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Season 2004 2004

  • 2004-01-16T03:00:00+01:00 on PBS
  • 60 mins
  • 16 hours, 50 mins (17 episodes)
  • United States
  • English
  • Documentary, News

Since it began in 1983, Frontline has been airing public-affairs documentaries that explore a wide scope of the complex human experience. Frontline's goal is to extend the impact of the documentary beyond its initial broadcast by serving as a catalyst for change.

17 episodes

2004x01 From China with Love

  • Season Premiere

    2004-01-16T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

Her code name was "Parlor Maid." She was a spy whose information about China found its way to four American presidents. For 20 years Katrina Leung's handler was a freewheeling FBI agent named J.J. Smith. But "Parlor Maid" and J.J. were more than agent and asset: they were lovers. Last April, the government claimed "Parlor Maid" was a double agent--spying for China with the help of her lover J.J.--and the two were arrested. FRONTLINE investigates a story of sex, secrets, risk, patriotism and power, and explores how U.S. intelligence about China has been seriously compromised.

2004x02 Chasing Saddam's Weapons

  • 2004-01-23T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

With the credibility of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair at stake, BBC reporter Jane Corbin takes viewers inside the high-stakes search for Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Through exclusive access to top-secret locations and key U.S. officials leading the hunt, including David Kay, FRONTLINE reveals new details about what the search has uncovered and questions whether the investigation's final results will justify the White House's call for war.

2004x03 Beyond Baghdad

  • 2004-02-13T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

As Washington continues to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein, FRONTLINE takes viewers on a journey across Iraq to reveal just what it will take to stabilize the volatile nation and accelerate the transfer of power to the Iraqi people. In "Beyond Baghdad," FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels the length and breadth of Iraq for five weeks, interviewing everyone from tribal sheiks and ayatollahs to politicians and U.S. military commanders. Smith's reporting reveals a seriously fractured Iraq, where modest successes in nation-building have been offset by widespread inter-ethnic and sectarian rivalry, frustration, and violence.

2004x04 Tax Me if You Can

  • 2004-02-20T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

The tax shelter was one of corporate America's biggest hidden profit centers in recent years. Shelters have become so lucrative that some experts estimate as much as $50 billion is lost to the U.S. Treasury each year. And ordinary taxpayers wind up footing the bill. FRONTLINE correspondent Hedrick Smith provides an inside look at how big corporations and wealthy individuals cut their taxes with intricate, hidden, and abusive tax shelters and investigates the role of blue chip accounting firms in these secret deals.

2004x05 The Invasion of Iraq

  • 2004-02-27T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE marks the first anniversary of the Iraqi War with a two-hour documentary investigation that recounts the key strategies, battles, and turning points of the war from both sides of the battlefield. Through firsthand accounts from many of the war's key participants--from strategists in Washington to the soldiers who actually fought the battles--"The Invasion of Iraq" promises to be a definitive television history of America's most recent war.

2004x06 Ghosts of Rwanda

  • 2004-04-02T04:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

FRONTLINE marks the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide with a documentary chronicling one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In addition to interviews with key government officials and diplomats, the two-hour documentary offers groundbreaking, eyewitness accounts of the genocide from those who experienced it firsthand: from Tutsi survivors who recount the horror of seeing their friends and family members slaughtered by neighbors and coworkers; to the UN peacekeepers stationed amid the carnage who were ordered not to intervene; to those holding positions of power at the White House. Through these accounts, FRONTLINE illustrates the social, political, and diplomatic failures that enabled the slaughter of 800,000 people to occur unabated and unchallenged by the global community.

2004x07 Diet Wars

  • 2004-04-09T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

Americans spend $40 billion a year on books, products, and programs designed to do one thing: help us lose weight. From Atkins to Ornish and Weight Watchers to the Zone, today's dieters have a dizzying array of weight loss programs from which to choose--yet the underlying principles of these diets are often contradictory. Is low fat better than low carb? Is Atkins the answer? And has the USDA Food Pyramid done more harm than good? In "Diet Wars," FRONTLINE examines the great diet debate.

2004x08 Son of Al Qaeda

  • 2004-04-23T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

Growing up in the 1990s, Abdurahman Khadr's playmates were the children of his father's longtime friend, Osama bin Laden. How Khadr was raised to be an Al Qaeda terrorist--and how he ultimately found himself working for the U.S.--is the focus of FRONTLINE's "Son of Al Qaeda." Through interviews with Khadr as well as his mother and siblings, the documentary recounts his incredible journey from terrorist upbringing to CIA informant, offering a revealing glimpse inside the mindset of an Al Qaeda family.

2004x09 The Jesus Factor

  • 2004-04-30T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

As an evangelical Christian, President Bush has something in common with the 46 percent of Americans who describe themselves as being "born again" or having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Often has the president recounted praying about major decisions facing the nation--but what do we actually know about the rudiments of George Bush's faith? To what extent do the president's spiritual beliefs impact or influence his political decision-making? And how closely do Bush's religious views mirror those of the country's burgeoning--and politically influential--evangelical movement?

