Michael Moore is my hero.
August 4, 2000 3:41 AM   Subscribe

Michael Moore is my hero. Love him or hate him, ya gotta admit he's pretty sharp.
posted by Optamystic (61 comments total)
Michael Moore always appeared to know very little about politics besides warmed-over party line rhetoric, but knows a few things about being a provocateur. That said, I'd hate for him to be a liberal's only hope in the world for a heroic public personality. He says patronizing stuff in his speeches like "Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to go home tonight and watch Roseanne and buy and pickup truck and eat a TV dinner so you can see how **they** feel..." I remember hearing him say that and thinking, wow, if he were ever in a public debate with, say, Rush Limbaugh, he'd be totally outclassed. And that's sad.
posted by jblock at 5:49 AM on August 4, 2000

I watch his show and although warey about his frequent 'fat cat' bashing (rich/poor quiz show was offensive crap) he's quite right a lot of the time. Unlike many lefty cranks he notices it, and his show's digestable enough; tasty, even.
posted by holloway at 5:55 AM on August 4, 2000

Much less offensive than the corporate behavior itself.
posted by alana at 6:13 AM on August 4, 2000

I've often found him funny, though his concept that if someone is making money = evil is downright stupid.
posted by owillis at 6:42 AM on August 4, 2000

He's still the poor man's Mark Thomas. But at least he tries.
posted by holgate at 7:13 AM on August 4, 2000

That's five comments in a row of He's not that swift, all told, but he's the best we've got.

Phtphth. I think he's a hell of a guy, and perfect for what he does. I'm glad he has as much influence as he does, and I'll hear him out on whatever he has to say.
posted by chicobangs at 7:35 AM on August 4, 2000

Owillis, have you ever read anything by Mr. Moore, or are you just repeating something you heard someone else say?
posted by alana at 7:37 AM on August 4, 2000

I saw on Good Morning America a few weeks back that one of M.Moore's ex-employees is disgruntled, and making a Rodger and Me type thing about Michael himself.
I disagree with the ex-employee's anger, and believe it is unreasonable to think any job is gonna last forever, but his footage was funny. He stood up and asked M.M. why he was downsized at some speaking event. M.M tryed to play it off like it was all part of the show, and even berated the guy for pulling the gag off too quick. I am not sure what the proper reaction would have been to save face, but that was not it. He looked just as bad as any of the guys he puts on the spot all the time. M.M had the guy arrested for trespassing, and he was taken away in cuffs. M.M dropped the charges, and now the ex-employee is suing him for some stupid reason.
I am not sure what Moore's party affiliation is, but he is a funny, reasonable man whose political beliefs are broad enough to appeal to just about everyone.
posted by thirteen at 8:00 AM on August 4, 2000

I'm sure he's sharp and all, but, his show is rather poor, there is one or two scenes that are funny, hardly anything that really makes you think, or reconcider. It's mostly like watching Roger&Me for a half hour on teevee. Hig gag never changed, come in with half of the tv station and then talk about who evil the company is with the receptionist who just got the job yesturday, get turned away by security. That's it. I'm sure there are better ways to get at least *some* results.
posted by tiaka at 8:13 AM on August 4, 2000

He looked just as bad as any of the guys he puts on the spot all the time.

Wow thirteen, you're right. The inability to deal with one downsized employee is very comparable to the inability to deal with gross corporate human rights violations. I can't believe we didn't see this before!
posted by alana at 8:20 AM on August 4, 2000

I think I actually enjoyed his TV nation while it was on broadcast TV a long long time ago. However, I can't agree with the notion that all rich people are evil, and that all rich white men are the scum of the earth.
posted by gyc at 8:22 AM on August 4, 2000

Yeah GYC, he must think all rich white men are scum of the earth, especially since he endorsed one for president.

Oh wait, I read it on a weblog, it must be true.
posted by alana at 8:29 AM on August 4, 2000

I like Michael Moore, too. Roger and Me is one of the defining moments of the '80s, with its brilliant juxtaposition of unbounded corporate greed and the resulting economic devastation for the working-class people of Flint, Mich. I haven't enjoyed enough of his subsequent TV work to watch regularly, but I'm glad he's out there raising hell. He wrote some great stuff about the impeachment on his website.
posted by rcade at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2000

Say what you will of Michael Moore, but he has used his influence to save at least one man's life, and for that you have to respect him. He intervened when a man's health insurance refused to pay for an organ transplant, humiliating the insurance company and even holding a mock funeral for the dying man on their doorstep. The insurance company caved and agreed to cover the organ transplant. It was a chilling example of a corporate bottom line literally condemning someone to death, and Moore's investigation and his relentless publicity forced the company's hand.

And you want to compare him to Rush Limbaugh? That's disgusting. If you can name one positive influence that Rush Limbaugh has had on anything besides his own career and ego, I'd like to hear it.

Michael Moore's not perfect. No one is. But he's very damn good, and I'm glad he's on our side.
posted by wiremommy at 8:46 AM on August 4, 2000

Wow Alan, is that what I meant by that? I said it made him look bad, I did not say he was bad. In fact I thought I said he was reasonable, and that I supported his position. The whole affair made me think the tactic, while funny, is a bit unfair. As evidence I point to the fact that this good man was just as flustered as the bad men he does it to. If no one can win in that situation, it does not say much about the man on the spot, it just shows us what an amusing trap looks like.
posted by thirteen at 9:05 AM on August 4, 2000

I've known Michael Moore for years. I used to write with him when he ran the hippie style underground newsletter we published here in Flint. By the time Rodger & Me was released, I was gone and didn't know the Flint he filmed very well. But, he is a wonderfully witty writer, always has been. It's his numer one gift. Despite every thing that I know about him, I will always respect that.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 9:33 AM on August 4, 2000

My apologies thirteen, within the context of the other posts, it was hard to tell which way you were going with that.

