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.
I know, right? Ted was obviously the victim here. I mean, look at his neck brace and stuff. pic.twitter.com/MpPTRcTsuf
— paperplatemaskWokeAF (@PaperPlateMask3) April 6, 2018
Needless to say, some people were pretty upset at the notion that “Chappaquiddick” was embellished.
Real men don’t leave their dates to drown in a locked car. https://t.co/WbrHkQFWZs
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) April 7, 2018
The truth is finally told about arguably the greatest political cover up in US history….
… and Neal Gabler calls it ‘character assassination’
Neal, baby – you’ve had it your way for half a century. Its time the American people get it the right way.
— Tony Camatto (@tonycamatto) April 7, 2018
He left a woman to die. He was a cheat, a liar, and a coward. https://t.co/8WNf8CzOjO
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 6, 2018
Neal Gabler’s piece on Chappaquiddick was strikingly bereft of factual challenges for an argument that the movie has the facts wrong. Op-Ed pages are funny things.
— William Dailey, CSC (@wrdcsc) April 7, 2018
That’s an awfully hot take, even for Neal Gabler.
Seriously, Neal, it’s not like Mary Jo was the one who drove drunk into a pond and left him alive for up to two hours, all while worrying about her own image and political career.
— W.K. Westfall (@Captain_Kahuna) April 6, 2018
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.
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