July 13, 2004


The Globe and Mailís Simon Houpt attends a Michael Moore press conference:

Most of the foreign journalists love Moore. Many of them, like the Australian woman wearing jeans with a flowery pattern snaking down each leg, were there to throw him softballs about their own country's complicity in the war. Over the course of more than 90 minutes, Moore called on the people of Australia, Italy, England, Japan and the other countries that formed the "coalition of the willing" to exercise "regime change" against their leaders for backing Bush.

Who was that Australian journalist? Some floral clown from the ABC, most likely. Houpt continues:

While some of the journalists nodded their heads in keen agreement, his request got under my skin. It reflected a typically American arrogance -- his assumption that the war should be the primary issue for foreign voters simply because it's the primary issue for him. After all, Australian Prime Minister John Howard's approval rating is still very high, despite his commitment of troops to Iraq, since most Australians support his policies in other areas.

Remarkable. A foreign journalist with a broader, and more accurate, view of Australian politics than is possessed by most Australian journalists. Finally, unhappy at the docile questions presented to Moore, Houpt fires in his own:

I wanted to know why [Fahrenheit 9/11] didn't address the dangers of armed Islamic fundamentalism, obsessive anti-Westernism, suicide terrorists, and what Moore thinks would be the proper approach for the U.S. government to legitimately conduct itself in a fight against terrorism. After all, if you're going to criticize measures like the Patriot Act, wouldn't you want to offer an alternative?

Moore took a moment to compose his answer. "Night after night, we are hammered on our television networks and our cable news channels about the Islamic fundamentalists. We've seen it all, we've heard it all," he began, speaking unusually slowly and deliberately. "My job is to say: Maybe there's something else going on, maybe there's another piece of information you should have before making up your mind. Maybe you should see an opposing viewpoint once in a while in this country. The corporate media in this country, they've got control of it 24/7, 365 days of the year. My film is our humble plea: Can we have just two hours for our side?

"The second part of your question is: How do you fight a war against religious fundamentalists? Well, that's what we're doing in this country, and I hope we're successful on November 2."

It was a funny quip, and many of the journalists laughed and applauded Moore's response.

Journalists applauded Robert Mugabe, too. Journalists make excellent focus groups for lumpy, white-baiting bigots. Moore dodged the question, so hereís a reminder for him of actual religious fundamentalists:

Suspected Muslim guerillas sliced off the nose, ears and tongue of a 14-year-old girl in Indian Kashmir today, believing her to be an informer for the Indian army, police said.

Via Steven Den Beste.

UPDATE. In other Moore-related news, The Economist runs a way negative review of Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man:

Of the 18 repetitive essays that make up the book, five were written by outside contributors, seemingly chosen at random. Of these, one is a review of Bowling for Columbine, a previous Moore film, taken from an Australian newspaper. It ends on the intellectual high note, Go to hell, Mikey! This level of argument is hardly the sort of thing to sway anyone who does not already share the authors' maniacal dislike of Mr Moore. Indeed, their loathing leads them not only to ad hominem attacks but also to exaggerate Mr Moore's influence. After all, his audience is no bigger than those of his demagogic counterparts on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh.

A team of ex-Clinton spin monsters is currently issuing legal threats to The Economist on behalf of the authors.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 13, 2004 01:31 AM

But the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft Christians and Wolfowitz/Perle Zionists are far, far worse than some Muslims practicing their surgical techniques or obstacle flying. Our fundamentalists won't sign Kyoto.

Posted by: c at July 13, 2004 at 01:39 AM

A team of ex-Clinton spin monsters is currently issuing legal threats to The Economist on behalf of the authors.

Some pride themselves on double negatives, but Tim is a master of the zerotuple negative.

Posted by: ForNow at July 13, 2004 at 01:56 AM

Thanks for the link to the Houpt article; it's a good one. I'm glad he pointed out that Moore is evasive when he's asked point-blank questions (``How would YOU fight Islamic fundamentalism?'') Christopher Hitchens said the same thing - in a debate a couple of years ago he asked Moore, are you a pacifist? Yes or No? -- and never did get a straight answer out of him.

Orwell gave us the concept of Two Minutes' Hate; Mikey has expanded it to Two Hours' Hate and is revelling in it. Disgusting.

Posted by: Annalucia at July 13, 2004 at 02:02 AM

Mikey peddles the myth that the mainstream media are all part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, and those worthless journalists in attendance swallow it hook, line and sinker. How pathetic. One has to wonder who they think are all these right-wingers in journalism.

Not that I'm surprised, considering that study from a few weeks ago that found a majority of journalists thought the Iraq coverage wasn't anti-war enough.

Posted by: PW at July 13, 2004 at 02:12 AM

"Journalists make excellent focus groups for lumpy, white-baiting bigots."

Isn't it the Stockholm Syndrome writ large. Moore seems to be saying, the terrorists are not all that bad, they're just misunderstood, it's *we* who are bad, and we *deserve* all we get. And the journalists applaud.

Posted by: Sergio at July 13, 2004 at 03:20 AM

Dang these fascist, right-wing-conspiratorial, Jesus-zealot journalists! They just will ask the tough questions! Poor Michael, so beset.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 13, 2004 at 03:34 AM

Has anyone else noticed that Moore seems to be a racist? Look at the evidence: besides the title of this book, there's the inexplicable cartoon sequence in "Bowling for Columbine". He has some serious personal issues somewhere, and I expect we'll find out what they are before too much longer (though they're likely to be as gross as the physical presence).

Look, I'm not bashing the guy: my politics are non-aligned and (such as they are) probably fall closer to the left than the right. The fact is, from a critical perspective, I'm just appalled at how a "filmmaker" whose work is reminiscent of Ed Wood's in terms of shoddiness becomes such a critical darling. It's as if the director of Police Academy 5 was hailed as the next Welles.

And, let the die-hard Moore-ite beware: history is not on Moore's side. The pendulum inevitably swings back on these types (i.e., the McCarthys and others who are just a tad too self-righteous at best and are blatant exploiters of public unease [something we will always have in abundance in a democracy] at worst. They can't help but grow increasingly reckless as the power their noteriety gives them becomes too much of a temptation.

Watch out for a contemporary Joseph Welch to show up before too much longer. Until then, all hail the outrage of the couch potato!

Posted by: Steve at July 13, 2004 at 03:42 AM

Glad Houpt was there. A journalist who had balls and wasn't overcome with MM worship!

I absolutely LOVE how MM tried to respond to Houpt:
""Night after night, we are hammered on our television networks and our cable news channels about the Islamic fundamentalists. We've seen it all, we've heard it all," he began, speaking unusually slowly and deliberately. "My job is to say: Maybe there's something else going on, maybe there's another piece of information you should have before making up your mind. Maybe you should see an opposing viewpoint once in a while in this country.""

What MM, and others like him, fail to understand is that NO "opposing viewpoint" exists that could justify murdering people. Why bother looking for something (opposing viewpoint) that doesn't exist? It's the same as looking for an "opposing viewpoint" for Hitler. None existed.


I'm non-aligned also and agree with you. I can't understand Moore's popularity and how he's treated as a near-god by some.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 13, 2004 at 04:02 AM

I've come to the conclusion that mainstream journalists are frequently neither.

Oh, and that DenBeste link to the story of the 14 year old Kashmiri girl is wrong. I think it came from LGF. The original story linked by LGF is here.

Posted by: Carey Gage at July 13, 2004 at 04:45 AM

Er, am I the only one who hasn't witnessed this "night after night" being hammered by network news about the Islamic fundamentalists? At least in any pejorative sense.

Posted by: c at July 13, 2004 at 04:46 AM


Nope, you are not the only one. Where I am most of the TV, Radio, and Print media try and avoid mentioning Islamic Fundamentalists. Seems when the news media does mention Islamic anything, it's generally followed by how peaceful the Muslim religion is.

Our media have been *more* than even handed. They've bent over backward trying to be sensitive and very PC.

MM and his supporters inhabit a very different world from the rest of us. Perhaps they watched too much Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and never left the Kingdom of Make-Believe?

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 13, 2004 at 05:37 AM

Actually, though I absolutely loathe Moore and his politics, I'm in agreement with the Economist about "Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man". There are only a few good essays in it (the Bowling for Columbine and psychological portrait ones are excellent and very cutting). But the rest is endlessly repetitive -- points are restated in concurrent essays, muting their impact, and the excess of ad hominem attacks makes you almost sympathetic to the ugly fat f***.

I refuse to excuse the sloppiness of the authors for the same reason I won't even bother to see Fahrenheit -- the ends do not justify the means...

Posted by: Tim at July 13, 2004 at 05:49 AM

Gotta admit guys - that's a pretty funny line about ousting the religious fundamentalist in November - still, agreed, he could bash the Islamic extremists as much as he does the White House ... just wonder what good it'd do? There's already Fox News demonising the towel-head crazy people ... and they do - you don't see Iraqis or Palestinians on there unless they're jumping about in their crappy T-shirts burning something ...

anyway, for mine, I think fighting the war on terror by invading Iraq was wrong - it was the wrong way to fight Al Queda, who are the actual baddies of this real-life "movie", but then now we're in there and Saddam's no longer a threat, well that's obviously a good thing too, so the argument can cut it both ways.

