Conservatives ‘Rushed’ by Moore
What’s good for the goose is apparently not very palatable for the gander. After years of lapping up one-sided, nasty, hate-filled and occasionally funny invective from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Anne Coulter, the die-hard conservatives are getting a taste of the snake oil they’ve helped inflict on our democracy these past years.Michael Moore’s documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” is doing to them what they thought they did best. So many people are worried about this film’s “hate-filled and one-sided” invective that they’re desperately writing hate-filled and one-sided rebuttals, hoping someone, somewhere will listen.It’s always amusing to come across a letter that uses the word “liberal” as such an obvious insult that you can sense the author’s exasperation in having to explain why. “It’s obvious you morons!” The dictionary doesn’t help them here. “Liberal: adj 1.a Open minded; tolerant. b Favoring civil and political liberties, democratic reforms, and protection from arbitrary authority (the attorney general’s attempts to usurp the state of Oregon’s voter approved “right to die” law by federal fiat come to mind here). 2. a Tending to give freely, generous.”Wow! Generosity of spirit and empathy are apparently negative traits.This newfound worry about the ethics of inaccurate reporting and fair and balanced journalism is refreshing. I just wonder how long they’ve been asleep. Still not to worry, I look forward to the letters critical of the hackneyed Clinton innuendoes and the creative new ones being dumped on John Kerry and John Edwards.The myth of the dreaded liberal media will be unfurled to rally the faithful again. Does it exist? I don’t think so. The media is mainly owned and controlled by large corporations whose self-interest would suggest the opposite. To quote an executive of a Fox affiliate: “We decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is.” Disapproving of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Disney blocked its subsidiary Miramax from distributing it in the U.S. Fortunately, Michael Moore’s films are popular and make money – and money talks. Independent Film Channel (ultimately financed by JP Morgan, Chase and Citigroup) bought the rights and the film opened to record sales. Another triumph for free speech and capitalism.The right-wing media so unapologetically pushes its biased agenda that it makes most of the media that explores all sides of an issue look “liberal” by comparison. I’ll admit that the focus of the Washington Post and New York Times editorials drift to the left, but their articles seem to stick to the facts. The Wall Street Journal does the same, but to the right. Their editorials preach to the business choir, but the reporting is excellent and fact-based, as good business decisions rely on accurate information, not blinkered ideology.There is a small war going on between Web sites dedicated to discrediting Michael Moore and his war room (mchaelmoore.com), where he lists documents, interviews and fact checkers who support him. He’s thinking of offering a reward to anyone who can prove a fact wrong. If he does, I doubt anyone will claim it, as he is very good at choosing facts and snippets of truth in a way to support his point of view. I admit that I enjoy his point of view, and the discomfort his film is causing, immensely. But – hopefully – like everyone who listens to Rush, etc., I’m aware it’s a polarized view.Flat-out lies are different from selectively presenting facts that put your case in the best possible light. One expects arguments to be constrained by the truth. Al Franken’s book, “Lies and the lying liars who tell them: A fair and balanced look at the right,” details some favorite lies.Then you have lies of omission, a gray area. When pushing for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge the Department of Interior overlooked the most recent maps that showed caribou calving in inconvenient spots. Revised, more accurate (and expensive) estimates for the cost of the Medicare bill were actively withheld from Congress when they voted. Both acts could be viewed as sloppiness, laziness, stupidity or deliberate deceit. It all depends on the motivation behind the omission.While entertaining, I’m not sure if Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Anne Coulter do our nation any favors. Intractable positions immune to open consideration of the facts aren’t usually good. Inflexible ideologies of “I’m right because I’m right” end up trying to force a square view of the world into a round hole. The ability to critically think, admit mistakes and change one’s mind as the evidence or known facts evolve shows flexibility and adaptability in a changing world.Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.