Liz Garbus Interview: ‘The Fourth Estate’
When Donald Trump was elected president documentarian Liz Garbus kept asking herself, “What can I do? What role do I have in understanding this time, if any?” As the days went by it became clear that “once he had defeated Hillary Clinton, the new punching bag was going to become the press.” So she decided to put her filmmaking skills to good use by making “The Fourth Estate,” a four-part Showtime series that examines how The New York Times covered Trump’s controversial first year. The timely show is now nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary/Nonfiction Series. Watch our exclusive video interview with Garbus above.
Garbus decided to follow the Times when it became clear that Trump was both enraptured and infuriated by the nation’s top paper. “He clearly craves the Times’s coverage,” she explains. “It’s his hometown newspaper, it’s the paper of record. At the same time he derides them. I thought it would be a really interesting distillation of his relationship to the press.”
There was certainly no shortage of material for Garbus to draw from. Her series touches upon several notable 2017 events including the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA, the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election, and the abrupt exits of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, FBI Director James Comey and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Garbus previously received Oscar nominations for her feature documentaries “The Farm: Angola, USA” (1998) and “What Happened, Miss Simone?” (2015), the latter of which also won her an Emmy for Best Documentary/Nonfiction Special. She took home another Emmy in that category for “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” in 2007. And she has been nominated three additional times: Best Documentary/Nonfiction Special for “The Farm” in 1999 and “Bobby Fisher Against America” in 2012, and Best Nonfiction Directing for “What Happened, Miss Simone?”