Editor’s note: This is a preview of an article that appears in the November issue of Gateway Journalism Review.
“Fahrenheit 9/11” was the test case to demonstrate whether a single media event – a mass-marketed and controversial documentary – could have a decisive influence on a presidential election.
No other documentary in U.S. history has attempted to rally a nation around a particular political position months before a presidential election. Released in June 2004, about four months before the November election, “Fahrenheit 9/11” evoked immense public controversy and became the highest-grossing documentary release to date. The documentary proved to be enormously popular, but it failed in its aims to rally voters to help Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry ascend to the White House.
Almost a decade later, a new mass-marketed documentary has hit the political scene with similar ambitions. Hailing from the other side of the aisle, with the intellectual bravado of Michael Moore and the same fact-finding approach to production, academic Dinesh D’Souza has released “2016: Obama’s America” four months before the 2012 presidential election. Many critics describe right-wing ideologue D’Souza’s documentary as the conservative version of “Fahrenheit 9/11” or “An Inconvenient Truth.”
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