Thursday, May 6, 2004

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (2)

News flash -- Michael Moore massages the facts

I'm shocked, shocked to discover that Michael Moore might have stretched the truth a wee bit in his latest kerfuffle with Disney. According to the Independent:

Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.

The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001.

In an indignant letter to his supporters, Moore said he had learnt only on Monday that Disney had put the kibosh on distributing the film, which has been financed by the semi-independent Disney subsidiary Miramax.

But in the CNN interview he said: "Almost a year ago, after we'd started making the film, the chairman of Disney, Michael Eisner, told my agent he was upset Miramax had made the film and he will not distribute it."

Nobody in Hollywood doubts Fahrenheit 911 will find a US distributor. His last documentary, Bowling for Columbine, made for $3m (£1.7m), pulled in $22m at the US box office.

But Moore's publicity stunt, if that is what is, appears to be working. A front-page news piece in The New York Times was followed yesterday by an editorial denouncing Disney for censorship and denial of Moore's right to free expression.

Well, it's a good thing that except for the NYT, the media didn't take the bait on this one. Oh, wait....

posted by Dan on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM


Michael Moore is what I would have called a few short years ago gleefully an albatross around the neck of liberals. He still is one, but I'm no longer gleeful about it. Like Nader he has allowed his personal delusions and radicalism to poison the very causes that he pretends to promote. By turning his work into pseudo-documentaries filled with lies instead of labeling them as the entertainment they are, he discredits the issues he attempts to "represent".

Until liberals can eject this kind of self-congratulatory and extremely destructive radical politics they'll be hampered compared to the Republican party.

Michael Moore can go right up there in the pantheon of liberal devils with Nader, Jackson, and the rest that the Democrats have sold their souls to.

posted by: Oldman on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

But it's not really a choice to 'eject' Moore any more than conservatives could 'eject' Limbaugh. In both cases, the intelligent members of that side recognize that it's just entertainment, and the less intelligent ones think of the person as a genuine hero for the cause.

If to a certain extent Democrats have sold their souls to the likes of Moore, it's because a Republican they hate is president - just like Limbaugh was a champion of Republicans in the Clinton years.

posted by: EH on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Isn't MM more like a hippo around the necks of liberals?

posted by: Barry D on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

PETA wants Moore to lose weight. Talk about eating your own! Are you with me on that? Give it up for the band!

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Dan, do you really think the media "took the bait," or do you think they know just as well as we do that Moore is completely full of crap, but parrot his assertions anyway because (a) it makes for good copy, and (b) it happens to align with their worldview?

posted by: Tim on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

And I am shocked, shocked, that a blogger would post most of an article without cross checking its quotes or fact checking its claims. The CNN interview can be read for itself, minus the spin of the British gossip rag, here.

posted by: chsa on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

I happen to think chsa crushes this post, but in any case I don't see what the date Moore realized Disney wanted to try to stifle his work has to do with whether Disney is trying to stifle his work, which is the issue.

posted by: rilkefan on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Though a slightly-right-of-the-middle-of-the-roader I enjoy Moore's films and his antics. So what if he's a sh*t disturber - more power too him. Everyone in public life is out to manipulate media to their own aims. I would be too if I was less insignificant. People hate anyone who brings up painful subjects - most even today are ST Agnew "silent majoritists" (robots/stepfords/goosesteppers/ostriches all/).

Moore will win because he can take the abuse (either ignores or revels in it) and turn it to his advantage (learned for the ex-long-suffering religious right).

- leroy

posted by: George Tirebiter on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

John Podhoretz has written a provocative column in this morning’s New York Post. In some ways, it reminds me of the Michael Moore flap. The author says the following:

“Democrats have been presuming that such people will vote for their party's candidate because they hate George W. Bush with such a passion that ousting him from the presidency will cause them to make common cause with the Democrats.

I think this analysis is wrong. Yes, they hate Bush with a consuming passion. But the truth is that they hate the United States of America more. They find the war in Iraq loathsome not because they are pacifists, but because the idea that America is a liberator nation sickens and enrages them.

And that's why Abu Ghraib might be John Kerry's worst nightmare: The anti-American Left is already seizing on these photos and the behavior of .001 percent of the Americans present in Iraq as evidence that the entire U.S. effort in Iraq is a moral catastrophe from stem to stern.”

