Oliver Stone Teams with History Prof for 10-hour Doc on Henry Wallace; WashPost Promotes on Style Page

It's hard to imagine a major newspaper according Style section coverage to a 10-part documentary that was the brainchild of a conservative filmmaker with a penchant for conspiracy theories. But a left-winger, that's a different story. The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday today gave readers of the paper a 12-paragraph puff piece about "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States" which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on Showtime and focuses considerable attention on FDR's vice president Henry Wallace, a socialist who, had he been re-nominated in 1944 instead of Harry Truman, would have succeeded to the presidency in 1945 upon Roosevelt's death.

"Untold History" is a 10-hour-long documentary grounded "in indisputable fact," Hornaday assures readers, noting that Stone's collaborator in the project is an American University professor, Peter Kuznick.


Sure, Wallace was apologetic for Josef Stalin, but he was just "a little naive about" him, Kuznick insisted. "[L]ike most Americans, he didn't realize the depth of Stalin's brutality," Kuznick added, before praising the late vice president for being able to "see what was happening in the world through Russian eyes, through Chinese eyes, where most Americans can only see the world through U.S. eyes."

But seeing the world through Russian Soviet or Chinese Communist eyes is hardly a plus, given their blindness to the repression and brutality against the innocent victims of those regimes.

"Untold History," Hornaday insists, is simply asking Americans to "reassess... and to question some of our most cherished assumptions, from how World War II was won (hint: the Soviets deserve far more credit than the A-bomb) to the notion of American exceptionalism itself."

Lay aside for ten hours that fact that Stone is one for conspiracy theories, Hornaday seems to be telling readers.  "What this project can do is show people what a serious thinker he actually is," she quoted Kuznick, who met Stone in 1996 when he visited a class he was teaching called "Oliver Stone's America":

If Stone doesn’t see the world in terms of conspiracies, there’s no doubt that he does see it in terms of unseen forces — political, corporate, psychological — that shape our society in ways we can’t know, at least until he pulls back the veil, whether in presidential dramas such as “Nixon” and “W.” or documentaries such as “Comandante,” about Fidel Castro, or “South of the Border,” about South and Central America. He’s happy that Barack Obama was reelected, he says, but he’s profoundly concerned about the 44th president’s embrace of electronic warfare and an approach to foreign relations that, in Stone’s view, is far too militaristic.

Hornaday closed her piece with Stone's thoughts on the current president, which are decidedly ambivalent. Stone is critical of Obama from the Left, yet holds out hope that, like Robert F. Kennedy, he will tack decidedly to the left in the next few years:

The filmmaker noted that in the 750-page companion book to the “Untold History” series he co-wrote with Kuznick, the chapter about Obama is subtitled “Managing a Wounded Empire.” “I think he’s a good manager of that,” he says, “but I don’t expect anything.” Then again, he added upon reflection, “Robert Kennedy was prosecuting [with Joseph] McCarthy, and look where he ended up.”

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters