"Frontline" starts its profile tonight of presidential candidate David Duke by asking, "Is what you now see of David Duke what you would really get?"
By the end of the hour, producer Elena Mannes has made a convincing case that there is no reason to believe Duke when he says he has traded his Nazi and Ku Klux Klan beliefs for conservative, Republican values. As correspondent Hodding Carter puts it: "When you explore the patterns of Duke's life, you discover a boy who began his intellectual journey at the darkest fringes of American life and a politician who has been 'changing' for 20 years -- altering his rhetoric to attract a wider audience, but never really letting go of the ideology of hate that gave him his start."
"Who Is David Duke?" which airs at 9 tonight on MPT (channels 22 and 67), is the best TV reporting to date on one of the most important political stories of the decade, the rise of Duke as a mainstream political candidate. Duke is not on the ballot in today's Maryland primary. But he will be on the Republican presidential ballot in seven of the eight states holding primaries on Super Tuesday, March 10.