Friday, May 07, 2004

Michael Moore -- bastion of truth?

There's a controversy now being about whether Disney is going to release Michael Moore's new movie slamming President Bush about his ties to Saudi money and oil.

Moore is claiming it is because of fear of retribution from the powerful Bush family, what with Disney World being in Florida and Jeb Bush being the governor of Florida AND (gasp!) President Bush's brother, and of course the inevitablitily of withholding tax breaks and unleashing other unspecified horrors on Disney if the "truth" of Michael Moore's movie is revealed to the world through Disney's efforts.

A few years ago I had the good fortune to meet and have a lengthy conversation over dinner with Mr. Roger Smith, the target of Michael Moore's first movie, called "Roger and Me". Roger Smith was for 20 some years CEO of General Motors, and although retired now from GM, is still on the boards of directors of many large companies (Citibank, and others). He's a powerhouse who is, polite, social, gracious and is a very effective man who started at the bottom, from the assembly line floor, and worked his way up manage GM.

The premise of the movie is that Roger Smith didn't care about the human costs of the closing of a factory in Flint Michigan, where thousands were layed off, and that he couldn't be bothered to talk to Michael Moore or anyone else about it. He is never interviewed in Michael Moore's movie, and Michael Moore complains that he couldn't find a way to meet with Roger Smith or even set an appointment with him. The inference was that Roger Smith didn't want to talk to him and used his power to avoid being spotlighted by "the media" in the form of Michael Moore's cameras.

I asked Roger Smith about Michael Moore's movie and whether he had ever, to his knowledge, been contacted by Michael Moore. He said he had never heard of the man before the movie came out and he had his staff check back over his phone logs to see if he had ever been called by him. Not once. So far
as he knew, Michael Moore had never tried once to communicate with him.

Shines a whole different light on Michael Moore, doesn't it?

This newest controversy about censorship of his movie strikes me as having been manufactured by him in an effort to increase ticket sales when it is eventually released, ala the controversy surrounding the release of "The Passion of The Christ", which helped drive its viewers through the roof.

You just can't believe everything that you read in the media or see on TV. Much of it is not just misleading, but purposely FALSE.

Is this movie false?

My money is on the "documentary" being carelessly put together by Michael Moore without too much regard for the facts.

Or try this scenario -- an imaginary phone call:

"Michael Eisher? Hi, this is Roger Smith."

"Hi, Roger. Listen, before I ask what I can I do for you, I wanted you to know how much we here at Disney appreciate the GM Pavilion at Disney World. That was your brainchild and I wanted you to know we look forward to GM's ongoing participation in that. Now, what CAN we do for you?"

"Well, I heard through the grapevine that you are distributing yet another Michael Moore exposé movie and I had a word of advice for you..."

"Roger - You're not trying to get me to stop distribution of this movie, are you? We sunk a lot of time and money and energy into backing this ..."

"No, not at all. Go right ahead and release it. I'm sure it will make a lot of money for Disney."

"Then what's your advice?"

"Hire a professional fact checker and check his facts first."

"Now wait a minute, Roger - are you implying that Michael Moore doesn't deal completely in the truth? Didn't he just win an Oscar for his latest documentary about guns in America?"

"Oscar, schmoskar! I'm sure you know that his first movie was about all his alleged difficulties in getting an interview with me. Did you know the little creep never even called my office to try to line up a meeting?"

"Hmmm, you don't say! Maybe a fact checker wouldn't be a bad idea -- I'll get back to you on this one..."

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