Spike Lee re-releases 9/11 HBO series featuring conspirators
Facing mounting criticism for shining a light on conspiracy theorists in his new HBO documentary series on the 9/11 attacks in New York City, filmmaker Spike Lee said on Wednesday he was re-editing the latest episode.
Mr. Lee’s HBO series, “NYC Epicenters 9 / 11-2021½,” explores the effect of the terrorist attacks and the coronavirus pandemic on New York City. The final episode, due to air on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, featured members of the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth conspiracy group, who champion the debunked idea that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by controlled demolition, not by terrorists who flew airliners into the Twin Towers. Their inclusion in the documentary series, which was made available in preview by members of the media, has been widely criticized in recent days.
In a media note released Wednesday on an HBO platform that offers early access to TV shows and movies, Mr Lee wrote: “I’m back in the editing room and watching the eighth and final chapter. from NYC EPICENTERS 9 / 11➔2021½ I respectfully request that you keep your judgment until you see the FINAL CUP.
In the version of the episode provided to the media, Mr. Lee also included the perspective of scientists who investigated the attacks and who refute the claims of conspiracy theorists, including S. Shyam Sunder, who led an investigation. multi-year investigation into the attacks for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But critics complained that the episode seemed to balance the perspectives of conspiracy theorists and experts who have studied the matter deeply, sometimes even appearing to side with conspiracy theorists.
At one point, after Mr. Sunder asked Mr. Lee whether his explanation of events sufficiently answered his questions, Mr. Lee, bursting out laughing, replied, “Well, not really. “
Jeremy Stahl, editor-in-chief at Slate, condemned Lee and HBO’s treatment of the subject. “In terms of transmitting the facts, it’s a bit like presenting skeptics of the Covid-19 vaccine in a debate alongside Anthony Fauci, or deniers alongside the Simon Wiesenthal Center, or a clique of climate change skeptics alongside the authors of the United Nations IPCC report. ,” he wrote.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr Lee had defended the inclusion of members of the conspiracy group, said he still had questions about what caused the buildings to collapse and added that he hoped that “Congress will hold a hearing, a meeting of Congress to hear about 9/11.”
Lobbying for new 9/11 investigations has been a long-standing goal of the so-called “true” movement. The movement, which has used the internet as an organizing tool and rallied around low-budget web movies like “Loose Change,” has never had much political success. But he managed to cast doubt on the official 9/11 account. A 2016 Chapman University study found that more than half of Americans believed the government had deliberately withheld information about the attacks.
The success of the 9/11 conspiracy theories also paved the way for more recent Internet disinformation campaigns, such as QAnon and the anti-vaccine movement, many of which have adapted tools and techniques that had been used by them. 9/11 conspirators years earlier. .
Mr Lee appeared to question the official explanation for the collapse of buildings, including 7 World Trade Center, which investigators determined had been destroyed by fire. They concluded that the heat from the fire caused the steel floor joists to expand, and the steel joists under the floors that provided lateral support to the structural columns of the tower began to deform or exert pressure. pressure against vertical structural columns.
“The amount of heat it takes to melt steel, that temperature is not reached,” Lee told The Times, echoing a popular conspiracy theory. “And then the juxtaposition of how Building 7 fell to the ground – when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it’s like you’re looking at the same thing. make up their own mind. My approach is to put the information in the film and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.
Mr. Lee’s series got a boost from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who introduced Mr. Lee at a press conference last week, announcing that some parts would be screened ahead of its official release as part of the NYC Homecoming Week, a cultural festival meant to celebrate the city’s progress as it tries to emerge from the pandemic.
“What he has created is absolutely amazing,” de Blasio said at the press conference, “and this is about us and this is the time to appreciate who we are.”
It was not clear if other episodes would be re-released as well. In the third episode, Mr. Lee questions Curtis Beatty, a former United Airlines flight attendant, about Flight 93, which was hijacked but never hit its target because passengers and crew were missing. tried to get back on the plane and it ended up crashing in Pennsylvania. : “Do you believe the flight crew and passengers crashed the plane?” Or was he shot? “
“I believe he was shot,” Mr. Beatty said.
The condemnation of parts of the series was swift but limited because the final episode had not been accessible to the public; even the people in charge of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum hadn’t seen it yet. In a statement, a spokesperson for the museum, Lee S. Cochran, said the institution was “fact-driven.”
“We recognize the existence of conspiracy theories and theorists as a phenomenon of the post 9/11 world,” she said, “but we categorically reject such claims as incorrect and invalid”.
Kevin Roose contributed reporting.