Michael Moore, smear specialist

Brent Bozell
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Posted: May 07, 2004 12:00 AM

It was awarded the status of top news, the front page of The New York Times. Disney was telling its Miramax subsidiary that it could not distribute radical, Bush-loathing Michael Moore's new "mockumentary," titled "Fahrenheit 9-11." This report, like virtually all the news accounts surrounding Moore's upcoming film, seem to glide right around Moore's very obvious hatred of conservatives and his very checkered history of cinematic fact-mangling.
 
The first act of fact-mangling on this film may be this story of Disney censorship. In paragraph six of the Times story, we were given a Disney spokesman declaring they "advised both the agent and Miramax in May of 2003 that the film would not be distributed by Miramax."

  Stop right there. May of 2003?   This was not news to Michael Moore. This was not a story for page one ... or page 30. It's simply not "news," period. How to make it news? It appears the scoop was that Moore flack Ari Emanuel claimed he had a conversation with Disney chairman Michael Eisner, who said he feared all the Bush-bashing might endanger the company's tax breaks in Florida, since the state is led by Gov. Jeb Bush.

 Big news, right? Except Disney denies Eisner said this. Gov. Bush's office proclaimed the conspiracy theory "ludicrous." And Moore has a history of nutty accusations. So why on earth is the Times tooting Moore's horn?

 The timing and theme of this story reek of Cheap Promotionalism. Why does this publicity debut match the eve of the film's debut at the Cannes Film Festival, where the European pseudo-sophisticates will no doubt laud all the butchered Bush-bashing? The title of Moore's film invites immediate comparison to "Fahrenheit 451," the 1953 Ray Bradbury science-fiction tale of firemen who don't fight fires but start fires burning books. The endlessly self-impressed Moore is no doubt suggesting that courageous leftist men of ideas are being censored by the ignorant and malignant post-9-11 trauma-exploiting Dubya Dynasty. Moore  needs this movie to be censored somehow, or else his tale of American oppression is empty. Some concocted conspiracy of censorship is now part of its marketing plan.

 Is this Moore mudbath really in danger of not hitting theaters? Think again. In 1995, Miramax prepared to distribute Larry Clark's unrated, unpretty teen sex film "Kids," but Disney would not release an unrated film. So the Miramax brass released it through a separate company, Shining Excalibur Films. There's nothing stopping them from doing it again, and they will.
 
The other obvious fact-mangling involves the allegation that somehow, the Bush Dynasty secretly loves the Saudi Dynasty, which spawned the 9-11 terrorists. Moore laid his conspiracy theory out on HBO to Bob Costas a year ago. In Moore's fever swamp, the Bush team knows that Osama bin Laden is hiding out in Saudi Arabia, and they're hiding him so they can exploit the terror trauma. "He's back living with his sponsors, his benefactors ... I think the United States, I think our government knows where he is, and I don't think we're going to be capturing him or killing him any time soon." Cue the "Twilight Zone" music. We're off to Cuckoo-land.

 The film reportedly contains an interview with author Craig Unger, who has a new book out on the supposedly ironclad relationship between the "House of Bush" and the House of Saud. But Unger's history of anti-Bush bunk goes back to the first Bush presidency, when he wrote a long "investigative" piece for Esquire magazine claiming that only an idiot couldn't see the "October Surprise" conspiracy.

 Remember that fairy tale, about how the treasonous Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980 nefariously plotted to delay the release of the American hostages in Iran so that Ronald Reagan could be elected president? Even the liberal Columbia Journalism Review blasted Unger's politicized sloppiness, suggesting they would give his work a C-minus for slim evidence. But that only makes him a perfect foil for Michael Moore, the master of fictional "nonfiction" documentaries.

 Politically, the worst thing about this is that the media elite can't seem to call Michael Moore even a "liberal," let alone a radical nutcase. (Here's a guy fired from Mother Jones magazine for being too far left! In addition to being personally unbearable, he refused to run an article that criticized the Sandinista communists then oppressing Nicaragua.) But reporters have actually allowed Moore to claim that his upcoming film, designed for a fall release, is not partisan. Moore is so full of beans that he even claimed, "This is not an anti-Bush diatribe."

 If you buy that, buy a ticket to the film. And remember: Bush is hiding Osama. Pass it on.