Why Even Bush Critics Should Be Ashamed to Endorse Michael Moore's Movie





Mr. Troy’s latest book, MORNING IN AMERICA: HOW RONALD REAGAN INVENTED THE 1980S, will be published early next year by Princeton University Press. He is Professor of History at McGill University and a member of HNN's advisory board.

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is sharp, biting, often funny and consistently clever. Fahrenheit 9/11 is also relentless, vicious, usually manipulative and consistently misleading. Produced by a first-rate propagandist, this cinematic polemic is to a standard documentary what Cheese Whiz is to Camembert; the ingredients are similar – the footage is real -- but the processing yields an artificial product.

The uncritical gushing Moore’s screed triggered is more disturbing than the movie itself. Calling this work “excellent,” “elegant,” “convincing,” “brilliant” and “rigorous,” claiming that Moore is “no demagogue” – all in one edition of the Montreal Gazette – suggests that politics is clouding too many judgments. You need not be pro-Bush nor pro-War to be anti-Moore, or at least acknowledge the film’s one-sidedness. If this hatchet-job is what passes for intelligent commentary today, if no one who agrees with Moore can admit – or see -- that this Emperor has No Clothes – the art of intelligent, honest political discourse has truly degenerated. Michael Mooreism is Rush Limbaughism. Left or right, it stinks.

In my youth Superman comics described parallel earths, including a Bizarro world where familiar phenomena were distorted just enough to reverse things. In Michael Moore’s Bizarro universe, everything is a political punchline, lacking context or balance. Nothing happens due to sloppiness, evil lurks everywhere. Thus, the Florida Election 2000 debacle becomes a carefully-orchestrated Republican coup to disenfranchise African-Americans, rather than a comedy of errors starring nearsighted Democratic voters, incompetent Democratic designers of the infamous butterfly ballots, and ruthless politicos from both sides. Similarly, 9/11 becomes a carefully-orchestrated Republican coup to terrify Americans and fight the lovely people of Iraq, rather than a story of Islamicist terrorist evil exploiting American – and Western – complacency On a minor note, it also seems that only Republican politicians, especially bellicose, avaricious Bush Administration liars, primp and fuss before going on air; one wonders how Bill Clinton’s hair always appears perfectly in place, or whether Moore has ever used makeup – or done a second take.

While blasting Bush for creating a simplistic world of good guys and bad guys, Moore does the same thing; he just redistributes the black-and-white hats. In a shrewd act of political jujitsu, and forgetting his previous rationalizing softpedaling terrorism, Moore pushes viewers’ hatred for Osama bin Laden onto the Bushies via the Saudis. Two-thirds of the first half of the movie could be lifted from the Neocon playbook. Many conservatives, neo and otherwise, blame Saudi Arabia for fomenting terror worldwide. It is outrageous that fifteen of the nineteen mass-murderers were from Saudi Arabia, a despicable dictatorship that Democrats and Republicans, let alone Europeans, Canadians and the holy UN, have embraced as a “moderate” Arab regime.

Moore disdains the Saudis because he wants to tar the Bushies with a Saudi brush. He tendentiously lists ties, coincidental or not, between Bush relatives and Saudi Arabians, using guilt-by-association to suggest some unspecified complicity in murdering 3,000 people. True, the Saudi investment of $860 billion in the American economy is terrifying and constrains American actions against the Saudis. But isn’t it racist to treat all Saudis as equally guilty? And Moore’s “smoking gun” – that the Bush family—not, of course, the American government – arranged to fly Bin Laden family members home immediately after 9/11, without interrogating them, is also misleading. Officials insist some were interrogated. The airplanes flew after some commercial flights had resumed, making the treatment less special. Even the hypercritical 9/11 commission has found no scandal there. And the response to those of us who criticize the indulgences the Saudis enjoyed has been that the administration worked hard to avoid anti-Muslim riots during those first tense days. Of course, that benign, even noble, motive is discounted.

Having demonized all Saudis as murderers and caricatured the Bushies as their greedy accomplices, Moore then minimizes Saddam Hussein’s evil. While describing Saddam’s regime benignly, forgetting that he pillaged Kuwait, mass-murdered Kurds, persecuted Iraqis and threatened Americans, Moore runs pictures of happy Iraqi children playing. It therefore seems incomprehensible why the evil Bushies would slaughter Iraqis willy-nilly and send lovely American soldiers to die.

Predictably, the one grieving mother of an American soldier Moore shows is a saintly patriot whose son was anti-war and who herself rejects the war. If any soldiers are pro-war, or any grieving parents are proud, one would never know from watching this film.

In fairness, Moore makes some important points about the tragic bloodshed in Iraq. He justifiably criticizes the administration for downplaying American casualties, when it should be encouraging broad sacrifices to fight terrorism. And Moore, a master of guerilla theatre, delivers a great Roger and Me moment. Rather than hunting down GM executives who destroyed Flint, as he did in his breakthrough film, or embarrassing K-Mart executives who allow ammunition to be sold over the counter, as he did in Bowling for Columbine, Moore targets the Congress. Justifiably enraged that only one of 535 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate has a child in the military, Moore ambushes legislators on camera, offering recruitment brochures for their children. America’s leaders – or at least the handful shown on tape – appear cowardly and cloddish. None are smart enough to thank Moore, agree with him, and promise to discuss it with their colleagues and their children. Most duck or squirm.

Michael Moore has emerged as Canadians’ and Europeans’ favorite American, caricaturing George W. Bush’s America. Moore confirms elite prejudices about America being buffoonish, violent, greedy, and easily manipulated. There is, of course, much to debate about terrorism, the Iraq war, and President Bush. But if people perceive dishonesty, manipulation, and propaganda coming from the White House, the response should not be to try to outdo those efforts. We need a vigorous, open, substantive debate – remembering the pain, confusion and trauma of 9/11 rather than using it for sport.


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andy mahan - 9/19/2006

This is an excellent explanation of Moore’s approach to propaganda, accurately and honestly written. The comparison of Limbaugh and Moore is new to me but pretty good in that they are both extreme. Still, Moore's lack of intellectual honesty is far superior to Limbaugh’s. A debate between the two would be fun though.

I find it sad that there are so many angry Bush haters willing to donate $8 to Michael Moore's Krispy Kreme fund for the opportunity to commune with other haters assuaging their feelings of powerlessness if for just one night. These people are drawn to this silliness like a moth to a flame. It adds nothing to their lives, yet they are controlled by their hate and anger as is their moral leader guided. This is the most offensive aspect of Moore, that he generates so much hate and unhappiness among his followers.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Given that you seem to know that Moore's, "film has a political agenda" and that "he wants it to influence the November elections" I suspect you would agree that his partisan advertisement would be subject to the prohibitions of McCain-Feingold.

