Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Joe Ricketts and the New Anti-Barack Film, ‘2016: Obama’s America’

Rahm Emanuel threw a hissy fit in May when he learned of the involvement of Joe Ricketts, whose children own the Cubs, in a proposed harshly anti-Obama ad that revisited the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy of the 2008 election. Ricketts is back, this time as an investor in a new Barack-bashing film called 2016: Obama’s America.

2016: Obama's AmericaRahm Emanuel threw a hissy fit in May when he learned of the involvement of Joe Ricketts, whose children own the Cubs, in a proposed harshly anti-Obama ad that revisited the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy of the 2008 election. The ad campaign was canceled, but Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, who wants the city’s help in renovating Wrigley Field, had to grovel in apology to the mayor, who, in my opinion, seemed to forget he represents all Chicagoans whatever their politics.

It’s likely the billionaire patriarch, who made the Ricketts’s fortune as founder of TD Ameritrade, also regrets an earlier investment in a feature-length documentary called 2016: Obama’s America, adapted from The Roots of Obama’s Rage, a critically panned but commercially popular book by conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza. The movie, which is doing surprisingly well at the box office, echoes the book’s theme that, as president and commander in chief, Obama is somehow implementing the “anti-colonialist” beliefs of his Kenyan father. The movie’s trailer depicts Obama as desiring that “…the sins of colonialism be set right and America be downsized.”  

I haven’t seen 2016, co-directed by D’Souza and produced by Gerald R. Molen, the man behind Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, but both the Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers are woven into the narrative.

According to a report in the New York Times, Ricketts was one of about 25 investors, contributing about five percent of the documentary’s budget, which reportedly totaled $2.5 million. The movie premiered six weeks ago in Houston and did very well; by last weekend it was in 169 theaters, and by this weekend it will be playing in 49 out of 50 states (all but Vermont). Entertainment Weekly reported yesterday that 2016 “accounts for 35 percent of all [Fandango] ticket sales, over three times as many as the next bestselling film, The Expendables 2, which accounts for 10 percent of sales.” 

While it’s unlikely that Rahm had anything to do with it, it is interesting that the documentary is playing in only one Chicago theatre. Google shows the film playing in suburbs such as Warrenville, Deer Park, South Barrington, Skokie, Crestwood, Lombard, Addison, Country Club Hills, Schaumburg, Woodridge, and Lincolnshire.)

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