- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Man from Hope and the Man from Flint are running parallel propaganda campaigns this week.

That would be former President Bill Clinton, of Hope, Ark., flacking for his memoir, “My Life,” and filmmaker Michael Moore, of Flint, Mich., who is crusading behind a new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” that aims squarely at unseating President Bush this November.

Both are lapping up cream-puff treatment from the media.

Mr. Clinton has taken his share of lumps — a vote of impeachment from the House, projectile lamps from hell-hath-no-fury Hillary — but just how is it that Mr. Moore has trashed the integrity of his art form, the documentary movie, and still won an Academy Award along with, a few weeks ago, the top prize at the Cannes festival?

At a time when documentary filmmaking is better and more influential than it has ever been, why is a sleaze like Mr. Moore respected in the same company as, say, Errol Morris, the similarly minded but far smarter lefty who turned Robert McNamara’s life into high drama with last year’s “The Fog of War”?

Lately, print and TV journalists have been treating Mr. Moore as a kind of courageous dissident and idealistic swashbuckler. He also has found an aggressive new booster in Howard Stern.

Enterprising Internet sleuths know better. Debunking Mr. Moore’s lies — lies of malice, omission and elision — has become a cottage industry on the Web.

The nonpartisan Web watchdogs Spinsanity.org, BowlingforTruth.com, MooreLies.com, MooreExposed.com and MooreWatch.com have done indispensable work in revealing the slipshod methodology of Mr. Moore’s movies and the inaccuracies and outright lies of his best-selling screeds “Stupid White Men” and “Dude, Where’s My Country?”

Second Amendment lawyer David T. Hardy has a devastating, point-by-point rebuttal of Mr. Moore’s anti-gun movie “Bowling for Columbine” at HardyLaw.net. You should look it up and read the whole thing. Forbes magazine’s Daniel Lyons has exposed several more brazen lies told in the Oscar-winning documentary.

What follows adds nothing new to the heap; rather, it’s a compendium of some of the filmmaker’s worst offenses. It is meant as an 11th-hour reminder of Mr. Moore’s stock in trade, mendacity.

The examples are confined to hard falsehoods such as trick editing or factual exaggerations; they have nothing to do with the conclusions he draws or his political allegiances.

In the weeks that follow the release of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” no doubt there will be many more discoveries to add to Mr. Moore’s pile of lies.

• Mr. Moore suggested that the Littleton, Colo., teenagers who killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in 1999 may have been motivated to violence by their proximity to a Lockheed Martin plant that, he claimed, manufactures weapons of mass destruction.

The director interviews a Lockheed Martin executive with a giant rocket looming behind him. Mr. Moore asks sarcastically, “So you don’t think our kids say to themselves, ‘Gee you know, Dad goes off to the factory every day and, you know, he builds missiles?’”

However, the rockets manufactured there were for launching TV satellites, not warheads, as Mr. Lyons discovered.

• Mr. Moore tampered with the famous Willie Horton ad of the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign. (The director was on a tangent about how America fears black men.)

In the theatrical release of “Bowling,” Mr. Moore superimposed the words “Willie Horton released. Then kills again” to the ad. Horton didn’t actually murder anyone on his famous weekend furlough; he raped a woman. Mr. Moore changed the wording for the DVD release, implicitly acknowledging his original manipulation.

• The opening sequence of “Bowling” shows Mr. Moore walking out of a Michigan bank with a rifle, supposedly a free, no-questions-asked gift for opening an account there.

The whole episode was staged — a writer at the Daily Vidette, Illinois State University’s paper, had the scoop — and Mr. Moore neglected to mention the bank’s policy of offering free guns only after a background check has been conducted on the prospective new customer.

• Mr. Moore condemns Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association for holding a pro-gun rally in Denver in the immediate aftermath of the massacre in nearby Littleton.

The footage he shows, however, is a manipulated splice job that includes bits from a speech Mr. Heston, the NRA’s president, gave in Charlotte, N.C. a year after the killing spree.

Mr. Hardy writes, “The Denver event was not a demonstration relating to Columbine, but an annual meeting whose place and date had been fixed years in advance.”

• Sometimes Mr. Moore isn’t so clever. He’s merely boneheaded.

In “Stupid White Men,” Mr. Moore claimed that five-sixths of the 2001 U.S. defense budget went toward a single plane, the Joint Strike Fighter. He also said two-thirds of President Bush’s entire 2000 campaign budget was financed by about 700 donors.

Spinsanity had the straight dope: Mr. Moore sloppily referred to the JSF’s 10-year budget as a single-year outlay and, similarly, bungled the president’s campaign-finance numbers.

• In “Dude, Where’s My Country?”, the book whose outlandish conspiracy theories became the basis for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Mr. Moore made hay of reports that the Bush administration permitted members of the bin Laden family to steal out of the country to their native Saudi Arabia when commercial flights were grounded in the days after September 11.

In testimony before the September 11 Commission, Richard Clarke, Mr. Bush’s former counterterrorism chief, laid the rumor to rest, saying he approved the flight that carried 26 Saudis on Sept. 20, 2001, after commercial travel had resumed.

All this is public record, and there is much, much more where it came from.

Mr. Moore trafficks in propaganda, pure and simple. His goal is to affect political outcomes.

Mr. Moore’s self-promoting cries of suppression — the claims that Disney (the company that owns Miramax Films) censored “Fahrenheit 9/11” for fear of losing tax breaks in Florida, that Mel Gibson backed away from distributing the movie for fear of losing access to the White House — are all part of the package.

That the glitterati in France, New York and Hollywood have embraced Mr. Moore’s sensational shtick isn’t surprising; the man from Flint provides slick, easy assurances of what they already believe.

That the leadership of the Democratic Party in Washington is flirting with him is more troubling.

But look: If they want him, they can have him. His is a politics of sour paranoia and defeatism. Those on the winning side of an argument needn’t go to such hysterical lengths.

The losers cry conspiracy.

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