Skip to comments.Fifty-six Deceits in Fahrenheit 911
Posted on 07/03/2004 10:14:04 AM PDT by killjoy
Fifty-six Deceits in Fahrenheit 911
By Dave Kopel
[This is a preliminary version of an article that will be published on National Review Online.
This report was first posted on the web on the morning of July 1. Since then, I've revised
several sections in response to reader requests for clarifications, and have added additional
deceits which have been pointed out by readers or journalists. Astute readers will observe
that the number of identified deceits now exceeds 56. I have not retitled the report or re-
numbered the original 56 deceits. The final version will update the deceit count.]
There are many articles which have pointed out the distortions, falsehoods, and lies in the film Fahrenheit 911. This report compiles the Fahrenheit 911 deceits which have been identified by a wide variety of reviewers. In addition, I identify some inaccuracies which have not been addressed by other writers.
The report follows the approximate order in which the movie covers particular topics: the Bush family, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. This report focuses solely on factual issues, and not on aesthetic criticism of the film.
To understand the deceptions, it helps to understand Moores ideological position. So let us start with Moores belief that the September 11 attacks on the United States were insignificant.
Edward Koch, the former Democratic Mayor of New York City, writes:
Edward Koch, Moores propaganda film cheapens debate, polarizes nation, World Tribune, June 28, 2004. By the way, I don't disagree with the point that it is reasonable to consider the number of deaths from any particular problem, including terrorism, in assessing how serious the problem is. Moore's point, however, was willfully oblivious to the fact that al Qaeda did not intend 9/11 to be the last word; the organization was working on additional attacks, and if the organization obtained the right weapons, millions of people might be killed. More fundamentally, even if Moore's argument in London is conceded to be legitimate, it contradicts Fahrenheit 911's presentation of Moore as intensely concerned about the September 11 attacks.
As we go through the long list of lies and tricks in Fahrenheit 911, keep in mind that Michael Moore has assembled a war room of political operatives and lawyers in order to respond to criticism of Fahrenheit 911 and to file defamation suits. (Jack Shafer, Libel Suit 9/11. Michael Moores hysterical, empty threats, Slate.com, June 12, 2004.) One of Moore's "war room" officials is Chris Lehane; Lehane, as an employee of Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark (who was also supported by Moore), apparently spread rumors to the press about John Kerry's alleged extra-marital affair.
Of course if there are any genuine errors in this report, the errors will be promptly corrected. Conversely, because Moore has a paid expert staff which is monitoring criticism of the movie, it is reasonable to assume thatunless I have specifically retracted some item in this reportMoore and his staff have not offered a persuasive rebuttal.
In this report, I number Moores deceits. Some of them are outright lies; some are omissions which create a false impression. Others involve different forms of deception. A few are false statements Moore has made when defending the film.
2000 Election Night
Fahrenheit 911 begins on election night 2000. We are first shown the Al Gore rocking on stage with famous musicians and a high-spirited crowd. The conspicuous sign on stage reads Florida Victory. Moore creates the impression that Gore was celebrating his victory in Florida.
Actually, the rally took place in the early hours of election day, before polls had even opened. Gore did campaign in Florida on election day, but went home to Tennessee to await the results. The Florida Victory sign reflected Gores hopes, not any actual election results. (Gore Campaigns Into Election Day, Associated Press, Nov. 7, 2000.)
The film shows CBS and CNN calling Florida for Al Gore. According to the narrator, Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy .All of a sudden the other networks said, Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.
We then see NBC anchor Tom Brokaw stating, All of us networks made a mistake and projected Florida in the Al Gore column. It was our mistake.
Moore thus creates the false impression that the networks withdrew their claim about Gore winning Florida when they heard that Fox said that Bush won Florida.
In fact, the networks which called Florida for Gore did so early in the eveningbefore polls had even closed in the Florida panhandle, which is part of the Central Time Zone. NBC called Florida for Gore at 7:49:40 p.m., Eastern Time. This was 10 minutes before polls closed in the Florida panhandle. Thirty seconds later, CBS called Florida for Gore. And at 7:52 p.m., Fox called Florida for Gore. Moore never lets the audience know that Fox was among the networks which made the error of calling Florida for Gore prematurely. Then at 8:02 p.m., ABC called Florida for Gore. Only ABC had waited until the Florida polls were closed.
The premature calls probably cost Bush thousands of votes from the conservative panhandle, as discouraged last-minute voters heard that their state had already been decided, and many voters who were waiting in line left the polling place. In Florida, as elsewhere, voters who have arrived at the polling place before closing time often end up voting after closing time, because of long lines. The conventional wisdom of politics is that supporters of the losing candidate are most likely to give up on voting when they hear that their side has already lost. (Thus, on election night 1980, when incumbent President Jimmy Carter gave a concession speech while polls were still open on the West coast, the early concession was widely blamed for costing the Democrats several Congressional seats in the West. The fact that all the networks had declared Reagan a landslide winner while West coast voting was still in progress was also blamed for Democratic losses in the West.) Even if the premature television calls affected all potential voters equally, the effect was to reduce Republican votes significantly, because the Florida panhandle is a Republican stronghold; depress overall turnout in the panhandle, and you will necessarily depress more Republican than Democratic votes.