I just think the war on terror has to fight Al Queda and Saddam wasn't a sufficient threat to the world, despite not obeying UN resolutions - Israel doesn't obey them and Bush was right when he called the UN irrevalent - but he's then wrong to cite 1441 as a reason to invade Iraq and kill all those people, especially when he and the boys wanted in a day or so after 9-11. I could have copped it had they just said they were going to invade Iraq because Saddam was a prick and they wanted to free the Iraqis and spread their oil about.

But the non-existant WMDs and links with Al Queda that Bush scared us all with in the State of the Union address ... that sticks in my craw - and the way politics works, and Moore's gonna play a part in that, is you can't lie to all of the people all of the time.

Now you're gonna be on the keyboard at me about Moore telling porkies and fair dues, in the past he's stretched things a tad, shall we say. Charlton Heston and the gun thing in Bowling was dishonest. He does reckon Fahrenheit's ... bullet-proof truth-wise, however ... so we should see it, even if you're against giving the man any cash, maybe get the DVD from Indonesia where they're 2 bucks.

Anyway ... Moore aint balanced ... and he's a bloody good leg-spinner ... but then so's this Administration. And i think it's going to come back and bite them on the arse royally.

Posted by: Steve at July 13, 2004 at 07:44 AM

He does reckon Fahrenheit's ... bullet-proof truth-wise, however

Steve, meet Christopher Hitchens.

still, agreed, he could bash the Islamic extremists as much as he does the White House ... just wonder what good it'd do? There's already Fox News demonising the towel-head crazy people

Hey, if Fox News is talking bad about Islamic fundamentalists, that means nobody else has to. Goodie! Gives all 'em angry leftists more time to do what they really want to do (bashing GWB)...I'm sure they'd get around to condemning Islamist terror any minute now, if Fox News hadn't cornered the market already. Yup, for sure.

I'm sorry, but what a truly idiotic line of thinking. There, that guy over there! He already spoke out against evil - shucks, I guess that's enough of an effort, let's go back to sucking our thumbs.

As for the numerous inaccuracies in your lengthy post, Steve, perhaps somebody else wants to waste some time and rebut them for the umpteen-thousandth time.

Posted by: PW at July 13, 2004 at 08:05 AM

>and the excess of ad hominem attacks

Perhaps you could detail a few of them? I've read the book and, title aside, noticed none. Neither did Instapundit, it seems.

Posted by: The Unkillable Grimace at July 13, 2004 at 08:23 AM

I'm in the process of reading "Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man", and I have yet to see an ad hominem (although some people argue the title is -- I don't agree with that). So, Tim, could could you point out the ad hominem attacks in the book?

Steve: What is your point? That you can't stand Left or Right and are In Between? Or that one mustn't blog whilst stoned?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 13, 2004 at 10:20 AM

Bongoman, are you familiar with the term "lying by omission"?

Posted by: Sortelli at July 13, 2004 at 11:06 AM

Hey Tim- i think I've tracked down the floral ABC idiot in question, accompanied by her sound recordist and cameraman.

Posted by: Habib at July 13, 2004 at 11:18 AM

As I told another weirdo in Jeff Jarvis's comments, citing Michael Moore's own website as evidence that he is "speaking the truth" is like Creationists claiming that the Bible saying the earth is only 6500 years old is true because it's right there! in the Bible! And it wouldn't be in the Bible if it weren't true! [Note: yes, I've edited this. Because I can!]

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 13, 2004 at 11:33 AM

"Journalists make excellent focus groups for lumpy, white-baiting bigots."

A resident wit at Free Republic calls Moore "Lumpy Riefenstahl".

Posted by: James Graham at July 13, 2004 at 01:21 PM

Nearly right, Habib. I think she was more likely one of the ageing flower-power hippies with tie-dye denims who inhabit the wimmin's collective called our ABC.

Posted by: Freddyboy at July 13, 2004 at 02:20 PM

Hey we hear so much about this big bad old Russ Limbaugh. But down here in Australia we don't have the honour of witnessing the antics of the man first-hand.

He must be real nasty right? Always calling for coloureds to be lynched and so on? Rousing his audience into a frenzy of mindless hatred? Spinning lies which confuse his simple-minded audience? Evading direct questions, assembling half-truths to create slanderous impressions...