Moore has been as slippery as some of the posters to this forum on the question. One minute it is a documentary. After the deception is revealed, it is now just entertainment. One minute it is a political attack next it is only Michael's personal opinion. His fibbing is as transparent as a child’s. Sorry, Moore is demonstrably dishonest and is regarded as such by reasonable people.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Again, I didn't say anything about the advertising of Moore's movie.

I do not recognize Mr. Moore's partisan advertisement as a documentary. Historically, the documentary has connoted the film media vehicle used by unbiased purveyors of fact. My experience is that “documentary” and “fiction” are not compatible. Certainly some have taken liberties with the mode of communication but none so blatant as Moore.

The Documentary designation should continue to be reserved for works that are making some honest attempt to tell a story, intentionally omitting nothing, and dispassionately presenting the facts. Moore’s work fails on all counts. His film would better be described simply as a fictional account. Real and serious documentarians should not have to have their serious works included with the folly of Moore.

In the future real documentaries will be exposed to excessive critical scrutiny because of the insistence of some that the definition of documentary should be changed to accommodate this angry, selfish political statement.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

The claim that "documentaries have pushed a point of view from day one" might be true but the statement is so vague that it is useless. Certainly a "point of view" ends up being "pushed", whatever?, but as I posted earlier, the documentary has connoted the film media vehicle used by unbiased purveyors of fact. You are mistaken to think Mr. Moore's alleged documentary is in accordance with the historical use of the medium. In the past the available information ends up doing the "pushing", not the director’s prejudices.

Your example of Murrow is not analogous as he was using the best information that he had at the time. Of course today, in retrospect Joe McCarthy has been completely vindicated of the retribution of the communist/socialist attack machine. Further, we have no indication that Murrow made an effort to alter the information to attain a desired effect a la Moore.

I didn't realize Murrow said, "that if objectivity were perfect, we would balance the views of Jesus with Judas." What does it mean? Just sounds dopey.


John McCarthy - 8/10/2004

While Michael Moore has certainly changed the nature (and tone) of traditional documentaries for better or worse, it is utterly unfair to compare him to Nazis, like many right-wing critics have done. There is one overwhelmingly important difference between Moore and Goebbels: their positions. Goebbels was a GOVERNMENT official. He had control over what information the public received. Michael Moore has no such power.

We can call Moore's work a lot of things, but let's not make the man seem more powerful than he is.


Johnny Ramburg - 7/9/2004

As I have I have also said, Moore has a higher level of accuracy than his subject, the President. And Moore was only making a movie, not starting a war.


Elliott Aron Green - 7/8/2004

Gil Troy does give Moore some credit. Now, while I have not seen it, the film presents true events that may or may not coherently prove anything about Bush. But I, as an Israeli, am most interested in what he shows about the USA-Saudi relationship. Here I feel that Moore does not go far enough. Certainly this relationship did not start with Bush. It goes back to the 30s after the British had helped the Saudi clan --originally ruling central Arabia [Nejd]-- to take over the Hijaz [western Arabia, location of Mecca], ejecting the Hashemite family from there in the 1920s. The US has always treated the Saudi kingdom with kid gloves, especially in view of the strict, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish legal system and the jihad education in Saudi schools, not to mention beheadings, etc. FDR, known as a liberal, visited the present king's father, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, back in 1944 [or 1945?]. US proclamations about leading a "free world" were always belied by US support for the medieval, unfree Saudi kingdom. The US Treasury, guided by John Foster Dulles, made a set up back in 1951, when Truman, a Democrat was president, to allow ARAMCO to deduct from US corporate income tax the full amount of a so-called per barrel "income tax" [actually a royalty] charged by the Saudis for the oil produced by ARAMCO. This was done under the Foreign Tax Credit law. This was in effect a subsidy for the oil price and oil purchases, and an indirect form of foreign aid to Saudi Arabia, which thereby has probably gotten more US foreign aid than any other state over the years. Saudi money was going to Arafat's PLO back in the 1960s and more recently to the Hamas. US administrations have acted over and over to protect Saudi Arabia's reputation. Does anyone remember the massacre by Saudi police of 800 [or 1500 or only 400?] Iranian pilgrims to Mecca in the summer of 1987? The US press op ed pages were full of columns defending this massacre [They hadda do it!]. In my view, some of the criticism of the Moore movie comes from those who don't want the US-Saudi alliance to be exposed. Moore came close but didn't go far enough, since it's silly to blame that relationship all on Bush Jr or Sr.


Edwin Moise - 7/8/2004

I read Dr. Troy's essay, then went to see Michael Moore's film. I must admit that I was distressed by some things in the film. It was misleading in places (most conspicuously in regard to the Saudis being flown out of the United States), and some of Moore's theories seemed a bit off-the-wall.

On the other hand, there was no misrepresentation I can recall seeing in the film that was as bad as Dr. Troy's misrepresentation of Moore in his statement that Moore "demonized all Saudis as murderers" and his question, "But isn’t it racist to treat all Saudis as equally guilty?" The same is true of Troy's statement that Moore described Saddam's regime "benignly."

If one takes Troy's statement "9/11 becomes a carefully-orchestrated Republican coup to terrify Americans and fight the lovely people of Iraq" at face value, that is also a misrepresentation worse than anything in the film, but it is possible that this is just careless phrasing, and that Troy did not really mean to say what he said.

Michael Moore does not have as high a level of accuracy as I would have liked, but he has a higher level than Dr. Troy, a professor of history. I think this indicates that Moore is not doing too badly for a filmmaker.

On other issues, less important: I cannot accept Troy's description of the 9/11 Commission as "hypercritical." And while I see no reason to doubt that some members of the Bin Laden family may have been asked some questions before they left the United States, the notion that anything deserving to be called an interrogation could have occurred is ludicrous on its face. They were allowed to leave the United States so quickly that it would not have been possible to figure out what questions needed to be asked in a serious interrogation.


Elliott Aron Green - 7/8/2004

Gil Troy does give Moore some credit. Now, while I have not seen it, the film presents true events that may or may not coherently prove anything about Bush. But I, as an Israeli, am most interested in what he shows about the USA-Saudi relationship. Here I feel that Moore does not go far enough. Certainly this relationship did not start with Bush. It goes back to the 30s after the British had helped the Saudi clan --originally ruling central Arabia [Nejd]-- to take over the Hijaz [western Arabia, location of Mecca], ejecting the Hashemite family from there in the 1920s. The US has always treated the Saudi kingdom with kid gloves, especially in view of the strict, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish legal system and the jihad education in Saudi schools, not to mention beheadings, etc. FDR, known as a liberal, visited the present king's father, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, back in 1944 [or 1945?]. US proclamations about leading a "free world" were always belied by US support for the medieval, unfree Saudi kingdom. The US Treasury, guided by John Foster Dulles, made a set up back in 1951, when Truman, a Democrat was president, to allow ARAMCO to deduct from US corporate income tax the full amount of a so-called per barrel "income tax" [actually a royalty] charged by the Saudis for the oil produced by ARAMCO. This was done under the Foreign Tax Credit law. This was in effect a subsidy for oil purchases and the oil price --and an indirect form of foreign aid to Saudi Arabia, which thereby has probably gotten more US foreign aid than any other state over the years. Saudi money was going to Arafat's PLO back in the 1960s and more recently to the Hamas. US administrations have acted over and over to protect Saudi Arabia's reputation. Does anyone remember the massacre by Saudi police of 800 [or 1500 or only 400?] Iranian pilgrims to Mecca in the summer of 1987? The US press op ed pages were full of columns defending this massacre [They hadda do it!]. In my view, some of the criticism of the Moore movie comes from those who don't want the US-Saudi alliance to be exposed. Moore came close but didn't go far enough, since it's silly to blame that relationship all on Bush Jr or Sr. [see John Blair and Leonard Mosely on Saudi oil]


