Donald Trump and the Rightwing Documentary Ecosystem

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.

Rightwing Ecosystem

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.

Highlights:

  • 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

PBS Frontline: “Bannon’s War”

Politico

With thanks to Gregory Crofton.

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