Project Category: The Presidency

The Selma to Montgomery march was a turning point of the Civil Rights campaign for equal justice in American. The march was part of a series of protests occurring throughout the South in 1965. The 54-mile route from Selma to the state Capitol took three attempts and early efforts were marred by violence before eventual federal government intervention allowed the march to proceed. The story is told through re-enactments and previously unseen film taken by undercover Alabama State police. John Lewis, James Farmer, James Orange, CT Vivian and Nicholas Katzenbach look back on the events leading up to Bloody Sunday and describe how President Lyndon B. Johnson responded.
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President Lyndon Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to make his case to Congress for escalating the conflict with North Vietnam. The film examines newly released evidence used to justify attacking North Vietnam on August 4th 1964. NSA intercepts, White House recordings and first hand witnesses conclude Johnson lied to the country and fabricated the case for war.  Members of the USS Maddox crew, pilots from the US Constellation, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, foreign affairs advisor William Bundy, NSA and CIA analysts all review the newly released evidence and conclude the North Vietnamese attack never happened.
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The documentary special examined Kennedy’s presidency based on newly released medical records that illustrate the extent of his physical frailty. The documents showed that last rites had been administered to Kennedy three times in the 1950’s. His chronic back pain drove him to seek relief through amphetamines administered by Max Jabobson as “Dr. Feelgood.” The film shows how Kennedy’s medical condition impacted his presidency. From needing back injections to sit up to deliver his national broadcast in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis, to experiencing excruciating pain during the second day of his summit with Nikita Khruschev. Tragically his death was in part a result of wearing a back brace in Dallas that prevented him from falling forward after the first non-lethal shot.
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Within three days of taking over the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson had a Dictaphone installed in his office to record phone calls for historical record. In 1994, the Johnson library released the first batch of tapes recorded by LBJ during his presidency.  They offer a unique insight into the way the president coped with the aftermath of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Johnson wanted future generations to understand his presidency with the “bark off.”  From Vietnam to Civil Rights Hello Mr. President captures the drama in real time and offers unparalleled perspective on this pivotal moment in American History. 
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This series, commissioned by the BBC’s former Director General Lord Tony Hall, traces Sir Charles Wheeler’s reporting from America that began at the height of the Vietnam war and extended well into the Reagan presidency. The five-part, Grierson nominated series examines Nixon’s treason that resulted in a stolen election in 1968, Johnson’s failed efforts to create a “Great Society”, the Vietnam War, America’s defeat in its war on drugs, and Reagan’s reliance on the advice of a San Francisco astrologer. 
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In October 1964 LBJ promised to keep American boys out of the Vietnamese civil war. “It’s not our fight” he assured the nation. Six months later he escalated American involvement in the conflict, which would be one of the most consequential and disastrous decisions of his presidency. What led to the transformation? The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to the announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history. The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history.
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Operation Zorro was the campaign undertaken by the FBI to monitor and destroy MLK. After the March on Washington, the head of Division Five, the FBI section responsible for mounting surveillance on “domestic terrorists” reported to Hoover that King was “by far the most dangerous man in America.” A recently declassified internal surveillance investigation, conducted in 1976 by the Church and Pike Committees exposed the campaign to destroy King. As outlined in a Brookings Institute essay about the committee findings “Their hearings exposed secret, arguably illegal wiretapping, bugging, and harassment of American citizens, including Supreme Court justices, reporters, and government officials, all in the name of collecting intelligence about threats to national security. The most notorious case, first exposed in the 1960s and fully documented by the Church Committee, was the wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. by the NSA and by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who believed him to be part of a Communist conspiracy.”
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In the summer of 1991 the BBC commissioned a film that involved following Democratic challenges to President George HW Bush during the six months leading up to the Iowa caucuses. At the time Bush, stood with a 91% approval rating and appeared unassailable. During the course of filming Bush went from invincibility to vulnerability. The film takes an inside look into the campaigns of Senator Paul Tsongas and Senator Tom Harkin. The film also covers the emergence of Governor Bill Clinton, the ultimate “Comeback Kid.” The film explore the economic decline that suddenly suggested George HW Bush would be a one-term president.
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The mid 1960’s saw America at war on two fronts: on the paddy fields of Vietnam and in the streets of 53 of its cities that erupted into violence that bordered on anarchy. Inside the White House President Johnson is besieged as he perceives enemies to be at every turn. None were more dangerous or corrosive than the threat posed by the junior senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy. Drawing on tapes released by the Johnson library we revealed the impact of Johnson’s paranoia. We also see his desperate attempt to court favor with JFK’s widow Jackie Kennedy Onassis. On tapes released only after Jackie’s death we hear LBJ proclaim his love and devotion for Jackie and his desire the become “John-John” and Caroline’s “new daddy.”
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