Mar 25, 2016
Jen Senko was worried about her dad. A self-described Kennedy Democrat, Frank Senko was a peaceful, loving husband and dad whose political views were never much of an issue between him and the world. Until one day, on his long commute to work, he discovered talk radio… and Rush Limbaugh in particular. After that, Frank was never the same.
JEN SENKO podcast excerpt: "Fox shouldn't have the right to call itself 'News'; it's mostly commentary."
He soon framed and announced a long list of people that he hated. And when he found the Fox News Channel, he went completely bonkers. He was angry all the time. If Rush or Fox told him something, he was unquestioning in his acceptance of it as absolutely true. His wife, his three children – Jen and her brothers – as well as extended family, friends and co-workers, one day found a stranger living in their midst, a hate-spewing, nasty, bigoted monster paranoid of everyone’s beliefs around him. He trusted no one outside of his growing, far right-wing conservative circle of TV and radio hosts, newsletter writers, website propagandists and pamphleteers. Aghast at what had become of Frank, Jen—a filmmaker who had received good notices for her first release, The Vanishing City—decided to seriously investigate what had happened to him.
JEN SENKO podcast excerpt: "(Long-time Republican operative) David Brock knew. He was in the trenches. He was an 'elf.' He was on the team to take down (President Bill) Clinton. He spilled the beans (on the 'vast right-wing conspiracy'). His conscience got to him; he felt guilty."
The resulting film, The Brainwashing of My Dad, is a serious examination of the rise of right-wing media—“The Noise Machine,” as it is called—and its fact-free assault on the Constitution, civil rights, liberal advocacy and much more.
Senko, who shares narration duties with actor Matthew Modine, assembled a film that reveals the motivations of Roger Ailes, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Richard Nixon, the Heritage Foundation, and the John Birch Society. The film, which recently left the festival circuit and began theatrical, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu distribution, was completed before the rise of Donald Trump, presidential candidate, but it makes for excellent background material to explain the Republican businessman’s angry rise to political power.
• 3:05 Filmmaker Jen Senko dealt with multiple delays in getting The Brainwashing of My Dad to the silver screen, but the rise of Donald Trump, GOP political candidate, made her eventually timing perfect;
• 12:10 Even Democrats scoffed at Hillary Clinton's mid-1990s claim of "a vast right-wing conspiracy" -- until long-time Republican operative David Brock confirmed her accusation was true;
• 20:20 Senko questions whether Fox News Channel should be allowed to use the word "News" in its name.