Moore Hype and Media Balance

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Even if the reviews of Moore are unfair in their bias (see post below and comments for more on that), there's a completely separate issue of balance that has come to the fore in the time since Moore's film has been released. That's how the media have been reported it. Rabe Ramblings debunks the claims that compare Fahrenheit 9/11 with The Passion of the Christ and exaggerate its success. CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today are the only media outlets he mentions, but I've been hearing similar things all over the place. I'm not sure how this started, but here are the only ways the box office sales of this film stand out.

1) It's doing extremely well for a documentary, though not first place as is claimed.
2) It's set a few records for particular theaters but not for box office sales as a whole.

Otherwise, it's pretty lackluster. On opening weekend, it didn't even outsell the 1999 live-action remake of Inspector Gadget. Jackass is as much a documentary as Fahrenheit 9/11. and that did better on opening weekend.

Why so much focus? The media want it to be doing well and can't see its actual success as good enough without making it sound better than it is. They've gotten a lot sloppier in general in the last month or so, ever since they started claiming that the 9/11 Commission reported the opposite of their real conclusion. It doesn't seem completely new when you compare this to the repeated claims that no WMD have been found, that Bush said there was an imminent threat, and that Bush's whole case rested on WMD to begin with when that was only part of the U.N. resolution violation issue, which was only the part of the Administration's justification that the U.N. has a history of acknowledging (see, for example, their rejection of going into Kosovo).

That's true. All along they've been at best uncareful in their reporting in ways that make Bush and the U.S. effort in Iraq look bad. Somehow it's been more concentrated lately, though. At least it's seemed that way to me. There have been more frequent such statements. They've been more misleading than before. Why now? It's not a crucial moment in the campaign. We haven't had any big announcements, such as who Kerry's running mate will be. We're not to the conventions yet. The only thing I can think of that would mark a coincidence with this is that Bush had been dropping in the polls throughout May and has been increasing throughout June. Is it a coincidence that the lie about the 9/11 Commission's report came through right when Bush's support started increasing again?

I'm starting to wonder if people time these announcements to poll shifts. Bush had been doing well again when the Abu Ghraib reports were announced by mainstream media, some of whom, if I remember correctly, had been sitting on them for a while and finally announced to the Bush Administration that they couldn't wait for the already-working justice system to finish its job. Why? Did polls have to do with it?

The Gnu told me he thought they've just felt emboldened by the fake 9/11 Commission report and by the success of the film. I hope not. That wouldn't be a good idea. It would be better to be embarassed by the film and their endorsement of the result the 9/11 Commission never said (and in fact denied) and to distance oneself from both. Or is it that they think the film will take all the attention, and no one will pick up on their reporting errors and exaggerations? That's not a good idea when the film is one of the things they're misreporting, because the focus on the film will draw attention to their reporting of the film. Whatever it is doesn't put the media in a very good light.

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4 Comments

While I don't generally ascribe to eschatological lenses on current events I sometimes feel that the fall of the United States would somehow presage the Second Coming.

Sometimes when a top begins to lose its momentum it begins to wobble, almost violently, before it momentarily arights itself for a few turns and then topples over. The marked polarization I see going on and increasing over the last 10 years, coupled with a Balkinization of opinions that fosters the demonization of opponents as being the order of the day, makes me wonder if the wonderfully spinning top of our republic is losing its momentum.

I guess those are the kinds of thoughts one might get on the weekend of the Fourth of July. And, despite the wonderful story of a reluctant semi-super hero opening this weekend in the theater, Spidey won't be there to save us.

The biblical picture is consistent with the United States having been gone from the scene for thousands of years before the second coming, but you could be right.

It's doing extremely well for a documentary, though not first place as is claimed.

Heard Rush Limbaugh compare F9/11 "the documentary" with Spider-Man 2 "the documentary". He says that if they are going to call Moore's film a documentary instead of pure fiction, every other film out should be called a documentary as well. :)

No, there's a big difference. Rush Limbaugh isn't the most sensitive to important distinctions, so I'm not surprised he doesn't see it. Spiderman tells a story, and that's clear from the outset. Moore puts a lot of facts together, spins it in a certain way, and passes his conclusion off as the truth, with a lot of emotional hoohah to win the audience over to it. That's what a documentary is, and good ones on controversial issues will look at both sides, even if they favor a conclusion. I'm not going to argue that it's a good documentary, but it is a documentary, and Spiderman isn't.

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