This past week, filmmaker Michael Moore found himself in the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. The interview turned into an altercation, with Moore nailing CNN for its misrepresentation of Moore’s last film, Fahrenheit 9/11, and now, his latest, Sicko. CN’s doc for hire Sanjay Gupta gave a report on the film prior to the interview called a “reality check,” and in it he naturally discredited Moore’s film. It was the perfect TV spot for the very Americans Moore portrays in his film. Irony abounds.
When the report was over, Moore was understandably fuming. He wasn’t going to use his time to plug his film in hopes of getting more box office dollars. Instead, he called out Blitzer, CNN and the news media in general for lying to the American people. Lying about health care and lying about the war. “I don’t talk in sound bites,” he said. “That report was so biased. I can’t imagine what pharmaceutical ads are coming up right after our break here. Why don’t you just tell the truth to the American people? I wish that CNN and other mainstream media will just, for once, tell the truth.”
He called on Blitzer to apologize to Americans for helping our government lead us into an unwinable quagmire. He all but declared war on television news. Blitzer held his ground, defending Gupta and CNN. They also had Moore and Gupta square off on Larry King to prove they were trying to be as fair as possible. In the end, Gupta apologized for CNN for getting one thing wrong about Moore’s film. Moore said Cuba spent $251 per person, not $25 as the report stated.
And in the end, Moore apologized to Blitzer for putting all of the guilt for the media’s reluctance to question the facts post 9/11 on the reporter. Moore still felt that the media needed to apologize but not necessarily Blitzer.
So how about it, America? Are we owed an apology? Did anyone try to tell us the truth? And what was the truth? Isn’t it hard to find it these days with an agenda everywhere you look? Do we feel as though we were lied to?
I can’t speak for the past, or for that desperate time after the towers fell, but I can speak for now. Having seen Sicko, CN’s fact check about the film was biased in a way I had never noticed before. Perhaps because Moore’s film was about more than numbers and facts; it was about cultures that think “we” instead of “me.” We have free press here, which is a lot more than many other countries, but how free are we?
Make no mistake, Moore is a revolutionary, the good old-fashioned kind. Nothing he ever does is predictable, and certainly not an appearance in the Situation Room. No doubt, the majority of viewers were satisfied with Gupta’s “sleep, sleep, everything is fine America, sleep” report. But maybe a few of us watching did feel suddenly foolish for watching and trusting what our television news tells us.
Turning on the nightly news with people like Stone Phillips and Diane Sawyer, all we see are fake dramas. Murders in the Hamptons. The Man Who Almost Killed His Wife and the Woman Who Couldn’t Let Him Go. Abuse by the church, abuse by relatives and teachers, rape, murder, fraud. Where is the news?
We’ve been down this road before and we end up like a snake eating its own tail. They wouldn’t put that stuff on if we didn’t watch it. It’s all about profit. Ironically, like our health care system. That’s the American way and who wants to change it?
It’s like Clive Barnes once said, “Television is the first truly democratic culture – the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.”
All of the Moore exchanges can be seen online on YouTube.com.