Last week, in the darkest days yet of his presidency, Donald Trump made a call for help.
It was to a prolific documentary producer.
- David Bossie led a small rightwing nonprofit in Washington DC.
- He was inspired by Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” to turn to documentary production.
- His effort resulted in a historic Supreme Court decision that largely unshackled conservative funding of U.S. election campaigns.
Bossie backed Trump early on, and served as his campaign manager.
- He joins another prolific rightwing documentarian in Trump’s innermost circle: That’s the president’s ‘chief strategist’ Stephen K. Bannon.
- Bannon’s mission has been to ‘weaponize’ the documentary in his grim battle to save the West from drowning in a stew of threats.
When Trump created a defensive “War Room” soon after his first overseas trip, his generals were Bossie and Bannon.
- The Right’s media economy has always interested me.
- Back in the summer of 2015, the writer Gregory Crofton pitched me his idea to profile Bossie in this newsletter.
- You can read Gregory’s full report here on how Bossie’s films are financed, produced, promoted and distributed.
- Citizens United: Rightwing Documentary Studio With Zero Hits But a Huge Home Run
- Who would have believed that Bossie would soon be sitting in the White House with president Trump?
Bannon’s Media Machine
- The Washington Post’s Shawn Boburg and Robert O’ Harrow Jr recently published a fascinating report: “How Bannon’s Multimedia Machine Drove a Movement and Paid Him Millions” Washington Post (April 9, 2017.)
- It reveals how Stephen Bannon caught Trump’s attention.
- Bannon produced more than a dozen conservative documentaries in the past decade relying on funding from a “network” of two dozen nonprofits and private companies.
- In 2011, Bannon forged an alliance with Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire and donor to ultra-rightwing causes.
- The Mercer family became key financial backers of Trump’s candidacy.
- The Mercers are also part-owners of Cambridge Analytica, the cutting-edge social media research agency that may have handed Trump his margin of victory in the Electoral College.
- Bossie and Bannon partnered on the production of four films including “Generation Zero” (2010), “The Hope and the Change” (2012),“Occupy Unmasked” (2012), and “Torchbearer”(2016).
- Bannon’s other documentary work includes: “Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration” (2006), “Battle for America” (2010), “Fire from the Heartland” (2010), “The Undefeated” (2011), “District of Corruption” (2012), “The Conservatives,” “Still Point in a Turning World,” and “Clinton Cash” (2016).
- According to Box Office Mojo, only three of Bannon’s films reported theatrical earnings.
Hollywood to White House
- The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck captures Bannon’s journey from “alpha swagger” in Hollywood to “dishevelled presence in the Oval Office”.
- Here’s the link to Bruck’s revealing report, published on May 1, 2017.
PBS Frontline: “Bannon’s War”
- U.S. viewers: Don’t miss PBS Frontline’s “Bannon’s War”.
- Here is the Frontline website and trailer.
- And a “Boston Herald” review.
- “Bannon’s War” is distributed by PBS International.
- And here is Politico’s report on Trump’s call to Bossie to consider serving as his ‘crisis manager”.
With thanks to Gregory Crofton.