Posted by: aussie at July 13, 2004 at 03:32 PM

Personally, I'm shocked to find that Rush's audience is as big as an Oscar winning film-maker's.

I haven't listened to him in a very long time, the entertainment value wore off pretty quick and whenever I disagreed with him on a subject I found his rants boorish instead of challenging (and Tim is far better at tweaking unsufferable lefties, anyway). Given that Rush was real big on smearing the Clintons with anything possible and wallowed in Vince Foster murder fantasies I can kinda understand comparing him to Moore. Except that when Rush does something stupid he gets thrashed instead of getting an Oscar.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 13, 2004 at 04:04 PM

A guy whose neural pathways are less littered with the detritus of underuse than anyone I know told me the other day that he thinks Moore is now the most significant voice on the Left. Period. Okay, I said he was smart; I didn't say he possessed any common sense. But the point is worth pondering. For every political centrist who publicly wonders why Moore is popular there is a hard Lefty absolutely agog at the tub-o-lard's genius. Personally, my views on Moore are less than flattering (a colonoscopy and an otoscopy would yield the same view in my opinion), but plenty of people think otherwise. Working out why - and then stopping it - will leapfrog human development by decades (possibly centuries). The world minus Moore and his fellow travellers could see travel at the speed of light, world peace, food for all, and a better looking populace by 2010.

And by the way, what's up at the Economist these days? Next they'll be running snippets from something like Gianna's blog under the heading of Economic Insights from Twids (that's Twats with Kids if you didn't know). The number of sensible, globally available publications has been reduced to about two.

Posted by: Hanyu at July 13, 2004 at 04:17 PM

Hanyu- Maybe because Moore has said what they all were previously unable to say because they were previously bound by some amount of logic or ethics? It must be liberating to drop those shackles and roll in the mud for awhile, even for otherwise reasonable people.

As a serious answer, Moore makes cheap plays on rhetoric and emotion. He's not done something new, he's just done it well enough that people who should know better are either cynically glad he's on their side or sucked into the nonsense.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 13, 2004 at 04:30 PM

I think your friend may deserve the benefit of the doubt. Note that he did not say Mr. Moore was the most *admirable* voice on the Left but merely the most *significant* voice on the Left. It does seem significant to me that so many Leftists would let a movie tell them what to think. *Sadly* significant but significant all the same. The need to combat adult illiteracy may be greater than I had thought. >_

Posted by: Small Pink Mouse at July 13, 2004 at 08:44 PM

What we who possess saner cognitive abilities are actually witnessing is the complete meltdown of a large part of what used to be the sane left. Their unmooring from logic and common sense has mostly to do with MM's coming out into the free market place of ideas and validating their most honest, most deep, and most pathologically held beliefs. The many Democratic politicians who have given their tacit approval and wholly uncritical support for MM and his "Bizzaro World" documentary have also given lefties who were once more grounded the cover they need to come out of the closet of sanity and lovingly embrace stupidity without the fear they once had of being labeled a total dumbass by their peers. After all when everyone who thinks as you do is now likewise wallowing in an illogical, unthinkinable, yet spiritually fulfilling stupidity it becomes difficult to realize that you are eating a shit sandwich, which you willingly paid for with good money, and that you relish the taste. Besides there are numerous examples of mass insanity by normally rational people. These examples range from cult induced murders and mass suicides to whole nations allowing a psychopath to lead them on worldwide killing frenzies leading utimately to their own destruction simply because their own warped beliefs and "feelings" were validated and justified by said psycopaths.

But the most hilarious, if not downright ironic, part of the whole Michael Moore saga is that he has become fabulously rich and a member of the wealthiest 1 per cent of Americans by donning the persona of an everyday working schlub and then taking money off of what now has to be the most feeble-minded amongst us, the committed left-winger. After all to lefties everyone is a victim of American conservatism, Christianity, and evil corportations. And now Michael Moore has bravely voiced that which the elightened left has always thought but was afraid to act upon because they were also unsure if the voices they hear inside their heads have been telling them the truth. Michael Moore has released them from these troubling doubts and allowed them rejoice in their deserved and righteous paranoia. Don't believe it? Just ask 'em. Jesus talk about a bunch of tools, sheesh.

Posted by: Harry at July 13, 2004 at 09:53 PM

Steve, have you not read a syllable about the discovery that Joe Wilson lied about the whole "yellowcake" thing?

In other words, yes, Iraq sought to get enriched uranium. From Niger. We presently have a couple tons we found lying about in Iraq over here in the States.

Wake the hell up!

Posted by: ushie at July 13, 2004 at 10:02 PM


"Their unmooring from logic and common sense..."

