Coming in November on FRONTLINE: Firestone and the Warlord

November 6, 2014
by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

© Patrick Robert/Sygma/Corbis

What are the costs of doing business in a war zone?

That’s the question at the heart of Firestone and the Warlord, FRONTLINE and ProPublica‘s November 18 investigation of the secret relationship between the American tire company Firestone and the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.

The multiplatform investigation — which will include a 90-minute documentary, a major text story also being published as an e-book, and a series of original digital shorts — is a revelatory window into how Firestone conducted business during the brutal Liberian civil war, drawing on previously unreported diplomatic cables, court documents, and inside accounts from Americans who helped run the company’s rubber plantation as Liberia descended into chaos.

Reporters T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Jonathan Jones teamed up with veteran FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria to bring this story to light.

“Charles Taylor and his brutal civil war shaped the Liberia of today,” says Miller, who has spent much of his career focusing on how corporations operate in foreign countries. “But unlike anything else that I’ve worked on, this story provides an extraordinary, inside look at the decision made by an iconic American corporation in dealing with a warlord.”

“It’s been remarkable to uncover just how interwoven the relationship between the company’s management and Taylor really was, and the extent to which Taylor made the plantation a base of operations as he waged a civil war that eventually killed an estimated 300,000 people,” says Gaviria (The Retirement Gamble; Money, Power and Wall Street; WikiSecrets; Obama’s War).

With all eyes on Liberia as the country battles the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history, Firestone and the Warlord will shine new light on the country’s history and its civil war — a conflict that left lasting scars on the country’s infrastructure and psyche — and raise provocative questions about corporate responsibility, accountability, and the ethical ramifications of doing business in conflict zones.

Watch the trailer below:

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