Barack Obama’s campaign has hit back at Dinesh D’Souza and his filmmaking team for their cutting characterization of the incumbent president in “2016: Obama’s America.”
On Sept. 5, as the anti-Obama documentary continued its winning streak at the box office and the Democratic National Convention hit a crescendo with a rousing appearance by former President Bill Clinton, a pointed blog entry about “2016” was posted on BarackObama.com.
Calling D’Souza, a longtime fixture on the right-wing speakers’ circuit, “a self-proclaimed expert on the President,” the blog post on the campaign site’s “Truth Team” page fires this opening salvo: “Right-wing author Dinesh D’Souza has recently released ‘2016: Obama’s America,’ a movie that falsely smears President Obama as having a hidden agenda bent on realizing ‘anti-colonial’ ambitions.”
The article calls into question D’Souza’s use of his own work as a basis for building his argument about what moviegoing citizens “don’t know” about the president -- much of which stems from Obama’s relationship with, and purported feelings about, his distant father.
Obama’s “Truth Team” points to D’Souza’s use of his own life story in the first part of the film, slamming the documentary's creator for “baselessly claiming his supposedly similar background gives him a special insight into the President’s thinking.”
The campaign site’s impromptu review also offers counterpoints to specific claims the documentary makes about the president’s politics. On the subject of the source of the controversial TARP bank bailout program, for example, the entry states: “D’Souza even claimed that President Obama passed the bank bailouts when the facts clearly show that it was President Bush who signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program into law in October 2008.”
As if there was any room for doubt, the blog gives “2016” a clear thumbs down, concluding that the documentary is “nothing more than an insidious attempt to dishonestly smear the President by giving intellectual cover to the worst in subterranean conspiracy theories and false, partisan attacks.”
“2016” has been analyzed and appraised by a number of sources, and D’Souza himself has engaged with critics like Bill Maher and the Associated Press’ Beth Foulhy, whose article “Fact Check: Anti-Colonial Obama Not Plausible” spurred D’Souza to respond and call for an apology in an Op-Ed piece he wrote for TheWrap on Sept. 3.
“Evidently this fact-checking article required its own fact-checker,” D’Souza said.
Regardless of the White House's position on the documentary, "2016: Obama's America" has been a surprise hit amid a late-summer lull in theaters, pulling in more than $26 million to date at the box office. And though the film's momentum has slowed since its peak just before the Republican National Convention in late August, it's now the second most successful political documentary of all time.