July 31, 2004


Besides having an awesome name, the Bloomington Pantagraph has charged that Michael Moore doctored the image of their paper that he showed in Fahrenheit 9/11:

A scene early in the movie that shows newspaper headlines related to the legally contested presidential election of 2000 included a shot of The 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."

For those that care, here's a screenshot of the image:


Now, granted, this is flashed on the screen for 1.5 seconds in a collage of other headlines and makes little difference to the main thrust of the movie. But, to the point I've made before, if he's willing to do this kind of thing for a side story, why should I trust anything he has to say about the important things: the oil pipelines, the Saudi relations, the recruiting techniques.

Posted by richard at July 31, 2004 12:13 PM

I can't say for sure about this particular paper, but I remember several headlines in several papers acorss the country saying the same thing: Recount shows Gore would have won.

There was no need for michael Moore to doctor anything becasue there were countless real papers to show. Again, I don't know what he did with this paper in particular, but your conspiracy theory doesn't fly simply becasue there was no need for him to do it.

Of course, you shoudln't believe anything Michaele Moore says. You're supposed to investigate it yourself. You're not supposed to beleive everything at face valuae, but you are supposed to wonder if african-maericans were prevented from voting, if Bush's ties to the Saudi family are too strong, why the bin laden's were let out of the country, if war was absolutely necessary.

In your rush to poke holes at Michael Moore, I think you're missing the point. Moore may use innuendo and half-truths to try to make his case — but he does raise interesting points. We should be discussing the points he raised, not trying to poke holes in his arguments. They're full of them already.

Posted by: Mike F. at July 31, 2004 12:52 PM

Wow, Richard. That's really important. And if the Anti-Pantagraph in West Lafayette raises a credibility issue with the Pantagraph article that raised a credibility issue with a movie that raised credibility issues about the President, then you'll have to be sure to cover that, too, because it will take us even further from relevance.

But you're right — if Moore is willing to doctor up a newspaper image to make a photo collage look good, then he's probably an outright liar about everything he's ever said. Because anyone who would fabricate a fifth-level confirmation of an accepted truth for aesthetic reasons is nothing but 100% dishonest to the core.

Sooner or later someone was going to find a factual inaccuracy in this movie, and this one should bring the whole feature film crashing to its knees. So get in there and fight for all the truthtellers in the world — you know, all the George Bushes and Dick Cheneys who never lied about anything, misspoke "facts" that were unconfirmed, or exploited innuendo and prejudice to trump up an excuse to kill lots of people.

Oh, and by the way, you may have heard there was a convention this week here in Boston, where real politicians met and nominated a Presidential candidate, and there were lots of speeches, etc.

But then again, it probably wasn't reported in the Blooming Pantagraph. Or if it was, the headline was not used on the front page. Or it appeared in a smaller type above a letter to the editor. So without Michael Moore's help, you probably missed it.

Posted by: Brad A. at July 31, 2004 11:36 PM

Yeah, this is probably a pretty silly post, but I'm (obviously) less charitable with this guy than you two are. Rather than thinking that doctoring a newspaper image is innocent because it's "a fifth-level confirmation of an accepted truth for aesthetic reasons" or because "he didn't need to do it", I think that being willing to do it for something so small is evidence of ingrained intellectual dishonesty – it reeks of propaganda.

And, of course, when you combine the fact that one of his three "headlines" was actually an op-ed title, with the fact that he ignored the results of the definitive New York Times recount that happened six months later (and declared Bush the winner) you see how shoddy and manipulative his case is.

And yes, I know there was a convention going on. And I did miss most of it because of work, Arabic classes, Spirit Of America work, and family in town. There are plenty of places to get views about how well Obama, Kerry, Clinton, and Edwards did. I don't have much to add, because I didn't see it.

So, on the weekend, I did this quick throw-away post because I know so many people who read this blog are infatuated with Moore. Enjoy.

Posted by: richard at August 1, 2004 10:07 AM

Hey, Mike: we're infatuated with Michael Moore. Who knew?

I'll see your Pantagraph and raise you an Arizona Daily Star.

Posted by: Brad A. at August 1, 2004 04:51 PM

Correct me if i'm wrong, Brad, but when I came out of that movie I believe expressing my general disdain for it. I liked that he brought up points that the mainstream media never did, but thought the movie rambled from conspiracy theory to conspiracy theory without providing any real evidence. I also recall pointing out the anti-Arab sentiment.

Again, Michale Moore's not the point. The point is the points he raised.

Take that last sentence and pretend it was written in proper English.

Posted by: Mike F. at August 1, 2004 07:12 PM

I remember blaming Moorish upheaval for an inane post that I wrote. So maybe that's the source of the "infatuation" rumor.

At any rate, I think it says something that an insanely controversial film came out several months ago, the filmmaker challenged his critics to identify factual inaccuracies, and two months later we have only this. And it's apparently sufficient basis to discount everything that the guy says in the entire film.

The stronger case than the one Richard makes is this: when the movie came out, Richard said he would not go see it because he did not want any of his money to go to Michael Moore. But he might consider watching a pirated copy. As I know of no other filmmaker that Richard refuses to patronize, I can only assume that Richard had a strong particularized bias against Michael Moore prior to seeing the movie. And, of course, in the time since, we've seen a post here, an email there criticizing Moore — possibly following a full viewing of the movie, and possibly not. There follows then Rich's outright condemnation of any of the movie's factual integrity, because the vetting public finally found a smidgen of inaccuracy or manipulation.

To me, this read less like Michael Moore's intellectual dishonesty than it does Richard's predetermined intention to bring the guy down at any cost.

And fine. I don't think the guy is out there telling the Gospel truth to the world. But nor do I see a basis to find him wholly uncreditable and worth ignoring.

I shared much of Mike's critique of the movie. The style is for Moore to arrange pointed facts that lead the viewer to jump to his desired conclusion. Many of these conclusions are irrelevant or absurd. And the conclusions certainly do not come together to yield a coherent thesis. It's a scattershot ad hominem against George Bush.

But that said, I reiterate that there are parts of the movie that America needed to see: chiefly, what our bombs and guns do to Iraqi civilians, what kind of midnight raids on homes our military has been reduced to making, and how the military trolls around low-income areas looking for kids to do the dirty work. And there is also the woman who happens by the camera and refuses to believe that Moore's subject mother actually lost her son in Iraq. That last bit, to my mind, says a whole heck of a lot about the way this country deals with war.

So I can understand if some among us, like the willfully skeptical pedestrian, don't want to believe anything that Moore is telling us. But I defy even Richard to tell me how any single cell of the footage I just described was "manufactured" or "manipulated" in a manner that is false or misleading.

Believe what you want to believe. That's your entitlement. Believe what you're predisposed to believe. That's your constraint. But I think Mike and I are the two here who went into the Fahrenheit 9/11 experience with an open mind. We're fighting our entitlement and our constraint. It's a losing battle most of the time, but you have to respect that we're trying.

Posted by: Brad A. at August 1, 2004 10:59 PM


Thanks for pointing this out. Presumably, this is the kind of fact checking his highly trumped legal team was supposed to ferret out. It is indeed interesting because, although just a small detail, it is clearly false.

- Mike

Posted by: Michael W. at August 2, 2004 10:42 AM