Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Dr. Richard Bright, a federal vaccine expert whose warnings about preparing for the coronavirus pandemic were ignored by the Trump administration in January, is one of several public health experts who appear in a new documentary film about President Donald Trump's response to the crisis. (Image: screenshot)

'Totally Under Control': New, Secretly-Filmed Documentary Details Trump's Colossal Covid-19 Failures

"We, the scientists, knew what to do for the pandemic response," says former federal vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright in the film. "It is time to lay our careers on the line and push back."

Julia Conley

Several public health experts who have spent this year watching as President Donald Trump has ignored, refuted, and openly mocked their guidance on the coronavirus pandemic are among those interviewed in a new documentary titled "Totally Under Control"—coming forward to give an insider's account of how the Trump administration's severe mismanagement of the crisis led to more than 216,000 deaths in the United States so far. 

"Should open-minded viewers decide to watch 'Totally Under Control,' they're likely to feel snapped awake, as if from a long, horrifying national trance."
—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Directed by Alex Gibney—whose previous documentary subjects include the energy company Enron, the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and the church of Scientology—the trailer for the film begins with reports of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in the U.S. on January 20 and concludes with the president making the claim that the documentary is named after, telling a reporter that the pandemic is "totally under control."

The experts featured in the trailer and film make clear that while the U.S. had at its disposal every resource it needed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, the federal government refused to prepare healthcare workers and the general public for the crisis, choosing instead to downplay the pandemic.

"We, the scientists, knew what to do for the pandemic response," says Dr. Rick Bright, a vaccine expert who was ousted from his role at the Health and Human Services Department after objecting to Trump's Covid-19 response. "The plan was in front of us but leadership would not do it. It is time to lay our careers on the line and push back."

Watch:

The film was made in secret, and also includes interviews with former CDC director Tom Frieden, Dr. Taison Bell of University of Virginia, and Michael Bowen, an executive at medical supply company Prestige Ameritech whose offer to produce N95 masks was dismissed by federal officials in January.

"Political leaders caused avoidable death and destruction," Frieden, who served under the Obama administration, says in the trailer.

In the two-hour film, Gibney focuses significantly on a "missing six weeks" in February and March when the federal government failed to implement a widespread testing strategy and the CDC went ahead with the development of a faulty test kit. The administration "squandered the critical window for containing the virus" during that time, wrote Adrian Horton at The Guardian.

Around the same time, Trump spoke with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, who later released audio recordings of the president stating clearly that he understood the virus to be highly deadly and virulent to people of all ages—even as he was publicly saying Covid-19 would likely "disappear" on its own in a matter of weeks or months. 

"They knew all this, and yet they refused to act," Gibney told The Guardian. 

Reviewers of the film at The Guardian and the Washington Post wrote that "Totally Under Control" will likely be most widely viewed and appreciated by people who are already familiar with and critical of the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But "should open-minded viewers decide to watch 'Totally Under Control,'" wrote Ann Hornaday at the Post, "they're likely to feel snapped awake, as if from a long, horrifying national trance. Let's hope they keep awake, and stay angry."

"Totally Under Control" is available to rent on streaming platforms including YouTube and iTunes, and will be available on Hulu on October 20. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo