Premiering Tonight: “Michael Flynn’s Holy War”

In this Dec. 18, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

In this Dec. 18, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

October 18, 2022

For many years now, we have been investigating threats to U.S. democracy posed by resurgent extremism. We’ve chronicled how and why conspiracy theories and election lies made their way into the American political mainstream and exploded into violence on Jan. 6, 2021.

Tonight, with our reporting partners at the Associated Press, we investigate an element of the American far right that has gained prominence in the months since, fueled in part by a former elite soldier who’s now waging “spiritual war” at home: Michael Flynn.

Michael Flynn’s Holy War investigates how the retired three-star general and first national security adviser to former President Donald Trump has emerged as a leader in a movement that is attracting election deniers, conspiracists and extremists from around the country and that seeks to puts its brand of Christianity at the center of American civic life and institutions.

From award-winning director Richard Rowley (American Insurrection) and AP correspondent Michelle R. Smith, the documentary draws on interviews with 125 people, including Flynn’s family, friends, critics, current and former colleagues — and Flynn himself. Our joint reporting shows how Flynn’s influence has grown since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — and how his pedigree and military career, combined with his connection to high-powered, well-financed political groups, have allowed him to travel the country and advance his movement on what he calls the “local battlefield.”

In the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, the documentary is a revealing look at how Flynn is encouraging his supporters to get involved in local politics to change the U.S. from the ground up, and what his growing influence might mean for future elections.

Michael Flynn’s Holy War — which is supported by Preserving Democracy, a public media reporting initiative from The WNET Group — will be available to watch in full at and in the PBS Video App starting tonight at 7/6c, and will premiere on PBS stations (check local listings) and on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel at 10/9c.

It is the first of three new documentaries in a row from FRONTLINE on critical issues facing our country and our world.

Next week, on Tues., Oct, 25, we’ll partner with the AP again to present Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes, a 90-minute investigation tracing the Russian president’s pattern of atrocities in Ukraine and other conflicts, and the challenge of holding him to account. And on Nov. 1, we’ll premiere Putin’s War at Home, a look at how defiant Russian activists and journalists are pushing back against Putin’s crackdown on critics of the war in Ukraine, despite facing arrest and imprisonment.

Thank you for watching tonight and in the weeks to come.

Raney Aronson-Rath, Editor-in-Chief and Executive Producer, FRONTLINE



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