Spike Lee could have been canceled years ago for doing the wrong thing.
In 2012 the outspoken auteur shared the address of an elderly Florida couple via Twitter. Lee erroneously thought their home was actually where George Zimmerman lived.
Zimmerman had killed a black teen, Trayvon Martin, on Feb. 26 following an altercation. The event caused a cultural uproar, akin to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Miss.
Lee, assuming the Hispanic Zimmerman was guilty of murder, shared the couple’s address hoping his followers might seek it out and, well, who knows what might happen next. The media painted the incident as racially charged, conjuring the term “white Hispanic” to describe Zimmerman’s lineage. That meant some might take Lee’s cue as a call to arms.
The tweet had left the McClains unable to return to their home and living in fear that they would be attacked as false retribution for Martin’s killing.
The couple in question successfully sued Lee, forcing him to pay an undisclosed sum and issue an apology. Lee faced legal woes from the Tweet, no doubt, but Hollywood welcomed him back into its collective arms without punishment.
Celebrities have been canceled for far, far less.
Now, Lee is back in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Again.
His new project, the four-part HBO docuseries “New York Epicenters: 9/11 – 2021 1/2,” finds Lee giving airtime, and legitimacy, to 9/11 truthers. Even the liberal Slate called out both Lee and HBO for including the extensive material in the series.
“HBO Needs to Fix This Before It’s Too Late,” the headline says.
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. Gage is responsible for peddling some of the most pernicious and long-running lies about the 9/11 attacks
John Nolte of Breitbart News shares more about Lee’s handiwork.
There’s no downside for spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories. HBO rewards you. Big Tech, Big Entertainment, Big Media, and Big Business reward you.
We’re starting to see a pattern with Lee, one that sadly plagues other celebrities who care more about partisan sniping than the truth.
These examples may be dwarfed by Lee’s most disastrous dance with Fake News.
The director’s 2018 movie “BlacKkKlansman” earned Lee his first Oscar (Best Adapted Screenplay). The film follows the real-life story of police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who successfully infiltrated a KKK group in Colorado during the 1970s.
The movie, which earned Lee the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival, ends with news footage tied to racially-charged incidents in modern-day America.
One clip showed President Donald Trump referring to a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Va. as “very fine people.” That was the core of the “Charlottesville Lie,” the Fake News narrative that directly linked Trump to neo Nazis. The media repeatedly shared that misinformation, and Lee was more than happy to pick up the corrupt baton.
Lee wasn’t punished for including a massive lie in his movie. One could argue it helped him snare that Oscar and related honors for the film given Hollywood’s hatred for President Trump.
Don’t expect any professional blowback to come from his HBO docuseries. The conspiracy theories in question may have united the Left and the Right in their condemnation of the docuseries, but Lee has survived far worse.
UPDATE: Lee is re-editing the fourth installment in his HBO series following select media backlash against his 9/11 truther content.