims. Hundreds of DVDs had been sent out to critics, journalists, radio and television talk-show hosts.22

Because of his position as chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean had been hired as a senior consultant to the film, and ABC executives asked him to suggest names for the invitation list. Kean suggested 9/11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a lawyer with decades-long ties to the Democrats. (He did not respond to requests for an interview.)

ABC executives could not show all five hours at a single screening, so they decided to show all of night one, which focused on the Clinton years. That, Nowrasteh now says, was a mistake.23

Michael Barone was there and he remembers how angry Ben-Veniste and the people at his table appeared as the lights came up.24

Nowrasteh, expecting praise, took to the microphone to receive reaction and questions. Ben-Veniste and Warren Bass, a former 9/11 Commission staffer, now an editor at the Washington Post Book World, practically jumped out of their seats. Ben-Veniste charged that the movie was fiction and that the scenes that cast Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright in a negative light had never happened.

Nowrasteh was taken aback and grateful to have Tom Kean try, with humor, to deflect Ben-Veniste. But he would not be deflected. Warren Bass was so “irate,” Nowrasteh recalls, “he was practically shouting in my face.”

Nowrasteh urged them to watch night two; everyone was given a DVD. “Night two shows the failures of the other side (i.e., Bush)…. This is an even presentation…. Watch the entire thing before you attack it.”

Michael Barone, whom Nowrasteh had met during the cocktail hour, invited him to dinner, and warned him, “You have angered some very powerful people…and I believe they are going to launch a preemptive strike against your movie and you better be prepared for it.”25

Nowrasteh claims that Ben-Veniste and others “walked out of there, rallied Bill Clinton and his people, the bloggers, and set out to destroy this movie. It was pure politics and pure spin.”26 Tom Kean says of his commission colleague Ben-Veniste: “He’s the one who made all the calls.”27

One of the people alerted was Sandy Berger, who was not at the screening. “I got calls from people saying, ‘This is a hatchet job.’” When he called Clinton, Berger discovered that the president already knew about it. “We decided we were simply not going to tolerate it,” says Berger, “and we were going to fight back…. We launched a fairly aggressive effort to get ABC to either substantially edit or withdraw the film…. At the very least they needed to take out the scenes that were total fabrications.”28

Not surprisingly, Bill Clinton went right to the top, calling Robert Iger, president and CEO of Disney, which owns ABC. Clinton told Iger that it was inaccurate and distorted and he shouldn’t allow it to air.29 Bruce Lindsey, who heads Clinton’s foundation, also talked to Iger. Bill Clinton then called former senate majority leader George Mitchell, chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Company, who, at Clinton’s behest, also called Iger. (Mitchell, who had been interviewed earlier for this book, declined to talk about the miniseries.)

Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright likewise called Iger, but he did not return their calls. Clinton’s lawyers sent letters to Iger and so did Sandy Berger’s. Nowrasteh later complained that Senator Harry Reid and five other senators sent a letter to Iger “threatening revocation of their station licenses if they didn’t pull or recut the movie.”30

Iger was in a stomach-churning spot; he was not particularly familiar with the miniseries, which had cost more than $40 million to make and had never attracted a sponsor. Iger and others had come to think of The Path to 9/11, a huge money loser for the network, as being a kind of public service, something that would bring them kudos, not barbs. Mike Medavoy, who had already spoken to Clinton about the miniseries, ran into Iger, whom Medavoy describes as “caught in a box. I don’t think he could do anything,” certainly not cancel the miniseries.31

“Bob Iger didn’t know crap about this movie,” says John Ziegler, a conservative radio talk-show host on KFI in Los Angeles. “All he knows is Clinton’s calling him and ‘Oh, my gosh,…he’s [Iger] a friend of Barbra Streisand’s. He’s got all these liberal buddies and he has to make sure that he doesn’t piss them off…. So that’s why he ended up…giving Clinton whatever he wanted.”32

Not quite. Iger didn’t cancel the movie, and he ordered some but not all cuts—about three minutes’ worth—made in an attempt to placate Clinton and Berger.33

Iger did nothing for Madeleine Albright. The scene involving her shows the Pakistanis being warned that the Americans are about to launch fifty cruise missiles at Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Berger calls the scene “false and defamatory,”34 but it conforms to his own account of what happened. “We sent General Joe Ralston…to Pakistan. He was having dinner with…the head of the Pakistani military and at the moment the cruise missiles were basically entering Pakistani airspace, just minutes away from their target, Joe told [the head of the Pakistani military] that we were attacking an Afghan site.” A warning had to be issued, Berger says, “because missiles coming over Pakistani airspace, they might think that they’re being attacked by the Indians and we could have a nuclear war. So we had to give them some notice.”35

Clinton got some of what he wanted but not all: an archival clip of the president saying “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky” was left intact. (It angered the former president because, he felt, the filmmakers’ sole purpose was to depict him as too distracted to pay attention to fighting terrorism.)36 Other references to Lewinsky were removed—for example, a clip of Clinton with his definition of the word is testimony.37