At 10:00 p.m., which network took the lead in retracting the premature Florida result? The first retracting network was CBS, not Fox.
Over four hours later, at 2:16 a.m., Fox projected Bush as the Florida winner, as did all the other networks by 2:20 a.m.
CBS had taken the lead in making the erroneous call for Gore, and had taken the lead in retracting that call. At 3:59 a.m., CBS also took the lead in retracting the Florida call for Bush. All the other networks, including Fox, followed the CBS lead within eight minutes. That the networks arrived at similar conclusions within a short period of time is not surprising, since they were all using the same data from the Voter News Service. (Linda Mason, Kathleen Francovic & Kathleen Hall Jamieson, CBS News Coverage of Election Night 2000: Investigation, Analysis, Recommendations (CBS News, Jan. 2001), pp. 12-25.)
Moores editing technique of the election night segment is typical of his style: all the video clips are real clips, and nothing he says is, formally speaking, false. But notice how he says, Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy The impression created is that the Fox call of Florida for Bush came soon after the CBS/CNN calls of Florida for Gore, and that Fox caused the other networks to change (All of a sudden the other networks said, Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.)
This is the essence of the Moore technique: cleverly blending half-truths to deceive the viewer.
2000 Election Recount
A little while later:
Thomas Frank, Film offers limited view, Newsday, June 27, 2004.
Bush Presidency before September 11
The movie lauds an anti-Bush riot that took place in Washington, D.C., on the day of Bushs inauguration. Moore continues: No President had ever witnessed such a thing on his inauguration day. And for the next eight months it didnt get any better for George W. Bush. He couldnt get his judges appointed; he had trouble getting his legislation passed; and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink.
Part of this is true. Once Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party, Democrats controlled the Senate, and stalled the confirmation (not appointment) of some of the judges whom Bush had nominated for the federal courts.
Congress did enact the top item on Bushs agenda: a large tax cut. During the summer, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives easily passed many of Bushs other agenda items, including the bill whose numbering reflected the Presidents top priority: H.R. 1, the Bush No Child Left Behind education bill. The fate of the Bush bills in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as of August 2001, was uncertain. The Senate later did pass No Child Left Behind, but some other Bush proposals did not pass.
Did Bushs approval ratings begin to sink? Not really. Moore shows a screen displaying Bush with 53% job approval on May 3, and 45% on September 5. Strangely, the screen shot includes no source for this alleged poll.
University of Minnesota History Professor Steven Ruggles has compiled a chart showing Bushs approval ratings in 13 major polls throughout his Presidency. According the chart, never during 2001 did Bushs approval rating fall as low as 45% in any of the polls.
Nor did Bushs approval ratings really sink after inauguration day. Bushs popularity ratings rose significantly in April (when his tax cut was the main issue in Congress), and then returned to more normal levels in June. From Bushs inaugural until September 10, almost all of his approval ratings were in the 50-60% range, with only a few results from an occasional poll either higher or lower.
Fahrenheit 911 states, In his first eight months in office before September 11th, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time.
Tom McNamee, Just the facts on Fahrenheit 9/11 Chicago Sun-Times, June 28, 2004. See also: Mike Allen, White House On the Range. Bush Retreats to Ranch for Working Vacation, Washington Post, August 7, 2001 (Many of those days are weekends, and the Camp David stays have included working visits with foreign leaders.)
Christopher Hitchens, Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore, Slate.com, June 21, 2004.
By the way, the clip of Bush making a comment about terrorism, and then hitting a golf ball, is also taken out of context, at least partially:
"Cyberalert," Media Research Center, July 1, 2004, item. 3.
Fahrenheit presents a powerful segment on the September 11 attacks. There is no narration, and the music is dramatic yet tasteful. The visuals are reaction shots from pedestrians, as they gasp with horrified astonishment.
Moore has been criticized for using the reaction shots as a clever way to avoid showing the planes hitting the buildings, and some of the victims falling to their deaths. Even if this is true, the segment still effectively evokes the horror that every decent human being felt on September 11.
But remember, Moore does not necessarily feel the same way. As New Yorks former Mayor Edward Koch reported, Moore later said, I dont know why we are making so much of an act of terror. It is three times more likely that you will be struck by lightening than die from an act of terror.