Like wiremonkey said, no one's perfect (-:
posted by alana at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2000

wiremommy: ...and I'm glad he's on our side.

ummm, and which side might that be? Are you presuming to speak for more than yourself?
posted by netbros at 10:03 AM on August 4, 2000

Netbros, if you'll look up for a moment you'll see that Jblock remarked, "I'd hate for him to be a liberal's only hope in the world". I'm presuming to say that I (me, myself, only me) am glad that Michael Moore is on our (that is, liberals, "lefty cranks", etc.) side.
posted by wiremommy at 10:12 AM on August 4, 2000

I also like Moore, but at the same time know what people mean when they say he's not great, but the best we have. Sometimes I just wish his show was... better. Imagine if he had the ability to point out the hypocrisy and callousness to a wider audience (which he would have if his schtick was more entertaining). Sometimes I think his manner is such that he'll always be preaching to the converted. still got a soft spot for him, though.
posted by chaz at 11:00 AM on August 4, 2000

10-4 wiremommy. You're welcome to him.
posted by netbros at 11:26 AM on August 4, 2000

Thanks, netbros. BTW, I'm still waiting to hear about how Rush Limbaugh, William F. Buckley, P.J. O'Rourke, (insert your conservative role model here) have used their power to help others and save lives. (And don't tell me it's not their job to save lives; the three I name are known for journalism, and Michael Moore isn't even really a journalist, just a guy with a camera and a whole lot of nerve).
posted by wiremommy at 11:43 AM on August 4, 2000

Seems like ill-researched drivel to me. But, the left wing has to have a hero I guess.

(Flame suit on!)
posted by Popstar at 12:03 PM on August 4, 2000

seems like ill-researched

Now that's funny.
posted by alana at 12:15 PM on August 4, 2000

God, some of you right-wingers are such incredible assholes.
posted by rcade at 12:32 PM on August 4, 2000

Don't call alan an asshole. Please don't mind alan. He's just "trying not to wallow in depression and anger" and find employment.
posted by Popstar at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2000

Drifting from topic, but responding to wiremommy. My conservative role models are people just like you and me; people we've never heard of. The care givers who selflessly treat the sick and infirmed, the research scientists searching for the golden cure. The cop on the beat and the fire-fighter in the forest. My dad who gets up before dawn every day to deliver meals-on-wheels to elderly shut-ins.

Each of the individuals you mentioned are heavily involved in charity work. They choose not to make a big deal about it, realizing charity is simply a quiet matter of character, not a resume dot point.
posted by netbros at 12:48 PM on August 4, 2000

Indeed, one needn't be public about their good works in order to be a good person, but apparently one must make a big show of their good works in order to not be villified as a do-nothing.

Fwiw for those who have an evisceral hatred of the man, Rush Limbaugh's annual one-day (day, hell -- three hours!) campaign brings in more money to the American Leukemia Society than any other single fundraising event that they have, and it costs them nothing. He takes advantage of the fact that he has the largest audience in talk radio and does the soft sell: they do good work, can you help? And people respond in larger measure with each passing year.
posted by Dreama at 1:54 PM on August 4, 2000

Netbros... you're going to have to do better than that if you want to convince me. Sorry, but Rush Limbaugh, for one, has fudged the truth so many times I can't believe anyone even brought up his name, so I'm not going to believe he's some sort of humble private philanthropist on your say-so.

I'm amused by your "people like you and me" reply to the question of role models. "People like you and me" also includes plenty of liberals, so I'm not sure what kind of answer that's supposed to be. My parents are my heroes, but that doesn't have much to do with liberal or conservative role models.

The original statement that jblock made was "I'd hate for him to be a liberal's only hope in the world for a heroic public personality", so I'm asking, what about the heroic public personalities among conservatives? Show me instances where they've used their positions for the benefit of others.
posted by wiremommy at 2:03 PM on August 4, 2000

Just for the sake of clarification, when stated in the original link that Moore is "my hero" I was slightly exaggerating. He's not the Messiah or anything, but he is very sharp, often insightful, and usually funny as hell. Plus, he seems to be a man who cares personally about the causes that he champions professionally.

As for the comments about the quality of his show...I don't really care. I base my statement on following the man's work over the years. In the ten years that I've been aware of him, he's been funny as hell, and right more often than he was wrong. And even when he was wrong, his heart was in the right place. That's more than one can say for the vast majority of people who make their living as "pundits" or "wonks"...Exceptions being Al Franken and Dennis Miller...

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...
posted by Optamystic at 2:03 PM on August 4, 2000

See, netbros, like the example Dreama came up with.
posted by wiremommy at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2000

How does the benefit of others equal heroic? Every thing I think of as heroic is deeply personal. What we do for others is... nice. I do not think it is part of Moore's job a a film maker to save lives, it is a nice thing he does.
posted by thirteen at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2000

I'm sure with some research I could come up with names and links and causes and results. So could anyone. Role models have no political face. They simply are. Humble and quiet, they go about their business without seeking publicity or approval. Many are liberals, many are conservatives. Labels don't matter; care and respect for their fellow human being are their day to day legacy. I respectfully submit that anyone is welcome to choose Michael Moore as a role model. I will pass.
posted by netbros at 2:29 PM on August 4, 2000

Thirteen, how reductionist do we have to be here? The definition of a hero, courtesy of dictionary.com, is "a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life".

