Knowledge is power. Americans trust the media to put out reliable, factual and relevant news stories that inform a society of engaged citizens on what is happening in the world. The fourth estate, comprised of the press, has come under fire recently in some political circles for being less than trustworthy.
President Donald Trump has called out mainstream media outlets as being nothing more than “fake news” and claims that the media is “out of control.” So, who can the American people trust?
“All Governments Lie: Truth, Lies, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone” attempts to answer this question in documentary form. The film is being brought to Star Hall for free on Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m., thanks to the Grand County Public Library and the Utah Film Center.
Directed by Fred Peabody and presented by executive producer Oliver Stone, the documentary is touted as a “film about liars and the independent journalists who expose them.”
Utah Film Center Film Program Coordinator Davey Davis said that the documentary asserts that in order to be free as citizens, our media has to be free to be critical.
“The media must be free to directly investigate the claims of politicians and refute or confirm those claims with truth,” he said. “Individuals in the media have to stand up and ask hard questions.”
The film centers around individuals in the media who have left corporate journalism to become independent investigative reporters. Among those featured are Amy Goodman, the voice of Democracy Now!; Glenn Greenwald, lead journalist on the team who investigated the revelations of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden; and Jeremy Scahill, who wrote “Dirty Wars,” revealing top-secret U.S. government assassinations.
These journalists in the film are following in the footsteps of I.F. Stone, who pioneered investigative journalism with the I.F. Stone Weekly, a newsletter that exposed lying politicians and held the U.S. government accountable for its words and actions. Documentarian Michael Moore, the creator of such films as “Capitalism: A Love Story,” and “Fahrenheit 911,” has said, “I can draw a line from I.F. Stone directly to what I’m doing now.”
The film argues that news coverage – social media playing a large part – waters down news stories and brings messages to viewers that are tailored to beliefs they already hold.
From the filmmakers’ perspective, corporate news outlets want to make money, and they can do this more effectively when they promote stories that ignore difficult truths that the public might find hard to handle.
The mission of I.F. Stone and independent journalists is to “put the state in its crosshairs,” Scahill said. These outlets are asking tough questions and highlighting world issues that otherwise might get swept under the rug, the filmmakers maintain.
The film screening at Star Hall will be unique because it will feature a question-and-answer session with director Peabody directly following the presentation.
“It’s a great chance for the audience to question the director and learn from his examination of this issue,” Davis said. “This film is incredibly timely; our Salt Lake screening was full of questions relating to the contemporary political stage and mass media world.”
Documentary highlighting independent journalists comes to Star Hall on July 20
“The media must be free to directly investigate the claims of politicians and refute or confirm those claims with truth. Individuals in the media have to stand up and ask hard questions.”
When: Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St. For more information about upcoming Utah Film Center screenings, go to: www.utahfilmcenter.org/events/category/moab/upcoming/.