Like several of the other deceits identified in this report, the September 11 deceit is not part of the film itself. Several of the deceits involve claim that Moore has made when discussing the film. Like some deceits which are identified near the end of this report, the September 11 deceit involves the contradiction between Moore's purported feelings about a topic in the movie and what appear to be his actual feelings about that topic. If a Klansman made a film which feigned admiration for Rosa Parks, that too would be a form of deceit, even if the film were accurate in its portrayal of Parks as a great American hero.
Bush on September 11
Fahrenheit mocks President Bush for continuing to read a story to a classroom of elementary school children after he was told about the September 11 attacks.
What Moore did not tell you:
Sarasota principal defends Bush from Fahrenheit 9/11 portrayal, Associated Press, June 24, 2004.
Castigating the allegedly lazy President, Moore says, Or perhaps he just should have read the security briefing that was given to him on August 6, 2001 that said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes.
Moore supplies no evidence for his assertion that President Bush did not read the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief. Moores assertion appears to be a complete fabrication.
Moore smirks that perhaps President Bush did not read the Briefing because its title was so vague. Moore then cuts to Condoleezza Rice announcing the title of the Briefing: Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.
However, no-one (except Moore) has ever claimed that Bush did not read the Briefing, or that he did not read it because the title was vague. Rather, Condoleezza Rice had told the press conference that the information in the Briefing was very vague. National Security Advisor Holds Press Briefing, The White House, May 16, 2002.
The content of the Briefing supports Rices characterization, and refutes Moores assertion that the Briefing said that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America by hijacking airplanes. The actual Briefing was highly equivocal:
Saudi Departures from United States
McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times. (Note: The Sun-Times article was correct in its characterization of the Ricky Martin segment, but not precisely accurate in the exact words used in the film. I have substituted the exact quote.)
Jake Tapper interview with Michael Moore, ABC News, June 25, 2004.
Again, Moore is misleading. His film includes a brief shot of a Sept. 4, 2003, New York Times article headlined White House Approved Departures of Saudis after Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says. The camera pans over the article far too quickly for any ordinary viewer to spot and read the words in which Clarke states that he approved the flights.
Some Saudis left the U.S. by charter flight on September 14, a day when commercial flights had resumed, but when ordinary charter planes were still grounded. When did the bin Ladens actually leave? Not until the next week, as the the 9/11 Commission staff report explains:
Bush and James Bath
Matt Labash, Un-Moored from Reality, Weekly Standard, July 5, 2004. See also: Frank, Newsday; Michael Isikoff & Mark Hosenball, "More Distortions From Michael Moore. Some of the main points in Fahrenheit 9/11 really arent very fair at all," MSNBC.com, June 30, 2004.
Moore makes a big point about the name of James Bath being blacked out from Bush National Guard records which were released by the White House. The blackout might appear less sinister if Moore revealed that many other names were blacked out, apparently to protect the privacy of former National Guard members. It's possible that the blacking out of many names was done solely to make the blackout of Bath's name not seem suspicious. But Moore creates the false impression that only Bath was blacked out.
Bush and Prince Bandar
Moore accurately points out the distressingly close relationship between Saudi Arabias ambassador, Prince Bandar, and the Bush family. But Moore does not explain that Bandar has been a bipartisan Washington power broker for decades, and that Bill Clinton repeatedly relied on Bandar to advance Clintons own Middle East agenda. (Elsa Walsh, The Prince. How the Saudi Ambassador became Washingtons indispensable operator, The New Yorker, Mar. 24, 2003.)
President Clintons former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wyche Fowler, has been earning a lucrative living as a Saudi apologist and serving as Chairman of the Middle East Institutea research organization heavily funded by Saudi Arabia. (Joel Mowbray, Feeding at the Saudi Trough, Townhall.com, Oct. 1, 2003.)
I am not suggesting that Mr. Fowler is in any way corrupt; Im sure that he is sincere (although, in my view, mistaken) in his strongly pro-Saudi viewpoint. What is misleading is for Moore to look at the web of Saudi influence in Washington only in regard to the Republican Bushes, and to ignore the fact that Saudi influence and money are widespread in both parties.
Bush once served on the Board of Directors of the Harken Energy Company. According to Fahrenheit:
What Moore left out: Bush sold the stock long after he checked with those same company lawyers who had provided the cautionary memo, and they told him that the sale was all right. Almost all of the information that caused Harkens large quarterly loss developed only after Bush had sold the stock.
Despite Moores pejorative that Bush beat the rap, no-one has ever found any evidence suggesting that he engaged in illegal insider trading. (Byron York, The Facts About Bush and Harken. The presidents story holds up under scrutiny, National Review Online, July 10, 2002.)
Michael Isikoff, Under the Hot Lights. Moores movie will make waves. But its a fine line between fact and fanaticism. Deconstructing Fahrenheit 9/11. Newsweek, June 28, 2004.