No, it isn't part of Moore's job as a filmmaker or muckraker to save lives. The fact that he saved a life is thus a "feat of courage"-- in this case, the courage to hassle the insurance company, risk arrest, and generally make a nuisance of himself-- marked by a "nobility of purpose"-- in other words, a heroic act.

And on a general level, "how does the benefit of others equal heroic"? Well, how about the biggest Western hero and role model of the past few millenia, Jesus? He's revered and worshipped because he died "for the sins of mankind". Whether you believe in his divinity or not, Jesus is held up as an example of a hero for making a sacrifice for the benefit of others.
posted by wiremommy at 2:34 PM on August 4, 2000

As an aside-- no, I have no idea how things got to the point of having to define our terms in order to have a discussion. And I'm not implying Michael Moore is in any way equal or similar to Jesus. I wouldn't know, I never met either of them.
posted by wiremommy at 2:38 PM on August 4, 2000

Re: right wingers assholes & don't call Alan an asshole

Rcade, if you were referring to me and/or my ilk, that's left wing.

Popstar, allow me to clarify. The word 'seems' implies that you didn't do any research into what was said. Which is what you believe Mr. Moore to have done. That's why the phrase seems like ill-researched is funny.

And I'm not touching the Rush can 'o worms, other than to say I'm not touching it.
posted by alana at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2000

I know Moore generally pins himself as liberal, but so much of his politics is based on his deep disgust with big business that he ends up coming off as a far-left socialist. And that doesn't fit in with the Democratic Party all that much better than it does with the GOP. The Dems are certainly much more skeptical of corporate interests than the Republicans, but they need business too; business makes the economy run, and all that campaign money has to come from somewhere anyway. So in the end, most people on both sides tend to perceive him as a marginalized crank. And that means he'll never be able to be very effective as a spokesman for liberal issues.

All that said, he is often hilarious and usually has a legitimate point, and I'll happily read or watch his stuff when I come across it.

As for what jblock said about Limbaugh: Rush is a debater. He makes his points and backs them up. Moore, OTOH, largely makes his statements through comedy. Which is fine, but it wouldn't work in a one-on-one debate. That's all.

Rush's positive influence? He's
gotten millions of people to understand that conservatism works better than liberalism. Yeah, that's right, I fully believe that conservatism serves people far more effectively than liberalism does, not that it's a way for me to stomp on the little people (as if I'm not one of the little people myself). As for Rush's "truth-fudging," I must disagree, as someone who listens to him quite often. In 13-plus years of 3-hour-per-day broadcasting, has he ever screwed up? Sure. Hell yeah, even. But the simple fact is that he backs up what almost everything he has to say with tons and tons of examples, usually direct cuts from other broadcasts and direct quotes from various media outlets. (And yes, I listen to liberal talk shows too. Since this post is already huge, I'll refrain from direct comparisons of them to Rush unless someone asks.)

And journalists are emphatically not out there "to save lives," they're there to report news stories. Any belief that journalists are out there to Crusade For the People is itself a distinctly liberal concept, and just plain incorrect. (Yeah, I know, there's so-called "New Journalism," but that's only gathering facts purely to support a certain viewpoint, and it's a huge part of the reason so much media has become the "liberal media" in recent decades.) Reporting can certainly lead to positive results for individuals or groups, but that's merely because news in general is coverage of things that go wrong.

In any case, Limbaugh, Buckley and O'Rourke aren't journalists; they're opinionmakers and commentators, there to get out ideas. (O'Rourke does do some on-scene reporting, but only to uncover examples of how liberalism can go horribly awry.)

On another note, all the negativity, personal attacks and general "you don't agree with us so you must be an jerk" attitude from liberals, like in the above posts are a big, big part of the reason the GOP is rising fast these days. People are just sick of it. I don't see a single post above from the conservatives saying Moore is evil; all they're saying is that his shtick doesn't always work that well. But in response they get are one-liner attacks calling them "assholes" and insinuating that they're stupid. You people have got to start putting out ideas if you're gonna get some momentum back; empty "we care about the people and you just step on everybody" statements, without any attempt to back up such accusations don't cut it any more. (And no, "everyone knows that's the case" don't work.)

Oh, and nobody ever thought of Ralph Nader as a "rich white man" until he released his financial records a few weeks ago. Most probably still don't. No conservative would care anyway; we only care about the quality of his ideas, not his skin color or tax bracket.
posted by aaron at 3:34 PM on August 4, 2000

Alan: I've read some of his online writings and have been a fan of his two TV shows.
posted by owillis at 3:49 PM on August 4, 2000

Dear God, so many posts slipped in since I started typing my last one! A few more notes:

This discussion about "heroes" and people who "do things to help others," and the inability of wiremommy and thirteen to come together on what it all means, is a result of how liberals and conservatives view things differently. To liberals, such concrete, one-on-one examples of individuals doing something for other individuals are the best kind of proof that they care about people in general - and caring about people in general is, to them, the purest reason why they are superior to conservatives.

But to conservatives, such actions - or, more directly, the glorification of such actions - are damn near irrelevant, because we believe that you're supposed to do such things as a matter of course. Netbros nails this above; you do such things regardless of political beliefs. And to make a big deal out of it is, to conservatives, not merely tasteless but downright rude, to say nothing of the meanspiritedness of implying that conservatives don't do such good things.