Michael Moore’s movie may also help President Bush. He will likely entice the radical Left towards the waiting embrace of Ralph Nader. Moore and the Moveon people are not subtle and cautious with their rhetoric. Exaggeration and outright slander are the norm. After awhile, the middle of the road American voter sees through their shenanigans.

posted by: David Thomson on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

How is it that Michael Moore helps his cause by misrepresenting facts, as in Bowling for Columbine? Isn't the effectiveness of an argument wholly dependent upon the truth of the argument's assertions? It is for me.

And doesn't Disney have the right to publish or distribute whatever they deem appropriate by applying whatever standards they see fit? That isn't to say they are not censoring - certainly they are in this case - but don't they have a right to do so, or are they required to publish/distribute everything that comes their way?

posted by: steve on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

I don't see what the date Moore realized Disney wanted to try to stifle his work has to do with whether Disney is trying to stifle his work, which is the issue.

The original date of Disney's refusal is significant because it indicates that Disney refused the film when it was first offered. Unless Disney has become a common carrier obliged to distribute every film offerd to them, they are no more guilty of attempting to stifle this film than every other studio that took a pass.

In a related vein, and in response to a NY Times editorial accusing Disney of corporate censorship, I am accusing the Times of corporate censorship since they failed to print my politely worded letters to them. Are they not as obliged as Disney to print every darn thing that comes their way, or is only the Times allowed to have standards?

And for comic relief, - the Independent changed its headline from ""Moore admits Disney 'ban' was a stunt" to ""Moore accused of publicity stunt over Disney 'ban' ". The first headline went beyond the facts.

posted by: Tom Maguire on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

I think Moore is largely a self-promoter, but he is also a classic post-modernist. Truth is non-sense, power is everything and winning your point is all that counts. Like Oliver Stone, he has a point of view and presents it as an established fact. In my opinion, he has done enormous harm to the US because Western Europeans (especially young Germans) are reading his specious books as accurate depictions of American foreign policy.

I don't consider myself a "conservative" but how come liberals always talk about how conservatives have an overly simplistic view of the world, but they don't talk about how leftists are equally simplistic (albeit in the opposite direction. Liberals should distance themselves from people like Moore and Al Sharpton, but can't because too much of the base likes them. Of course, one could say the same about Republicans and idiots like Rush Limbaugh (who apparently essentially pooh-poohed the prisoner abuse story).

posted by: MWS on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

It concerns me little that Moore and his fans actually beleive his bullshit. A certain amount of such belief is laudible, it inspires people to go out and try and change the world.

Sooner or later they always find out the hard way that bullshit doesn't make you bulletproof.

posted by: Jos Bleau on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Ha, this is all too rich.

Of COURSE Moore is milking this for all it's worth and skewering Disney in the process. More power too him. Disney walked right into this one and it couldn't have happened to a nicer company. Now we are hearing all about Disney's special tax breaks in Florida and linkage to Jeb Bush. Read Carl Hiassen's "Team Rodent" or Richard Foglesong's "Married to the Mouse" for more on how this company operates in Florida.

Of course Michael Moore is an entertainer and the Rush Limbaugh of the left. So what? Would you rather live in a world where the likes of Limbaugh, Colter, Savage, and O'Riley are the only voices out there on the edge?

posted by: Kent on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Moore fits in perfectly with the media establishment. His lies and mischaracterizations are so blatent and unabashed, no-one bothers to fact check in (in the 'real' media anyway). Its the big lie theory which Moore is perfectly familiar with. Combine that with the inherint laziness in the press and you get Bowling for Columbine labeled as a documentary instead of a work of fiction. Here's the secret, journalists never bother to fact check the major points of a story anymore, they _may_ check contraversial details. So if you want something passed along uncritically, say it loud!

posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Meanwhile, the NYT is skeptical to the point of lying about Mel Gibson's publicity for The Passion...

But no liberal bias here, nosirree...

posted by: HH on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Oh Yeah,
And old Mel didn't play the I'm being persecuted for my beliefs card in promoting "The Passion." If I recall he publicised his troubles getting a distributor ad nauseum.
My concern in this thread is the baby and the bathwater problem. One bad point in a show/book/movie and it offers no good points or nothing in the show/book/movie is true? I just never knew there was so much perfection in humanity.

posted by: BD on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

This post and the 'independent' article it references are pretty off-track. Even if Moore is pulling a stunt to heighten visibility for his film, the NYT and NPR still have a totally valid story - Disney is censoring what it will release based on partisan content. Miramax, after all, is the company that released Kids. The fact that Moore will undoubtedly find another distributor doesn't change the significance of Disney's actions. Would they have released the film if Moore couldn't have found another distributor?