Elliott Aron Green - 7/8/2004

Gil Troy does give Moore some credit. Now, while I have not seen it, the film presents true events that may or may not coherently prove anything about Bush. But I, as an Israeli, am most interested in what he shows about the USA-Saudi relationship. Here I feel that Moore does not go far enough. Certainly this relationship did not start with Bush. It goes back to the 30s after the British had helped the Saudi clan --originally ruling central Arabia [Nejd]-- to take over the Hijaz [western Arabia, location of Mecca], ejecting the Hashemite family from there in the 1920s. The US has always treated the Saudi kingdom with kid gloves, especially in view of the strict, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish legal system and the jihad education in Saudi schools, not to mention beheadings, etc. FDR, known as a liberal, visited the present king's father, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, back in 1944 [or 1945?]. US proclamations about leading a "free world" were always belied by US support for the medieval, unfree Saudi kingdom. The US Treasury, guided by John Foster Dulles, made a set up back in 1951, when Truman, a Democrat was president, to allow ARAMCO to deduct from US corporate income tax the full amount of a so-called per barrel "income tax" [actually a royalty] charged by the Saudis for the oil produced by ARAMCO. This was done under the Foreign Tax Credit law. This was in effect a subsidy for oil purchases and the oil price --and an indirect form of foreign aid to Saudi Arabia, which thereby has probably gotten more US foreign aid than any other state over the years. Saudi money was going to Arafat's PLO back in the 1960s and more recently to the Hamas. US administrations have acted over and over to protect Saudi Arabia's reputation. Does anyone remember the massacre by Saudi police of 800 [or 1500 or only 400?] Iranian pilgrims to Mecca in the summer of 1987? The US press op ed pages were full of columns defending this massacre [They hadda do it!]. In my view, some of the criticism of the Moore movie comes from those who don't want the US-Saudi alliance to be exposed. Moore came close but didn't go far enough, since it's silly to blame that relationship all on Bush Jr or Sr. [see John Blair and Leonard Mosely on Saudi oil]


Elliott Aron Green - 7/8/2004

Gil Troy does give Moore some credit. Now, while I have not seen it, the film presents true events that may or may not coherently prove anything about Bush. But I, as an Israeli, am most interested in what he shows about the USA-Saudi relationship. Here I feel that Moore does not go far enough. Certainly this relationship did not start with Bush. It goes back to the 30s after the British had helped the Saudi clan --originally ruling central Arabia [Nejd]-- to take over the Hijaz [western Arabia, location of Mecca], ejecting the Hashemite family from there in the 1920s. The US has always treated the Saudi kingdom with kid gloves, especially in view of the strict, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish legal system and the jihad education in Saudi schools, not to mention beheadings, etc. FDR, known as a liberal, visited the present king's father, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, back in 1944 [or 1945?]. US proclamations about leading a "free world" were always belied by US support for the medieval, unfree Saudi kingdom. The US Treasury, guided by John Foster Dulles, made a set up back in 1951, when Truman, a Democrat was president, to allow ARAMCO to deduct from US corporate income tax the full amount of a so-called per barrel "income tax" [actually a royalty] charged by the Saudis for the oil produced by ARAMCO. This was done under the Foreign Tax Credit law. This was in effect a subsidy for oil purchases and the oil price --and an indirect form of foreign aid to Saudi Arabia, which thereby has probably gotten more US foreign aid than any other state over the years. Saudi money was going to Arafat's PLO back in the 1960s and more recently to the Hamas. US administrations have acted over and over to protect Saudi Arabia's reputation. Does anyone remember the massacre by Saudi police of 800 [or 1500 or only 400?] Iranian pilgrims to Mecca in the summer of 1987? The US press op ed pages were full of columns defending this massacre [They hadda do it!]. In my view, some of the criticism of the Moore movie comes from those who don't want the US-Saudi alliance to be exposed. Moore came close but didn't go far enough, since it's silly to blame that relationship all on Bush Jr or Sr. [see John Blair and Leonard Mosely on Saudi oil]


Elliott Aron Green - 7/8/2004

Gil Troy does give Moore some credit. Now, while I have not seen it, the film presents true events that may or may not coherently prove anything about Bush. But I, as an Israeli, am most interested in what he shows about the USA-Saudi relationship. Here I feel that Moore does not go far enough. Certainly this relationship did not start with Bush. It goes back to the 30s after the British had helped the Saudi clan --originally ruling central Arabia [Nejd]-- to take over the Hijaz [western Arabia, location of Mecca], ejecting the Hashemite family from there in the 1920s. The US has always treated the Saudi kingdom with kid gloves, especially in view of the strict, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish legal system and the jihad education in Saudi schools, not to mention beheadings, etc. FDR, known as a liberal, visited the present king's father, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, back in 1944 [or 1945?]. US proclamations about leading a "free world" were always belied by US support for the medieval, unfree Saudi kingdom. The US Treasury, guided by John Foster Dulles, made a set up back in 1951, when Truman, a Democrat was president, to allow ARAMCO to deduct from US corporate income tax the full amount of a so-called per barrel "income tax" [actually a royalty] charged by the Saudis for the oil produced by ARAMCO. This was done under the Foreign Tax Credit law. This was in effect a subsidy for oil purchases and the oil price --and an indirect form of foreign aid to Saudi Arabia, which thereby has probably gotten more US foreign aid than any other state over the years. Saudi money was going to Arafat's PLO back in the 1960s and more recently to the Hamas. US administrations have acted over and over to protect Saudi Arabia's reputation. Does anyone remember the massacre by Saudi police of 800 [or 1500 or only 400?] Iranian pilgrims to Mecca in the summer of 1987? The US press op ed pages were full of columns defending this massacre [They hadda do it!]. In my view, some of the criticism of the Moore movie comes from those who don't want the US-Saudi alliance to be exposed. Moore came close but didn't go far enough, since it's silly to blame that relationship all on Bush Jr or Sr. [see John Blair and Leonard Mosely on Saudi oil]


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 7/5/2004

I did find it interesting, thank you for the article.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/5/2004

Anothr bit on America's answer to Leni Riefenstahl.

http://www.davekopel.com/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/5/2004

Thought you guys might find this interesting. A man of the left who finds fault with Moore.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-3-1988.jsp#


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 7/5/2004

One of my biggest problems with the article is not the article itself, but the title (which I understand is not chosen by the author, but by the editors of HNN). Why is it that Bush critics should be "ashamed" to endorse this film, even if Moore uses classic tactics of propaganda in his message?