And it can be taken deeper. The following is a gross oversimplification, but ... When liberals do things like give a homeless person a shopping cart so they can both have a nice shiny possession and have a way to carry around what little they have, they see it as a direct example of Doing a Good Thing for someone. But to a conservative, it looks nuts, because these people sbouldn't be homeless in the first place, and the while immediate impact of the Good Act makes the liberal feel better, and certainly is better for the homeless person than having to carry their clothes around in a plastic bag, it does absolutely nothing to get the homeless person back on their feet. (Of course, how to get them off the streets goes off into a lot more right-vs-left political debate on a whole range of issues.)
posted by aaron at 4:06 PM on August 4, 2000


I have a thought-provoking question for you: would you still agree that Moore did the right thing if it turned out that organ transplants were NOT covered by the man's health insurance?
posted by mikewas at 4:26 PM on August 4, 2000

Aaron, reading your post it's as though all you see in this thread is the ONE post wherein someone said "some of you right-wingers are such incredible assholes" for their tepid bashing of Michael Moore.

For example, you point out that it's not the job of journalists to save lives. I stated that explicitly above: "No, it isn't part of Moore's job as a filmmaker or muckraker to save lives. The fact that he saved a life is thus a "feat of courage"-- in this case, the courage to hassle the insurance company, risk arrest, and generally make a nuisance of himself-- marked by a "nobility of purpose"-- in other words, a heroic act."

As for how conservative role models fare in comparison to Michael Moore-- propagating their ideology is not really analogous to intervening to save a man's life, now is it? You say Rush has benefitted society by preaching the good news of conservatism, but 1) it's merely his job, no more and no less; 2) your judgement is a subjective one and even some conservatives might take the position that Rush has benefitted no one with his rhetoric; 3) I'm asking for an example of a conservative role model making a gesture that demonstrably helps improve someone's life. Rush spouting off about Hillary Clinton does not apply. Rush devoting a day of his show to raising money to cure leukemia does.

As for Rush, "the simple fact is that he backs up what almost everything he has to say with tons and tons of examples"... some of which are distorted beyond reckoning. The best example is probably Al Franken's debunking of Limbaugh's numbers game on the question of taxes during the Reagan presidency, which shows how thoroughly Limbaugh cooked the numbers.

Re "media has become the "liberal media" in recent decades", take any Communications 101 class, learn about the principles of journalism, and if the professor is on the ball you'll learn that news is inherently non-conservative merely because the agenda of conservatives, by definition, is to prevent or minimize change, and news is new because something is changing. Then grab a copy of Ben Bagdickian's The Media Monopoly and discover how increasingly concentrated ownership of media outlets affects the news, keeping the focus off corporate misbehavior and firmly on happy-talk, press release stories, making the news less ideological on both sides, so as not to offend any readers or advertisers.

Michael Moore is, yes, more left than the new centrist Democratic Party, which is another reason I regard him as a liberal role model. The Democrats are barely distinct from the Republicans these days-- both are subservient to corporate concerns, to the detriment of the wishes of their constituents.
posted by wiremommy at 4:34 PM on August 4, 2000

Mikewas - if I remember correctly, the dying man's insurance was ambivalent on the point of whether it covered an organ transplant, just enough such that the insurance company denied it. The man felt his case against the company would stand up in court if he sued them, but he would've been dead before the case went before a judge. Thus Moore intervened to publicize the case, forcing the company to choose between intolerably bad publicity (What kind of insurance company lets a man die when medical science could save him? Would you buy health insurance from them? What good is health insurance if the insurance company refuses to save your life?) or shelling out for the organ transplant, and they paid for the transplant.

Michael Moore doubtless has a lawyer, and I imagine if the dying man's health coverage had explicitly excluded organ transplants, Moore would have found some other way to help the man.
posted by wiremommy at 4:47 PM on August 4, 2000

*gasp* *wheeze*
posted by wiremommy at 4:47 PM on August 4, 2000

Now there's something we all can agree on. Passion.
posted by netbros at 6:03 PM on August 4, 2000

1. What Wiremonkey said.

2. More on Rush's lies.

3. I never intended to lump Ralph Nader in with the rest of the 'rich white guys'. I was simply using him as an example of a 'rich white guy' that Moore didn't hate, and at the time of Moore's endorsement, Nader's 'wealth' was well known.

4. Rcade, I re-read you other post and realized you meant right wing . . . sorry about that . . . it was a reflex :-)
posted by alana at 7:04 PM on August 4, 2000

Well the thing I found offensive was his pseudo gameshow quiz of people on the street from rich and poor suburbs; an entirely pointless exercise. "How much does it cost to rent a tape", rich:"$30?", poor:"$2.95 at blockbuster on tuesdays". 80%+ of the questions were slanted towards poor people - and hey - the poor people won. Congratulations or something. People know their environment - I don't expect rich people to know poor things - or poor people to know rich things. Would a rich person know how to get free bed at night? Would a poor person have a stock agent? No, maybe, who cares.

From michael's in studio laughter at asking a rich person how much a bottle of 'don peron yon' (Forgive me, NZer, never heard of the stuff) costs it was like he valued not knowing things. The piece soon fell into it's grind - it was just rich people bashing which I find as misguided as racism.

Michael's amusing, but he's misguided.
posted by holloway at 7:13 PM on August 4, 2000

errrr, wiremommy, not monkey. Damn blurry vision and hot head!
posted by alana at 7:18 PM on August 4, 2000

Alan, and here I thought all this time you were making a pun on the origin of my name.
posted by wiremommy at 8:33 PM on August 4, 2000

Ahh! All this time I thought you were just a mother with a modem. :)

Anyway ... >>take any Communications 101 class...<<

I have. I was a journalism major in college. Know the principles, had some the the best professors in the country, and have worked in national and/or network news for years. And everything you say about journalism being liberal by definition is wrong. ". * ~ ( oooops, she blew it again! ) ~ * ". Sorry, song popped into my head.