Maybe folks caught Moore in a contradiction, but there's no logical way to roll that up into a general condemnation of the 'liberal' press. But hey - don't let that stop you.

posted by: sebastien on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

I think this analysis from the FT on the subject is very good:


Freedom to film: Michael Moore teaches Walt Disney a lesson in marketing.

523 mots
May 7 2004
Financial Times

(c) 2004 The Financial Times Limited. All rights reserved

Michael Eisner must envy the self-promotion skills of Michael Moore. The chief executive of Walt Disney is under fire from shareholders over his stewardship of the company. Now he is suffering from an adept piece of guerrilla marketing by the leftwing documentary maker, who claims Disney is blocking distribution of his new documentary film, Fahrenheit 911.

The row has conveniently hit the press a few days before Mr Moore's film - which is heavily critical of George W. Bush - is shown at the Cannes Film Festival, where he has been nominated for a Palme D'Or award. Mr Moore, a constant fixture on cinema and television screens and bestseller lists, says "those in charge" are once again trying to silence him. If so, the establishment has clearly lost its touch.

There is no dispute about one fact: Disney does not want its subsidiary Miramax, the film's co-producer, to distribute Fahrenheit 911 in the US. Disney says that it told Miramax and Mr Moore last year that it did not want to be associated with a political polemic in a presidential election year. Mr Moore claims he was informed only recently and that Disney fears losing tax breaks in Florida, the state of Disney World and Governor Jeb Bush.

On the face of it, the incident is a lot of fuss about not very much. Disney's version of events is more plausible than Mr Moore's, who provoked a similar row with the publisher HarperCollins over his book Stupid White Men in 2001. He has never been prevented from distributing his works before, and it seems unlikely in this case. Nor will the fuss do him any harm in the eyes of a prize jury in France.

There is an inherent tension in Disney's ownership of Miramax, run by the independent producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Disney is a quintessential family brand, while Miramax nurtures directors such as Quentin Tarantino, whose latest film, Kill Bill Vol. 2, is full of sword-fights and violence. But Miramax has been a good investment for Disney and it would be harmed financially by a retreat into making only family films.

It would be worrying if big US media companies became so afraid of offending politicians that they spurned all controversial projects. Viacom already faces public pressure to crack down on indecency on its CBS television network after the singer Janet Jackson bared a breast during the Superbowl half-time show. US democracy would be damaged if self-censorship by companies narrowed the range of views expressed in the media.

In this case, there is not too much to fret about. Mr Moore has again pitched himself as a hero of the left, oppressed by the power of big corporations. The publicity will no doubt help him to strike a good distribution deal. But Disney should beware of restricting its output to keep its political nose clean. The more that America's mass media consolidate into a few big companies, the greater their responsibility to keep free speech a reality.

posted by: superfrog on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

This whole post and thread depresses me. It's been obvious for a good long while that the media takes press releases and publishes them as news with just cursory fact checking.

However, when this has been done with far more important areas (see Valerie Plame, WMD in Iraq, the last Medicare plan, over-optimistic job forecasts, the effect of tax cuts, etc. etc. etc), you guys are getting all worked up over a movie?

And when the press releases come out that Abu Ghaib was a response to Fallujah (even though the acts happened before Fallujah), that only sergeants and privates were involved, etc. etc., where will your outrage at our media be then?

You know, I've only started reading this blog regularly for about a week or so, but while Iraq is blowing up in our face and the SecDef is testifying about a stain so great on our honor it will take a generation to remove it, you guys are talking about Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson?

Jesus Christ, talk about Nero fiddling!


posted by: Kilroy Was Here on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

People, lets get one thing straight here -- Disney is censorng nothing. For whatever reason, it is choosing not to distribute a film. There are many other avenues of distribution open to Mr. Moore. Also, Disney has no "public trust" to distribute any one's films. And I find it laughable that the New York Times, which has very recently censored one of its own columnists in a very real way, has the nerve to attack Disney.

posted by: Ted Craig on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

That's not all he massages:

posted by: Kiljoy on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

moore is the best film maker ever and bush is the worst president ever. goto for moore bush rock opera from syberite

posted by: g stomberg on 05.06.04 at 10:31 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?