Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2004

Still One Moore Lie

Filed under: Morons — Patterico @ 10:58 am

In “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore doctored an image of the front page of a newspaper, to make it look like the newspaper had claimed Gore won the media recount:

A scene early in the movie that shows newspaper headlines related to the legally contested presidential election of 2000 included a shot of The [Bloomington] Pantagraph’s Dec. 19, 2001, front page, with the prominent headline: “Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election.”

The paper says that headline never appeared on that day. It appeared in a Dec. 5, 2001, edition, but the headline was not used on the front page. Instead, it was found in much smaller type above a letter to the editor, which the paper says reflects “only the opinions of the letter writer.”

The newspaper has written a letter of complaint to Moore.

This is reminiscent of another fraudulent image supporting the lie that Gore really won the election. Remember that the opening of the movie shows Gore appearing to celebrate his victory. He appears on stage in front of a “high-spirited crowd” as a prominent sign reads “Florida Victory.” Yet it turns out that this was a pre-election rally, and the sign expressed the hope that Gore would win.

When you have to lie to make your point, that’s because the truth doesn’t help you. Gore really didn’t win the media recount, so Moore has to lie to make it seem like he did.

Oh, by the way, Moore has threatened to sue anyone who baselessly calls him a liar with respect to this movie. Let’s see if he sues me for this statement: Mr. Moore, your movie “Fahrenheit 9/11″ is chock-full of lies, and this doctored front page is the latest example.

I guess if he doesn’t sue me, that’s proof that my accusation is not baseless.

(Via Pejmanesque.)

21 Responses to “Still One Moore Lie”

  1. Regarding the article you posted called “59 deceits in F9/11″, the author of that web site offers up this very amusing (well, amusing to me) disclaimer:

    If you look up the noun “deceit” in the dictionary, you will find that the definitions point you to the verb “deceive.” According to Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary, the main (non-archaic or obsolete) definition of “deceive” is “to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.” Although the evidence in this report demonstrates dozens of plain deceits by Moore, there are some “deceits” in this report regarding which reasonable people may disagree.

    Funny how he has to “define” the word “deceit”… and then has to offer up a disclaimer that “there are some ‘deceits’ in this report regarding which reasonable people may disagree.” Laughable!

    As far as the headline date from the Pantagraph article being off by 5 days (it read as Dec 10, not 19), I’m not sure how that’s significant? Did something big happen in those 5 days in December?

    I’ll offer a question to you: What did Moore gain by changing the date from the 10th to the 5th? Or even the 19th to the 5th if it was indeed the 19th?

    My guess is that you (or anyone else) won’t be able to answer that question which means that it was just a typo and nothing more (and probably why the infamous “lawsuit” that the Pantagraph hit Moore with is for a whopping 1 dollar). Considering how happy they were to be mentioned in the movie in the first place, the lawsuit seems to me a way of grabbing some mo[o]re publicity…

    It’s very telling how big a deal conservatives are making out of this Pantagraph thing that they can’t debate the major points in the movie… so they go after insignificant items like a headline that showed up for 2 seconds in a movie which is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.

    Nice to meet you Patterico. BTW, if you happen to be between the ages of 18 and 25 – or will be in 2005, you may want to look into Bush’s plans to bring back the draft.

    Sonny Parlin (2f5f05)

  2. The issue is not some date. The issue is taking a headline for a “Letters to the Editor” section and transposing it to the front page — making someone’s crackpot opinion seem like the paper’s official position on what really happened.

    It’s very telling how big a deal conservatives are making out of this Pantagraph thing that they can’t debate the major points in the movie… so they go after insignificant items like a headline that showed up for 2 seconds in a movie which is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.

    With all due respect, that’s just absurd. Moore’s movie is full of lies from beginning to end. This post is hardly the only one that I have done on the topic.

    You have mastered Moore’s tactic of snipping quotes. Here is the rest of Kopel’s quote, starting with the last sentence you quoted (all emphasis mine):

    Although the evidence in this report demonstrates dozens of plain deceits by Moore, there are some “deceits” in this report regarding which reasonable people may disagree. So if you find me unpersuasive on, for example, three alleged deceits, consider this article to have identified “Fifty-six Deceits” rather than fifty-nine. Whether or not you agree with me on every single item, I think you will agree that the evidence is undeniable that Fahrenheit 9/11 is filled with deceit.

