Quote of the day

Billmon on why the right is so frightened of Michael Moore, and so willing to adopt a double standard when discussing him.

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or – like Limbaugh – retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they’re doing is expressing a subjective opinion. “I’m just in the entertainment business,” Rush likes to say.

Well, now there’s someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he’s effective. He’s learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.

No wonder the right wingers are scared of Moore – he’s even better then they are at using the media as an unwilling amplifier. Which is why all the conservative caterwauling and all disapproving tut tuts from the “responsible” press have only helped ensure Fahrenheit 9/11 a wider distribution.

In other words, Moore’s managed to break the code. He’s figured out how to sell an angry radical (or at least semi-radical) message to a mass audience.

That’s a major accomplishment. And if the end result isn’t exactly my idea of a civilized political discourse (I’ll reserve judgement for now) it clearly is a powerful and successful example of fighting fire with fire.

And right now, a little fire may be what the American left needs most.

The right has been giving us much, much, much worse than Moore for a decade. Now when given a mild taste of their own recipe, they go bonkers. They curse. They hiss. They shout treason and “liar!” At least Moore backs up what he says with evidence, usually self-incriminating video clips of those he’s criticizing.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

Any examples of “the right wing” shouting “treason and ‘liar!'”?

The post would be more interesting if it actually referred to real events rather than making vague unsupported references to what is supposedly the attitude of “the right wing” these days.

June 27, 2004 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

Boo, take a look at the thread over at Gweilo Diaries on Rex Reed for an interesting example and all the warbloggers. They aren’t hard to find, I promise. Read the Hitchens write-up in Slate. They are all over the place. If you want me to dig up some urls I’ll be glad too, but I promise, if you look you’ll find them!

June 27, 2004 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

Oh, and Boo, are you familiar with Ann Coulter? She was who I had in mind when I say “they cry treasson and liar.” Do a little research on her, and you’ll know what I mean. She actuially accuses all liberals — all of them! — with “treason,” a crime punishable by death. That’s the kind of mentality we are up against.

June 27, 2004 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

“Read the Hitchens write-up in Slate.”

Hitchens is right-wing now? Was he left-wing two weeks ago when he wrote the scathing piece on Reagan?

June 28, 2004 @ 2:12 am | Comment

Funny how the very same right-wing élite that howled at those “Move On” ads seems unable to discuss Moore’s movie without invoking the ghost of Leni Riefenstahl.

June 28, 2004 @ 3:01 am | Comment

Beware policitcal sponsers who spend more time calling people names than telling you why those names are apt, and remember that when somebody brings patriotism into an argument, it usually means that they’ve used up the rest of their amunition and are treading water.

June 28, 2004 @ 4:52 am | Comment

Ann Coulter isn’t a good example because I scanned her archives and didn’t see anything written about Moore’s film at all. And besides, much of what she writes is humor (at least I assume that’s how it’s intended).

The Gweilo’s Reed article started out being upset that Reed said the Bush admin was like the 3rd Reich, which is something legitimate to be upset about in my opinion, if only because it makes Reed sound stupid.

If the comments section degenerated later, that’s unfortunate, but I don’t think the comments section represents anybody other than the individuals posting.

Not that I hang out with Sean Hannity fans or anything, but those are the only right wingers I can see getting upset about Moore, and they get upset about everything. Not sure if I’d say they represent a typical Republican voter though.

June 28, 2004 @ 7:21 am | Comment

Sam, I never called Hitchens “right wing.” Please don’t put words in my mouth. He is one of the reviewers who shouted “Liar” at Moore. That is why I suggested him.

June 28, 2004 @ 8:11 am | Comment

Boo, there are entire web sites dedicated to calling Moore a liar. I thought Ann Coulter called him a liar too, though she may have said it on Fox News, not in print (yet). Conrad’s thread on the Rex Reed review lists many other supposed flaws in the film and his commenters assail Moore as a liar and one says he staged scenes in the movie, ie, she says the interviews are faked, a pretty ridiculous charge, as it’s near impossible to keep people from revealing bombshells like that. (I’m only mentioning it because it’s a thread I’ve been following. There are zillions of other threads out there on F911.)

You’ll find the charge of Moore being a liar in the usual right-of-center places like Weekly Standard, Free Republic (not surprising), the Christian Message Board, the NY Post, and nearly every place where there is a review of the movie followed by a readers’ forum — yahoo, blogs, newspapers. And this blog, too! In fairness, there are also some very level-headed writers making this charge like Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine, but they are in a dramatic minority. If you do a search of F911 + “liar” you’ll see that about 70 percent of the critics are actually defending Moore from being called a liar, and the other 30 percent are those calling Moore a liar. (Those numbers are based on my impression of the first few search pages, not scientific analysis.) Again, if you don’t believe people are calling Moore a liar you just aren’t looking.

June 28, 2004 @ 8:38 am | Comment

Moore isn’t a liar, he’s a selective truth-teller. It just so happens that the truth he’s selected isn’t one that the right-wing élite particularly cares to hear.

June 28, 2004 @ 10:09 am | Comment

Vaara, sometimes I think Moore enters into a gray area between truth and lie; that’s why I say it’s important for the viewer to take him with a grain of salt. But as for blatant lies — I have never seen that claim verified. Stretching his point, exaggerating, selectively including or excluding information — definitely. Just like every pundit in America, and probably every blogger.

Boo, you may want to check out Variety, which says:

Michael Moore is no dummy. Though he’s getting blasted by self-styled patriots, fusty critics and talk-radio ideologues, he’s relishing every moment. Crazies on the far right are trying to intimidate exhibitors and are threatening boycotts, but the portly polemicist is looking on with wry bemusement.

That’s because Moore understands the magic equation: The noisier the opposition, the bigger the box office. It’s worked time and again. And it surely will propel “Fahrenheit 9/11” into history’s highest-grossing documentary.

Look at what happened to Mel Gibson. The frenzy over “The Passion of the Christ” helped catapult his film to a U.S. gross of $370 million. According to Mel-haters, “Passion” was excessively violent, took liberties with biblical history and was downright anti-Semitic — all of which motivated people who hadn’t seen a movie in 20 years to head for their local theaters….
A blizzard of emails and faxes attacking “Fahrenheit 9/11” started flowing into exhibitors and the media ahead of the pic’s release. One “news release” claimed that more than half the theaters that had booked the movie had dropped out. Yet another claimed that Hezbollah, the terrorist group, had issued a ringing endorsement of the movie because it would undermine support for the war on terrorism.

One anti-Moore activist is a former California legislator named Howard Kaloogian, whose group, Move America Forward, claimed credit for persuading CBS to drop “The Reagans” — a totally unsubstantiated boast. Meanwhile, a pro-“Fahrenheit” group, MoveOn, put out a flurry of releases claiming that major Republican operatives were getting involved in the campaign to limit release of the film.

“By calling Moore a ‘domestic enemy,’ and pressuring theaters not to show the film … they are trying to dictate what films Americans can see,” asserts Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn. The group is seeking to take a page from the Mel Gibson book — urging groups to lobby their friends and neighbors to buy tickets en masse to see “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Does Michael Moore have much to worry about? History would suggest that noisy attackers are the best friends any filmmaker can have.

The ballots at the box office, of course, will be the final arbiter.

June 28, 2004 @ 10:20 am | Comment

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