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.