If you want to behold one of the worst human beings currently inhabiting the planet, be sure to watch Get Me Roger Stone, an excellent new documentary now streaming on Netflix. Stone is a political adviser who worked on the Donald Trump campaign and those of other Republican presidential hopefuls extending as far back as Richard Nixon. This documentary about how Stone became Stone is a striking portrait of a venal man, as amoral and unscrupulous as anyone you can imagine.
Stone would love my hostile description; he looks at the camera and says, “I revel in your hatred.” This film demonstrates the ways he feeds on his own infamy. His first words here are “My name is Roger Stone and I am an agent provocateur.” Heavily invested in his own self-regard, Stone dresses in chalk-striped double-breasted suits and spats; he embodies the contradiction of being a dandy who fights dirty. Indeed, he was the main purveyor of Nixon’s “dirty tricks” campaign strategies in the 1970s, and he’s stayed dirty, writing a book published during the most recent presidential election that accused Bill Clinton of being a serial rapist — a charge that Trump later ran with.
The directors of Get Me Roger Stone — Daniel DiMauro, Dylan Bank, and Morgan Pehme — have a lot of choice material here. Stone has never met a camera or a microphone he could resist, and he’s willing to claim credit for every Republican victory during his lifetime. (Stone is 64 years old.) The movie is peppered with onscreen printings of “Stone’s Rules” — slogans he professes to live by, such as “Hate is a stronger motivator than love,” and “It’s better to be infamous than to never be famous at all.” Among the talking heads opining about Stone are some of his fiercest critics, including the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and the great investigative journalist Wayne Barrett (who died before this film was released).
One of the things Get Me Roger Stone does best is to present just how much contempt Stone has for the voters who supported Trump — he’s shown at campaign rallies manning a bullhorn, spewing bull he knows is not true. He sneers and snickers at Trump supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” caps and “Hillary for Jail” T-shirts — even donning one of the latter himself, temporarily taking off his tailor-made business suit to get down with “the people.”
To the charge made by many onscreen that Stone lies, constantly and arrogantly, you will find no argument from Stone himself: He doesn’t ignore criticism; he embraces it as attention he thinks he deserves. Edited with brisk energy, Get Me Roger Stone is a good example of a certain kind of documentary — one that will appeal to opposing sides. Those who think Stone is a crafty mastermind, as well as those who loathe him for his cynical debasement of politics, will find ample confirmation for their opinions.
Get Me Roger Stone is streaming now on Netflix.
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