As for The Media Monopoly, I own literally four copies of Bagdikian (with no c), various editions (there goes that annoying journalism education of mine.) And his arguments, while they have meaning, only rarely apply to the actions of the people on the front lines, the actual reporters. For every example of the Big Evil Conglomerate spiking a story about their own company, there are thousands of examples of reporters slanting their stories, subconciously or otherwise, towards their own personal liberal viewpoints.

The rest will have to wait till tomorrow. I'm tired.
posted by aaron at 11:21 PM on August 4, 2000

I really have an urge to just say "first post", but...

holloway: The questions he asked, in my opinion, were more "useful vs. of questionable use" rather than "poor vs. rich"... stuff such as how to prepare the American staple Kraft Mac & Cheese, how to change a vacuum bag, willingness to spend more than $10 for a haircut, etc. vs. the current price of an obscure stock, the price of a particular brand of wine, etc. Furthermore, targetting someone because of their (wealthy) financial state seems to be the most justifiable sort of discrimination to me (don't get me wrong, I have several rich friends, and hey, I own a computer so I'm not necessarily poor) since wealth is completely voluntary. Race you have no control over; wealth you do and therefore is fair game.
posted by kidsplateusa at 11:46 PM on August 4, 2000

For every example of the Big Evil Conglomerate spiking a story about their own company, there are thousands of examples of reporters slanting their stories, subconciously or otherwise, towards their own personal liberal viewpoints.

Hey, Aaron: If the Republicans hold the White House and both houses of Congress, will it cure the half-century-long persecution complex that conservatives have been suffering from? How much power do you need before you stop feeling like the liberals have you outnumbered? I'm almost willing for those of my political beliefs to give up all power and influence in this country in exchange for an end to pathetic poor-me whining from you folks. I can't turn on a radio without hearing one of you sobbing into your monogrammed hankerchiefs about how the media is controlled by liberals, which is ironic, considering how it's impossible to find a liberal talk show host on the radio.
posted by rcade at 1:28 AM on August 5, 2000

Rather predictably kidsplateusa, I disagree. "useful vs. of questionable use".. well useful for a rich person is knowing obscure stock and expensive wine. It's an useful thing to know. By knowing stock you may not need to know vacumn cleaners or pasta snacks. A rich person is a fish out of water when it comes to renting videos. I'm not sure what questionable use is -- all the people in the game seemed to know enough to lead their lives, even if other people didn't understand them.
posted by holloway at 3:52 AM on August 5, 2000

Rather predictably? That's only the fifth post or so that I've made on this site, I'd hate for people to form opinions about me so soon... Anyway, it's fairly obvious that "useful" is a relative term. Knowing how to clip toenails effectively is useful to a pedicurist. I just think that knowing how to cook your own food gets you further in life than knowing the price of merlot in italian lira. I can't think of a way to describe it better than that; it seems inherent to me and those types of things are always difficult to explain.
posted by kidsplateusa at 9:59 AM on August 5, 2000

roger & me was brilliant, and still is. the closing credits alone can give any feeling person the chills. ("wouldn't it be nice" played against the hours of the blood bank in flynt, michigan; and a note that the movie cannot be shown in flynt, michigan, because the last theater closed shortly before the film was released.)

michael moore, like charles dickens, uses comedy and satire to express his outrage and his concern for everyday people. re-read oliver twist, great expectations, or bleak house. it's the same message. and it goes out to an equally heartless society.

most of the disagreement here is rooted in people's political convictions. no discussion is going to change those convictions.

michael moore's tv show is not always brilliant. it's hard to produce greatness (or even political outrage) on a weekly basis. let's face it, it's hard to produce anything.

i met michael moore in 1997, and a friend filmed our conversation with a hand-held. it was going to be my first interview at 15 minutes. moore very graciously consented. but neither i nor my friend had moore's technical expertise; the interview was ruined by background noise and shaky camera work and i couldn't use it. pity.

anyway: people that like him will like him, people that don't won't. i can understand why conservatives dislike him. i happen to share his "naive" belief that a few rich white guys run the country and most of the world, mainly for their own benefit, and that this is not necessarily a good thing.

i see very little real choice in this election, and i will vote for gore mainly because i found it horrifying that bush went ahead with an execution when there was doubt about the man's guilt, rather than risk appearing "soft on crime." committing murder to pander to the right does not sit well with me. that said, gore does not inspire me, he panders as much as g.w. (just to a slightly different crowd), and i feel pretty much non-represented by the rich white guys who are supposed to govern me.

if i feel that way as a middle class white male, i can only imagine the alienation felt by non-whites, females, and the poor. no wonder so few people vote.

i don't know if that was topic drift or an explanation of why i can identify with michael moore's general stance on corporate america.

i also think comedy and satire make pretty good weapons. and when he's at his peak, moore wields them well.

but if your politics differ from mine, there's probably not a lot to love about the guy.
posted by Zeldman at 11:07 PM on August 5, 2000

I doubt anyone is still reading this thread, particularly aaron, who was going to finish his arguments "tomorrow" two days ago.

But at any rate... aaron says: "everything you say about journalism being liberal by definition is wrong". First, I didn't say journalism was liberal by definition, I said "that news is inherently non-conservative merely because the agenda of conservatives, by definition, is to prevent or minimize change, and news is new because something is changing". I realize it's tempting to simplify "non-conservative" to "liberal", but it blunts any reply Aaron might make-- not that he chose to reply, as such.

Because Aaron doesn't point out how I'm wrong. I now have zero respect for Aaron's rhetoric. Perhaps showing the error of my statement was one of the things that was going to have to "wait until tomorrow", but I notice he had enough time & energy to childishly mock my contention via the charming Britney Spears. Perhaps he was hoping that by insulting me (and reviewing his credentials), he would misdirect attention from his lack of facts.

