Video of the Day: Liberal Filmmaker Ken Burns Disses Individual Freedom, Celebrates ‘Central Role’ of Government

While appearing on Wednesday’s edition of NBC’s Today show, Ken Burns, the liberal filmmaker who created a number of documentaries, including one on the Civil War, thumbed his nose at the concept of individual liberty and freedom and embraced the idea of a big central government that plays a huge role in the everyday lives of average Americans.

Newsbusters’ Kyle Drennen said the filmmaker, “hoped the national emergency would usher in ‘fundamental change’ and that ‘we don’t then just go back to the old ways.'”

Here’s video, courtesy of Newsbusters:

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Here’s a partial transcript, posted by Drennen:

KOTB: Let’s talk about that shared sacrifice. I think it is important people across the country are all pitching in, maybe for the first time in some of their lifetimes. How do you think this will change us, as people, going forward?

BURNS: You know, human nature remains the same. The quantities of greed and generosity, prurience and puritanism are all there. We have an opportunity with this crisis to reset, to get away from the kind of knee-jerk divisions, the idea that it’s easier to arouse a mob than it is to appeal to our better angels. And we’re seeing people realizing the central role that government has always played in our life. It’s been very easy over the last several decades to just knee-jerk, you know, bash government, but I know we now see that government becomes the focal point, the fulcrum to help us get through these crises. And the fact that we can shed the labels of red state or blue state, you know, Democrat, Republican will be central to our solving the problem and hopefully we don’t then just go back to the old ways, that we really have an opportunity to reset.


8:48 AM ET

BURNS: I think it’s really important now to take our kids, as we’re doing with PBS, tonight I’m on a webinar with teachers to remind them of these enduring themes, about freedom, about leadership, about hard times, about race, about women, about art, about innovation, all of these things that occur and reoccur that echo and rhyme throughout American history that will arm us in the best possible way to deal with this present moment, to be open to the possibilities of real fundamental change and to shed what has been you know, several decades of just horrific division. It’s made somebody some money somewhere, but it doesn’t mean anything. As I said in your clip, there’s only us and there’s no them. And if anyone tells you there’s a “them,” walk away from them.

Drennen further noted:

That was a particularly interesting comment given Burns used a 2016 commencement speech at Stanford University to launch into a tirade against then-candidate Donald Trump, compared Trump’s presidential campaign to the rise of the Nazis, and admitted that he “needed some time in the fetal position” to deal with Trump being elected. Sounds like the lefty documentarian would be most in need of a “reset.”


Note to Burns: Individual liberty and freedom is what makes America the greatest nation on the planet.  There are other countries where that is not the case — Communist China and Cuba, for example.  Central government, by the way, happens to be the hallmark of places like the former Soviet Union.  If he has a problem with the Bill of Rights, and thinks a strong central government that dictates our everyday lives is a good thing, perhaps he should seriously consider leaving the United States — for good.


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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