I have worked for KLRU for nearly two years and certain things remind me why I love being a part of the station. The most recent is the KLRU programming department deciding to re-air Frontline’s recent episode “The Choice” the night before the election. The episode takes a closer look at the unique stories of Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s histories and eventual roads (although one road will be stopped short) to the white house in the most comprehensive and unbiased presentation of the subject I’ve seen.
With an even handed approach, Frontline re-introduced me to two men I thought I knew very well, since they’ve spent the last year or so in the national spot light. I’ve heard the “personal story” segments of each candidate’s stump speeches, but this program digs deeper – something that co-writer, co-producer, and UT professor, Paul Stekler has shown a talent for in his many projects dealing with Texas politics. Now on a national level, he has worked with a team to bring to light many details the candidates choose to leave out of the speeches, and most of the media chooses not to cover.
Anecdotes from top aides and advisors help fill in the gaps and round out these formidable opponents into real people. I had never heard many details of what organizing was actually like for Barack Obama on the south side of Chicago or how John McCain came to embrace a republican base that had shunned him, following his presidential run in 2000. Terms like “Maverick” and “Community Organizer” mean much more now when I hear them repeated in campaign ads. They’re not just words anymore, but summaries of entire chapters in the lives of both men. In “The Choice”, Frontline takes a magnifying glass to what we thought we knew and finds an entirely new and interesting story beyond it.
Having already voted, viewing this episode again has done nothing to change my decision. I think it’s frowned upon to dive back into the ballot box to change your vote anyway. However, I still found myself watching the episode online (also on YouTube) again and forwarding the link to friends and family who engage me in political discussions regarding a candidate’s past decisions and future ambitions. The website also provides many additional interviews, discussions topics, and related material not included in the episode.
Amazingly candid photos and video clips are used to deliver a brutally honest portrayal that walks a tight rope between controversy, courage, and even comedy, much the way the candidates walk a tight rope every day of their campaigns. A race as historic as this deserved a documentary that presented it with clarity and honesty, and Frontline delivered with its presentation of “The Choice.”
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- Scott Randall
About the reviewer: Scott Randall has been the Marketing Editor for about two years. When he’s not editing the promos or writing blogs, you can find him making up hobbies that he can pretend to enjoy, like fly fishing and spelunking.