Moore claims that refusing to mention of the Crusader cancellation was alright because the cancellation came after the United Defense IPO. But the cancellation had a serious negative financial impact on Carlyle, since Carlyle still owns 47% of United Defense.
Labash, Weekly Standard.
There is another famous investor in Carlyle whom Moore does not reveal: George Soros. (Oliver Burkeman & Julian Borger, The Ex-Presidents Club, The Guardian (London), Oct. 31, 2000.) But the fact that the anti-Bush billionaire has invested in Carlyle would detract from Moores simplistic conspiracy theory.
Moore alleges that the Saudis have given 1.4 billion dollars to the Bushes and their associates.
Isikoff & Hosenball, MSNBC.com. (The full text of the article contains the counter-argument by Moore's "war room" and the replies by Isikoff and Hosenball).
Saudi Investments in the United States
Moore asks Craig Unger: How much money do the Saudis have invested in America, roughly?
Instead of relying on unsourced figures that someone says he heard, lets look at the available data. According to the Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy (a pro-Saudi think tank which tries to emphasize the importance of Saudi money to the United States), in February 2003 total worldwide Saudi investment was at least $700 billion. Sixty percent of the Saudi investments were in the United States, so the Saudis had about 420 billion invested in the U.S.a large amount, but less than half of the amount that Moores source claims he heard. (Tanya C. Hsu , The United States Must Not Neglect Saudi Arabian Investment Sept. 23, 2003.)
Special Protection for Saudi Embassy
Moore shows himself filming the movie near the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C.:
But in fact:
Debbie Schlussel, FAKEN-heit 9-11: Michael Moores Latest Fiction, June 25, 2004.
According to the Secret Service website:
So there is nothing strange about the Secret Service protecting the Saudi embassy in Washingtonespecially since al Qaeda attacks have taken place against Saudi Arabia.
Alleged Bush-Saudi Conspiracy
Proposed Unocal Pipeline in Afghanistan
Labash, Weekly Standard.
Jonathan Foreman, Moores The Pity, New York Post, June 23, 2004.
McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times.
Isikoff & Hosenball, MSNBC.com.
After Afghanistan was liberated from the Taliban, the new Afghanistan government did sign a plan to build an oil pipeline. Indeed, any Afghani government (Taliban or otherwise) would rationally seek the revenue that could be gained from a pipeline. But the new pipeline (which has not yet been built) has nothing to do with Unocal.
Bush Administration Relationship with the Taliban
Moore Claimed that Osama bin Laden Might be Innocent and Opposed the Afghanistan War
Fahrenheit 911 attempts in every way possible to link Osama bin Laden to George Bush. Moore even claims that Bush deliberately gave bin Laden a two month head start by not putting sufficient forces into Afghanistan soon enough. However:
Three days after September 11, Moore demanded that no military action be taken against Afghanistan:
Michael Moore, "War on Whom?" AlterNet, Sept. 14, 2004.
The next day he wrote:
"Mike's Message," Sept. 15, 2001. Although Moore vehemently opposed the Afghanistan War, Fahrenheit criticizes Bush for not putting more troops into Afghanistan sooner.
Are we any safer because the U.S. military eliminated the al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, removed a government which did whatever al Qaeda wanted, and killed or captured two-thirds of the al Qaeda leadership? Fahrenheit's thesis that the Afghanistan War was solely for the pipeline and to distract attention from Saudi Arabia is inconsistent with the well-known results of the war.
Afghanistan after Liberation
McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times.
Rep. Porter Goss
Defending the Patriot Act, Representative Porter Goss says that he has an 800 number for people to call to report problems with the Act. Fahrenheit shoots back than Goss does not have such a number; the ordinary telephone number for Gosss office is flashed on the screen.
Youd never know by watching Fahrenheit, but Rep. Goss does have a toll-free number to which Patriot Act complaints can be reported. The number belongs to the Committee which Goss chairs, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The number is (877) 858-9040.
Although the Committees number is toll-free, the prefix is not 800, and Moore exploits this trivial fact to create the false impression that Goss lied about having a toll-free number.
As far as I can tell, the slam on Rep. Goss is the only factual error in the segment on the misnamed Patriot Act. While there are a few good things in the Act, Moore's general critique of the Act is valid. The Act does contain many items which had long been on the FBI wish-list, which do not have real relation to the War on Terror, and which were pushed through under the pretext of 9/11. Similar critiques are also valid for the Clinton "terrorism" bill which was pushed through Congress in 1996. As for Moore's claim that the motive of the Patriot Act was to terrify the American people, I disagree, but it's a matter of opinion, and therefore beyond the scope of this report.
Saddam Hussein Never Murdered Americans
Fahrenheit asserts that Saddams Iraq was a nation that had never attacked the United States. A nation that had never threatened to attack the United States. A nation that had never murdered a single American citizen.
