I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 today. I was initially torn about going -- I was curious to see the movie but I intensely dislike Michael Moore and did not want to support him by buying a ticket. In the end, I found the perfect solution: I bought a ticket to Dodgeball and snuck into Fahrenheit 9/11. Clearly, all those years as an engineering major did me a lot of good.
Four things you might have thought are true from watching Michael Moore but are actually -- provably -- not:
1. All the networks called Florida for Bush after Fox News did [In fact, CBS was the first to call Florida for Bush].
2. Under any vote-standard for the state-wide recount, Gore would have won [Investigations have found Bush would have won under most definitions of a vote, though Gore would have also won under some].
3. Bush was doing poorly politically pre-9/11. In support of this, Moore claims that Bush's major agenda was stalled, his judges could not be confirmed, and his approval rating fell to 45% [Bush passed the major agenda he ran on -- the tax cut for the rich. I have no idea where Moore gets the 45% figure but its certainly not from any poll I know of -- Bush's approval rating never fell below 50%]
4. The Bin Laden family flew out of the United States when restrictions were placed on commercial airlines [In fact, the Bin Laden plane left the United States on Sept. 14 after the airspace restrictions have been lifted].
Alan Wolfe reviewed Michael Moore's Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation in the New Republic a few years ago. Precociously, he noted,
But if you are writing a book critical of a president who has a problem with the truth, it does not require all that much intelligence to figure out the importance of being truthful yourself. Moore could care less.
I would, however, endorse Krugman's charge that conservatives are holding Moore to a standard they do not even hold the President of the United States. Bush has repeatedly lied to the public -- most notably about the budget and about WMDs in Iraq -- among other things. The commentators at the Volokh Conspiracy -- and other right-leaning blogs -- should get outraged over that.