    Dozens of plain deceits not enough for ya? Unsurprising. Often people are unconcerned by lies that support their position.

    Patterico (f7b3e5)

  3. Also:

    It’s very telling how big a deal you are making out of one line in Kopel’s piece, indicating that you can’t debate the major points in the piece.

    Patterico (f7b3e5)

  4. Hitchens’ damning review of F9/11 made a telling point. As a documentary-maker, he holds himself to a standard of no untruths. Extravagant opinions are one thing, but to mislead the viewer on the facts–to deceive on any point–is to undermine the entire concept of “documentary.”

    Fifty-nine, now sixty, deceits, or three, or one: my biggest disappointment has been the outcry of people saying, “I share most of Moore’s political views, but this movie is a disgrace because it’s dishonest!”

    What outcry, you ask…

    AMac (3cb088)

  5. Please…it’s an opinion piece. Not objective journalism. (Unlike Fox News, Moore doesn’t even have to pretend to be non-biased.)

    I wonder how many other opinion-venders (i.e. columnists, commentators, etc.) have had their works picked through with as great a scrutiny as Michael Moore is undergoing. 59 deceits in F911? Give me a break–59 deceits is about average for any one Ann Coulter column! (Is he joking?)

    Many of the “59 deceits” complain of Moore presenting an incomplete set of facts or using them in such a way that indicates one thing but could actually mean something different. Fine, but to me, that seems to be the nature of the beast: how many columnists/commentators can you think of who are guilty of this same criteria? Consider the treatment of facts by the likes of O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, Sowell, Thomas, Malkin, Franken, Dowd, Rove, etc. How many of these would stand up to an equally severe litmus test by Kopel?

    It’s funny to me that so many people are annoyed, disappointed, and shocked–Shocked! I tell you!–that Michael Moore’s movie is liberally biased and skewed in his particular partisan direction. It’s nothing more than what any of the aforementioned would do as well if they had the skill Michael Moore possesses with a camara.

    Tom (12c633)

  6. Tom,

    Your claim that F9/11 is “an opinion piece” is disingenous. It’s obviously true, and it obscures Moore’s explicit claims that F9/11 is a documentary. Here, for instance, is the first relevant hit on a quick Google search, about F9/11’s Cannes premiere, where it won the… oh, never mind. Read the Moore quotes in the arti… oh, never mind that too, you’ve read a thousand like them already.

    “I wonder how many other opinion-venders…” Oops, red herring. We were talking about F9/11.

    But since you brought up a gaggle of commenters–individually or as a group, are they altogether as debased as Moore as far as the subject at hand, building arguments based on dishonest and deceptive presentations of fact? Is there no point at which an error in degree becomes an error in kind?

    I don’t read most of the names you list, but I’d suggest that it’s dishonest to equate the opinion pieces of Sowell and Malkin with the work of Moore. Perhaps you can provide evidence that is the equivalent of “59 Deceits” that proves me wrong. Or, unlike Moore, could you admit that you are sometimes mistaken in the charges you make?

    If Michael Moore is to be found innocent of deceit in the face of the unrebutted, and unrebuttable, deceptions of F9/11, then we have identified an offense that doesn’t exist. Defining deviancy down, indeed.

    AMac (3cb088)

  7. Tom,

    AMac has said most of what needs to be said. The key here is this: as the phrase goes, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. This site is full of opinion — but if I distorted the facts to support my opinions, are you trying to tell me you wouldn’t be justified in calling me on it?

    I hate to say it, my friend, but you are employing an awfully obvious double standard here.

    And if you want to accuse any of us of employing the same double standard in favor of conservative commentators, then pick someone we support and show us how they lie all the time — and ask us how we feel about it. But for me, it won’t work if you pick Coulter, or Limbaugh, or O’Reilly, all of whom I have said I dislike.

    You mentioned Thomas Sowell, whom I admire. Let’s hear a thorough Kopel-style debunking of one of his books, showing that he is deliberately lying and misrepresenting facts to support his position. Once you get to 59 “deceits” then we’ll talk. Heck, you can even stop at 56.