Note Moores extremely careful phrasing of the lines which appear to exonerate Saddam, and Moores hyper-legal response to Tapper. In fact, Saddam provided refuge to notorious terrorists who had murdered Americans. Saddam provided a safe haven for Abu Abbas (leader of the hijacking of the ship Achille Lauro and the murder of the elderly American passenger Leon Klinghoffer), for Abu Nidal, and for the 1993 World Trade Center bombmaker, Abdul Rahman Yasin. By law, Saddam therefore was an accessory to the murders. Saddam order his police to murder former American President George Bush when he visited Kuwait City in 1993; they attempted to do so, but failed. In 1991, he ordered his agents to murder the American Ambassador to the Philippines and, separately, to murder the employees of the U.S. Information Service in Manila; they tried, but failed. Yet none of these aggressions against the United States count for Moore, because he has carefully framed his verbs and verb tenses to exclude them.
According to Laurie Mylroie, a former Harvard professor who served as Bill Clinton's Iraq advisor during the 1992 campaign (during which Vice-Presidential candidate Gore repeatedly castigated incumbent President George H.W. Bush for inaction against Saddam), the ringleader of the World Trade Center bombings, Ramzi Yousef, was working for the Iraqi intelligence service. Laurie Mylroie, The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2d rev. ed. 2001.)
But even with Moores clever phrasing designed to elide Saddams culpability in the murders and attempted murders of Americans, Tapper still catches him with an irrefutable point: Saddam did perpetrate the premeditated murder of Americans. Every victim of every Palestinian terrorist bomber who was funded by Saddam Hussein was the victim of premeditated murderincluding the American victims.
So what does Moore do? He tries to change the subject. Moore makes the good point that the U.S. media should focus more attention on Saudi financial aid to Palestinian terrorists who murder Americans in Israel. On NRO, Ive pointed to Saudi terror funding, as have other NRO writers. But pointing out Saudi Arabias guilt does not excuse Moores blatant lie about Saddam Husseins innocence.
Moores pro-Saddam allegation that Saddam never threatened to attack the United States is true in the narrow sense that Saddam never gave a speech in which he threatened to, for example, send the Iraqi navy and army to conduct an amphibious invasion of Florida. But although Saddam never threatened the territorial integrity of America, he repeatedly threatened Americans. For example, On November 15, 1997, the main propaganda organ for the Saddam regime, the newspaper Babel (which was run Saddam Hussein's son Uday) ordered: "American and British interests, embassies, and naval ships in the Arab region should be the targets of military operations and commando attacks by Arab political forces." (Stephen Hayes, The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2004), p. 94.)
Moreover, Saddam did not need to make verbal threats in order to threaten the United States. He threatened the United States by giving refuges to terrorists who had murdered Americans, and by funding terrorists who were killing Americans in Israel. Saddam gave refuge to terrorists who had attacked the United States by bombing the World Trade Center. In addition:
Hitchens, Slate. The cited article is David E. Sanger & Thom Shanker, "A Region Inflamed: Weapons. For the Iraqis, a Missile Deal That Went Sour; Files Tell of Talks With North Korea, New York Times, Dec. 1, 2003.
As French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin stated on November 12, 2002, "The security of the United States is under threat from people like Saddam Hussein who are capable of using chemical and biological weapons." (Hayes, p. 21.) De Villepin's point is indisputable: Saddam the kind of person who was capable of using chemical weapons, since he had actually used them against Iraqi who resisted his tyrannical regime. As de Villepin spoke, Saddam was sheltering terrorists who had murdered Americans, and was subsidizing the murder of Americans (and many other nationalities) in Israel.
Iraq and al Qaeda
Moore declares that George Bush completely fabricated an Iraq/al Qaeda connection in order to deflect attention from his Saudi masters. But consider the facts presented in Stephen F. Hayes's book, The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2004). The first paragraph of the last chapter (pp. 177-78) sums up some of the evidence:
Hayes is a writer for The Weekly Standard and much of his writing on the Saddam/Osama connection is available there for free; simply use the search engine and look for articles by Hayes.
Fahrenheit shows Condoleezza Rice saying, Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. The audience laughs derisively. Here is what Rice really said:
I agree with Hayes that there is significant evidence suggesting possible Iraqi involvement in 9/11, but Moore deceptively cut the Rice quote to fool the audience into thinking she was making a particular claim, even though she was pointedly not making such a claim.
Iraq before Liberation
Jeff Jarvis, "Watching Michael Moore," Buzz Machine weblog, June 24, 2004.
Foreman, New York Post.
Invasion of Iraq
Labash, Weekly Standard.
Major Coalition Partners Ignored
Patrick Goldstein, Truth teller or story stretcher? Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2004.
