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Agents of Chaos

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What it’s about:

Agents of Chaos explores the evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections and the extent of the Trump campaign’s complicity in those attempts.

Why it’s worth your time:

There’s a short and a long answer to why this four-hour documentary series is worth your time. For one thing, it’s a well-made and thorough look at a complicated issue of historical significance, featuring informative interviews with ground-level experts intimately familiar with the details. That’s the long answer. The short answer is: because democracy.

Filmmaker Alex Gibney—best known for his fascinating deep dives into newsworthy scandals, cover-ups, and corporate malfeasance—took on the monumental task of unraveling the plot with the help of a team of researchers based all over the world. Together they compiled a hoard of relevant material and conducted interviews with prominent insiders whose names will be familiar to anyone who pays attention to the news.

Agents of Chaos

The facts are laid out simply and clearly, leading to the unequivocal conclusions that yes, the Russians did interfere with the election on behalf of Donald Trump, and yes, many of the members of his campaign staff were installed specifically to that end. But Gibney doesn’t stop there. He shows how even well-intentioned figures in government and media dropped the ball, either by not taking Russia’s attempts to sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign seriously or by withholding what they knew about Russian meddling from the public until it was too late.

We’ll never know if things would have gone differently in 2016 if more people had realized what was at stake. Agents of Chaos is a good reminder that it’s all at stake once again.

The takeaway:

Even now, as we face another presidential election, it’s not yet clear whether Americans—as an electorate— have connected all the dots from four years of revelations. Agents of Chaos leaves no room for reasonable doubt that our democracy fell under attack in the run-up to the 2016 election. It could very well happen again unless we stay informed, stay vigilant, acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and do our best to avoid repeating them.

As Dorothy Rabinowitz from The Wall Street Journal concludes: “The forces that once set about determining the outcome of an American election know no endings—they are alive and well.”  Full review

Watch it with:

Every American citizen of voting age should see this, no matter their political ideology. Seriously. It’s that important.

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