Last Updated on February 12, 2022
A few days ago, in response to my post, “More on Moore,” Carly of “Ellipsis…” made the following comment about “Fahrenheit 9/11:”
“If Mr. Moore’s film is so inaccurate, why can’t someone point to a scene or cell or utterence in the film and definitively prove it inaccurate?”
Blogland is filled with reviews from both sides of the political spectrum about Michael Moore’s work. For the most part, the reviews fall exactly along party lines. Democrats tend to consider the film a truth-based documentary. Republicans claim it’s a gross distortion and an unfair attack.
One eager Democratic fan suggested that the film did an excellent job portraying Bush’s “real” motives. I suppose this interpretation depends on one’s preconceived notion of reality: I’m not sure that anyone can ever portray with complete accuracy someone else’s “real” motives. But for anyone who thinks George W. Bush is the devil himself, then any film that portrays him that way will, of course, seem like an accurate portrayal.
A recent article in Newsweek is not so kind about the film by comparison, but I do find it to be more fair in its critique than most of the articles I’ve seen so far. To anyone looking for a single statement from the article, I’d offer this one:
“But for all the reasonable points he makes, on more than a few occasions in the movie Moore twists and bends the available facts and makes glaring omissions in ways that end up clouding the serious political debate he wants to provoke.”
It should go without saying, although I’ll say it anyway, that if one decides to ignore the article, which does list some of the valid points contained in the film, then one really can’t be interested in the film’s honesty. I’m not addressing Carly specifically here, because her prior comments indicate that she has an open mind and appreciates debate. Here, I’m addressing those who are already convinced one way or the other about the film: they can’t reasonably ask for counter-arguments, because they will fall on deaf ears, anyway. (And yet plenty are out there, ready to shoot down any such counter-arguments without even taking the time to hear them.)
Those with open minds might be interested in the review. It doesn’t say that Moore makes no valid points. It does, however, give examples of how he neglects to mention certain facts that do alter the meaning of what he presents, and suggests an example of his connection of unrelated events in a manner that supports his argument.
If the film has omitted facts that might paint a different picture or seeks to connect unrelated events to make a point, is the audience not required to question every fact presented as truth?
I have said before that there are two sides of a story. Either side could present a well-crafted argument to convince someone that their side is the only right one.
Those who accept everything Moore says as truth should answer this question: if a film produced by a conservative filmmaker painted Bush as a hero, and then articles began popping up which disputed the facts or the conclusions, how would you feel about the film? Would you automatically assume that the article was in error or that the film was? If you automatically assume that the conservative film must be full of lies, then why would you think that a liberal filmmaker who makes no bones about having an axe to grind and who has stated that he hopes his film will help push Bush out of the White House in November couldn’t possibly stoop to the same level?
Whether he did distort the facts or not, isn’t it at least possible that there was some kind of distortion?
One more thought worth noting: in our country’s legal system, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This applies to most of our citizens, but for some reason, never the President. In a court of law, the prosecution would have to prove its case without distorting the facts. If a judge detected intentional distortion of the facts or deletion of those that altered the case against the defendant, she would toss the case instantly and the prosecutor would face being disbarred (and possibly even Contempt of Court charges). Politics, unfortunately, require no such “higher standard” of truth like the one presumed to be built into our legal system. Perhaps this is one reason why many complain that within the world of politics, there often is no justice.