Lies, Politics, and Democracy

Knowing the facts is not the same thing as seeing them all put together in a single two-hour documentary. Yes, we all know the story of Trump’s attempted insurrection on January 6, 2021, and we may even know the surrounding context, but it’s well worth seeing Michael Kirk’s successful effort to show it in a documentary film.

The documentary opens with a powerful three minutes, showing brief clips of every losing presidential candidate in reverse chronological order from 2016 back to 1940, starting with Hillary Clinton’s “Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country” and ending with Wendell Willkie’s “I accept the result of the election with complete goodwill.” And then there was 2020: Donald Trump’s “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.”

And of course you know the aftermath on January 6.

In a sense there is nothing new in this documentary. Aside from a whole bunch of interviews that we hadn’t seen before (more on that in the next paragraph), what we have is a carefully curated collection of footage that becomes powerful from its selection and tight editing. And powerful it is. It’s particularly worth being reminded of the contrast between the horrified reactions of many leading Republicans on January 6–8 and their capitulation to Trump today.

Filmmaker Michael Kirk has included clips from an amazing set of interviews with Yamiche Alcindor, Peter Baker, Dan Balz, John Bolton, Mona Charen, Jelani Cobb, and others. Were they all in the room where it happened? Well, not literally…but they were, shall we say, standing right outside the door.

After the brief intro with the concession speeches and Trump’s non-concession, the rest of the documentary is in regular chronological order, ending with a warning from Jelani Cobb. So be warned. And watch the film.

Categories: Life, Movies & (occasionally) TV