Steve Bannon

Errol Morris on Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Theranos, and Cancel Culture

Outrage mobs kept his new movie "American Dharma" out of theaters for a year.


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After Errol Morris debuted his documentary about Stephen Bannon last year at the Venice Film Festival, early reviewers charged that by profiling the president's former chief strategist and former executive chairman of, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker was serving as a mouthpiece for Donald Trump.

It was the first time in decades that the acclaimed director of The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War couldn't get a movie into theaters. "The experience was so damn weird," Morris tells Reason. "People became so angry with me and with the movie, they certainly wanted to deplatform not just Bannon, but they wanted to deplatform me."

But now his film, American Dharma, is finally coming to the big screen.

Nick Gillespie sat down with the 71-year-old Morris, whom Roger Ebert called "as great a filmmaker as Hitchcock or Fellini," to talk about the censorious first reactions to his new film, his history with Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, and what he learned—and didn't learn—about Steve Bannon's philosophy.

Produced and shot by Jim Epstein, Intro by Paul Detrick, edited by Ian Keyser, additional camera by Kevin Alexander.

Music credit: 'You're Not Wrong' by roljui

Photo credits:

Photo of Steven Bannon; Credit: Lewis JOLY/JDD/SIPA/Newscom
Photo of Errol Morris talking to news cameras; Credit: Chuck Liddy/MCT/Newscom
Photo of Steven Bannon, standing; Credit: Abaca Press/Renaud Khanh/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom
Photo of Steven Bannon in shadow; Credit: Lewis JOLY/JDD/SIPA/Newscom
Photos from 2018 Venice Film Festival; Credit: Lucia Sabatelli/Polaris/Newscom
Photo of Errol Morris; Credit: SMG/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Photo of Elizabeth Holmes; Credit: Ouzounova/Splash News/Newscom

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  1. Morris answered Nicks 8:37 question on cancel culture correctly: *incredulous* A place we’re getting to?

  2. @1309, Morris seems to suggest that Hillary Clinton was ‘unfairly’ “taken down” by Bannon and his associates. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but I’m glad Gillespie kind of gently called him on it.

  3. Wait a sec… @16:00 the question of Theranos comes up where Gillespie mentions the criticism he received from Theranos which Morris suggested was “absurd”. He then goes on to detail commercials he’s refused to do on Moral grounds.

    Yes, I agree with Morris, when he did the Theranos commercials, Holmes was “on top of the world”, but even at that time, there were already serious questions simmering below the surface.

    I’d have rather he just said, “Look, I get hired to make commercials for various products, I don’t make grand moral judgments on every product I make a commercial for…”

    And for the record, I would watch an Errol Morris documentary on the real Elizabeth Holmes– which he suggests he’d like to make.

  4. The left eating their own again.

    I like both Bannon and Morris. After Trump secures a second term I’d like to see Bannon do a documentary on Morris, and how Morris’s views on Nationalism/Trumpism might have evolved.

    Because I actually like Morris, I’d like to see him become more Mamet-like.

    1. I used to know Mamet in the very early St. Nicholas days (during the Halsted start up). a fun guy to party with.

  5. This guy is the most boring interviewee Gillespie has ever had. You can forget what Errol Morris is saying while he’s saying it.

  6. You need a Phillip Glass soundtrack behind this conversation, so we have something to listen to while Morris meanders to get to a point. Of course, I suspect he does it on purpose so he can craft an evasive answer.

    It’s amazing that he starts out by lamenting getting excoriated by the Left for his documentary, then later proudly bleats out that he’s part of the Left. It’s like he confidently walked into the quicksand and is now lamenting that he’s stuck.

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