Look, Aaron, I'm a 24-year-old web designer, arguing politics in my spare time. I don't claim to have all the facts at my disposal; if you prove me wrong, I will concede your points. I challenged people on this forum to show me an example of a right-wing role model acting to benefit others; Dreama told us that Rush Limbaugh raises money for leukemia research. That qualifies by my definitions of benefiting others, and I concede that at least one prominent conservative has used his position as a spokesperson to do some non-ideologically-driven good in the world.

But if you simply make fun of my statements without backing up your own contentions, what does that say about you? That you can't even hold a straightforward debate with me? I admit I'm a loudmouth and I write a lot, but is it so difficult to refute me with facts rather than this intellectual sliminess of "oops she blew it" with nothing to support your claim that I'm wrong? And you're trained as a journalist? God help us.

BTW, I was reading over the thread and this statement from Aaron bothered me: "As for what jblock said about Limbaugh: Rush is a debater." Rush Limbaugh is no debater. When has he ever faced an opponent in a public forum? (Or any forum? Unless you count his dialogue with David Letterman on Letterman's late show as a "debate"). His radio shows are 3-hour monologues; the callers are pre-screened to ensure that they agree with him. His television show is also a monologue. I can find no examples of Rush Limbaugh being involved in anything like a "debate".

Again, if you bring in some facts to prove me wrong, I'll be happy to concede the point to you. Somehow I doubt you will. Considering that alan posted a very convincing link to FAIR's compendium of Rush Limbaugh's mistakes and distortions, I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone citing credentials as a journalist could speak so highly of Limbaugh, who has been proven to get his facts wrong, again and again.

Aaron, obviously we disagree strongly on ideology-- I have no idea how you get to the conclusions you're coming to from the information you seem to have at your disposal-- and that's probably not something that's going to change. But prior to your pointless nasty remark, we were at least being civil, and I respected your arguments enough to spend time and effort replying to them, a courtesy you chose not to afford me on the last go-round. I hope next time you want to blow off, you'll wait until that "tomorrow" (which doesn't come) to begin AND FINISH your arguments, rather than baselessly slamming the opposition as though the insult itself is argument enough.
posted by wiremommy at 9:08 PM on August 6, 2000

Well, this is a fine how-do-ya-do. If I don't say anything, I'm wimping out, but if I do say anything it doesn't matter because you've lost respect for me. And on top of that this thread has fallen so far down the list that hardly anyone will care anyway. Oy vey.

As for the time lapse, life intervened over the weekend. Sorry.

Regarding my Britney Spears line: If you were to make some point in one of the occasional web-design threads on MeFi, and I then responded with a comment that "if you'd take a Web Design 101 course...", I would expect you, as a web designer, to be massively pissed off on a personal level. Whether or not I was familiar with what you do for a living wouldn't have much to do with it, because to imply that you're a complete imbecile in your chosen profession is always going to provoke an intense emotional response. And I would fully expect you to come back and say, "Listen pal..." So yes, I was extremely personally offended by what you said about taking a base-level journalism course, and responded in kind. If you want to forever discount anything I ever say because of it, well, there's not much I can do about that. But I'm still here responding, so I hope you understand I don't think that way about you, regardless.

Moving on ... I should have picked a better word to describe Rush than "debater"; I probably should have said something more like "commentator." But I only meant "debater" in terms of "putting across his points," in a public way where, obviously, any one can take what he says and respond, as they could with anyone else that publicly advocates certain points of view. That said, he accepts calls on his show from liberals all the time, when they bother to call in (there were at least three such calls just last week that I can recall off the top of my head), generally moving them right to the front of the line, where he's happy to debate them one-on-one. And the vast majority of call-in talk shows screen their callers to make sure they have something to say and have the ability to at least be articulate; there's nothing special about that at all. (There was one nut who called his show a couple of weeks ago to say that the Clinton Administration bombed the Concorde in order to get his Cheney selection off the front pages. Limbaugh didn't let him on the air, merely dismissing publicly that anyone could believe something that silly. Talk shows are inundated with callers like that; it's why screening is necessary.

WRT Limbaugh's mistakes, I fully admitted in a post up above that he screws up; that's not up for debate here. My point is that Everybody makes mistakes. (And mistakes are different from outright, intentional lies, as others have insinuated above that such mistakes are. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that things such as accidentally referring to Betty Shabazz as Malcolm X's daughter instead of widow is an intentional distortion that somehow buttressed whatever point he was making at the time ... a point we don't know, since all context was conveniently left out of the quote in the now 6-year-old FAIR article.) In any case, it's quite simple to compile such compilations of "mistakes," or "lies," or "distortions" by anyone who talks in public for a living. Here, have a compilations of Al Gore's lies. Dubya's lies. On and on.

posted by aaron at 7:00 AM on August 7, 2000

Aaron, you explain why you took offense to my statement but you still haven't explained why it was wrong. Obviously we took different things away from our respective training in Communications, but you haven't provided any facts or even an argument to refute what I learned in Com 101 about news being non-conservative by nature.

I also found it rather telling that when I mentioned corporate ownership of media outlets, you responded by changing the focus from corporate ownership of media, which is something we can quantify numerically and back up with examples (X number of corporations own Y% of media outlets; ABC killed a story that was critical to its owner Disney); you counter that with "thousands of examples of reporters slanting their stories, subconciously or otherwise, towards their own personal liberal viewpoints", which conveniently is something you can't accurately measure, and which therefore can't be proved or disproved.