2004x10 The Way the Music Died

  • 2004-05-28T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

The modern music scene was created in 1969, at Woodstock. Half a million fans, dozens of artists, and the politics of the times came together as a big bang moment that eventually would generate billions of dollars. But over the last twenty years, MTV, compact discs, corporate consolidation, Internet piracy, and greed have contributed to a perfect storm for the recording industry. FRONTLINE examines how the business that has provided the soundtrack of the lives of a generation is on the verge of collapse.

2004x11 The Plea

  • 2004-06-18T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

It is the centerpiece of America's judicial process: the trial by jury system that places a defendant's fate in the hands of a jury of one's peers. But just how many citizens are aware that nearly 95 percent of all criminal cases never reach a jury but instead are settled through plea bargains? To overworked and understaffed defense lawyers prosecutors and jurists plea bargains are the safety valve that keeps cases moving through our backlogged courts. Critics however contend that the push to resolve cases through plea bargains jeopardizes the constitutional rights of defendants who may be pressured to admit their guilt whether they're guilty or not. In this 90-minute documentary FRONTLINE explores the moral judicial and constitutional implications of relying on plea bargains to expedite justice.

2004x12 Sacred Ground

  • 2004-09-08T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

Within days of the September 11 attacks, the questions began: What should be built on the site of Ground Zero? Who should build it? And should anything be built there at all? FRONTLINE tells the inside story of the first stormy year in the plans to rebuild on the site of the World Trade Center. With exclusive access to architect Daniel Libeskind, the one-hour documentary follows the process to build Libeskind's proposed Freedom Tower and reveals how the desire to build the world's most meaningful architectural tribute descended into a billion-dollar battle for the soul of Ground Zero.

2004x13 The Choice 2004

  • 2004-10-13T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

As Americans prepare to choose their next president, FRONTLINE offers viewers a special, two-hour dual biography of the two candidates who hope to lead the nation for the next four years. The fifth installment in FRONTLINE's continuing election series pairs filmmaker Martin Smith and correspondent Nicholas Lemann, who go beyond sound bites and political rhetoric to explore how the candidates and their values have been shaped by family background, history, victory, and defeat. By eschewing political pundits in favor of insightful comments from friends, mentors, historians, and spiritual advisors, "The Choice 2004," airing Tuesday, October 12, at 9 P.M. on PBS (check local listings), offers viewers--and voters--a chance to see the candidates in a fresh light before the campaign reaches its climax on Election Day.

2004x14 Rumsfeld's War

  • 2004-10-27T03:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

With the United States Army deployed in a dozen hot spots around the world, on constant alert in Afghanistan, and taking casualties every day in Iraq, some current and former officers now say the army is on the verge of being "broken." They charge that the army is overstretched, demoralized, and may be unable to fight where and when the nation desires. This fall, FRONTLINE and the Washington Post join forces for an in-depth assessment of the state of the American army and the nation's military establishment. The program digs into the aggressive attempts to assert civilian control and remake the military by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his allies.

2004x15 The Persuaders

  • 2004-11-10T03:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

FRONTLINE takes an in-depth look at the multibillion-dollar "persuasion industries" of advertising and public relations and how marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages deeper into the fabric of our lives. Through sophisticated market research methods to better understand consumers and by turning to the little-understood techniques of public relations to make sure their messages come from sources we trust, marketers are crafting messages that resonate with an increasingly cynical public. In this documentary essay, correspondent Douglas Rushkoff (correspondent for FRONTLINE's "The Merchants of Cool") also explores how the culture of marketing has come to shape the way Americans understand the world and themselves and how the techniques of the persuasion industries have migrated to politics, shaping the way our leaders formulate policy, influence public opinion, make decisions, and stay in power.

2004x16 Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

  • 2004-11-17T03:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

FRONTLINE offers two starkly contrasting images: one of empty storefronts in Circleville, Ohio, where the local TV manufacturing plant has closed down; the other--a sea of high rises in the South China boomtown of Shenzhen. The connection between American job losses and soaring Chinese exports? Wal-Mart. For Wal-Mart, China has become the cheapest, most reliable production platform in the world, the source of up to $25 billion in annual imports that help the company deliver everyday low prices to 100 million customers a week. But while some economists credit Wal-Mart's single-minded focus on low costs with helping contain U.S. inflation, others charge that the company is the main force driving the massive overseas shift to China in the production of American consumer goods, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and a lower standard of living here at home.

2004x17 Secret History of the Credit Card

  • 2004-11-24T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

The average American family today carries eight credit cards. Credit card debt and personal bankruptcies are now at an all time high. With no legal limit on the amount of interest or fees that can be charged, credit cards have become the most profitable sector of the American banking industry: more than $30 billion in profits last year alone. FRONTLINE and The New York Times examine how the credit card industry became so pervasive, so lucrative, and so politically powerful.