Spike Lee Re-Edits His HBO 9/11 Doc After Conspiracy Theory Criticisms

The director caught heat for including interviews with members of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Spike Lee attends the final screening of "OSS 117: From Africa With Love" and closing ceremony during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on July 17, 2021 in Cannes, France. The director recently said he is recutting the final episode of his HBO 9/11 docuseries after criticism about conspiracy theories.
Director Spike Lee attends the final screening of "OSS 117: From Africa With Love" during the Cannes Film Festival on July 17, 2021.

Just days after doubling down on his decision to include interviews with 9/11 conspiracy theorists from the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth in his eight-hour HBO docuseries NYC Epicenters 9/11-2021½, and indicating that he himself has “questions” over whether the horrific terror attack was actually an inside job, Spike Lee is reportedly backtracking, announcing that he is re-editing the final episode of the series.

That final episode is slated to air on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The previous cut of the episode — which was made available early to members of the media in the form of screeners — heavily featured members of the Architects and Engineers group, who believe that the World Trade Center was destroyed by a controlled demolition rather than the attack. (That conspiracy theory, for what it’s worth, has been repeatedly debunked.)

As the New York Times reports, “In a note to the media that was posted Wednesday on an HBO platform that provides early access to television shows and films, Mr. Lee wrote: ‘I’m Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½. I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgment Until You See The FINAL CUT.’”

Lee has faced heavy criticism over the past few days for his decision to include the group’s perspective in the docsesries. As Slate’s Jeremy Stahl wrote in his review, “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.”

Of course, there’s no word yet on exactly what Lee plans on changing in his re-editing process. When he was initially asked about the decision to include the conspiracy theorists earlier this week, he responded, “The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature’s not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way 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. But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.” (Again, to be totally clear, all of those “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” and “it was a controlled blast” theories have been thoroughly debunked.)

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