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Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes

How I wish Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes could be seen by everyone in America. Right-wing thinkers will be at a loss to condemn it as partisan because it is composed of live footage of the participants themselves. Left-wing thinkers will be stunned at how little they themselves actually knew.This is a portrait of the man who rose from designing Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign to creating Fox News as a national power. It is the tale of a man hungry for personal power who achieved it on a level rarely seen in a democracy.

In 1996, Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News hired Roger Ailes who then spent years creating and covering scandals in the lives of public figures as Fox News became enormously powerful. On screen we watch Ailes tell the women reporters how to dress, what to say, what stories to cover. We watch him mold presidents as he creates the now strongest of all behind the scenes manipulators: The Media Advisor. After becoming the strongest example of his own invention, he filled that role himself until the day he died.

As the first Media Advisor in history, he became both a kingmaker and a puppeteer. The people who hired him, needed him. He made so many enemies that he had his office lined in bullet proof glass. He grew to be a nasty kingmaker so powerful that he engineered Republican political campaigns from George H.W. Bush forward.

When we look at what this movie triggers about the secret manipulations of presidential elections, several things are clear. First, Roger Ailes built Fox’s staggering power with the blessing of founder Rupert Murdoch. Second, Fox now stands supreme in its power over presidential elections. Third, in this month of November 2018, American President Donald Trump announced aloud for all to hear that what our country needs is one national television program that would report “the truth.” We can only ask, “Whose truth?”

Given the fact that in this film Trump is already in conversations with the Murdoch family, point three is nothing less than terrifying. This is a man who saw clearly the record of the Ailes/Murdoch alliance and wants to be next in line for their help. This documentary stops short, as it should, of predicting what would happen if a Trump/Fox alliance dominated the distribution of the national news.

Imagine, if you can, our country dependent on one source of information. A president who believes in rule by one man could wrap his beliefs and intentions in a single government news outlet for distribution to the public. Does that sound familiar? Sadly, much of our population is too young even to know that Hitler did exactly that in the 1930s. Is it too much to hope that of Americans of all ages will see this documentary that clarifies the dangerous roots planted by Roger Ailes? Now that he is dead, will Fox News reconsider their manipulation?

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes
Word Count : 498
Running Time : 1:47
Rating : R
Date : December 2, 2018

 

This review was posted on December 2, 2018, in Documentary.

Fahrenheit 11/9

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Fahrenheit 11/9

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a tough movie to see, a tough one to review. The current political climate is so divided that it’s a fair guess that people who see Michael Moore as a villain will stay away. Yes, toward the end he zeroes in on the Trump problem but the rest of the film is an invitation to left and right to address our national problems. He shows us those.

It may make conservatives more comfortable to learn that Moore focuses on President Obama’s visit to Michigan where Governor Rick Snyder had poisoned the city of Flint with water drawn from a lead infected river while supplying fresh water to the General Motors auto parts factory where river water was corroding the auto parts. The governor lied about the lead level in the water that was poisoning people with permanent damage.

To prove the water’s freshness, visiting President Obama announces that he is thirsty and puts a glass to his lips but obviously doesn’t taste it. And then a second glass cements the fakery in our minds. He was supporting the criminal governor. So, don’t think this is a one-sided show. Moore also mocks Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and shows how Hilary Clinton supporters literally destroyed Bernie Sanders’ vote counts.

That said, he shows us that our country is being governed by politicians of both parties who are driven not by looking for the best solutions but simply by what will keep them in power. The examples become an invitation to all of us to recognize that because we are comfortable we are ignoring the corruption of our democracy to a point of serious danger. He believes that, starting with Clinton, the country has become a bi-partisan collusion.

This is supported by a Harvard professor who believes we have already destroyed our democracy. He points out how long it took for women and blacks to win the right to vote. The professor and Moore are convincing in painting us as a country soaking in bi-partisan comfort without recognizing the danger confronting us. If we don’t change, they say, we will perish as a country.

At that point, Moore takes us to Donald Trump’s determination that we be a Christian nation in spite of our founding by immigrants from many nations. The degree of Trump’s determination is frightening.

After the Parkland School shootings, 500 Parkland students rose in articulate anger and sadness to become leaders in the absence of leadership from adults who mourned but didn’t act and Trump who recommended arming the faculty. In a chilling ‘30s moment we watch films of a German athlete who refused to stand for his national anthem.

Moore’s answer is to turn his camera on the extraordinary energy and articulation of the Parkland students who alone have shown leadership in our country where comfort is creating the ignorance of our problems. Moore’s primary thesis: If we don’t find leadership and reform, it’s all over for America.

Film Reviewer: Joan Ellis
Film title : Fahrenheit 11/9
Word Count : 499
Running Tim : 2:08
Rating : R
Date : September 23, 2018

This review was posted on September 23, 2018, in Documentary.