LOL! A good if unintentional pun!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 14, 2004 at 12:40 AM

I challenge any true Moore disciple to read this and still hold fast to their belief that F9/11 is factually based.

Posted by: Brent at July 14, 2004 at 01:04 AM

"Given that Rush was real big on smearing the Clintons with anything possible and wallowed in Vince Foster murder fantasies..."

Actually, no. Limbaugh goes out of his way to make fun of the conspiracy loons; his recent comment that some have latched onto as "proof" that he supports those loons was a joke, as anyone who bothered to actually listen to the audio could hear.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at July 14, 2004 at 04:53 AM

"I challenge any true Moore disciple to read this and still hold fast to their belief that F9/11 is factually based."

Believe me, they do. I have posted that URL and other debunkings many times and they just post Moore's URL and say "he's refuted all this." Or they say "I don't believe everything Moore says but he is asking questions that need to be asked." I have seen very intelligent and not particularly left-wing people fall for his shit. It's scary.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 14, 2004 at 06:13 AM

PS Here's an example from an email from last week. This woman is a friend of mine. She's basically "politically progressive" but not loony:

"OK, I've read the links. Thanks for providing them. I found them
interesting but not one of them moved me or provided any information to really debunk anything Moore says. . . .
I'm not going to quote the others back. These links just don't sway me. They are about semantics and interpretation; the authors clearly just don't like Moore. So they say "well, he's not lying, exactly, but he's editing out some stuff we think is important." That may be true. As I said, I have come to expect doublespeak from our politicians. At worst, Moore is doing what is done so well by politicians. It's aggravating to Bush supporters to see this stuff on screen. I can just hear the writers of those articles sputtering as they watched the movie. But all I can tell from the links you provide is that people don't like the way Moore edits the movie (and that, according to their supporters, people who question Bush are obviously liberal, anti-American, and should just be called names and dismissed). What he presents is sensationalized facts. It's spin, but it works. "

I despair.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 14, 2004 at 06:24 AM

If you read nothing else , read the link below.
it is not only the press that are PC to the point of being suicidal.
This is what PC , the SMH, the ABC, and the libs have realised in its obsessive multiculturalisn in Sydnay.
The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime in Australia

...In the early 1980s, as a young detective I was attached to the Drug Squad at the old CIB. I remember executing a search warrant at Croydon, where we found nearly a pound of heroin. I know that now sounds very familiar; however, what set this heroin apart was that it was Bekker Valley Heroin, markedly different from any heroin I had seen. Number F.....

Posted by: davo at July 14, 2004 at 07:04 AM

Yehudit, yeah that email is worthy of much despair.

All sorts of examples of Moore's tactics could be invented in a "legal" sense where, if a person tried them, would find themselves charged with perjury.

Another example could be the following common situation, first told as it actually happened:

"I saw my friend Jim last night at a bar and we grabbed a table. While we were chatting his coworker Sally came in with her boyfriend. Sally saw us and came over to our table while her boyfriend talked with his buddies. After a few minutes Jim left and about that time Sally her boyfriend walked out together too."

Then told using "Moorian Spin"

"I was at the bar the other night and saw my friend Jim. He appeared a little nervous about something and then I saw why! It turns out his coworker Sally was there too! A bit later he excused himself with some lame excuse about going home and sure enough Sally left about the same time. I don't think Sally's boyfriend knew Jim was at the bar with Sally last night, as if!"

But, you know, it's just spin.

Posted by: Brent at July 14, 2004 at 08:32 AM

Limbaugh goes out of his way to make fun of the conspiracy loons

I'm willing to take your word on that, Robert, but back when I listened to Rush in the 90's I got the impression that he took it seriously.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 14, 2004 at 03:11 PM

What bothers me the most about Michael Moore and his ilk is the assertion that because our bombs kill innocents we are no better than the terrorists. The assertion of moral equivalency. My father and his family escaped Poland after Hitler invaded with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Did the bombs the allies dropped kill innocents? You bet they did, and I feel for the families who lost members. Most of them knew, however, the difference between being targeted because of who they were and getting caught in a hard place by the effort that was trying to stop the very people that were tageting them. War is a messy business but as in that time, the Michael Moore types who were screaming about the abominations of the allies were never again heard from when time proved the right action had been taken. I wonder if anyone will follow up on Mr. Moore after time proves him wrong. Beyond that, If the man stands behind his work, why does he avoid defending it?

Posted by: Christopher Brzezicki at July 14, 2004 at 03:14 PM

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Posted by: andrea/minnesota at July 15, 2004 at 03:10 AM