Insurrection is the subject of a new ‘Frontline’ hour



PBS program talks with some of those who spearhead sieges

The use of the word “Insurrection” has become more common lately, but it has existed for a long time … as have the actions it encompasses.

This year’s Jan. 6 occupation of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., redefined the term vividly. The recent history of such sieges, their leaders and their additional participants is documented as PBS’ “Frontline” presents — in association with the investigative-journalism organization ProPublica — the new episode “American Insurrection” Tuesday, April 13 (check local listings).

A.C. Thompson

ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson is the program’s reporter, and he reflects, “The thing that’s difficult is that as much as a lot of these people dislike the media, they have an attraction to it and they want to use us to get out their message. At the same time, we want to know what is motivating them and what their intentions are. Are they really going to carry out the ideas that they are posting online about kidnapping people and taking hostages and overthrowing the government?”

Adds “American Insurrection” director Rick Rowley, “We have been following these groups for months, and the events of Jan. 6 served as kind of the perfect climax to this … not just because this violence exploded into national view, but because it showed what I think is a dangerous kind of transformation in this already dangerous movement.”

Producer Karim Hajj believes the makers of “American Insurrection” were successful in getting some of the subjects to talk for the program because “we have been able to say, ‘Look, we are actually interested in trying to understand what underlies where your views are coming from. We are interested in sitting down and having a substantive conversation with you.’ And that takes people aback for a moment.

“People expect their views to be shortened into a five-second sound bite that goes on the local news,” Hajj notes. “And so, when they learn that they might have the opportunity to actually engage in a conversation, that’s something that tends to open doors. And perhaps it even holds an idea for how we might move forward from this moment.”


Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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