Rush Limbaugh has said that in order to be a liberal, you have to hate the military and hate the United States, accuses Democrats of being communists who love Saddam Hussein, and ascribes every wild fanatic on the left as being representative of the Democratic party, and yet not only do Bush supporters endorse him, but prominent Republicans appear on his show quite often.

Sean Hannity routinely makes inflammatory comments about Democrats, accusing them of wanting our troops killed and willing to harm the American people to attain power, and then accusing them of being full of hate (there is an irony in such a charge coming from him, if anyone listens to his show). And yet he has a number of prominent Republican (and sometimes even Democratic!) guests on his show!

These are two example of too many to name people whose rhetoric is so inflammatory, so accusatory, and full of such vitriol and lies, and yet whose support from many on the right are unwavering.

Endorsing this film, or any film or book or person, does not tie you to everything thing said and done in it. It means you are recommending it to others, nothing more. Many of the images of Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and soldiers families are well worth seeing, as well as statements from Colin Powell and Condi Rice saying that Iraq was well contained back in 2000, and numerous other insightful moments of the movie.

Of course, some conservatives will accuse supporters of this film to be in cahoots with Moore, just as they accuse "French-looking" (Limbaugh's term) Kerry to Saddam Hussein. If liberals are using Moore's movie as a political tool, conservatives are doing the same. Love it or hate it, let us not descend into hypocrisy that somehow makes endorsing a Bush-bashing film into something unusual in American politics. Given the endorsement by Bush supporters of things that make Moore look like a tame neutral observer, Bush critics have nothing to be ashamed of in endorsing this movie.


Bill Heuisler - 7/5/2004

Derek,
The article is about how Bush critics should be ashamed of Moore's asinine propaganda. Take a stand. Are you a Bush critic? Are you ashamed of sloppy thinking? Do you have a position or have you adopted your usual fuzzy, non-aligned tactics? You say you don't like Moore, yet he has a point? Where? Black victims in Florida are not Bush's fault, "though some things they did had that effect". Exactly what things Derek? Like you said, "let's have the common courtesy of relying on evidence". What "things"?

Further, your trite comments about our allies and our enemies attempts a specious point and fails even that. Attacking Soviets? Notice we didn't attack the Soviets. Atta was an Egyptian. Should we attack Cairo? Saddam tried to kill an American President, but the Iraq war is wrong? The first faulty point of F9-11 is the suspect Bush-Saudi connection. And oil pipelines and stealing elections make great drama. But what about the truth?

Another thing, you can't seem to post more than two comments without mentioning your "published" record. Moore, WC Fields, and even Cher have published records, but it's the content and worth that counts. Get over yourself, take a position and back it with facts.
Bill


Johnny Ramburg - 7/4/2004

It is odd that the media and people on this page seem to be holding Moore to a higher standard than the President himself. Bush and co. have said:

*There was no doubt about Saddam's WMD

*There were significant links between Hussein's regime and al queda

*Saddam refused to let U.N. Weapons Inspectors into the country before the war

Bush's supporters seem to find more fault with Moore for insinuating and implying things that they believe to untrue than with Bush and co's justifying the invasion of a sovreign nation with falsehoods.


Bill Heuisler - 7/4/2004

Derek,
You wrote,
"Thousands of voters were kept off the rolls, disproportionately those were African American. Moore goes for the simplistic, monocausal explanation if what everyone here is saying is accurate. I do not buy such an explanation..."


You also write, "I do not think the Bush machine was out there saying "how can we disfranchise blacks," It is possible to dismiss Moore as well as to dismiss many of his critics."

I've given you facts to refute Moore. Please respond.
Bill


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/3/2004

And what's not true:

http://www.spinsanity.org/columns/20040702.html


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 7/3/2004

Bill,
1) "This post is about Moore's movie and his patently false attempts to portray President Bush as complicit, before and after the fact, of 9/11."

I believe the accusation was that Bush was derelict prior to 9/11. I do not agree with this at all, but I am curious as to why you believe that it is "patently false." It is not so. I believe it is wrong to blame the president since the warnings were so vague and the attention of the country elsewhere, but you make it sound as if any contrary conclusion is obviously wrong.

In other words, Moore has his beliefs and he defends them in his film. Your disagreement of those beliefs does not justify dismissing his conclusions out of hand. Furthermore, I believe a very strong case could be made about Bush's dereliction of commend after 9/11, as has been documented in numerous books on the subject, such as Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," in which the administration almost immediately leaps to attacking Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan.

2) "And Afghanistan was supposedly all about an oil pipeline."

Again, you are disputing a claim that Moore never makes. There is no mention in the film that we went into Afghanistan because of an oil pipeline. Only the charge that our decisions about Afghanistan, having made the decision to go to war (including who to name as president) were influenced by said pipeline.

3) "Also," you state, "we're discussing Moore's misguided attempt to portray the Florida Republican Party disenfranchising blacks when every County with ballot problems in 2000 was controlled by Democrats, purged by Democrats and staffed by Democrats."

Once again Bill, you are attacking a straw man argument, rather than Moore's. Moore does talk about the 2000 election, but he does not make such blanket claims. He cites Kathleen Harris and Jeb Bush, but backs up his charge with specific evidence, such as the fact that they were responsible (intentionally or not) with purging the rolls of people who did nothing wrong.

You seem to very much want to make Moore into a tool of the Democratic party. In fact, if you read his work, you would know that Moore has a great deal of contempt for Democrats for rolling over too often and voting with Republicans. This is why he choose to endorse and campaign for Nader in 2000 and not Al Gore.


