Sunday, June 20, 2004

Get ready for the conservative criticism of Moore's new film

But this is a good sign.

'NY Times' 9/11 Reporter Reviews Facts in Michael Moore Film

By Greg Mitchell

Published: June 19, 2004

NEW YORK We had Ronald Reagan Week in the press, and Bill Clinton Week will pass in a few days, and then Michael Moore Week will surely arrive. The New York Times gets a jump on it in tomorrow’s Arts & Leisure section with a lengthy appraisal of the facts and opinions in Moore’s controversial film “Fahrenheit 9/11” which will be released on Friday.

The author of the piece, reporter Philip Shenon (who has covered the federal 9/11 commission for the past year) predicts that Moore “may face an onslaught of fact-checking” unlike any a documentary film-maker has faced before. Shenon’s verdict: “It seems safe to say that central assertions of fact in ‘Fahrenherit 9/11’ are supported by the public record….”

He also quotes Moore telling him, “without an ounce of humor,” that attempts to libel him “will be met by force.” He reveals that Moore has readied a “war room” to offer instant rebuttal to conservative critics; hired Democratic activist Chris Lehane; and has a team of lawyers ready to bring defamation suits.

Shenon says Moore “is on firm ground” in arguing that the Bushes have profited handsomely from their relationships with the Saudis, including the bin Laden family and the Saudi rulers. He also notes that Moore is safe in charging that Bush paid too little attention to terrorism before 9/11, and suggests he is accurate when he claims that during Bush’s first eight months in office he spent 42% of his time on vacation (the source being The Washington Post.

And he predicts that perhaps more “damaging to the White House” than any statistics in the film is its unedited replaying of the seven minutes Bush spent reading the book “My Pet Goat” to schoolchildren in Florida after hearing the news of the second attack on the World Trade Center.

But Shenon adds: “The most valid criticism of the film are likely to involve the artful way that Mr. Moore connects the facts, and whether has had left out others that might undermine his scalding attack.” Shenon cites one unproven assertion that Saudis own 6 to 7 percent of the United States. Despite criticism, he reveals, Moore has left in the film dark claims that the bin Laden family was allowed to fly out of the U.S. before air space was open to anyone else.

Shenon also reveals, however, that Moore has deleted his claims that Attorney General Ashcroft did not take any commercial flights in the summer before 9/11, after finding that he had done so “at least twice.”

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