The Sandy Berger scene, in which he hangs up on a CIA officer who is seeking permission to launch a military operation to get Bin Laden, was cut. Nowrasteh admitted that the scene had been improvised; in real life, Berger did not slam down the phone on the CIA officer.38 “They never had Bin Laden in their sights,” says Berger, “[and] the incident they’re referring to…was killed at the CIA because it was determined to be not reliable.”39

There were other changes that Clinton and his supporters forced: ABC had to pull back the claim that the miniseries was based on the 9/11 Commission report. ABC also had to warn viewers repeatedly that they were seeing a docudrama, not a documentary.40

Bill Clinton and his people pounced on Nowrasteh, an Iranian American whose parents left Iran after the fall of the shah. Sandy Berger dismissed Nowrasteh as a tool of the Right. “It was a movie that was put together by a group of very hard right conservatives in California who a year or so before decided they were going to produce a film to try to cast blame on the Clinton administration. The writer of the film is a close friend of Rush Limbaugh and is very tied in with various right-wing groups.”41

Much of the establishment media followed suit: the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer described Nowrasteh as “a hard-core conservative” and the son of “a deposed adviser to the Shah of Iran.”42 Maureen Dowd described Nowrasteh as “the Republican and Limbaugh pal.”43

In touting the miniseries on the air, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh had called Nowrasteh “a friend.” Nowrasteh claims he met Limbaugh twice, both times briefly and through their mutual friend Joel Surnow, the cocreator and then executive producer of 24. Limbaugh is a fan of that show and talks it up on the air. Surnow made certain that advanced closed-captioned DVDs were sent to Limbaugh, who has significant hearing loss. Nowrasteh saw that Limbaugh received the captioned DVD, along with a note in which Nowrasteh described what had happened at the National Press Club. “Any self-promoting or self-respecting writer,” says Nowrasteh, “is going to try to get Rush Limbaugh interested in their show…. He’s got twenty million listeners…. He has had a huge impact on 24’s ratings.”44

John Ziegler says that Limbaugh’s calling Nowrasteh a friend “doomed the movie.”45

Doomed was not too strong a word. Scholastic, the New York publisher, quickly canceled the teachers’ guide that was to be released with the DVD and used in classrooms. The DVD, which should have been released early in 2007, will likely never be released.46 Tom Kean says he guesses that Disney, which owns the DVD distribution rights, will eventually release it, but “not while Hillary’s running.”47 Nowrasteh complains that ABC did nothing to promote the miniseries for the Emmys, but after it scored nominations in seven minor, technical categories, he called Robert Iger to ask him when the DVD would be released. Iger would not take his call. Nowrasteh claims he was told by an ABC vice president, “If Hillary wasn’t running it wouldn’t be an issue.”48

Although the miniseries controversy involved a former president and so was certainly newsworthy, it was definitely the bloggers who kept the angry conversation going. “The way we found out about it is that the publicists were distributing tapes,” says one, “only to the right-wing blogs and refusing to give tapes to anybody else…. It’s when we couldn’t get tapes that it started to become a story.” When asked, “You mean you called the publicity people at ABC and they said, ‘What’s your political leaning?’” this man says he’s not sure.49 Blogger Jane Hamsher makes similar connections: “The fact that Rush Limbaugh had seen it and they wouldn’t let Bill Clinton see it was something that was like waving a red flag.” She adds, “They gave it out to six hundred right-wing bloggers and then wouldn’t let Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton [see it].”50

Nowrasteh responds that more than nine hundred DVDs were sent out—and they were distributed, he says, across the political spectrum. “Were copies sent to Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Madeleine Albright? No. They weren’t sent to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Condi Rice, either.”51

When Disney went into closed quarters to determine whether to make any cuts, Nowrasteh claims, “promotions people were ordered to send no more copies out. They didn’t want the uncut version to keep going out while they were determining what to cut. This is about the time when Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton were doing their media spin condemning a movie they hadn’t seen. They asked for copies but Disney was sending no more out to anyone.52

Nowrasteh would later charge—and said he was talking to lawyers about taking action—that Clinton’s press secretary, Jay Carson, “made calls to people employing me” to suggest that they rethink their plans. Nowrasteh claims that Carson called Oliver Stone, with whom Nowrasteh had worked previously, and the president of Paramount, Brad Weston. (Although the project now seems stalled, Nowrasteh was working with Stone on Jawbreaker, for Paramount, about the first people to enter Afghanistan after 9/11.)53

“The Clintons think they own this town,” Nowrasteh complains. He also blasts blogger Max Blumenthal—the son of Clinton friend and aide Sidney Blumenthal—for “heavy-handed, clumsy, McCarthyite tactics,” claiming that he had heard from Oliver Stone that Blumenthal was pushing the line that “a Christian Right conspiracy” had hired Nowrasteh and “we had hoodwinked ABC into doing the movie.”54 Nowrasteh calls what happened to him “a witch hunt,” “a book burning,” and a reinstatement of the “Blacklist in Hollywood.” (Blumenthal, who denies calling Stone or anyone else, says that Stone must have gotten his information from Blumenthal’s blog. Carson, now Hillary’s traveling press secretary, did not return a call and an e-mail seeking a response to the allegation.)55

