PBS Summer Showcase 2018: ‘Dark Money’

POV: ‘Dark Money’

If you missed Kimberley Reed’s documentary that follows investigative reporter John S. Adams through the shadowy world where anonymous campaign contributions threatened Montana’s government and perhaps even the integrity of American democracy, then you have a chance to view on PBS.

In his July review for RogerEbert.com, Glenn Kenny wrote the documentary “uses Montana as an object lesson in the abuses of political campaign finance laws, many of which were adversely affected (to say the least) by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Committee case.”

Adams was with the Great Falls Tribune when postcards linking a politician to John Wayne Gacy are received by voters just before election day. For Adams, who lost his job during restructuring which would have forced him “to compete for newly created jobs,” this was “a local story with national consequences.” He wanted to “follow the money,” even when he was laid off in March 2015, becoming an independent freelancer. By 2016, Adams went on to found the Montana Free Press.

Of his parting with the Tribune, he said, “I do not believe that the decision was made because of any reporting that was done.” His impression was the Tribune editorial staff was “really disappointed that I didn’t reapply.” The Tribune made an “economic decision” and has always been “very supportive” of Adams’ reporting, even when there were threats of lawsuits and the Tribune has been supportive of this documentary as well.

Filmmaker Kimberly Reed said these anonymous contributions are a “problem that needs to get fixed.” The money might not even be domestic. This is an issue for both parties and in the movie it is “Republicans attacking other Republicans,” a dispute within the party and that “keeps our own particular film from taking a partisan view.”

“Dark Money” airs on Monday, 1 October 2018.

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