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'Totally Under Control' dissects failures in the US coronavirus response

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

"Totally Under Control" is, in some ways, a greatest-hits collection of Trump administration failures and missteps pertaining to Covid-19, but with an extraordinarily timely kicker in the president's own diagnosis. Director Alex Gibney and his collaborators also earn degree-of-difficulty points for having assembled this documentary during the pandemic, designing a remotely operated "Covid-cam" to safely record interviews.

(CNN)"Totally Under Control" is, in some ways, a greatest-hits collection of Trump administration failures and missteps pertaining to Covid-19, but with an extraordinarily timely kicker in the president's own diagnosis.

Director Alex Gibney and his collaborators also earn degree-of-difficulty points for having assembled this documentary during the pandemic, designing a remotely operated "Covid-cam" to safely record interviews.

A separate thread comes from Max Kennedy Jr. , a former volunteer for the White House Covid-19 Supply-Chain task force, who turned whistleblower after working under Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

The filmmakers say their efforts to include comments from the Trump administration, including requests to speak with President Trump or Vice President Pence, who led the White House's coronavirus task force, went unanswered.

"Totally Under Control" derives its title, appropriately, from one of President Trump's early pronouncements about the coronavirus, insisting the threat was contained before it ripped through US society.

Others interviewed for the documentary include New York Times reporter Michael Shear, who is among those who recently contracted the virus through the outbreak connected to the White House.

Gibney's dizzying level of documentary work includes "Agents of Chaos," a deep dive into the Trump-Russia nexus for HBO.

Still, for anyone who hasn't waded through Bob Woodward's book "Rage," or deeply reported accounts by the New York Times and others laying out Trump administration shortcomings, Gibney and company have delivered what is clearly intended to be a powerful closing argument, pulling the case together.

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