In this file photo US director and Jury President of the 74th Cannes Film Festival Spike Lee poses as he arrives for the screening of the film “The French Dispatch” at the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France.—AFP

HBO yesterday said that US director Spike Lee is re-editing the final episode of a documentary series on the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that featured interviews with conspiracy theorists. The last episode of the eight-hour series-which focuses on the effect of Al-Qaeda attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic on New York City-includes interviews with a group pushing the debunked theory that the World Trade Center towers were destroyed in a controlled demolition, and not by hijacked airliners crashing into the buildings.

Lee faced criticism for including the interviews after HBO allowed reporters an early viewing of the series. The final episode is set to air on the cable TV network on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks. "I'm Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11?20211/2. I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgment Until You See The FINAL CUT," Lee said in a note posted on an HBO website.

The episode also includes interviews with scientists who refute the conspiracy claims, but critics say Lee gave the conspiracists undeserved air time. "Lee devotes 30 minutes near the very end of his series to relitigating arguments that have been debunked a thousand times," wrote Jeremy Stahl in Slate Magazine. Stahl had earlier interviewed Richard Gage, the most prominent member of the conspiracy group who also appears in Lee's documentary.

"Gage is responsible for peddling some of the most pernicious and long-running lies about the 9/11 attacks," wrote Stahl. The final episode was "a bit like presenting Covid-19 vaccine skeptics in a debate alongside Anthony Fauci, or Holocaust deniers alongside the Simon Wiesenthal Center, or a clique of climate change skeptics alongside the authors of the United Nations IPCC report," Stahl said. - AFP