Sundance: Hillary Clinton Talks Jamal Khashoggi Doc 'The Dissident'

Hillary Clinton - Sundance - Getty - H 2020

"They do a chillingly effective job of demonstrating the swarm that social media can be," said Clinton of the doc during a Sunday Q&A with her 'Hillary' director Nanette Burstein.

The festivalgoers at this year's Sundance likely noticed an increased security presence in Park City given that former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was on hand.

Clinton was in Utah to promote Hulu docuseries Hillary, which was premiering at the fest, and in between doing press she was able to catch several of the festival's other titles, including the Jamal Khashoggi doc The Dissident.

"If you haven't seen The Dissident, I hope you will," said Clinton to the audience attending a Q&A with her and Hillary director Nanette Burstein as a part of the fest's Cinema Cafe series. Clinton attended the Friday night premiere of the Bryan Fogel feature that was taking place at the MARC theater.

The moderator posed a question to Clinton, asking about the role social media and malware plays in the weaponization of misinformation, as seen in the Khashoggi documentary. Clinton offered, "They do a chillingly effective job of demonstrating the swarm that social media can be. They use animation to show how the Saudi government and their now very large group of information warriors are influencing and using disinformation and personal attacks on social media against activists and others." 

The Dissident investigates the murder of Saudi dissident and columnist for The Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies. He was murdered and his body was dismembered on Oct. 2, 2018, after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Add to that the information we just learned about the pacing of malware on Jeff Bezos' phone, ironically technology created in Israel and sold to the Saudi government," she added, referencing the recently reported news that the phone of the Amazon CEO and owner of The Washington Post was hacked by Mohammed bin Salman via WhatsApp.

Clinton continued: "We are facing in this time such a challenge to our values, our privacy, our freedom — all that was displayed in the movie, The Dissident, but it is happening in real-time here back home. As I have said over and over, I am very disappointed that Facebook is enabling this by welcoming false advertising that enormously advantages not only Trump but people like him, people making cases to enflame feelings and sow dissidence and create conspiracy theories and all the rest." 

"I don't have any answers," said Clinton. "I feel like we are awash in disinformation. Right now, I look at the 2020 election and see so much of what happened in 2016, but it is more sophisticated than it was in 2016."