Get Me Roger Stone (2017)
Of all the global threats to democracy that swirl around the houses of parliament, congress, and senates everywhere, none is greater than the growing power of lobbyists. They hunt in packs and alone; their activities are shrouded in secrecy; they manipulate political outcomes for profit; and they distort, undermine, and usurp the political rights of the masses who cannot match their resources or their deeply entrenched hold on the levers of power. The excellent, engrossing and chilling bio-documentary Get Me Roger Stone (2017) is both an exposé of this species wherever they exist and an in-depth factual case study of the Darth Vader of American politics: Republican lobbyist and consultant Roger Stone.
While America digs deep to see where Russia got under the fence to influence the 2016 election, people like Roger Stone proudly boast of how they create Presidents out of very ordinary people. Using arms-length documentary techniques, the writers behind this film have gained direct access to a stellar cast of political operatives, including Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and of course extensive and unrestrained commentary by Roger Stone himself. A shadowy figure centrally involved in political campaigns dating from the Nixon-Watergate era, Roger Stone allows the narrator to ask any question and responds with jaw-dropping arrogance and candour. For example, when asked how he feels about being described as a despicable immoral political trickster he proudly declares “I revel in your hatred”. Appearing resplendently in outfits reminiscent of a cashed-up Mafioso or The Riddler, often with a fat cigar and martini, Stone takes obvious delight in explaining how he put George W. Bush in office by demolishing Al Gore’s campaign, how he invented the ‘birther’ campaign that plagued Barack Obama’s presidency, and how he manufactured fake news to undermine most of the key Democrat campaigns over past decades.
One of the many remarkable features of this extraordinary documentary is the ease with which it shines light on a species that traditionally burrows only in the dark. It shows admirable restraint in keeping its political biases in check and allows an audience to reflect on what’s wrong with commercial lobbying in a free market capitalist economy. The answer is simple. Top echelon lobbyists manipulate the apparatus of democracy to produce undemocratic outcomes. The problem is about process, not people. If you wonder how the once-great democracy that was the hallmark of American governance could possibly have descended into the global farce it has become, you need to see this film.
Directors: Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro, Morgan Pehme
A USA production