In his boastful letter to CNN, Moore demanded the network cry uncle and admit that everything Moore says is to be accepted without qualification: "What I want to do is help you come clean. Admit you were wrong. What is the shame in that? We all make mistakes. I know it's hard to admit it when you've screwed up, but it's also liberating and cathartic. It not only makes you a better person, it helps prevent you from screwing up again."
This is incredibly rich coming from Moore, whose M.O. is not to deal in facts as much as in cheap stunts and socialist innuendoes. This is a man who ended "Fahrenheit 911" with the less-than-factual claim that the "war effort" was "always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation." Footnote, please, Mr. Moore? Can anyone forget his gauzy video of Saddam Hussein's Iraq before the invasion, with pastoral pictures of children with kites?
In fact, on one point in Gupta's report, CNN did retract a claim and apologize. Gupta said Moore's film claimed Cubans pay $25 per person a year for health care, when Moore said $251. But CNN's response also pointed out that Moore is playing apples and oranges with the numbers, plucking the Cuba number from a BBC report and then selecting his American cost-per-person number from our Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS number for 2006 is not a fact, but a projection, CNN pointed out: "Actual numbers for the years 2006 and 2007 are not yet available, which is why CNN could not use them."
Even people who don't believe that CNN is always Exhibit A for fairness and accuracy can easily find CNN to be a superior fact-finder to Michael Moore. So why does Moore, sloppily disorganized and so often factually untruthful, register such credibility with the press? Because his work provokes all the "right" people and shoots at all the "right" targets. If they really cared about the facts and people who handle them, they'd take away Moore's 6-foot-high soapbox. Gupta's report was a small step in the right direction.