by Edward Burch
Film & Music Editor
It is certainly fitting that Michael Moore is quoted in the publicity for this film, hailing it as “courageous reporting.” After all, it is the BBC’s Greg Palast on whom Fahrenheit 9/11 relies for several of its key points — the purging of Black voters from the Florida voter rolls in 2000, the connecting link of Saudi money to George W. Bush’s failed oil ventures, and so on. It is one of the failings of American media that Palast, an American citizen, must report for other countries’ media. Though widely regarded as one of the finest investigative journalists working today for his work with the Guardian and BBC’s Newsnight, Palast’s reporting is effectively blacked out in the mainstream U.S. media. The only access for U.S. audiences is his recently republished and updated book (The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Penguin, 2004), and this documentary just released to DVD, Bush Family Fortunes.
Greg Palast studied at the University of Chicago under neo-liberal godfather and free market apologist Milton Friedman and worked as a racketeering investigator before beginning his career in journalism. Will Rogers once said, “We have the best Congress money can buy,” a lesson Palast obviously took to heart. When all else fails, the best way to get to the bottom of a story is to “follow the money.” Take, for example, Texas politico Ben Barnes, about whom Palast broke the story in 1999 of Barnes putting in the fix to get Bush into the Air Guard and out of Viet Nam. It seems there is evidence that Barnes received “in excess of $23 million in lobbying fees for a client given a very suspicious no-bid contract by the Bush administration.”
While at times, Palast’s on-screen fedora doffing gumshoe persona can be a bit much to take, his reporting itself is first rate (as evidenced by the numerous awards for which he has been nominated and/or received). As an uncompromising investigator, Greg Palast is to British television viewers what Mike Wallace is here in the U.S., with one significant difference: Palast’s reporting is kept from viewers in his own country — the people who need to hear it the most. –
BUSH FAMILY FORTUNES: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Directed, Written, and Produced by Greg Palast
(Disinformation), 62 min