Derek Charles Catsam - 7/3/2004

Bill --
I mistyped on the "Bush ties with 9-11" comment and should have said "Saudis" instead of 9-11. My mistake.
As for missing the point becoming my signature, please. It's a cute ad hominem, but it means nothing. We could rehash all the old debates, but why bother? I "miss the point" from platforms you can only dream of. I mistyped, is what I did. And I AM disquieted by the fact that we maintain alliances with countries that are clearly our enemies out of expediency. A war on terror that does not go after the Saudis or the Syrians is like a war on communism not going after the Soviets.
Once again, Bill, you do not decide what is or is not on topic. it might help if you read the article in question. Paragraphs 4,5 and 6 are explicitly about the Saudi question. The Saudi ties are a huge part of Moore's film, from what I understand. I am not a Moore fan -- I think he's a blowhard ideologue with no sense of perspective and less integrity. If I want that sort of thing, I can read your posts on HNN for free. But if I decide to comment on the Saudi aspect of this question, it is not off topic. It is possible to dismiss Moore as well as to dismiss many of his critics.
As for assuming about what I agree and do not agree on, let's have the common courtesy of relying on evidence, not speculation. Thousands of voters were kept off the rolls, disproportionately those were African American. Moore goes for the simplistic, monocausal explanation if what everyone here is saying is accurate. I do not buy such an explanation. I do not think the Bush machine was out there saying "how can we disfranchise blacks," though some things they did had that effect, as did some things that Democrats at the local level did. People who offer simplistic answers are either simpletons or they are naked partisans. I suspect that Moore is both. Further, my published record of support for war against Afghanistan and a case for war (albeit handled differently) against Saddam can be found all over the place, not least of which being many places on HNN. Again, Bill, common courtesy. If you are going to whine about Moore's distortions and then immediately distort my record, you're pissing away what little credibility you have left on the comment boards. I know it's your lone place to vent, but how about a modicum of integrity, even if you just fake it?
As for whether our being allies with the Saudis or not changes anything, I'll let others decide. I think alliances matter. I think alliances with countries that sponsor terrorism when we are in a war against terrorists matter. I realize that I did not run this by you, Bill, to have you determine whether it is germane to your narrowly conceived conception of the discussion, but if you do not think our ties with the Saudis are part of the larger question, and if you think that saying so automatically makes one supportive of Moore's foolishness, then I guess one of us is missing the point. But it ain't me.
dc


Bill Heuisler - 7/3/2004

Derek,
Disquieted about the Saudis? Right. We should've attacked Ar Riyad from our base there. Perhaps hold OBL family members hostage and put Ambassador Prince Band-something on trial? "Bush family ties with 9-11," Derek? Where?
Are you having problems? Missing the point has become your signature.

This post is about Moore's movie and his patently false attempts to portray President Bush as complicit, before and after the fact, of 9/11. You evidently agree. Why?
And Afghanistan was supposedly all about an oil pipeline. Also, Derek, we're discussing Moore's misguided attempt to portray the Florida Republican Party disenfranchising blacks when every County with ballot problems in 2000 was controlled by Democrats, purged by Democrats and staffed by Democrats. I'll assume you agree again. Ridiculous. But none as ridiculous as your attempt to change the subject to whether Saudis are our allies and how that rather obvious bit of fluff means (or changes) anything.
Bill


Ken Melvin - 7/3/2004

My bad. They were meant as a compliment to Yehuda in appreciation for his shining the light of truth on the matter.


Thomas Lau - 7/2/2004

Yehuda,
The remarks from Ken wasn't very nice. I want to thank you for the time spent on your research. What you have presented are non-manipulated facts. The truth is not everyone welcome the truth. Keep up the good works!


Thomas Lau - 7/2/2004

Christopher,

I like your objective and balance approach. I agree with your statement that "even non-propagandist films are biased". To deny it is to deny human nature. I also agree with the statement "audiences need to be critical thinkers, regardless of to whom they're listening."

I curious about your view on Fahrenheit 911.

Thomas


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 7/2/2004

Bill,
My point is that Moore is correct, and his facts are straight. The fact that you do not share his conclusions does not change that. Of course he was trying to imply a nefarious connection between Bush and the Saudis, and he makes a rather weak case, I might add. You may complain about his insinuations, certainly, but I have found little in the film that can be factually refuted.

Your attempt to tie Moore to the Democrats is natural, as many conservatives have in recent weeks (he does make a far easier target than actual Democrats). However, it is pointless. Not once in the entire film did Moore say the name "John Kerry." Not once. Frankly, it is not "surprising" nor "pathetic that a major US political movement like the Democratic Party has allowed itself to become allied with" a best selling author and successful Oscar-winning film maker, to the extent that you think they are allied (I would remind you that Moore campaigned vigorously for Nader in 2000, not Gore).

If the Democrats loose in November, I can almost assure you, it will have nothing to do with this film.

Finally, I must add that I will take Moore any day of the week over Bob Jones University, Michael Savage, or Ann Coulter (to name a few). Of course, I do not believe that the Republican party is "allied" with any of those simply because they support Bush. But if you do (and I assume you do given your presumption about Moore), I can only assume that you find it "surprising and pathetic."


Derek Charles Catsam - 7/2/2004

Bill --
So wait, are you really so blatantly supportive of your candidate that you are not even a little disquieted by the fact that we stiull consider the Saudis our allies? All of your brutal posts heretofore notwithstanding, it was all partisan puffery if you actually consider the Saudis to be our allies and don't wonder at least a little if Americans have not died as a result of our chumminess with them. And it is not as if Moore (for whom I have little use) is the first person to note the Bush family ties with 9-11. I also can not but help but be a little skeptical of how suddenly you take at face value a Clarke assertion given how you have criticized him in the past. Oh wait -- this one bolsters your argument. We are a selective little reader, aren't we?
dc


Bill Heuisler - 7/2/2004

Adam,
Whether they were interviewed isn't Moore's point and you know it. He spent a good part of the movie trying to show an unhealthy (unpatriotic?) connection between the Saudis and the Bush family. His point-clincher was supposed to be the release of the Saudi OBL family after 9/11.

But the FBI told the 9/11 Commission that they checked, vetted and interviewed those OBL family members who could be deemed a threat. Apparently few were. This is a false issue because in reality there was no US carelessness and Richard Clarke takes full responsibility for releasing the OBL family. Clarke makes no mention of orders from the White House and stated to the 9/11 Commission that he released OBL's people on his own authority as NS advisor.

Surely you'll agree it's surprising and pathetic that a major US political movement like the Democratic Party has allowed itself to become allied with, and misrepresented by, such buffoonery. They will suffer for it in November.
Bill


Bill Heuisler - 7/2/2004

Mr. Johnson,
Good question. Either you're distorting to defend Moore's distortions, you haven't been paying attention, or you just don't understand the conception of reality.

1)You repeated how "Florida purged tens of thousands of African Americans from the voting rolls..." Now reality.
The State didn't purge, local Counties had jurisdiction.
In fact - according to Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Commissioners Thernstrom, Redenbaugh and Kirsanow - 24 County Supervisors who purged voting rolls were Democrat - one was an Independent. Both CRC and Justice finally said no "Floridians were intentionally denied their right to vote during the November 2000 election."

2)You defend Moore's slurs about President Bush and the OBL family release after 9/11. But Richard Clarke (The Hill 5/26/04) said he released OBL family members on 9/20/01 and would do it again. He repeated this yesterday.

Please pay attention to reality. You might change your opinion.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 7/2/2004

"In his haste to accuse his President and his country he insults the intelligence of the informed - and takes advantage of those not paying sufficient attention."

Bill,
Both you as well as Ms. Kazmier are incorrect in accusing Moore of making that (false) claim that they were never interviewed. In point of fact, he never did, nor does he blame President Bush personally, saying in the film that it was "the White House." Since Clarke is a member of the administration, which is commonly all invluded in the term, "the White House," I see no deception here.

