Ken Burns Positions ‘The Vietnam War’ Documentary In New Donald Trump Era – TCA

“Are you prepared for Donald Trump tweets saying this is fake news?” Ken Burns got asked right off the bat during the TCA Q&A to discuss his latest PBS documentary The Vietnam War.

The project having been 10 years in the making, did he think the docu would “land at this point in time when we are so divided,” asked a reporter who said he thought it was “very much at odds with the slogan Make America Great Again.”

While acknowledging documentary often is perceived as “advocacy” and “putting the thumb on the scale,” Burns insisted he has lobbed “fastballs down the middle of the plate” in this 10-part docu-series. Interviews with more than 80 Americans made the cut, he said, representing “every walk of life… deserters and draft dodgers, and protesters” as well as people he said he assumes think we should still be in that region fighting communism.

Donald Trump

The docu is “an opportunity for Americans to find a place to come together and begin to have courageous conversations about what happened,” Burns said, adding there is not “one truth” about the war. Burns anticipates some negative reaction but also “extraordinarily rewarding conversations.”

If Burns appeared to be walking on eggshells, it may have been because, in an October interview with Variety, for instance, he called the rise of Trump “Hitler-esque,” saying Trump represents “the greatest threat to American democracy since the Second World War” and is “a kind of strong man, narcissistic thing that represents the potential death of the Republic.”

Getting back to today’s Q&A, another reporter noted that, during the Vietnam era, news media was far more trusted than today, reminiscing how President LBJ had once remarked that when he lost Walter Cronkite he lost the nation.

Burns agreed.

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