    Patterico (f7b3e5)

  8. I’d be surprised if he could produce 59 Moore-grade deceits from Coulter, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Sowell combined.

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  9. Ok guys, the gauntlet has been thrown, and I asked for it. However, I’m going to respectfully decline the opportunity to sift through one of Sowell’s books and catalogue the half-truths and/or misrepresentation of facts. I do have a day job, and I’ll leave this sort of litmus test up to people like Kopel.

    The main objection I’m hearing is that Moore’s chosen idiom is documentary, and therefore it is not an opinion piece as I stated. At this point, we seem to be splitting hairs. I don’t think the standard of “accuracy of description” is anywhere near as important as its actual content. (Fox News calls itself “fair and balanced,” but we all know about their actual content.)

    (Note to AMac: I know that’s a red herring. It’s supposed to be a side note. Thank you.)

    Also, speaking purely philosophically as an artist, it is totally impossible to create any form of “objective” art. The most we can try for is to deliberately minimize the extent of one’s personal opinions, something that Moore has specifically stated were the guiding force in this film (from his website, “Let them know that the OPINIONS in the film are mine, and anyone certainly has a right to disagree with them.”). Jeff B. Flinn writes that Moore “uses the truth [read: ‘technically accurate facts’] to form his own opinion.” So to consider his documentary “disingenuous” may be true in perhaps the literal sense, but practically speaking, we should have all known what we are bargaining for. Just as, practically speaking, we should all know what we are bargaining for when listening to Limbaugh’s take on reality.

    It’s not irrelevant that I mentioned O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, and Franken, by the way. I find these people to be much more on par with Michael Moore’s style than, say, Sowell, Malkin, Dowd, Ivins, etc. But all of these people, and many more, including myself, George W. Bush, and even Patterico, pick out the facts we’re drawn to and form our opinions and arguments based on those.

    Not all of us do it to Moore’s degree, but nonetheless, I maintain that none of us would hold up very well to Kopel’s type of scrutiny–I know I wouldn’t, and neither would Patterico.

    Here’s ‘proof': Yesterday, Patterico titled a post, John Kerry Fakes Love For Blue Collar Food–Again!. This statement is deliberately misleading. The source he provides is simply an objective story about how John Kerry didn’t stop for ice cream and ribs after he said he would in a speech. But Patterico instead obscures the truth with the word “fakes,” which requires intentionality. John Kerry’s intentionality is not stated in the source at all, and Patterico certainly knew this. Therefore, Patterico deliberately skewed the facts from his source, and presented them in such a way as to try and make John Kerry look like a buffoon, for (cue ominous music) partisan political purposes.

    But so what? I think Patterico’s headline is pretty funny, coupled with the tagline “Will that guy ever learn?” I can see through the its “deliberately misleading nature” and get over it.

    So to recap from my last plea to keep F911 in context, “it’s funny to me that so many people are annoyed, disappointed, and shocked–Shocked! I tell you!–that Michael Moore’s movie is liberally biased and skewed in his particular partisan direction.” We knew then and we know now what we’re getting. And it’s time to get over it already.

    Tom (12c633)

  10. “Fox News calls itself ‘fair and balanced,’ but we all know about their actual content.”

    Who’s “we?” Do you watch FoxNews on a regular basis, or are you just doing your liberal good deed for the day by taking a cheap shot at them? No news agency is perfectly fair or 100% balanced, but FoxNews comes about as close to that as anyone, certainly much more so that the (formerly) Big Three, the Beeb, al-Jazeera or CNN. [And if throwing al-Jazeera into the mix sounds like a cheap shot at the others, consider this: FoxNews is banned in Canada, but al-Jazeera isn’t.]

    Xrlq (ffb240)

  11. “…are you just doing your liberal good deed for the day by taking a shot at [Fox News]?”

    No, Xrlq, I actually do believe that Fox News is more slanted to the right than the other mainstream networks are slanted to the left. Call me crazy. (Al Jazeera, of course, is a bizarre exception–what on earth are you talking about? Canada?!? And that has anything to do with anything???)

    And if you don’t mind sparing me your wrath for when I’m actually being insincere, I’ll continue to feel inclined to address your posts in the future.

