Today's NYT “Week in Review” section has a small but remarkably clueless item by Sharon Waxman on the profusion of liberal movie/DVD documentaries being released this year. Lights, Camera, Liberal begins like this:
If talk radio is dominated by conservatives, documentaries must be the preferred medium of liberals. It’s not only “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s box-office hit about the Iraq war. A number of films — all left of center — are set to be launched in the coming weeks, as the electoral season gets underway in earnest.
Why so many documentaries, and why now?
The article not only fails to explain “why now” but it fails to connect its lede with the fact it explains: the main reason why anti-Bush documentaries are going to film or DVD is that the broadcast media, largely owned and run by right-wing Republicans, won't make them and won't play them. If even a mildly hagiographic TV mini-series like the Reagan biography gets mau-maued by the right wing, who in the broadcast world is going to dare to speak truth (or anything unwelcome) to power? No one. And most of the cable news networks are overtly or covertly Republican. So that relegates centrist and especially liberal documentaries to independents working through distinctly second-best alternate distribution channels. And even that can be hard, witness the various obstacles film chains have put in the way of 9/11, a money-making film.