The acclaimed director is already under fire for defending his decision to give airtime to the conspiracy group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth in his four-part NYC Epicenters 9/11➔2021½ documentary, telling The New York Times: "I got questions." But it's the amount of airtime that Lee is giving to 9/11 truthers that is alarming, says Jeremy Stahl. "About a decade ago, I interviewed Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth founder Richard Gage multiple times and attended one of his events for articles in Slate and Architect Magazine," says Stahl. "Gage is responsible for peddling some of the most pernicious and long-running lies about the 9/11 attacks, which is why I was surprised that Lee, HBO, and WarnerMedia might be lending his group any amount of time. I had to see for myself to what extent Lee’s documentary actually promoted Gage’s fantasies, so I checked out a screener for Episode 4, which is due to be released around the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. What I found was surreal and demoralizing. Lee devotes 30 minutes near the very end of his series to relitigating arguments that have been debunked a thousand times. Specifically, he presents about a dozen conspiracy theorists and members of Gage’s group, including Gage himself, in a back-and-forth with three credible scientists who investigated the 9/11 attacks in a teach the controversy–style format that presents the truth behind 9/11 as an open debate between two equally valid sides. In terms of conveying facts, this is a bit like presenting COVID-19 vaccine skeptics in a debate alongside Anthony Fauci, or Holocaust deniers alongside the Simon Wiesenthal Center, or a clique of climate change skeptics alongside the authors of the United Nations IPCC report." Stahl adds: "You might be wondering why it matters if Spike Lee is raising questions about the official story of 9/11, particularly given that most of the 'evidence' he presents is perhaps most well-known at this point because of mocking teen memes from the mid-2010s. But Lee and HBO are offering Gage and his conspiracy theories the biggest and most mainstream platform they’ve ever had, pointing their viewers directly towards a bog of heinously dangerous ideas: Like other conspiracy theorists, Gage doesn’t just stick to 9/11, and if Lee’s viewers follow Gage down the rabbit hole, they likely won’t, either. Gage, for instance, considers himself an expert on the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, he has said on various podcasts that COVID-19 is a 'deep state' 'hoax' and 'false flag event' that has been perpetrated by an 'increasingly restrictive and tyrannical government that has locked us into our own homes, and kept us in isolation from each other with distance and masks, and poisoned us with vaccines that are going to kill us.' .....Again, once people dip a toe into the fever swamp of conspiracy theories, they are often sucked all the way in—with all the attendant horrific consequences for society and public health. But aside from being a potential gateway drug for his ideas about COVID-19, Gage’s theories about 9/11 are dangerous in and of themselves. His elaborate conspiracy would implicate nearly everyone in the country as either culpable criminals or gullible 'sheeple.' Particularly guilty are mainstream media entities—such as HBO and WarnerMedia—which Gage says are in on the crime. Indeed, the man tends to see anyone who disagrees with him about 9/11 as a likely criminal. When you listen closely to Gage and attend his events, other alleged criminals start to emerge. Chief among them: Jews...The 9/11 truther movement is awash in this sort of antisemitism, and Gage seemingly never disputes it. Lee is now pointing his viewers directly into the arms of Gage, whose most mainstream platform before now was the 9/11 conspiracy film Loose Change, and who has never had the type of audience that HBO is offering."
TOPICS: Spike Lee, HBO, NYC Epicenters 9/11→ 2021½, Richard Gage, 9/11, Documentaries