You also dodge Limbaugh's record of inaccuracy by mentioning one of his smaller mistakes (re Malcolm X's widow) and saying it doesn't affect the point he was trying to make. (He was criticizing Spike Lee for distorting facts about Malcolm X in the film about X's life, then made that factual error about X's widow.) Still, if all Limbaugh's mistakes were small inaccuracies like that, you might have a point.

But a quick look at the link shows that many of Limbaugh's mistakes and distortions aren't merely small slips, but out-and-out lies and fabrications, such as "Economic disparities between the lower and upper classes were greater [in the Fifties than they are now]", a statement plainly contradicted by U.S. Census data, or his ludicrous claim that Congress was against the Gulf War (Congress voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq), not to mention the way he distorted the numbers in his book to make it look like Reagan hadn't cut taxes for the rich while increasing them for the middle class, a lie which Al Franken exposed.

You say everyone makes mistakes and we shouldn't hold Limbaugh to a higher standard than Bush and Gore, which strikes me as a worrisome argument coming from someone trained in journalism. Are you saying Limbaugh is as compromised and dishonest as a politician on the campaign trail? (At last we agree on something, I guess.) Limbaugh's mistakes and distortions are shameful-- the man billed himself as "America's truth detector" but couldn't be bothered to get his facts straight.

So here we are, the lights are out, the chairs are up on the tables. You insist I'm wrong but you don't say how or why, and you counter my arguments with misdirection. Why this rhetorical slipperiness? I don't know what disturbs me more, the possibility that here in a low-key forum you feel the need to argue with such evasion, or the possibility that you don't even realize how evasive you're being.
posted by wiremommy at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2000

Wiremommy: First of all, I think we're working from two different definitions of "conservative." In a general, nonpolitical sense, yes, "conservative" means to be for the status quo, no change, etc. I don't think that the meaning of being a "conservative" in the year 2000, American politics sense has anything to do with "no change" at all. (And, for the record, I'm not into social conservatism. I have no problem with gay rights and the like. I'm conservative in the sense that I don't think big government works.) So, yes, I fully agree that journalism is, very roughly, the coverage of things that are changing.

Corporate ownership: Yeah, I know all about it. I've been smack dab in the middle of it, believe me. But there are two main reasons I don't think it's that big a deal:

1) Most big news outlets are owned by giant corporations, and those that aren't are themselves big media companies. Sure, agreed. But they're not all owned by the same big corporation. Disney certainly has quashed anti-Disney stories by ABCNEWS, but that doesn't mean that NBC or CBS or CNN has any reason to ignore such a story themselves. Indeed, they often have am incentive to cover such a story for personal glee. CNN in particular is a Time Warner operation, and Time Warner today is Disney's archrival in a number of ways; they'd love to make Disney look bad. (Though at the time of the Disney story we're referring to, they weren't yet such big rivals.) And I did see the Disney story get covered in other places. See, journalists get pissed off when their bosses quash something, and they'll leak big time to their friends, who will them go get the story out themselves. So, in the end, I don't think the whole corporate-ownership thing matters much. And I also think that the fact you can so easily quantify such cases is the exception that proves the rule.

On to my claim about personal slanting of stories to liberal viewpoints. It can be documented, and has. Example: A couple of years ago a media watchdog group (a relatively liberal one at that), canvassed Washington journalists and discovered that approximately 90% of them were registered Democrats. In addition, I've seen it myself. I was in a network newsroom throughout the entire Lewinsky/impeachment mess, and sat there taking it all in with my own eyes and ears as we all watched the never-ending press conferences on TV ... and everyone in the newsroom was openly lots of derisive anti-Lewinsky comments, anti-Starr comments, pro-Clinton comments, etc.

And that stuff gets into the reporting, whether consciously or not. For example, when Bush named Cheney, the DNC put out a "talking points" memo mentioning that Bush was doing this to add some "gravitas" (their word) to his campaign because, as they claim, Bush alone had none. Now, we both know that "gravitas" is not a word that gets used very much. But the moment it was, the entire press corps was all over it and parroting it as if they were DNC operatives. A Nexis search showed that the word "gravitas" made it into the mainstream media exactly twice since January 1, before Cheney. Since then, several hundred times. That simply wouldn't have happened if the press hadn't eaten up the DNC memo, decided that points within were totally correct, and worthy of being repeated.

Which, you know, would be just fine, as long as it went both ways, but it doesn't. Example: I'm sure you noticed that the press ate up the Democratic line that Dubya is a "daddy's boy" for picking Cheney, so much as speaking to him for advice, etc. (The fact that Bush pere was President and has direct experience in these things doesn't seem to matter.) Well, today during the Lieberman announcement, both Lieberman and Gore made much of how much they learned from and admired their fathers. Will anything at all be made of this? Any accusations that they're not their own men? We'll see. Not to make a snarky point or anything, but if you would listen to just one Rush show - any one sometime over the next few days, doesn't matter - you'll find that a very big chunk of what Rush does these days is uncover examples of people in the media covering things from their own personal liberal viewpoints and not providing equivalent coverage of the other side.

