All Governments Lie was made before Donald Trump took office. So there’s little doubt that if the filmmakers had waited until after the 2016 election to complete their movie, they would’ve had much more material to choose from. The documentary couldn’t be more timely in terms of today’s political climate and a media saturated by discussions related to corruption, fake news, the importance of an independent media, corporate power, and the influence of Wall Street. All Governments Lie illustrates how, despite the march of time, some things never really change; things like death, taxes, and the fact that, regardless of political ideology, all governments lie.
The subtitle of All Governments Lie, “Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone”, refers to independent journalist I.F. Stone whose weekly newsletter provided controversial accounts of U.S. government activities from 1953 to 1971. Stone, who was even excluded from White House press conferences, prided himself on being a political outsider. The journalist turned what could’ve been a weakness to his advantage by relying on original documents as his main source material rather than getting the so called “facts” through a government spokesperson. The documentary aptly points out that I.F. Stone influenced generations of journalists including filmmaker Michael Moore, Rolling Stone reporter Matt Tribbi, and Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein.
All Governments Lie was directed by Fred Peabody, a former producer and director of the CBC news show ‘The Fifth Estate’. The riveting documentary was brought to the screen with the assistance of a variety of resources including sponsorship from the Independent Filmmaker Project as well as support from Radio-Canada, Canada Media Fund, and the Ontario Media Development Corp.
The documentary feels like a call to arms as it presents viewers with a plethora of telling interviews with various independent journalists, archival footage from the past 60 years, as well as a number of entertaining movie clips (such as All The Presidents Men and The Usual Suspects). All of this material is aptly used by Peabody and his fellow filmmakers in order to illustrate the documentary’s central themes regarding widespread government deception and the destructive way corporate interests and Wall Street can dictate what stories do or don’t receive mainstream media coverage.
Among the impressive array of independent journalists who appear in All Governments Lie are Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, and Sharif Abdel Kouddous (from “Democracy Now!”), Cenk Uygur (“The Young Turks”), Glenn Greenwald (probably best known for his Edward Snowden interviews), Chris Hedges (former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times), and Desmond Cole from Toronto.
One of the strongest aspects of the documentary is the sequences that show award-winning feature journalist John Carlos Frey as he arduously researches a news story that a great deal of people don’t seem to want publicized. While working near the US/Mexico border the reporter becomes aware of the discovery of a mass grave in southern Texas which contains the bodies of approximately 200 illegal immigrants. Frey’s investigation not only focuses on how these individuals died but also poses questions regarding who disposed of their bodies in such a manner and why there hasn’t been a call for a more strenuous identification process of the remains by local authorities. Frey’s story is juxtaposed with footage from a speech by Donald Trump in which he vilifies border crossing Mexicans as being “criminals and rapists who are bringing drugs” into the U.S.
The DVD edition of All Governments Lie includes a number of extra interviews with many of the journalists featured in the documentary. Anyone interested in learning more about the film, modern journalism, or the issues explored in the documentary should check out the film’s official website, which is chuck full of interesting articles, links, bios, and assorted sociopolitical information.
All Governments Lie is an enlightening documentary that exposes some of the deep seeded flaws in America’s political system. Fortunately it also leaves viewers with a sense of hope that the legacy of reporters such as I.F. Stone will serve to influence a new generation of independent journalists who, rather than being satisfied with repeating state approved propaganda, will opt to forge their own paths and doggedly search out the truth no matter where it leads.