If it is a Big Lie to mention only the powerful and important members of the Coalition (such as England and Australia), then it is an equally Big Lie to mention only the small and insignificant members of the Coalition.
Jennings is shown delivering a broadcast in which he says, Iraqi opposition has faded in the face of American power. But Jennings was simply stating an undeniable fact, as he stood next to a map showing that Saddams army had collapsed everywhere, and all Iraqi cities were in Coalition hands. Despite what Moore implies, Jennings strongly opposed the liberation of Iraq. (Tim Graham, Peters Peace Platoon. ABCs Crusade Against Arrogant American Power, Media Research Center, March 18, 2003.)
Support for Soldiers and Veterans
Bush supported closing veterans hospitals says Moore. The Bush Department of Veterans Affairs did propose closing seven hospitals in areas with declining populations where the hospitals were underutilized, and whose veterans could be served by other hospitals. Moore does not say that the Department also proposed building new hospitals in areas where needs were growing, and also building blind rehabilitation centers and spinal cord injury centers. (For more, see the Final Report of the independent commission on veterans hospitals, which agrees with some of the Bush proposals, and with some of the objections raised by critics.)
According to Moore, Bush tried to double the prescription drug costs for veterans. What Bush proposed was raising the prescription co-pay from $7 to $15, for veterans with incomes of over $24,000 a year. Prescription costs would have remained very heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
Bush, announces Moore, proposed cutting combat soldiers pay by 33%. Not exactly. In addition to regular military salaries, soldiers in certain areas (not just combat zones) receive an imminent danger bonus of $150 a month. In April 2003, Congress retroactively enacted a special increase of $75, for the fiscal year of Oct. 1, 2002 through Sept. 30, 2003. At first, the Bush administration did not support renewing the special bonus, but then changed its position
Likewise, Congress had passed a special one-year increase in the family separation allowance (for service personnel stationed in places where their families cannot join them) from $100 to $250. Bushs initial opposition to extending the special increase was presented by Moore as cutting assistance to their families by 60%. (Edward Epstein, Pentagon reverses course, wont cut troops pay, San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 15, 2003.)
Even if one characterizes not renewing a special bonus as a cut, Fahrenheit misleads the viewer into thinking that the cuts applied to total compensation, rather than only to pay supplements which constitute only a small percentage of a soldiers income. An enlisted man with four months of experience receives an annual salary more than $27,000. (Rod Powers, What the Recruiter Never Told You: Military Pay.)
In 2003, Congress enacted a Bush administration proposal to raise all military salaries by 3.7%, with extra targeted pay increases for non-commissioned officer. NCOs are lower-ranking officers who typically join the military with lower levels of education than commissioned officers. (Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, Defense Department Targets Military Pay Increases for 2004, American Forces Press Service.)
Congressional Children in War
Early in this segment, Moore states that only one member of Congress has a child in Iraq. The action of the segment consists of Moore accosting Congressmen to try to convince them to have their children enlist in the military. At the end, Moore declares, Not a single member of Congress wanted to sacrifice their child for the war in Iraq.
Moores conclusion is technically true, but duplicitous. Of course no-one would want to sacrifice his child in any way. But the fact is, Moore's opening ("only one") and his conclusion ("not a single member") are both incorrect. Sergeant Brooks Johnson, the son of South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, serves in the 101st Airborne Division and fought in Iraq in 2003. The son of California Republican Representative Duncan Hunter quit his job after September 11, and enlisted in the Marines; his artillery unit was deployed in the heart of insurgent territory in February 2004. Delaware Senator Joseph Biden's son Beau is on active duty; although Beau Biden has no control over he is deployed, he has not been sent to Iraq, and therefore does not "count" for Moore's purposes.
How about Cabinet members? Fahrenheit never raises the issue, because the answer would not fit Moores thesis. Attorney General John Ashcrofts son is on active duty. (Fahrenheit Fact.)
The editing of the Congressional scenes borders on the fraudulent:
George Stephanopoulos, of ABC News, asked Moore about the selective cuts in the Kennedy footage:
This Week, ABC News, June 20, 2004.
So while Fahrenheit pretended that Kennedy rebuffed Moore, Kennedy agreed to help Moore.
Fahrenheit shows Moore calling out to Delaware Republican Michael Castle, who is talking on a cell phone and waves Moore off. Castle is presented one of the Congressmen who would not sacrifice his children. What the film omits is that Rep. Castle does not have any children.
Are Congressional children less likely to serve in Iraq than children from other families? Lets use Moores methodology, and ignore members of extended families (such as nephews) and also ignore service anywhere expect Iraq (even though U.S. forces are currently fighting terrorists in many countries). And like Moore, let us also ignore the fact that some families (like Rep. Castles) have no children, or no children of military age.
