New York Times reporter Astead Herndon seethed over a rapturous reception granted to conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary, Death of a Nation: “Film Likens Democrats To Nazis, to Big Applause.”
Herndon made sure the paper’s sophisticated readership knew the setting was an Ohio county fair featuring a “Rough Truck Night”:
The other big draw was a $15 private screening of “Death of a Nation,” a new documentary film made by the recently pardoned conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza, which argues that the Democratic Party is composed of modern-day Nazis, racists and fascists who, if not for President Trump, would bring the collapse of the United States.
It was, unquestionably, a hit....In Medina, the film’s use of demagogy wasn’t a drawback, but a punch line: One scene dismissing minority voters as leeches feeding off Democrats’ “modern plantation” was met with approving giggles, while a montage of liberals crying on election night elicited riotous laughter.
....while opponents of Mr. Trump have used public protests and demonstrations to voice their distaste for the administration and its supporters, his admirers are also experiencing an escalation of rhetoric -- partly aided by movies like Mr. D’Souza’s.
Attendees of the screening in Medina would, in one breath, say they longed for a time when political opponents were more civil and respectful, and in the next moment describe Democrats as morally depraved and anti-American.
In the film, which is narrated by Mr. D’Souza and blends cherry-picked facts and historical falsehoods with an apocalyptic portrait of the left, progressives are deemed to be solely responsible for worst evils of the 19th and 20th century, including slavery, the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, Benito Mussolini’s rise in Italy, the persecution of Native Americans, the Holocaust and more.
The fact-checking apparatus was raring to go, even when the results were shrug-worthy:
Other contradictions include sections where President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, is said to have inspired the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany, and Southern confederates are portrayed as treasonous. These parts leave out that Mr. Trump, the film’s hero, has cited Jackson as an inspiration, and that Mr. Trump’s chief of staff has defended Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man.”
After quoting an overheated D’Souza line about the Nazi platform, Herndon huffed:
Such inflammatory rhetoric has not stopped “Death of a Nation” from reaching the upper echelons of the Republican Party. Mr. D’Souza recently held a glitzy reception for the movie in Washington, complete with celebrity red carpet appearances from Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and Housing Secretary Ben Carson. The re-election campaign of Representative Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, held a watch party in Woodlands, Tex., in July....
More on the “upper echelons” of a political party later:
Ms. Bowers said she chose to show the movie because she’s a self-proclaimed history buff, but the movie has been roasted by actual historians and film critics, who point to the many misrepresentations and falsehoods littered throughout the film.
Compare that horrified evisceration to the rapturous, unchallenging reception the paper gave far-left documentarian Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11, his anti-Bush conspiratorial release in 2004.
By the way, Fahrenheit 911 also “reached the upper echelons” of a political party – the Democratic Party, as the paper reported at the time, without stirring up any angst, quoting Senator Bob Graham of Florida saying, ''There might be half of the Democratic Senate here.''
The Times embraced Moore’s movie. Movie critic A. O. Scott wrote in June 2004 that while accuracy in a documentary is important, the real story was Moore's impish spirit: "While Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' will be properly debated on the basis of its factual claims and cinematic techniques, it should first of all be appreciated as a high-spirited and unruly exercise in democratic self-expression.” Scott conceded and defended Moore's anti-Bush vitriol: "He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic."
The paper later went to intelligence reporter Philip Shenon for a fact-check of sorts, but even he voted mostly thumbs up, giving Moore the benefit of every doubt and finding Moore's fact-checking basically credible.
This despite the fact that, as the Media Research Center wrote at the time, Fahrenheit 9-11 was loaded with “bizarre and unproven charges against Bush, most offensively suggesting the Bush family and Osama bin Laden’s family were in cahoots over 9-11.”