Ken Burns, the filmmaker known for his award-winning Civil War documentary, was mocked for referring to America’s current climate as “the most fraught time” in the history of the Republic.
Citing COVID-19 “misinformation” and battles over election laws, Burns argued the U.S. is in dire straits.
“We’re at this desperate place,” Burns said on “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” on Friday. “The convergence of all those viruses, the side effects of the misinformation and the paranoia and the lying, voter suppression. And then the rewriting of our history are saying that we’re not interested in facts. We’re not interested in the truth. We’re not interested in the many varied voices that make us up.”
Those factors, along with Republicans who he said want to “run against the government,” drew him to the conclusion that “this is the most fraught time in the history of our republic.”
Media critics were quick to note that Burns, who NewsBusters referred to as “The ‘Civil War’ guy,” had already proved himself wrong when he created his miniseries.
“Ken Burns: Don’t watch my Civil War documentary, which proves me wrong,” quipped Newsbusters’ Dan Gainor.
“Ken Burns is a famous documentary filmmaker, but for a guy who delivers history, he seems to forget it,” Gainor told Fox News.
In Burns’ assertions, Gainor argues the filmmaker is omitting both the 1860s and the 1960s, the latter of which featured the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Bobby Kennedy, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The decade was also marked by widespread protests over the unpopular Vietnam War.
But it was Burns’ suggestion that today’s America was more “fraught” than even the Civil War that Gainor argued was most egregious.
“And I can’t help but wonder, has Ken Burns seen Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War?” Gainor continued. “Up to 750,000 Americans dead in a war that ripped the nation apart. Seems a wee bit worse than having a bunch of people argue with each other on social media. Yes, we have a deadly virus in 2021, but that’s hardly akin to brother killing brother ending the scourge of slavery.”
National Review’s Jack Butler concurred, questioning Burns in a recent column.
“Our age certainly has its distresses and its tensions,” Butler wrote. “Let no one deny that. But are they worse than, say . . . I don’t know . . . the time that our nation was literally at war? A time whose history has been excellently explained and popularized by . . . Ken Burns?”
President Biden has also made recent comparisons to the Civil War while discussing divisions in the country.
“Well, folks, it’s never been as divided as it is today, never been as divided as it is today since the Civil War,” Biden said last month as he encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.