September 24, 2009 - 2:40pm
Millionaire Michael Moore says capitalism is evil and that the entire system should be thrown out for one that is “democratic” and “fair.”
That’s the overarching message of Moore’s new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which will be widely released Oct. 2. The film won two prizes at the Venice Film Festival and was lauded by critics there and at the Toronto Film Festival. Now Moore is being warmly greeting in softball interviews by television anchors and reporters – particularly on ABC.
ABC’s “ Nightline” ran an 8-minute long segment Sept. 22 interviewing Moore and showing clips of his film, and it received an additional five minutes on “Good Morning America” Sept. 23. ABC didn’t include a single critic of Moore in those 13 minutes, and neither segment rebuked Moore for past lies in his movies.
The film has generated uncritical buzz among many other news outlets including MSNBC, The New York Times, Associated Press and “The Jay Leno Show.” He is also scheduled to be a guest of “Larry King Live,” “The Situation Room,” and “The View” Sept. 23 and 24. Four networks, a wire service and three out of five major newspapers will have covered the movie in the span of a week.
Many of the media descriptions of the “fascinating filmmaker” were flattering. ABC’s Terry Moran said, “Michael Moore hates capitalism. He hates it with a savagely funny and surprisingly religious passion.”
Picking up on that religious theme, The New York Times’ Bruce Headlam said that in private conversation Moore “could pass for a kindly Jesuit. Headlam wrote a 2,133 word feature the filmmaker and political activity on Sept. 20 that also left out Moore’s critics entirely.
MSNBC’s Alex Witt praised the movie in a Sept. 20 discussion, but at least she mentioned that people have been critical of Moore as hypocritical – making millions from his movies why campaigning for the end of capitalism. Witt told viewers Moore has made $172 million from his documentaries.
But hypocrisy isn’t the only criticism of Moore. Moore is a documented liar and, according to the USA Today, his movie “Sicko” used “omission, exaggeration and cinematic sleight of hand to make its points.” One exaggeration Moore used in “Sicko” was the claim that 50 million Americans are uninsured. The Business & Media Institute has exposed this falsehood time and time again, pointing out that the census figure of roughly 46 million people includes almost 10 million non-citizens.
Despite that, much of the news media gushed over “Sicko” and Moore. Reports said he shows “compassion” and “generosity.” The same ABC reporter, Moran, gushed in 2007 that Moore was “taking on America’s deeply flawed health care system” because “fixing health care is a moral, even a religious obligation.”
Moran even suggested Moore might make a good political candidate in that interview. Many reporters, including Moran were impressed by Moore’s charisma.
‘Radical’ Ideas and Lies
ABC gave Michael Moore plenty of time to spread his “radical” anti-capitalist notions to its millions of viewers.
In his “Nightline” interview with Terry Moran, Moore called Goldman Sachs “public enemy No. 1” and declared that Wall Street was literally “a crime scene.” Video showed Moore stretching yellow, crime scene tape around banks like Chase. He also declared capitalism to be “anti-Christian” and claimed that he’s “embarrassed” by the fact that his movies enable him to make a “decent” living.
Moran indicated that Moore was rich, but didn’t call him a millionaire or let viewers know the shock filmmaker’s movies have made him $172 million dollars according to MSNBC. His mostly fawning segment with Moore did include one surprisingly harsh comment near the end: “So he shambles on. Like some angry overweight prophet of our times, either crazy or brilliant. Traitorous or patriotic, depending on your point of view, but always laughing.”
The very next morning Chris Cuomo interviewed Moore for “Good Morning America.” He began by showing a clip of the movie in which Moore tells a Goldman Sachs security guard, “You can trust me.”
“You can trust me,” Cuomo repeated as he welcomed Moore to the show. But the fact is Moore is not trustworthy. He has lied with his films beginning with “Roger & Me” in 1989 in which he tried to chase down then General Motors CEO Roger Smith. His entire film depicts a failed attempt to get an interview with Smith.
But as Steve Finefrock reported, Smith had “granted a lengthy interview” on-camera while that movie was being made.
Cuomo didn’t ask about that misrepresentation or others including Moore’s claim not to own stocks. Instead, Moore was given five minutes to rail against the unfairness of capitalism.
When asked for a solution, Moore said part of it was to “get money out of our politics.” But according to OpenSecrets.org a filmmaker or film producer with addresses in Michigan or New York named Michael Moore has donated to many Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Added together those contributions totaled more than $16,000, and four other Michael Moores listed might have been his contributions.
Cuomo didn’t ask Moore about his political contributions, but the AP reported that screenings of “Capitalism: A Love Story” in Bellaire, Mich. along with three parties raised $25,000 for the Democratic party in Antrim county.
Capitalism: Great Evil?
The news media didn’t challenge Moore’s claim that capitalism is evil or his utopian desire for a democratic and equal economy, and it is unlikely that they will since they began considering the death of capitalism over a year ago and regularly rail against income inequality.
Steven Pearlstein wrote in the Washington Post Aug. 1, 2008 that “my guess is that this consensus [toward free markets] is unraveling.” Other news outlets, including CNBC, said capitalism “seems to be dead.”
Moore himself claimed on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that it was dead in 2008. Now, he’s pushing the capitalism-is-evil theme with his new movie, which takes on the economic collapse, bailouts, auto companies, “dead peasant” insurance policies, Goldman Sachs, foreclosures and more.
Witt on MSNBC didn’t criticize the “capitalism is evil” theme of the film and neither did the AP story that ran Sept. 20. ABC reporters also let it go.
During “The Jay Leno Show” on Sept. 15, Leno responded to Moore’s claim in disagreement, but barely defending capitalism.
“I think greed is evil, but I think capitalism is OK as long as – moderation in all things,” Leno said. Moore then launched a tirade against capitalism calling it “legalized greed.” He complained about income inequality between the richest 1 percent and everybody else saying, “that’s insane. We live in a democracy. We’re supposed to have fairness and equality”
“Some things are just wrong,” Moore continued. ”This capitalist economic system that we have, it might have been right at one point, it’s not right now. And I don’t think we’re ever gonna put the genie back in the bottle so we need to come up with something new to replace it.”
Even liberal blogger Arianna Huffington was more adamant in her disagreement on that one point (she liked the movie though). On The Huffington Post blog, she wrote “In the film, Michael describes capitalism as evil. I disagree. I don’t think capitalism is evil. I think what he have right now is not capitalism.”
Huffington continued saying, “In capitalism as envisioned by its leading lights, including Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall, you need a moral foundation in order for free markets to work. And when a company fails, it fails. It doesn't get bailed out using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. What we have right now is Corporatism. It's welfare for the rich. It's the government picking winners and losers. It's Wall Street having their taxpayer-funded cake and eating it too. It's socialized losses and privatized gains.”
Rich Karlgaard of Forbes wrote something similar about Adam Smith back in 2007. He explained that while Smith’s famous benevolence of the butcher quote sounds like “selfishness,” Smith had defined self-interest in an earlier book as “a psychological need to win favor within one’s society.”
Karlgaard said, “He did not change his belief that moral sentiments and self-interest are the same thing. Let’s not forget our Adam Smith. When we do, capitalism loses its moral authority, and the redistributionists win.”
Moore, like many in the news media, blamed the economic collapse on deregulation and greed. But economist Walter Williams has written that the problems cannot be attributed to “laissez-faire” economics since there are nine cabinet departments which control various aspects of the economy.
“A businessman must seek government approval for the minutest detail of his operation or face the wrath of some government agency, whether it’s at the federal, state or local level,” Williams wrote.
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