Moore does "argue -- accurately -- that the bin Ladens and other Saudis were whisked out of the country without being subjected to a serious investigation. But the sequence" of the movie where he discusses this incident, Moore sums up the "account of the bin Laden evacuation by saying, "So a little interview, check the passport, what else?" "Nothiing" the person responds.

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latestnews/f911facts/


Bill Heuisler - 7/2/2004

Ms. Kasmier,
Ignorance? Where?
As to "why members of bin Laden's family were hustled out of the country without being interviewed..."
Please look up the 5/26/04 issue of The Hill, Congress' official newspaper, for the following:

Richard Clarke, who served as President Bush’s chief of counterterrorism, has claimed sole responsibility for approving flights of Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family, from the United States immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In an interview with The Hill yesterday, Clarke said, “I take responsibility for it. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I’d do it again.”

Most of the 26 passengers aboard one flight, which departed from the United States on Sept. 20, 2001, were relatives of Osama bin Laden, whom intelligence officials blamed for the attacks almost immediately after they happened. Clarke’s claim of responsibility is likely to put an end to a brewing political controversy on Capitol Hill over who approved the controversial flights of members of the Saudi elite at a time when the administration was preparing to detain dozens of Muslim-Americans and people with Muslim backgrounds as material witnesses to the attacks.

So, isn't this particular question rather ignorant?
In his haste to accuse his President and his country he insults the intelligence of the informed - and takes advantage of those not paying sufficient attention.
Bill Heuisler


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/1/2004

You are favorably impressed precisely to the extent that you take Moore's assertions at face-value. The ONOCAL pipeline was pushed by Clinton's supporters, and by Clinton as a result, with the result that it was official Clinton policy not to butt heads with the Taliban -- you know, the guys shielding Osama bin Laden.

Earlier tried to link the Bush senior to the Carlyle Group, and from there to nefarious deeds -- until it turned out that Bush wasn't even on board a Carlyle SUBSIDIARY until after the "nefarious" deed. Moore repacked his thesis as a Cheney/Halliburton attack. Anybody can connect the dots through the game known as six degrees of separation. I would wager that with a little research I could connect Moore to Sadaam in six moves.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/1/2004

You are favorably impressed precisely to the extent that you take Moore's assertions at face-value. The ONOCAL pipeline was pushed by Clinton's supporters, and by Clinton as a result, with the result that it was official Clinton policy not to butt heads with the Taliban -- you know, the guys shielding Osama bin Laden.

Earlier tried to link the Bush senior to the Carlyle Group, and from there to nefarious deeds -- until it turned out that Bush wasn't even on board a Carlyle SUBSIDIARY until after the "nefarious" deed. Moore repacked his thesis as a Cheney/Halliburton attack. Anybody can connect the dots through the game known as six degrees of separation. I would wager that with a little research I could connect Moore to Sadaam in six moves.


Ken Melvin - 7/1/2004

Out out damn truth! Shame on Moore and shame on Yehuda.


Yehuda Katz - 7/1/2004

What follows is a draft of some research I've done into the basic claims of Moore's F911. In particular, I've examined his themes, rather than particular scenes, and when possible, provided additional evidence for his theses.

*Lack of preparedness or concern for a terrorist attacks*

In August 2001, President Bush received a memorandum entitled “Bin laden determined to attack inside the United States” (Rice testimony before 9/11 commission and released PDB)

During that same month, Bush was on an extended vacation (raw video footage and numerous news reports).

"Mr. Ashcroft told you that he did not want to hear about this [terrorism] anymore," Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste asked on April 13. "Is that correct?"
"That is correct," Pickard replied (interim FBI director Pickard).

Funds for counterterrorism ops denied: “During the summer of 2001, the FBI submitted what I believe was our 2003 budget proposal. That proposal came back and the additional funds that we were looking for on counterterrorism were denied. I spoke to the attorney general briefly and asked him if I could appeal it and he told me, yes, I could; put it in writing. I had our finance and counterterrorism people put together an appeal of that decision. And then on September 12th, I read the denial of that appeal from the attorney general” (Pickard testimony before 9/11 commission)

A Justice Department’s May 10 memorandum did not include “terrorism” as a top priority (Pickard testimony).

*Iraq more important to Administration than Afghanistan*

There was not a single cabinet level meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001.

Richard Clark penned a memo on September 18 stating that no link existed between Iraq and 9/11. It was returned to him labeled “please update and resubmit” (Richard Clark on 60 minutes, confirmed by NSC number two Steve Hadley, and confirmed by 60 minutes).

George Bush made numerous statements similar to, “You can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror” (video clip in Fahrenheit 9/11 and archives).

In 1999, when the Clinton administration learned of a potential Al Qaeda threat, there were daily meetings between the heads of the FBI, CIA, and AG to discuss findings. There were no such meetings even after the August PDB entitled “Bin laden determined to attack inside the United States” (Richard Clark on 60 minutes).

The United States placed 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared with roughly 140,000 troops in Iraq and allowed tyrannical warlord control over most of Afghanistan in exchange for help fighting the Taliban (various AP and Reuters reports).

“Warlords terrorise the population with a "climate of fear" and religious fundamentalism is rising in Afghanistan 18 months after U.S. forces toppled the ruling Taliban regime, a rights watchdog says” (Reuters from Human Rights Watch Report).

Rumsfeld: “Well Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq and we all said, 'No no, al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.' Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well there are lots of good targets in lots of places but Iraq had nothing to with it.'” (Richard Clarke on 60 minutes).

Wolfowitz: “I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden. We have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz the Deputy Sec'y of Defense said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.' And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the Untied States in eight years,' and I turned to the Deputy Director of [the] CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' and he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'” (Richard Clarke on 60 minutes).

*Bush repeatedly ignores the interests of soldiers*

Bush intends to cut “imminent danger pay.” This plan fails due to massive outcry (editorial in Army Times, a mostly conservative paper).

Bush’s budget for 2004 raises some military pay, but caps raises for common low-paying positions E-1, E-2, and O-1 (2004 Executive Budget).

Bush’s 2004 budget cuts military construction by 1.5 billion despite a need to improve military housing, hospitals and other facilities (2004 Executive Budget).

*The Bush administration was interested in the Afghanistan pipeline*

“To this effect, the US diplomat, on behalf of her government, highly appreciated Turkmenistan's intention to build energy and transport corridors along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route” (Turkmen State News Service Agency / June 12, 2002).

*There were undisclosed connections between Bush-related businesses and newly appointed officials in Afghanistan*

Ahmed Karzai worked as a consultant for Unocal’s pipeline project in the ‘90s. “One of Unocal's most able executives in Afghanistan during this period was Hamid Karzai” (India Express / June 17, 2002).

