NY Times Op-Ed Columnist Sparks Online Outrage For ‘Chappaquiddick’ Criticism

Jena Greene | Reporter

New York Times opinion columnist Neal Gabler caused an uproar over the weekend after the release of his most recent film critique titled, “‘Chappaquiddick’ Distorts a Tragedy.”

In the piece, Gabler – a left-leaning Kennedy biographer – calls John Curran’s film “character assassination” and claims “Chappaquiddick” unnecessarily smears Ted Kennedy.

“Damning it is; factual it is not,” Gabler writes. “Let’s set aside the fact that, despite the film’s advertisements claiming to tell the ‘untold true story’ of a ‘cover-up,’ the story has been told plenty, and no one but the most lunatic conspiracy theorists see this as anything but a tragic accident in which nothing much was covered up.”

He later claims the film skews from “dramatic interpretation to outright character assassination.”

Which is absolutely wild. I saw “Chappaquiddick” this weekend, and while the dramatic music, lengthy pauses, and slow motion flashbacks add a certain cinematic flair, I wouldn’t go as far as saying the film is a deliberate smear campaign.

It’s not “character assassination” to tell the story about how a sitting senator took his late brother’s former staffer out for a drive while he was inebriated, drove his car off a bridge, left her to drown, and waited 10 hours to report the accident. That’s not character assassination. That’s extreme negligence and self-importanc.

Not to mention, he wore an unnecessary neck brace for to appeal to the public’s sympathy.

Needless to say, some people were pretty upset at the notion that “Chappaquiddick” was embellished.

It’s not a good sign when a New York Times columnist and Kennedy biographer – somebody who claims to pursue the truth relentlessly – get his facts wrong. It’s one thing to have an opinion on historical events. It’s entirely another to rewrite history in the name of a political narrative. If Neal Gabler wants to change his title from Kennedy biographer to Kennedy fanboy, that’s fine. But it would probably be wise to give the New York Times a heads up before writing a misrepresentative hype piece about him.

Follow Jena on Twitter.

Tags : chappaquiddick new york times ted kennedy
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