Greg Palast is not a conventional reporter — his press materials call him a “gonzo journalist” — and he relishes playing up a noirish persona in a Dick Tracy–esque fedora and trench coat, tricking out his documentary The Best Democracy Money Can Buy with graphics by the cartoonist who drew Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit comic books. He’s this close to equating himself to Clark Kent.
But Palast is a reporter, one who has worked for the BBC and Rolling Stone, and in this film he does an impressive amount of old-fashioned gumshoe data-sifting, document-collecting, and gotcha source-baiting in pursuit of the truth about voter fraud — that unproven phenomenon that has nevertheless been used as an excuse to shape public policy in several states. Their voter-ID laws and other voting restrictions have been widely seen as contrary to the Voting Rights Act.
Palast’s approach may be insufferable to anyone who prefers sober tele-reporting a la 60 Minutes, but mainstream journalism has often struggled to cover the manipulation of data and the distortion of reality, driven by billionaires like the Koch brothers or even Donald Trump.
That’s thanks in large part to the hard work of conservative think tanks, which produce reports filled with dubious information that give elected officials cover to block millions of citizens of color from voting. Palast slices through all the B.S., and while he may be over-the-top in his presentation, keep in mind, he’s got just the facts, ma’am.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Directed by Greg Palast and David Ambrose
Opens September 23, Cinépolis Chelsea