From the first few days of Trump’s inauguration, to accusations of ‘fake news’ and the emergence of huge stories about Russia and Charlottesville that have a resounding national impact, four episodes see filmmakers granted unique access on the ground with reporters, revealing the challenges, triumphs and pitfalls of covering a President who has declared war on the free press.
The film also looks at news and reporting in the digital age, and how journalism is having to evolve to cope with the development of social media and changes in the way and rate at which people consume news content on a nonstop 24-hour news cycle. Can such an institution survive in the face of constant cuts and accusations from Trump of being “the failing New York Times”?
Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, says: “This is a stunning series giving remarkable access to the New York Times editorial team during the turbulent early months of Trump’s presidency. At a time when so many of the mainstream media misread the mood in the USA and beyond, this series offers a candid, shocking and illuminating exploration of the shifting relationship between journalism and political power.”
Inside The New York Times: The Fourth Estate (wt), a four part series for BBC Two was commissioned in the UK for Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two, through the BBC Documentary Department under Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The series was produced and directed by Liz Garbus and Jenny Carchman and is a Radical Media and Moxie Firecracker Films Production in association with Impact Partners and Showtime Documentary Films. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Mandy Chang. It is due to tx later this month.
Episode one: The First 100 Days
The first three months of Trump’s presidency tests the stamina of the political reporters at The New York Times as they adapt to a nonstop news cycle, an unpredictable White House, and the President calling them “the enemy of the people”.
Episode two: The Trump Bump
Comey is fired, Mueller is appointed Special Counsel, turnover in White House staff is constant and the Trump campaign met with Russians offering “dirt” on Clinton. The New York Times’ reporters hit their stride in covering and uncovering the dramatic events in this unfolding year.
Episode three: American Carnage
After violence erupts in Charlottesville and Trump fails to denounce white supremacists, he further stirs division by blaming the “crooked media” for the nation’s problems. At the centre of this firestorm, The New York Times continues to delve into the President’s ties with Russia, as its first indictments are handed out.
Episode four: Matters Of Fact
The Times continues to follow where the Russia investigation leads, as Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI, and the reporters dig deeper on the obstruction of justice case Robert Mueller might be building against the President. The paper takes stock of its coverage of Trump and 2018 brings both new revelations and rewards for the hard work of covering 2017.