All Governments Lie Review

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All Governments Lie

All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and The Spirit of I.F. Stone is an investigative documentary that exposes the U.S. government’s deceits and false actions as portrayed by multiple news outlets and journalists. The film is based on the ideals of famous journalist, I.F. Stone, and his belief that all governments lie. Several independent and well-known journalists (such as Amy Goodman, John Carlos Frey, and Matt Taibbi) go on camera to talk about their lives uncovering government secrets. This film was directed by Fred Peabody and produced by Peter Raymont, Andrew Munger, and Steve Ord.

The film begins with an excerpt of Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech to immediately portray the government in a negative light. I dislike Nixon as much as the next guy, but starting with the Watergate scandal was unnecessary and wasn’t a hard hitting intro. It then continues with other presidential/cabinet speeches to help the audience assume that the party leaders are to blame for many of the lies in our government. Throughout the film, Donald Trump is the main individual that they expose and, at times, it feels like Hilary Clinton propaganda. Once the documentary gets this out of its system, it actually begins to hit some hard pressing issues.

The first issue touched on outside of government personnel is the migrant deaths that occur near the U.S. and Mexico border and the cover up of the issue. Journalist John Carlos Frey investigates this matter and tries to expose the people responsible for not reporting these deaths. This was an issue I wasn’t really aware of and helped change the light on this documentary. It made use of what the general public doesn’t see and provided very valuable information of how the government covers up issues in place of lying.

The war on Iraq is a huge subject that the film tries to attack. It brings in Amy Goodman, founding broadcast journalist of Democracy Now!, to reveal the hypocrisy behind the war and how the government used it as a money scam. They make some compelling arguments by taking eyewitness accounts in Iraq of how the military abused their power. They also illustrate how media outlets used military personnel to feed arguments justifying the war to the public. For me, this was a beat down topic that didn’t really need exposing, but I saw this as more of an aim at republicans and those who backed the war. On the other hand, it helped validate the need for independent news outlets to counterbalance the news fed by CNN or Fox News. I did enjoy the reference to celebrities and how the major news outlets see this as “news”, when it’s really just a viewer-attracting stunt. It’s a nice change to see outlets report about real news and not of gossip and nonsense.

Several times throughout the film, The Intercept, a news outlet that helped document the accounts of Edward Snowden, is brought in to show how investigative journalists are needed to reveal secrets that the U.S. government is not willing to tell the public. Journalist Jeremy Scahill presses some tough issues in the excerpts from Dirty Wars on how the media and government have chosen to hide military tactics used to enforce their power on civilians in other countries. This is where you finally see a jab at the democratic party. They address President Obama’s use of drones for assassinations and attempt to villainize him. You truly see how this documentary tries to stay unbiased, but fails, because this issue is quick and not detailed. The next time the documentary even mentions another democratic leader isn’t until ¾ of the way through when they show excerpts of Hilary and her errors throughout her campaign.

The premise of this documentary is the use of I.F. Stone’s ideals on investigative journalism, assuming all governments lie, and to report objectively, but this film has many flaws.  For the most part, the journalists and presentation are unbiased. You’re able to see I.F. Stone’s journalism mostly through Matt Taibbi. However, when it comes down to it, you see a favor towards the democratic party. I’m not saying that I favor one party over another, but most points that deal with any prominent figure in our government are usually an attack on the republican party.

The great part about this film is the use of so many difference investigative processes. The choice of journalists is astounding and really shows that they wanted the audience to see the government from all points of view. Parties aside, Peabody does an excellent job of capturing the government from the simplest points of view, yet still having a profound effect on how the government skews large media outlets. They never make any risky statements that can be challenged easily, to say the least. The films ending leaves you with thought-provoking questions on what you should really believe from what you read or watch.

Ultimately, All Governments Lie gets the point across that you should always assume that the government is leaving something out when addressing the general public. All the journalists are brilliant in their fields. I.F. Stone’s journalism can truly be seen through this film, whether for its strengths or faults. It will be interesting to see what Peabody has in the works for after the 2016 Presidential election and I look forward to viewing more of these films.

Rated PG; Running Time: 91 min.

 

All Governments Lie Review
  • Presentation/Editing
  • Narrative
  • Objectivity Perspective
  • Thematic Content
3.5

Summary

+ Well crafted reports
+ Excellent choices for journalist
+ Simple points of view

– Hard to follow at points
– Somewhat follows the theme
– More biased towards the democratic party

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