    Tom (12c633)

  12. I would be insulted by your comparison of me to Moore — truly — if I thought you didn’t understand the critical distinction between:

    Stating the facts truthfully and transparently, and drawing opinionated conclusions based upon them;

    and

    Hiding and distorting the true facts from your audience to support your opinions.

    I object to the latter practice, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s done in the context of an opinion piece or not.

    The great thing about blogs is that they are transparent. Links are provided to sources. If you disagree with the conclusion, there are comments for you to say so. In order to support your (meritless) objection to my post, you didn’t have to cite a single source outside my post and the links therein. What’s more, when you had an objection, a forum was provided for you to register your objection.

    And I encourage you to continue to do so. See, unlike Michael Moore, I want to win the battle of ideas based on sound argument, not by misleading my audience. If I say something that is misleading, I count on folks like you to call me on it.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that Michael Moore is not just shading opinions based on a selective presentation of facts. He does do that, to be sure — in spades. But if that’s all he did, it wouldn’t be as objectionable. But he goes much further, and actively misleads people. Deceives people. Tricks people. He falsifies headlines. He pretends pre-election footage is post-election footage. He tricks people into thinking that Osama’s family all left the country when nobody else was able to fly. He makes fun of a Congressman for not sending his child to Iraq, when that Congressman has no child. And so on, and so on, and so on.

    He does this cynically, because — although he knows he will be caught be some — he believes he can fool the vast majority of moviegoers. And he’s right. Granted, he’s preaching to an unusually uncritical choir, but somewhere in there are undecideds who are being fooled by his deceit.

    If you do understand this distinction, then you should understand that there is no comparison between myself and Michael Moore — and you can understand why I would take grave offense at anyone making such an inapt comparison.

    Patterico (237122)

  13. Tom,

    Thanks again for a thoughtful response. We (you & me, I speak only for myself) seem to be corresponding in the same language…but we aren’t.

    You write, The main objection … is that Moore’s chosen idiom is documentary, and therefore it is not an opinion piece… At this point, we seem to be splitting hairs.

    I’m saying that Moore has knowingly built his story out of falsehoods. That the version of events that he is presenting as truthful to the public is fraudulent. So I say he’s a disgrace and you say he’s okay. Not hairsplitting.

    Tom, you say, speaking purely philosophically as an artist, it is totally impossible to create any form of “objective” art. Moore, in his art, must agree wholly with this contention. Else, how to account for a documentary with sixty (at last count) deceits? Yet here is Moore in the Flinn puff-piece you cite:

    Every single fact I state in “Fahrenheit 9/11″ is the absolute and irrefutable truth. This movie is perhaps the most thoroughly researched and vetted documentary of our time. No fewer than a dozen people, including three teams of lawyers and the venerable one-time fact-checkers from The New Yorker went through this movie with a fine-tooth comb so that we can make this guarantee to you. Do not let anyone say this or that isn’t true. If they say that, they are lying.

    So Moore, in his own words, disputes your defense of F9/11. Or does he?

    You and Moore are applying variants of postmodernist discourse to the question of F9/11’s veracity. A line of reasoning that runs, broadly, “How do we know anything with certainty? Who is to say what’s factual, or real, or true? There is no privileged frame of reference that can provide this answer, and discourse instead is corruptly dominated by a society’s power structure. The oppressed, and free-thinkers in general, must replace this power-based model with their own competing narratives.” See Charles Murray, quoted here at Wikipedia.

    My time is short, and I’ll close by stating my belief that this parlour-game philosophy has now developed a record of accomplishment, and it is a sorry and corrosive one. You can find essays on the influence of postmodern thought on politics at Steven Den Beste’s site, and posts on its pernicious effects on University-level study of the Humanities at Erin O’Connor’s Critical Mass.

    I can’t state that the sort of Postmodernist analysis that you presented is “false,” a term without meaning within that “discourse.” Postmodernist analysis is, however, “unfalsifiable.” As a person interested into insights into the physical world and into politics, it is thus profoundly uninteresting, except as another case study of how bizarre and dysfunctional beliefs can thrive under the appropriate set of conditions.

