On Thursday's "Good Morning America," journalist Bill Weir touted left-wing filmmaker Spike Lee as a "social critic" and ignored any mention of the director's bizarre conspiracy theories, such as his 2005 contention that the United States government intentionally blew up the levees during Hurricane Katrina in order to flood African American areas. Instead, Weir marveled, "No director in Hollywood has attacked the thorny issue of race quite like Spike Lee."
While promoting Lee's new World War II film, the anchor of the weekend edition of GMA enthused, "'Do the Right Thing' and 'Malcolm X,' still loom over his 15 other feature films as ground breaking emblems of righteous anger." Weir also labeled the more hopeful tone of Lee's "The Miracle at St. Anna" as a "reflection of one social critic's mood in an age of change." Of course, Weir neglected to mention that this same "social critic" has also declared "it's not far-fetched" to think that the levees in New Orleans were destroyed by the United States government.
Appearing on the October 21, 2005 edition of "Real Time With Bill Maher," Lee asserted that a "choice had to be made, one neighborhood got to save another neighborhood and flood another 'hood, flood another neighborhood."
In contrast to Weir, ABC reporter Steve Osunsami actually highlighted Spike Lee's conspiracy theories during a segment on race and Hurricane Katrina on the August 29, 2006 edition of "World News." However, Osunsami offered zero skepticism and failed to point out that there's absolutely no evidence to support the idea that the government destroyed the levees. Instead, he simply repeated, "In many black neighborhoods, they actually believe that white residents sent the barge that destroyed the levee and flooded their communities...To this day, the conspiracy theories are so widely held, director Spike Lee put them on film."
A transcript of the September 25 segment, which aired at 8:41am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Spike Lee's new film, "The Miracle at St. Anna," based on true events It tells the story of a group of black soldiers caught behind enemy lines during World War II. And while the drama marks a departure from previous Lee movies, like "Do the Right Thing," the director remains just as provocative as ever, as ABC's Bill Weir found out.
ABC GRAPHIC: Spike Lee One-on-One: His Epic World War II Film
SPIKE LEE: All right. Here we go, people.
BILL WEIR: No director in Hollywood has attacked the thorny issue of race quite like Spike Lee. "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X," still loom over his 15 other feature films as ground breaking emblems of righteous anger. He left the topic alone two years ago and "Inside Man" became his first real blockbuster.
["Inside Man" clip.]
WEIR: But "The Miracle at St. Anna," proves he still has much to say about the historic struggle of African-Americans. Though he is happy to concede real progress on Americans' attitude on skin color. Could you have gotten this film made 20, 25 years ago?
LEE: No. I don't think we had a Barack Obama 20 years ago, either. So, I think definite evidence that things have changed seismically in this country.
WEIR: The film is part murder mystery, part World War II epic, centered on four members of the Buffalo Soldiers, a segregated unit that fought the Nazis in Italy. They love country first and foremost. But certainly, some of them must have thought, with our efforts, with our blood, we can earn respect back at home.
LEE: Yes. That's why many of them fought. African-Americans have always been patriotic. And always fought and died for this country, all through time when we've been treated, treated like second-class citizens. In fact, there's a line that Derek Luke's character says. And he says, paraphrasing, that, it's a shame that I feel home more in a foreign country, than in my own native land.
WEIR: His desire to see those soldiers get their due sparked a war of words with Clint Eastwood this summer. After Lee pointed out the lack of black soldiers in "Flags of our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima," Eastwood said Lee should, quote, "shut his face."
LEE: What they left out is the first thing I said before that is that he's a great director. What I said was not malicious. It is historically documented there were between 700 and 900 black Marines and black soldiers on the island of Iwo Jima. I saw both of his films. I commented on the lack thereof.
WEIR: In "The Miracle of St. Anna," the race line dissolves as the soldiers protect an Italian orphan. Love transcending prejudice. Despite the horrors of war, the film contains some of the most hopeful scenes that Lee has ever shot. A reflection of one social critic's mood in an age of change.
["Miracle at St. Anna" clip.]
LEE: I've never done a film, probably with the exception of "Malcolm X," that's had this much amount of religion, faith, spirituality, mysticism, in it. All those things come from the James novel- the James McBride novel. But it's also stuff that I believe. I think that one believes in God, one believes in miracles. They go hand in hand. And it was a miracle this film got made.