In explaining the miniseries’ origins, Nowrasteh, who claims to have no strong political leanings, says that the idea was developed “in-house at ABC…. They came to me.” He mentions that his work has won praise from PEN, that he had written the script and directed Showtime’s The Day Reagan Was Shot. (Oliver Stone was the executive producer, the star was Richard Dreyfuss as Alexander Haig.) He also wrote for Showtime 10,000 Black Men Named George, about A. Philip Randolph, “an African American Communist” who led the Pullman strike in the 1930s. “If I’m a right-wing ideologue, what am I doing a movie like that for?”56

Tom Kean says he did not see Nowrasteh as being of one particular political persuasion or another,57 but Nowrasteh served the bloggers all the red meat they could have wished for. His miniseries received a rapturously positive review at Libertas, a right-leaning site that is connected to the conservative Liberty Film Festival.58 A Liberty Film Festival person put Nowrasteh in touch with radio talker Ziegler, and Ziegler, in early or mid-August, was also sent a copy. “I loved it. I thought it was tremendous…. I went on the air that night and I said,…‘There’s no way Clinton is going to allow this to air; no way, not because it was inaccurate, but because the essence of it is so truthful and Clinton is just not used to being treated like everybody else.”59

Nowrasteh also gave an interview to frontpagemag.com, which is connected to David Horowitz, the same conservative for whom Robert Patterson now works. Patterson, during the height of the controversy, when it was not clear whether ABC would kill the miniseries, watched it, at Nowrasteh’s request—the two did not know each other until then—and Patterson called Quinn Taylor, an ABC executive, the man who had put the miniseries in motion in 2004 and had hired Nowrasteh. Patterson vouched for its merits and accuracy.60

“We haven’t heard a peep,” says Nowrasteh, from the Bush administration.61 That, to Democrats, is all the evidence needed that the miniseries was slanted.

Terrorism expert Steve Emerson calls Nowrasteh’s work “overall…an accurate portrayal to the extent that docudramas can be accurate. Not all scenes correlated with what happened in history,” he admits. But he adds that it did capture the Clinton administration’s “not being ahead of the curve on al Qaeda.” He says of Clinton, “He just didn’t take the initiative,” but Emerson does not give George W. Bush a pass: “For all intents and purposes, [he] didn’t do anything for the first nine months.”62

Among the casualties of this controversy, besides Nowrasteh and his colleagues, was Tom Kean, whose until then sterling reputation was tarnished. “Kean is an honorable man,” says Sandy Berger, “but I think he got totally bamboozled by this film…. Had he been rigorous about his responsibility here, he would have been exercised about the way in which the movie distorted the 9/11 Commission report. I think he got used.”63

Kean was portrayed as a partisan hack who either went along with the filmmakers’ distortion or just collected his fee and paid no attention. According to a report in the New York Times, Bruce Lindsey wrote Kean that he was “shocked” by the former New Jersey governor’s role, saying: “Your defense of the outright lies in this film is destroying the bipartisan aura of the 9/11 Commission and tarnishing the hard work of your fellow commissioners.”64

In fact, Kean says, “I read the script. I went and saw one shooting. I talked to the writer from time to time and made suggestions, not all of which were taken but that’s the normal role of a consultant. I didn’t have any final approval or anything.”65 Nowrasteh says that sometimes he took Kean’s suggestions and sometimes, “for budgetary as well as dramatic reasons,” he didn’t.66

Kean’s long friendship with Bill Clinton was definitely hurt. Clinton’s anger about the miniseries “caught me totally by surprise,” Kean says, adding that he never heard from Clinton and “I was sort of surprised by that because we’ve been friends for a long, long time…. I hope we still are.”

One of the more interesting aspects of this controversy is how many people proclaimed it a hit job and a failure as a piece of art without watching it. Most said that they had read about the controversy surrounding the miniseries, but it sounded so boring, why watch it? Berger and Albright and Clinton were all complaining so loudly, says Kean, but “none of them had seen it…. I used to tell people, ‘You know, I’d like to talk to you better after you’ve seen it.’”67

In fact, Berger says he watched the first night but not the second. “I got a full report on the second night from people who watched it.”68 Barbara Bodine, who blasted the miniseries in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times—as ambassador to Yemen at the time of the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, she was portrayed as a hysterically angry, unprofessional woman refusing to cooperate with American officials—admits that she never saw it. “I’m a little like Madeleine Albright. I had enough people describe it to me. It was fairly clear what the style and the message was.”69

The miniseries makers “left a substantial amount of misleading and incorrect information,” says Sandy Berger, “but I think by the time the show aired we had done a fairly effective job of getting the media to focus on this and discrediting the movie.”70 But twenty-eight million people did watch it. It was bested by NFL football on the first night, but finished first in the ratings on the second.