Mauling Michael Moore

The attack on Fahrenheit 9/11: Fox lays back while ABC and NBC pile on

When you consider how well the film is doing despite this pile-on, you have to conclude that most people haven't been affected by the media's negative spin. They want to see what all the fuss is about. Of course, the real question is whether audiences will leave the cineplex arguing about Moore's truthfulness or his insights into Bush. If the film turns out to have an impact on the fall election, we'll learn something about the limits of the media's power to shape perceptions. Since this is a recurring theme of mine, I hope Fahrenheit 9/11 affirms my conviction that the press distorts but we decide.


Y Tu Mamá También

In the printosphere, the line on Fahrenheit 9/11 was mixed. The film garnered overwhelmingly favorable reviews and mostly negative reactions from media pros with Washington connections. Michael Isikoff's Newsweek feature was typical: a point-by-point rebuttal accompanied by a photo of Moore captioned "Problem with authority." But the most florid outrage was expressed by George Orwell's demon seed, Christopher Hitchens.

It's never enough for Hitchens to condemn an enemy. He must enlist every epithet in the English language. Here's a partial list of the imprecations Hitchens hurled at Fahrenheit 9/11 in just one piece posted on Slate:

"Dishonest . . . demagogic . . . a piece of crap . . . an exercise in facile crowd pleasing . . . a sinister exercise in moral frivolity . . . a spectacle of abject political cowardice . . . a big lie [sustained] by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more contradictory claims . . . loaded bias against the work of the mind . . . so flat-out phony that 'fact-checking' is beside the point." As for Moore himself, Hitchens calls him "a silly and shady man" and "one of the great soggy blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture."

When someone is attacked with such operatic ferocity, one thing is certain: That person is successful.


Research: Matthew Phillp

Deconstructions: rgoldstein@villagevoice.com

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