Tonight, “Divided States of America” Begins

January 17, 2017
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(Photo: Andrew Geraci / District 7 Media)

“Donald Trump is the representation of the anti-Obama. To embrace Donald Trump is a direct repudiation of the universe that Barack Obama set in order.”
– Michael Eric Dyson

“If you wanted the exact opposite of Barack Obama, it’s Donald Trump.”
– Frank Luntz

The words of Michael Eric Dyson, the writer and academic, and Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, speak volumes about the political chasm between our outgoing president and the man who assumes the presidency later this week.

Tonight, we present a revealing exploration of that chasm, examining the Obama years and the rise of Donald Trump in our special, two-part series, Divided States of America.

Dyson and Luntz are just two of the dozens of key participants and observers of the last eight years that our award-winning political team, led by filmmaker Michael Kirk, have brought together to tell the story of the country’s widening divisions over politics, race, economics, and much more.

Drawing on recent interviews with a wide array of insightful and diverse sources, including political leaders of both parties, as well as the team’s wealth of reporting over the past decade, Divided States gets inside the major turning points of the Obama presidency, the conflict within the Republican party and the rise of anti-establishment forces in American politics.

From Sarah Palin’s anti-elite message, to the bailout of Wall Street banks, to the battle over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), to the killings of Trayvon Martin and worshippers in a Charleston church, the series finds an epic narrative that begins even as Barack Obama was promising hope and change, and leads right up to the election of Donald Trump.

That story continues, and we will keep taking the time to report on it, to investigate the important issues and people shaping our country.

Divided States
 has already gotten early praise from reviewers, who’ve called it “bracingly alive” and “deep and daring.” We hope you can carve out time to watch it.

It all unfolds starting tonight at a special time (9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST). Check your local PBS station listings, or watch online – and join us tomorrow night for Divided States’ gripping conclusion.

— Raney Aronson-Rath
Executive Producer, FRONTLINE

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