The second-largest company in Unocal’s consortium of pipeline proponents included the “Saudi Delta Oil Company” (various). With Unocal’s withdrawal from the project in 1998, the Saudi company is the largest stakeholder in the project, controlling about one-third of the consortium.

After taking command of Afghanistan, Karzai’s first destination was Saudi Arabia. “The Saudi newspaper Arab News quoted Saturday an Afghan diplomat in the kingdom as saying Karzai "chose Saudi Arabia as his first foreign destination in order to underscore the importance the Afghan leadership attaches to ties with the kingdom.” (Deutch Presse-Agentur / January 21, 2002).

Regarding the pipeline, Karzai asked Indian businesses to invest in Afghanistan. “Calling on Indian business and industry to come to Afghanistan if they wanted to make money, Mr. Karzai said that the law and order situation was conducive to investment” (Asia Beat).

Karzai signs the pipeline deal: "Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, the head of Afghanistan's transitional government, Hamed Karzai, and Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan signed a framework agreement on the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline in the Turkmen capital, Asgabat, on 27 December. The pipeline is to take Turkmen gas to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean, via Afghanistan." (Turkmen TV and various corroborating sources).

NOTE: I am not here arguing that the war in Afghanistan was only used to secure a pipeline. However, I am demonstrating indisputable, undisclosed, economic interests between the Bush administration and the Afghani pipeline deal DESPITE Unocal's leaving the arrangement.


Ken Melvin - 7/1/2004

Moore the artist is entitled artistic license. Some of us immediately saw through Bush. Using the artists eye, Moore is helping others to see right through the BS to the real Bush. I am sure it must be painful to those who have chosen to believe in Bush. It was painful to those of us who could but stand by and watch this GOP farce take place in America. Gingrich, Starr, then the Bush fiasco; at long last, we now know the republicans have no shame.


Michael Glen Wade - 7/1/2004

Actually, this comment confuses cause and effect. Moore's work is popular because there is ALREADY so much distress out there---over Clarence Thomas's vote deciding the election, over the Patriot Act, over tax cuts for the rich, over record deficits, over a misguided misleading invasion of Iraq, over Halliburton, just to name the more obvious concerns. Whatever one thinks of Moore's work, he did not generate those feelings, although he clearly shares them.


Leslie A. Terrill - 6/30/2004

"Predictably, the one grieving mother of an American soldier Moore shows is a saintly patriot whose son was anti-war and who herself rejects the war."

The "grieving mother" referred to in your article works at an agency to help people find jobs in an economically depressed area (Flint, MI). She believed that for her own children to find better educational opportunities, their only hope was to join the armed services. Her daughter served in Desert Storm. Her son could not have been "anti-war" as he voluntarily enlisted for service. It was only in his letter to her the week before he died that he expressed doubt about why he was there. The letter and his death led to his mother questioning this administration's policy for going to war.

"If any soldiers are pro-war, or any grieving parents are proud, one would never know from watching this film."

Mr. Troy does a great disservice to all the parents who are grieving for their lost children when he implies that some of them are not proud. They have suffered the greatest sacrifice possible. As for soldiers who are pro-war, there was considerable footage of young soldiers serving in Iraq who showed no signs of doubting what their duties were or shirking their responsibilities.

Mr. Troy, you should be ashamed for attempting the very same misrepresentation of which you accuse another.


Jim Zach schwartz - 6/30/2004

The point that that Mr. Troy misses is that Moore's work grows out of a long and honorable tradition of political satire. Like Johnathan Swift or Anatole France, Moore relies on hyperbole and other rhetorical devices to transform the targets of his satire, often the rich and powerful, into buffoons. I don't go to Michael Moore movies for fair and balance discussions of politics, nor do I read Swift's work to gain an accurate depiction of eighteenth century England. I find, however, that by taking liberties, these artists can often expose larger truths.


pjshon pissed off liberal - 6/30/2004

Moore doesn't GENERATE hate among those taht are already informed. his message merely RESONATES with them.


pjshon pissed off liberal - 6/30/2004

you can't compare Moore to those idiot pundits because Moore is ALLOWED a certain level of artistic interpretation. he is, in fact, an artist. he has won artistic awards. artists therefore are given license to interpret in their own way. the same cannot be said for idiots like O'Reilly et al.


Dave Johnson - 6/30/2004

You write of the movie without having see the movie.


Dave Johnson - 6/30/2004

I wonder if you saw the movie?

You wrote, "Thus, the Florida Election 2000 debacle becomes a carefully-orchestrated Republican coup to disenfranchise African-Americans, rather than a comedy of errors starring nearsighted Democratic voters, incompetent Democratic designers of the infamous butterfly ballots, and ruthless politicos from both sides"

Moore talked about how Florida purged tens of thousands of African Americans from the voting rolls, so they couldn't vote in the election.


"9/11 becomes a carefully-orchestrated Republican coup to terrify Americans"

Nothing like this was in the movie.


"fight the lovely people of Iraq, rather than a story of Islamicist terrorist evil exploiting American"

Yes, he does make the point that Iraq had NOTHING TO DO with 9/11.


"his previous rationalizing softpedaling terrorism"

There was no "softpedaling terrorism" in THIS movie. His POINT was that instead of going after the terrorists, Bush diverted us into Iraq! If you kow anything at all about Moore, you know how angry he is about the attacks on us!

"Moore disdains the Saudis because he wants to tar the Bushies with a Saudi brush. He tendentiously lists ties, coincidental or not, between Bush relatives and Saudi Arabians, using guilt-by-association to suggest some unspecified complicity in murdering 3,000 people."

Huh? Where does he say Bush is responsible for 9/11? Why don't you actually SEE the movie before writing about it?

"arranged to fly Bin Laden family members home immediately after 9/11, without interrogating them, is also misleading. Officials insist some were interrogated. The airplanes flew after some commercial flights had resumed, making the treatment less special."

"SOME"? "Less special"? I think you just made Moore's POINT here. What Moore says about this is imagine if Clinton had arranged to have the McVeigh family flown out of the country after the OKC bombing. What would the Republicans have done?

Please, go see the movie. You might come out with a different opinion.


Lisa Kazmier - 6/30/2004

You ought to heed the other comment about this "review" doing what is claimed Moore does. I've seen the film and while I think the criticisms have at least some merit, you should judge by viewing, not from ignorance. The questions asked by Moore are certainly quite relevant, including why members of bin Laden's family were hustled out of the country without being interviewed. In light of the kid gloves treatment over a Syrian accused terrorist, the question ought to be asked. And that's hardly the only question.


Christopher K. Philippo - 6/30/2004

The definition "the documentary has connoted the film media vehicle used by unbiased purveyors of fact" doesn't seem like a very good definition to me. It might be a dictionary definition, or perhaps not, but it doesn't sound like one anyone involved with film past or present would use....