We then see that of 535 Congressional families, there was one (Brooks Johnson) with a child who served in Iraq. How does this compare with American families in general? In the summer of 2003, U.S. troop levels in Iraq were raised to 145,000. If we factor in troop rotation, we could estimate that about 300,000 people have served in Iraq at some point. According to the Census Bureau, there were 104,705,000 households in the United States in 2000. (See Table 1 of the Census Report.) So the ratio of ordinary U.S. households to Iraqi service personnel is 104,705,000 to 300,000. This reduces to a ratio of 349:1.
In contrast the ratio of Congressional households to Iraqi service personnel is 535:2. This reduces to a ration of 268:1.
Stated another way, a Congressional household is about 23 percent more likely than an ordinary household to be closely related to an Iraqi serviceman or servicewoman.
Of course my statistical methodology is very simple. A more sophisticated analysis would look only at Congressional and U.S. households from which at least one child is legally eligible to enlist in the military. Moore, obviously, never attempted such a comparison; instead, he deceived viewers into believing that Congressional families were extremely different from other families in enlistment rates.
Moore ignores the fact that there are 102 veterans currently serving in Congress. Regardless of whether they have children who could join the military, all of the veterans in Congress have personally put themselves at risk to protect their country.
Fahrenheit wallows in pity for Mrs. Lipscomb. I was tired of seeing people like Mrs. Lipscomb suffer, he claims. Yet Moores website takes a different view:
Michael Moore, Heads Up... from Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com, April 14, 2004.
Moores Pro-Saddam Source
Washington Representative Jim McDermott appears in several segments.
Moore Supports Terrorists
In Fahrenheit 911, Moore claims to support our troops. But in fact, he supports the enemy in Iraqthe coalition of Saddam loyalists, al Qaeda operatives, and terrorists controlled by Iran or Syriawho are united in their desire to murder Iraqis, and to destroy any possibility of democracy in Iraq. Here is what Moore says about the forces who are killing Americans and trying to impose totalitarian rule on Iraq:
Michael Moore, Heads Up... from Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com, April 14, 2004. Of course if you believe that the people who are perpetrating suicide bombings against Iraqi civilians and American soldiers in order to force a totalitarian boot onto Iraq are the moral equivalent of the American Founders, then Moore's claim about the Iraqi insurgents could be valid. But even if that claim were valid (and I do not believe that any reasonable person can equate people fighting for totalitarianism with people fighting for constitutional democracy), then Moore is still being dishonest in Fahrenheit when he pronounces his concern for American troops. To the contrary, he is cheering for the forces which are killing our troops, as he equates the killers with freedom-fighters. And if you think that the people who are slaughtering American soldiers, American civilians, Iraqi soldiers, and Iraqi civilians are terrorists rather than "minutemen," then it is true that Moore supports terrorists.
Moore is Working with Terrorists to Distribute His Film
As reported in the trade journal Screen Daily, affiliates of the Iranian and Syrian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah are promoting Fahrenheit 911 and Moores Middle East distributor, Front Row, is accepting the terrorist assistance:
Nancy Tartaglione, Fahrenheit to be first doc released theatrically in Middle East, Screen Daily.com, June 9, 2004 (website requires registration). The story is discussed in Samantha Ellis, Fahrenheit 9/11 gets help offer from Hezbollah, The Guardian, June 17, 2004; and Moore film distributor OK with terror support: Exec says firm doesnt want to risk boycott of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Mideast, WorldNetDaily.com, June 22, 2004.
According to Screen Daily, Moores film will open in mid-July on ten screens in Lebanon and two screens in Syria. Syria is a terrorist state which invaded Lebanon in the 1970s and controls the nation through a puppet government.
Moore accuses the United States of sacrificing morality because of greed: The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich. David Brooks, All Hail Moore, New York Times, June 28, 2004.
Yet it turns out that the self-righteous Moore is the one who is accepting aid from a terrorist organization which has murdered and kidnapped hundreds of Americans. Just to avoid a boycott on a dozen screens in a totalitarian terrorist state and its colony?
Theoretically, it might be possible that Moore has no personal awareness that his Middle East distributor is working with terrorists. But such ignorance is unlikely for two reasons: First, Moores war room staff monitors controversial articles about the film, and there could hardly be anything more controversial than making common cause with terrorists. Not only has the Hezbollah relationship been publicized in a leading film trade on-line newspaper, the Moore-Hezbollah connection has been reported one of the very most significant British newspapers, and in an important American on-line newspaper.
Second, Moore was personally questioned about the terrorist connection at a Washington, D.C., press conference. He at first denied the terrorist connection, but was then confronted with the direct quote from his distributor. He stonewalled and refused to answer. So the man who spends so much time getting in other peoples faces with tough questions is unwilling to explain why he is accepting aid from Hezbollah.
