A New York Times opinion piece on the new Chappaquiddick film unleashed a flood of backlash against the writer who called it a “character assassination” of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The liberal writer and historian, Neal Gabler, wrote in the opinion piece that the film “distorts a tragedy,” referring to the July 1969 car accident involving the Democratic senator.
“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,” Gabler wrote about the film which opened in theaters Friday.
In ‘Chappaquiddick,’ many scenes cross from dramatic interpretation to outright character assassination https://t.co/93iscgESES
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) April 6, 2018
Kennedy waited 10 hours to report to authorities that he had driven off of a bridge in Massachusetts in the 1969 incident. Passenger and Robert Kennedy campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the deadly car crash.
“It has been heavily promoted by conservative media outlets, and reviewers across the political spectrum have praised what they deem its damning but factual approach. Damning it is; factual it is not,” Gabler, who is currently working on a biography of Kennedy, wrote about the film.
Kennedy was “a real man living out a real life,” the columnist wrote, pointing to some scenes in “Chappaquiddick” as crossing from “dramatic interpretation to outright character assassination.”
Running in the Times’ print editions Saturday, the piece and its author were slammed online.
Oh my. Neal Gabler – you best do much more research. I am just a casual history observer of the Kennedys, but even I know this was a VAST coverup! A “tragic accident” my rear end! https://t.co/ySu6jkWjnj
— Cindy Gower Glover (@CindGowerGlover) April 6, 2018
— Ripley (@Uhpinya_Native) April 6, 2018
“He left a woman to die,” actor James Woods tweeted. “He was a cheat, a liar, and a coward.”
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
Conservative commentator John Podhoretz blasted Gabler’s “wretched and unseemly opinions.”
Neal Gabler’s piece defending Teddy Kennedy is a good reminder that people who blow all their money stupidly and then write articles about how they blew their money and it’s the culture’s fault just have wretched and unseemly opinions.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) April 7, 2018
The piece even generated a tweet from a priest in Dublin, Ireland.
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
The outrage on Twitter continued as many users called Gabler out for his take on the film.
Boomer and faux intellectual (i know, redundant) Neal Gabler is so broke he has to carry Kennedy water. Criticizes new film but just attacks character & motive; doesn’t refute a single claim of the film. Quotes Sorenson and other Kennedy body people. https://t.co/l2JXtwCl6r
— GenX Politics (@GenXPolitico1) April 6, 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
NYTimes Op-Ed, ‘Chappaquiddick’ is Bad History by Neal Gabler…. Glad to see sanity rule today! “Many scenes cross from dramatic interpretation to outright character assassination.””Fake history is no better than fake news; it’s maybe worse.”
— Kathryn Dugovich (@KDugovich) April 8, 2018
If you read the #NealGabler op-ed in the #NYT, read this too. #Gabler‘s piece is a pathetic attempt to divert from the really scandalous aspects of this story. #Chappaquiddick #MaryJoKopechne #TedKennedy https://t.co/ItdixartJq
— Caleb D. Miller (@ProfCalebMiller) April 6, 2018
The movie might use dramatic license–I haven’t seen it so I don’t know–but Neal Gabler’s @nytopinion is pure fantasy. He describes the event as if it were an auto accident in which a passenger died. Teddy left Mary Jo Kopechne trapped in the car. He was not a great man! https://t.co/oJoj8H4gfv
— Dale Conder Jr. (@tenncommentator) April 7, 2018
Real men don’t leave their dates to drown in a locked car. https://t.co/WbrHkQFWZs
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) April 7, 2018
What Neal Gabler never bothers to explain as he tries to discredit the movie is why Kennedy waited eight hours to report the accident. Shame on you Neal.
— RichmondG30 (@RichmondG30) April 8, 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
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