Documentary filmmaker Michael Kirk has produced more than 200 national television programs. A former Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, Kirk was the original senior producer of FRONTLINE, PBS’ flagship long-form documentary series, from its inception in 1983 until the fall of 1987, when he created his own production company, the Kirk Documentary Group.
The winner of every major award in broadcast journalism, including four Peabody Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, two George Polk Awards, 16 Emmy Awards, and 12 Writers Guild of America Awards, Kirk has produced, directed and written more than 100 hours of FRONTLINE — including multiple installments of “The Choice,” the acclaimed election-year series profiling the two major-party presidential candidates.
His recent and upcoming work includes:
- America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump — A two-part series investigating America’s increasingly bitter, divided and toxic politics. Episode One traces how Barack Obama’s promise of unity collapsed as increasing racial, cultural and political divisions laid the groundwork for the rise of Donald Trump; Episode Two examines how Trump’s campaign exploited the country’s divisions and how his presidency has unleashed anger on both sides of the divide. (4 hours)
- The Choice 2020 — In production. Broadcast date: September 2020 (2 hours)
- Supreme Revenge — Examining the no-holds barred, partisan conflict over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and how Sen. Mitch McConnell has helped to transform America’s highest court. (1 hour)
- The Mueller Investigation — Inside Trump’s war with investigators looking into allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice, featuring interviews with key players who provide new details about the battle between the president and Special Counsel Mueller, the FBI and the DOJ. (1 hour)
- The Mueller Report — A PBS NewsHour /FRONTLINE prime time special featuring the full documentary, “The Mueller Investigation.” (1 hour)
- Zero Tolerance — How three outsiders fed anger over immigration to help make Trump president and ignite a border crisis. Inside the unlikely plot to transform the GOP, curb immigration, and unleash a divisive political weapon that would fuel division and violence. (1 hour)
- Trump’s Showdown — An examination of President Trump’s fight against the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign. (2 hours)
- Trump’s Takeover — The inside story of how President Trump came to dominate the GOP. (1 hour)
- McCain — The political biography of Senator John McCain. (1 hour)
- Divided States of America — A two-part series examining the growing political divide during the Obama administration and Trump candidacy. (4 hours)
- Trump’s Road to the White House — How Donald Trump won the presidency. (1 hour)
- Bannon’s War — The inside story of the early chaos inside the Trump administration. (1 hour)
- Putin’s Revenge — The history of grievances that led to the Putin-led disruption of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (2 hours)
- The Choice 2016 — The personal narrative and political history of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (2 hours)
- President Trump — The personal story of Donald Trump. (1 hour)
- The Secret History of ISIS — The growth of ISIS and how the U.S. missed the warning signs. (1 hour)
- Netanyahu at War — The clash between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. (2 hours)
- Secrets, Politics and Torture — The secret history of the CIA’s controversial “enhanced interrogation” program. (1 hour)
- Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA — The political evolution and influence of the NRA. (1 hour)
- Losing Iraq — The role of the U.S. in the Iraq war, from the 2003 invasion to the violent rise of ISIS. (90 mins.)
- United States of Secrets: The Program — The effort to hide the U.S. government’s massive surveillance program. (2 hours)
- League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis — An investigation of the NFL’s effort to refute scientific evidence that concussions are linked to alarming incidents of early-onset dementia. (2 hours)
- Cliffhanger — A look into the nation’s fiscal crises and the inside history of how Washington has failed to solve the country’s problems of debt and deficit. (1 hour)
- The Choice 2012 — The political biographies of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. (2 hours)
- Money, Power and Wall Street — The inside story of Wall Street’s massive financial collapse and crisis. (4 hours)
- Top Secret America — An examination of the huge, unwieldly, top-secret world the U.S. government has created since 9/11. (2 hours)
- The Anthrax Files — A reinvestigation into the anthrax case a decade after the attacks. (1 hour)
Decades of Documentaries
Kirk’s long career has yielded two other “Choice” dual biographies — of Obama and John McCain (2008) and George W. Bush and Al Gore (2000) He produced, directed and wrote three investigations of the 2008 financial crisis: The Warning, the unique story of a regulator's warning about the dangers of derivatives in the 1990s; Breaking the Bank, an inside look at the complicated financial and political web threatening Bank of America; and Inside the Meltdown, a major investigation into the collapse of the American economy.
In the spring of 2008 he produced, directed and wrote the four-and-a-half-hour, two-part special Bush's War. He produced a number of additional films on what some called “the war on terror,” including Cheney's Law, Endgame, The Lost Year in Iraq, Rumsfeld's War, The Torture Question, The Dark Side, The War Behind Closed Doors and The Man Who Knew.
Over the years, Kirk has also covered a wide variety of subjects beyond politics, the economy, and national security in acclaimed documentaries including Waco — The Inside Story, a behind-the-scenes look at the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound; The Kevorkian File, an in-depth examination of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's controversial cases; Death by Fire, a look inside the arson/murder case of one man at the center of the death penalty debate; Caring for Your Parents, which followed five families caring for their elderly parents; Navy Blues, an examination of gender politics in the military; The Way the Music Died, a behind-the-scenes look at the recording industry; and the groundbreaking Misunderstood Minds, an exploration of the personal stories of five families confronting the challenges of their children's learning disabilities.
Kirk frequently speaks to academic and corporate institutions on topics ranging from current events to issues confronting journalism. He has also appeared on a number of television programs, including Morning Joe, the Today show, CNN/MSNBC/FOX news programs. He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio broadcasts and podcasts.