"You are mistaken to think Mr. Moore's alleged documentary is in accordance with the historical use of the medium. In the past the available information ends up doing the 'pushing', not the director’s prejudices." I'd have to disagree with this too. Directors' prejudices may vary widely from little to great, but they are there. The choice of subject matter, and what to show in the documentary and what not to show are just a couple obvious ways directors' prejudices are given. I'm also not sure just how far back you mean by "historical use of the medium" and "in the past." Silent-era "actualities" might be the closest thing to a "film media vehicle used by unbiased purveyors of fact," but even there, one doesn't know how the director might have influenced the situation prior to the camera starting to roll, and again, the subject matter and shot framing were chosen....

Moore's film certainly belongs in the documentary's sub-genre of propaganda films. But again I would emphasize that even non-propagandist films are biased. One would be hard-pressed, I think, to call e.g. Le Peuple migrateur (2001) AKA Winged Migration a propaganda film, but it definitely has biases.

Documentaries also aren't necessarily completely factual either, which goes back to at least Nanook of the North (1922). That said, I think documentarians should be candid if not in their films then certainly in interviews and DVD supplemental materials, etc. about the way their documentaries were made - whether names were changed, recreations used, etc. Additionally, audiences need to be critical thinkers, regardless of to whom they're listening.

I haven't seen Fahrenheit 911 yet, although I think I probably will.


Charles Lee Geshekter - 6/30/2004

I skimmed parts of Michael Moore's autobiography, *Stupid White Men* and based on the reviews of his latest film will skip it entirely.

Gil Troy's analysis is compelling and persuasive. Its take on Moore's *Fahrenheit* recalls a conversation Boswell had with Dr. Johnson.

Boswell asked Dr. Johnson if London Bridge was worth seeing.

Johnson replied: "It's worth seeing, but not worth going to see."

Ditto Moore's latest abomination.


Jessica Charlene DeForest - 6/30/2004

Farenheit may be a polemic, but Moore has been quite upfront about that. Although I haven't been a Moore fan in the past, I was favorably impressed by this movie.

Mr. Troy does what he accuses Moore of doing when he critiques the film and charges that even Bush haters should disapprove of it. Moore nowhere claims or even implies that the Bush Admin. orchestrated 9/11. Rather, he charges the current administration with using the event to further its own policy objectives -- something that seems to have been born out by the 9/11 commission (which Troy writes off without specifying why).

Troy also argues that the government did, indeed, interview "some" of the Saudis before letting them fly off. Well, which ones?

Similarly, Troy criticizes Moore for his selection of facts and witnesses, and then claims that the Florida election was merely a comedy of errors, giving no evidence at all for this claim. Although Moore doesn't put together a fully convincing case about the election, he does offer some evidence that has not previously been widely distributed.

No one should be convinced by Moore's case alone that the election was stolen, but I don't think that was his purpose. Rather, the election was one chapter in a broader narrative, which taken as a whole, makes a very convincing case that, if nothing else, Americans should delve more deeply into the questions surrounding not only the election, but also the "election" and presidency of what Ralph Nader called the "most Bumbling" candidate to come along in quite some time.

Sincerely,

Jessica DeForest


Michael Green - 6/30/2004

Folks, documentaries have pushed a point of view from day one. Today, we correctly honor Edward R. Murrow's dissection and vivisection of Joe McCarthy. Despite Murrow's best efforts, it was hardly objective. Murrow once said that if objectivity were perfect, we would balance the views of Jesus with Judas. I am not comparing Michael Moore with any of those mentioned. But all of this harping about Moore makes me wonder whether some of those who are criticizing him are more upset because:
1. he doesn't hold the same positions; or
2. he had the guts to demonstrate the duplicity of this administration in risking American lives, and few others did.
Indeed, in one interview, I believe on "Today," the interviewer asked Moore about his fairness. He said someone had to take the opposite position, considering how the media have let this administration get away with whatever it wanted. The interviewer quickly changed the subject. I think that some of Moore's critics would like to do the same.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/29/2004

1) "Given that you seem to know that Moore's, "film has a political agenda" and that "he wants it to influence the November elections" I suspect you would agree that his partisan advertisement would be subject to the prohibitions of McCain-Feingold."

I believe it is safe to say that films such as these were not in mind when the law was created. Nevertheless, there are legal implications of this film advertising with images of President Bush. Perhaps one could argue that since Moore's film is a for-profit commercial enterprise, it should be in a different category than a mere advocacy organization. Or perhaps the law should be re-written. In any event, at issue is NOT whether the film can be advertised, but whether Bush's image can appear on the advertisement. Frankly, I can see both sides of the issue and will support whatever position the FCC decides on.

2) "Moore has been as slippery as some of the posters to this forum on the question. One minute it is a documentary."

I don't believe the film can be categorized as anything other than a documentary, do you? Non-fiction is the closest broad category of films that I can think of. Moore has never retreated from his position (and that of the motion picture association) that his films are indeed documentaries, no less so than any other.

3) "After the deception is revealed, it is now just entertainment. One minute it is a political attack next it is only Michael's personal opinion."

As I say above, I have seen no deception in the categorization of the film. You seem to be accusing him of calling the movie many things while forgetting that the movie IS all of those things, as other documentaries are. The PBS recently aired a documentary about child prostitution, and the History Channel airs documentaries all the time. Many of these have some political agenda, whether it is to call attention to some social problem, or to criticize existing policy. These films are documentaries, and they are also entertainment.

Furthermore, is there ANY inconsistency in saying that it is both a political attack AND Morre's opinion? Are editorials in newspapers any different?

4) "His fibbing is as transparent as a child’s. Sorry, Moore is demonstrably dishonest and is regarded as such by reasonable people."

Actually, he is demonstrably misleading. There has been a great deal of debate over whether factual inaccuracies should be called lying (as Bush-critics allege) or misleading (intentional or not, as Bush supporters sometimes claim). It depends on who is making the accusation and who is being accused, I suppose.

However, thus far, I find your criticisms of the film to be unfair and without substance. Moore should not be accused of calling his film many things when the film is indeed many things.

For the record, there are many legitimate criticisms of Moore's film, which I credit the author of the article, Mr. Troy for making. He does indeed mislead, and in some instances perhaps actually lies. This deception only ends of hurting his credibility more than his comments already have. These are the real problems of the film, not whether he calls them documentaries or entertainment.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 6/29/2004

I find Moore absolutely no different from Limbagh and Hannity, and the string of other conservatives who have national platforms. They use deception, hyperbole, and slander to make their point and so does Moore (and as a listener to AM radio, I can assure anyone, their discussion of liberals is just as inflammatory).

All of that said, the only defense one can give of Moore is that he makes no secret of his intentions. That this film has a political agenda, he freely admits, saying he wants it to influence the November elections. No one is going to see this film believing that it is an objective analysis. The only effects this may have is to rally the people who already agree with him, OR rally those who already disagree with him. I see no other negative consequences of this film.


Michael Meo - 6/29/2004

Gee, Gil, I hope it does not come as too much of a shock to you, that "the art of intelligent, honest political discourse has truly degenerated."

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