Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

An American Reporter Special Report
The Triumph of Michael Moore

Moore's Triumph

by Walter M. Brasch
American Reporter Correspondent
Bloomsburg, Pa.

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- Much of the establishment press has been especially critical of Michael Moore. In the past few days, it has questioned every line in his third documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11." His film attacks President George W. Bush, the Bush Administration, corporate America, and the media. It has been called propaganda and manipulative; Moore has been called obnoxious, arrogant, and detestable. His film is expected to top the $100 million mark in box-office sales, an all-time record for a documentary.

Jonathan Foreman, the New York Post film critic, wrote that the film "is intended to look like and feel like journalism, except it would never be acceptable if you tried to publish it because it's full of lies and half-truths." That judgment came just days before the Post's owner, neo-con billionaire Rupert Murdoch, called Post city editor Mike Hechtman and told him Rep. Richard Gephardt would be Sen. John Kerry's vice-presidential running mate, a "fact" the i>Post then published as an "exclusive" beneath a huge front-page headline. In the ame vein, Foreman's own half-truths and lies typify the assault on Moore.

Apparently, Mr. Foreman believes everything in the Post and 1,650 other daily newspapers is completely accurate, that the facts they present are completely accurate and no relevant fact is deliberately left out. But about 90 percent of the nation's newspapers, according to the trade journal Editor & Publisher, praised Moore and the movie, even if many disagreed with his politics. That wasn't true among tv "news" personalities.

"Today Show" co-anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, like most of the infotainment tv industry, are usually deferential to celebrities and politicians, but were especially caustic in their interviews and statements about Moore and his film. Perhaps that's because Moore's scathing film includes images of a gushy Couric. ABC's morning infotainment show was equally upset about the film, perhaps because ABC is owned by Disney, which had decided not to distribute the film after putting it into production.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" has several factual errors, for which the mainstream media have excoriated Moore, as if a couple of misinterpretations would denigrate the entire film. But Moore also presents hundreds of indisputable facts and ultimately the "truth," something most of the establishment media have been slow to tell us. He used The New Yorker's top fact-checker and libel lawyers, something most newspapers don't do.

In one of the scenes, Moore shows President Bush projecting a concerned look as he tells the nation, "I call upon all nations to stop these terrorist killings." As soon as he has delivered himself of his presidential "sound bite." he picks up a golf club and tells reporters, "Now watch this drive."

Apparently media that accept "pool coverage" video, also choose to broadcast only the "presidential" sound bite; by doing so, they, unlike Moore and "The Daily Show," which did broadcast the vacant president, missed the truth.

Perhaps reporters were too concerned about getting choice seats on the White House press plane to object to the President's handling of critical issues?

The media constantly whine how hard it is to get news from the Bush Administration; apparently, they are "forced" to attend daily press briefings at the White House and the Department of Defense to get any kind of news. Somewhere between when the nation's journalists took Newswriting in their sophomore year and when they got the choice Washington assignments they forgot a basic lesson - it's perfectly acceptable journalism to dig out the stories and not rely upon being hand-fed by corporate, governmental, and political "spokesmen."

Matt Lauer and other millionaire tv journalists - the ones who interview every movie star shortly after their movies open - suddenly became "investigative" reporters and demanded to know if Moore wasn't hyping the movie to make even more money from it, as if their own billion dollar conglomerates were pristine citadels of charity.

Among the questions Lauer and others asked Moore was how he got footage in Iraq. They were suspicious. The "embedded" press from the "big-name" networks and media outlets had "official" credentials to travel with the troops, and to listen to the generals and public affairs officers. The alternative press and hundreds of smaller publications, even if they had brilliant reporters with knowledge of the Middle East and the American military, were not embedded and thus were treated as yapping pests by the "larger," more "important" media. So, they figured unless Moore did something unethical, it was inconceivable that he actually got footage that the mainstream media didn't, couldn't - or wouldn't - get.

The New York Times, about two years late, admitted it was probably too deferential to the Bush Administration and didn't challenge the President's reasons why he believed he had to lead the nation into a war in Iraq. Hundreds of newspapers, magazines, radio and tv stations, most probably believing they were being patriotic by supporting the President's political agenda in the "War on Terror," blindly accepted what they were told, seldom questioning now-proven lies and half-truths.

Walter Cronkite, who helped establish the now-dated concept that tv news should be - well, news - believes it is unpatriotic not to question the government. Other may agree with him, but they don't practice it. Few questioned the President or his cabinet and advisors as rigorously as they did Moore. The opening weekend's reord-setting box office take for "Fahrenheit 9/11" should, at the very least, show journalists that the public not only wants, but demands, another view, something they don't get from the lap-dog press that drools over daily news briefings as if they were Texas-sized steaks.

If it shows nothing else, "Fahrenheit 9/11"shows one thing: The American media have abrogated their responsibility to be this nation's "watch-dog." Had they properly done their job the past few years and not been detracted by every tawdry sex scandal they could dig up, "Fahrenheit 911" would not have been necessary - it would have been "old news."

Walter Brasch, a journalist for 30 years, teaches mass communications at Bloomsburg University. His latest book is "Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture." Contact him at brasch@bloomu.edu.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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