Recall the Moore quote from the beginning of this article: the September 11 attacks on the United States were insignificant. Recall that long after the release of an Osama bin Laden videotape demonstrating his responsibility for the September 11 attacks, Moore was asserting that the invasion of Afghanistan was wrong because Osama should be considered innocent until proven guilty. (As if a freely-given and videotaped confession were not proof of guilt.)
The conclusion of Fahrenheit quotes from George Orwells 1984, the novel of a totalitarian state perpetually at war. According to Orwell, the true purpose of the war was to perpetuate a hierarchical society based on poverty and ignorance. The real purpose of war as to keep the very structure of society intact. Fahrenheit applies Orwells words to the United States of today.
Moores purported positions on some issues in Fahrenheit are different from his previous positions: whether people should have made a big deal about September 11, whether Osama bin Laden is guilty of the September 11 attacks, whether American families, including the Lipscombs, deserve to suffer the deaths of their children because they supported the war. But throughout Michael Moores career, he has remained true to the central theme of Fahrenheit: capitalist America is the real terrorist state. Because America is a capitalist society, American use of force is necessarily evil.
Four days after September 11, Moore announced: We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants. (The statement has been deleted from Moores website, but is available through the web archive service called the Wayback Machine.) This is the view of Fahrenheit 911: Iraq under Saddam was fine until America began terrorizing it.
Saddam Hussein agrees; after September 11, his government issued an official statement declaring, "The American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity." Saddam's media showed him telling his generals, "Those who do not want to harvest evil, should not plant evil...Despite the contradictory humanitarian feelings on what happened in America, America is harvesting the thorns that its rulers have planted in the world...Nobody has crossed the Atlantic carrying weapons against America, but it has crossed the Atlantic carrying death and destruction to the whole world."
Throughout American history, there have always been patriotic Americans who criticized particular war-time policies, or who believed that a war was a mistake and should be promptly ended. Today, there are many patriotic Americans who oppose some or all aspects of the War on Terror. I am among them, in that I have strongly opposed the Patriot Act from its first days, have denounced the Bush administration for siding with corporate interests rather than with public safety by sabotaging the Armed Pilots law, and have repeatedly stated that the current Saudi tyranny should be recognized as a major part of the problem in the War on Terror--despite the tyranny's close relationship with America's foreign policy élite.
In contrast to the large number of patriots who have argued against particular wars or wartime policies, a much smaller number of Americans have hated America. They have cheered for the fighters who were killing Americans. They have belittled Americas right to protect itself, and they have produced propaganda designed to destroy American morale and to facilitate enemy victory. To advance their anti-American cause, they have sometimes feigned love for the nation they despised.
Do the many falsehoods and misrepresentations of Fahrenheit 911 suggest a film producer who just makes careless mistakes? Or does a man who calls Americans: possibly the dumbest people on the planet" believe that his audience will be too dumb to tell when he is tricking them? Viewers will have to decide for themselves whether the extremist and extremely deceptive Fahrenheit 911 is a conscientious work of patriotic dissent, or the cynical propaganda of a man who gives wartime aid to Americas murderous enemies, and who accepts their aid in return.
Dave Kopel is Research Director of the Independence Institute and an NRO columnist. He has previously written about the deceptions in Bowling for Columbine. Like Michael Moore, in 2000 Kopel endorsed and voted for Ralph Nader.
You admitted the above, not I.
Brilliant Post.Should be read by everyone.
Bump to read later, and to pass on to the mush minded kids.
What Moore did not tell you:
Gwendolyn Tose-Rigell, the principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School, praised Bushs action: I dont think anyone could have handled it better. What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?
And this fails to mention that she admits she didn't even vote for Bush in 2000... this principal is not rabid Republican.
Needs a Spread-to-the-Far-Corners-of-the-Earth Ping :-)
An excellent encyclopedia of rebuttal info for leftie smear propaganda.
A gold mine of facts bump.
At 10:00 p.m., which network took the lead in retracting the premature Florida [Gore] result? The first retracting network was CBS, not Fox.
Well done and bump for later
I've been thinking about this. We have so many groups out Freeping various events. We need to get a condensed list of this stuff printed off, & have a Freep at movie theaters. Hand the list to everyone who'll take it. Some will read, others won't. But at least the open-minded will realize what garbage they just paid to watch.
I've been thinking about this. We have so many groups out Freeping various events. We need to get a condensed list of this stuff printed off, & have a Freep at movie theaters. Hand the list to everyone who'll take it. Some will read, others won't. But at least the open-minded will realize what garbage they just paid to watch.
Great post. Thanks. Bump
Excellent reference material. The 56 is memorable on this Independence Day weekend, for the 56 Signers of the Declaration, who put everything on the line for an idea - and for their honor.
Agree. We conservatives seem to be horrible at marketing what we stand for. It's amazing to me that we don't know how to get our message out properly.
Bookmarking for reference. Thanks for posting.
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