Congressman Dismisses Idea 'Lincoln' Critique is Related to Ben Affleck's Support
Rep. Joe Courtney -- the Connecticut congressman who wrote a letter chiding Steven Spielberg for inaccuracies in Lincoln -- dismissed the notion that his criticism had anything to do with Ben Affleck's prior support of his candidacy during an election bid.
Courtney told the Times that he did hold an event in his home state with the Argo filmmaker during the 2006 election and that the actor-director campaigned for him -- but he didn't speak to Affleck prior to writing the Lincoln letter.
The congressman drew headlines when his office released an open letter addressed to Spielberg stating that when he watched the film he was surprised to learn that members of Connecticut's House delegation voted to uphold slavery.
"How could congressmen from Connecticut -- a state that supported President Lincoln and lost thousands of her sons fighting against slavery on the Union side of the Civil War -- have been on the wrong side of history?" he asked in the letter. After researching the historical record, he found out that those Connecticut delegates did not in fact vote to uphold slavery, but to abolish it.
This historical discrepancy was acknowledged by Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner, who responded to Courtney's letter saying that he had changed the sequence in the name of "historical drama."
"In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is," Kushner wrote in a letter published by the Wall Street Journal. "I hope nobody is shocked to learn that I also made up dialogue and imagined encounters and invented characters."
Courtney responded to Kushner's letter by stating that he was drawing attention to ensure that audiences wouldn't think his state's former representatives "were on the wrong side of history," according to a statement provided to the Journal.
"This is a positive step toward that end, and I still hope a correction can be made in advance of the film’s DVD release," the congressman wrote.