    AMac (3cb088)

  14. This is genuinely exciting! Hooray for esoteric post-modern discussions. However, I’m not even going to touch any of this for at least a few hours, sorry. But I did want to make one thing very clear:

    I am not trying to say that Patterico and Michael Moore are cut from the same cloth. Nothing could be further from the intent of my post. (and I would point out that I include myself in this paradigm). The only comparison I was seeking to draw was that we, and I include myself, like Moore, start with a collection of “facts,” however obtained, and then use them to shape our arguments, sometimes skewing here and there, because we have political agendas. This is perfectly natural. (I keep linking to my blog for this very reason, to show that I do exactly that which I am describing of Patterico and Moore.) Michael Moore, of course, takes this to the extreme, perhaps purposefully and dishonestly, as Patterico suggests, which obviously isn’t the way Patterico or I do business. It is, however, the way that certain other political blowhards go about their commentary, which is the category into which I place Michael Moore.

    That’s why, Patterico, I’ll see your fear that Michael Moore is shaping the views of the electorate and raise you a Limbaugh, Coulter, and Rev. Falwell. Until Moore came along, let’s face it–there hasn’t been a very strong leftist voice in the ‘simplistic reduction of facts’ arena. I doubt very much that there is a greater percentage of people being misled to vote Kerry because of F911 than that of the people voting Bush because of the crazies on the other side.

    At any rate, Patterico, I’m sorry for not making myself clear when I invoked your site as an example of the phenomenon I just described.

    Tom (12c633)

  15. Eh, sorry for piling on, Tom, I hadn’t used ‘Preview’ to see that Xrlq and P. had already opined. In your 10:20am follow-up, you did back off your earlier attack on Patterico, something that no Postmodernist need ever do. Since any argument is as good as any other, and being at odds with reality, or illogical, or self-contradictory is all fine if the language is convoluted enough.

    At any rate, I’ll be on vacation and will leave your (pomo) cage unrattled for a week. Maybe I can use the time to find a radio station that carries Limbaugh, and see what all the fuss is about.

    AMac (3cb088)

  16. Dear everyone else,

    Actually, I think I’ve said enough on this topic. After rereading my posts, with the exception of ‘comparing’ Patterico to Moore, I think I’ve been pretty clear on what I’m getting at, at least regarding my view that we all tend to use facts selectively to shape our perspectives and points and add our own emphasis’ as we see fit, sometimes to the detriment of total objectivity. I don’t think it’s worthwhile to argue over this point. I know no exceptions to this, and I’m not going to believe otherwise.

    Now, having said that, for the record, it really pisses me off that Moore deliberately screwed with otherwise objective objects, specifically regarding the false headline and misleading people about what footage came when. I think these are relatively minor instances of “deceit” on the whole, but what really gets my goat is that his misleading tactics on those sections has called into question the integrity of the entire movie. Now, instead of discussing the questions the film raises, which I believe are valid on the whole, we can’t use the film as a serious basis to go there. Basically, an opportunity blown, as others have pointed out. In those few bonehead editing decisions, Moore has inadvertantly sabatoged the debate by poisoning the well for the rest of us.

    Can we at least agree on that? Sorry that I couldn’t seem to admit that Moore did us all a huge disservice until now. You see…I do read your posts.

    Cheers.

    Tom (be1f68)

  17. I agree with the part about Moore being deliberately deceitful, thus calling his whole film into doubt. I think I’ve been saying that for some time.

    Patterico (f7b3e5)

  18. “No, Xrlq, I actually do believe that Fox News is more slanted to the right than the other mainstream networks are slanted to the left. Call me crazy.”

    No, just uninformed. I note that you didn’t answer my question, though. Do you watch FoxNews on a regular basis, or at least enough to have an informed opinion as to how fair, balanced, or biased it is (or isn’t)? The last media study on bias showed that FoxNews was biased slightly to the right, but not nearly as much as CNN, MSNBC or the formerly big three are to the left.

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  19. Can I call him crazy?

    Patterico (f7b3e5)

  20. The last media study on bias showed that FoxNews was biased slightly to the right, but not nearly as much as CNN, MSNBC or the formerly big three are to the left.

    Link, please.

    Tom (be1f68)


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