Onto the FAIR piece. Yes, the Shabazz thing was a small point, but it shows that FAIR is simply out to get Rush. If they weren't, they wouldn't have ever put something as petty as the Shabazz thing into the piece in the first place. Of course there are many bigger accusations therein, but they almost all seem to be based on things that they have to pick apart, compare to comments by people on the other side, etc. (Well, he said X about global warming, but it's based on something out of Dixie Lee Ray's book, who we all know is a nut, and anyway this other guy says it's not so, so nyah.) The Census thing? Economic data is just about the easiest thing on earth to meld to your own viewpoint; for any one piece of data, there's almost invariably another piece of data out there that would tend to indicate the exact opposite. Plus there's about a million different ways to look at things depending on how many pieces of data you mesh together. The Census says that income inequality was X then and Y now. But how was it calculated? A pure comparison of plain salaries? Did it factor in the effects of inflation? Or government programs available at different times? Did that "income" include any subsidies or entitlements? Often they don't, and the fact that you earned X in a real job doesn't mean so much if you made Y more money once you factored in welfare, social security, tax breaks, etc. (To paraphrase Clinton, it all depends on what your definition of "income" is.) And I don't know that any of this necessarily applies in this instance, but I don't know it doesn't. Personally, I'm not big on using government data to make any statement of any kind; it's just always based on things far more complicated than you would think from the rather simplistic terms they use.

Congress against the Gulf War? They were, at first. Early on it was just a Democratic Congress against a GOP president, who were of course skeptical that this might just be about oil and making Bush look good. They voted for it in the end, but that was after a buttload of lobbying and the realization that the public was largely for it. Simply focusing on the final vote is a major slanting of what was really going on at the time. As for Franken, I own his book, and consider what he said to be more of the same. (In the example you mentioned, what Franken is saying is that such a thing happened to tax rates while Reagan was in office. But that conveniently overlooks the fact that the president doesn't set taxes, Congress does. And the only way Reagan was able to get what he wanted was to play along with a Congress that was always at least half-Democratic, and often totally Democratic, during his term. And they wanted programs that required new taxes.)

I don't think Limbaugh is ever intentionally "compromised and dishonest." I think he makes mistakes. I think we all do. I'm sure if I started trolling through everything you've ever posted on MeFi, I could find things you've said, go out and find things to show that you were wrong about certain things you have said, and then posted the comparisons. You could do the same things to my comments. I just posted something today showing that something mathowie said about the Boston Tea Party was completely wrong. Doesn't mean any of us are dishonest, just not perfect.
posted by aaron at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2000

More from Moore. And as I type this the page isn't even done or linked to the front page, so this is hot off the presses, so to speak. I'm sure they'll fix it.

He claims Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke have tripled their popularity ratings since they started. Now granted, triple of five percent... but HEY! They are definitely on the rise and haven't peaked yet.

And at least the Green party has their act together. The Reform Party is now split in two, because Buchannan is a jerk. I'm surprised Perot hasn't had him assassinated or something..

posted by ZachsMind at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2000

Geez. He's just flat-out wrong this time. Gore and Bush both at least considered women for veep. Shaheen of NH was even on Gore's short list. And Lieberman the true face of Gore? Maybe in that it shows that Gore has no core values of his own (Lieberman differs with Gore on a whole host of issues, though he's already starting to flip-flop on some to match Gore) and needed a choice that would counter the belief that he's completely tainted in the morals area by Clinton, but that's about it.

Kind of odd that Moore's so big on Nader, since the polls are showing that almost all of Nader's support is coming at Gore's expense, and at the rate he's going, it stands a big chance of giving the election to Bush. Not that Gore's anywhere near what Moore wants, but he's sure gotta be closer than Bush. But maybe Moore really thinks Nader's got a chance.
posted by aaron at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2000

Aaron, I'm really sick of everything with you going back to Rush Limbaugh, but none-the-frigging-less:

In the example you mentioned, what Franken is saying is that such a thing happened to tax rates while Reagan was in office. But that conveniently overlooks the fact that the president doesn't set taxes, Congress does.

AAAGH! Could you be any slimier with this? LIMBAUGH started off that issue by saying taxes did not go up for the middle class during the Reagan administration. Then LIMBAUGH provided the numbers to "prove" it in his book, but as Franken pointed out, LIMBAUGH left out payroll taxes, where the middle class pays most of their taxes! It was a clear example of RUSH LIMBAUGH conflating numbers in order to get the results that he wanted. HE was the one who originally used those number to prove that Reagan had succeeded in keeping taxes low for the middle class, so if the President has nothing to do with taxes, then it was Limbaugh's mistake for claiming that Reagan was responsible for the non-existent stability of taxes for the middle class!

Furthermore, the reason FAIR criticized Limbaugh for making a mistake about Malcolm X's widow is clearly because of the irony involved; Limbaugh was complaining that director Spike Lee played fast and loose with the facts of X's life, and then Limbaugh himself didn't have the facts of X's life straight, showing that his accusation might easily have been made out of ignorance. For that reason, the 'Malcolm X's widow' mistake was included along with 42 other significant and/or ironic mistakes/omissions/distortions/lies from Rush Limbaugh.

You can trivialize the FAIR report all you like-- in fact, you HAVE to, Aaron, because otherwise it would completely destroy your absurd defense of Rush Limbaugh. But nonetheless it stands as a thorough excoriation of Limbaugh that completely ruins his standing as any kind of truthful commentator on political issues.

I have listened to Limbaugh's show (and read Atlas Shrugged) during my college freshman year flirtation with libertarian conservatism. But though his indignation and crude humor carries well on his talk show, it didn't take long for me to realize the guy was chock full of manure, or in the kindest interpretation extremely fallacious at best. (And I came to much the same conclusion about Ayn Rand, whose "objective" X=X universe excludes the elderly, children, and any kind of physical infirmity, to name just a few of her philosophy's many omissions.)

And the only way Reagan was able to get what he wanted was to play along with a Congress that was always at least half-Democratic, and often totally Democratic, during his term. And they wanted programs that required new taxes.

I'd be interested in stacking the numbers of new programs proposed by Democrats during that period versus the new military spending approved during that time. I'd speculate that the staggering cost of Star Wars alone would pile up pretty high compared to trifles like HUD.
posted by wiremommy at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2000

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