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Fahrenheit 9-11: Not Reliable Sources

Inspired by Brad Delong what I would have said if the booker hadn't canceled on me:

  • It is very strange that the media is more concerned with Michael Moore's invalid argumentative techniques than with the extremely similar techniques employed by the president of the United States.
  • It is very strange that the media is more concerned with the fact that Michael Moore is a polemicist rather than a journalist presenting a balanced view of events than with the fact that the Fox News network and a small army of conservative radio hosts are doing the same thing.
  • It is a very strange thing indeed that the media does not provide outlets for stridently liberal commentary in lieu of the fact that Fahrenheit 9-11 clearly demonstrates that there is a large audience for such things.
  • What liberal media?
That is all. It's also noteworthy that while Moore has done us all a great service by bringing to light the footage of the president not reacting to the second WTC attack, he fails to make what I think is the most important point here: The President's own aides have such a low opinion of Bush's leadership capabilities that they didn't think it was immediately necessary -- or, perhaps, desirable -- for him to take charge of the situation right away.

July 2, 2004 | Permalink

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» What We Did Not Say on TV from Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004)
Inspired by my posting of what I am not saying about employment this afternoon on the Lehrer News Hour, Matthew Yglesias posts what he did not say about "Fahrenheit 911" on Reliable Sources: matthew: Fahrenheit 9-11: Not Reliable Sources: Inspired by B... [Read More]

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Matthew Yglesias over at his blog writes what he would have said on CNN's Reliable Sources about Fahrenheit 9/11 and the media frenzy about it had the scheduler not cancelled on him. He writes: *It is very strange that the [Read More]

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Comments

But the President gets to make the BIG decisions, not little stuff like shooting down an American airliner. That is what he has staff for, for God's sake.

Nobody knew what was happening, there could have been ten airliners, simultaneous WMD attacks, anything. The fact that they thought it would be useless or dangerous to have the President actively involved indeed tells us a lot.

At least we think nobody knew.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 2, 2004 2:16:56 PM

zing.

boy does this need to be said a lot on various channels.

so, probably, it won't be.

Posted by: sic semper | Jul 2, 2004 2:26:01 PM

"But the President gets to make the BIG decisions, not little stuff like shooting down an American airliner. That is what he has staff for, for God's sake."

Actually only the president can make that decision. As one of the fighter pilots who got up in the air on that day (probably too late to do anything though) said (paraphrasing) "Even if I had gotten to the plane that hit the Pentagon in time, I wouldn't have been able to shoot it down because I wasn't in contact with the president. And only he could give me that order."
I can't remember exactly where I read that, but, I saw it in several different publications at the time.

Posted by: leftcoastindie | Jul 2, 2004 2:28:59 PM

"Even if I had gotten to the plane that hit the Pentagon in time, I wouldn't have been able to shoot it down because I wasn't in contact with the president. And only he could give me that order."

So why are we told that Cheney (not Bush!) gave the order to shoot down the planes? What gives the VP the authority? It wasn't as if Bush was incommunicado. It appears that instead Cheney and the staff made this decision because they didn't trust Bush with such a decision.

And why have we heard absolutely no questions in the media about why Cheney, not Bush, gave the shoot-down order?

Posted by: S. Anderson | Jul 2, 2004 2:47:28 PM

When the first plane hit the tower, it was thought to be an accident not a terrorist attack as was clear from the reaction of every morning talk show in America.

"It is a very strange thing indeed that the media does not provide outlets for stridently liberal commentary in lieu of the fact that Fahrenheit 9-11 clearly demonstrates that there is a large audience for such things."

How's Air America doing? How about the 1000 Bush is the Devil books? How about 90% of the press who describe themselves as Democrats?

Posted by: Dave | Jul 2, 2004 3:22:34 PM

Dave - it was after the SECOND plan hit that The Pet Goat reading took place. The first was at 8:46, the second at 9:03. After the second hit, there was no doubt whatever that this was an attack.

Posted by: wvmcl | Jul 2, 2004 3:37:39 PM

Hey, other Dave, re-read Matt's post:

"It's also noteworthy that while Moore has done us all a great service by bringing to light the footage of the president not reacting to the second WTC attack..."

That's SECOND plane.

Not, as you have it, FIRST plane.

And, Matt, pretty good pastiche of the DeLongian style. Typically, however, "That is all" goes at the end of the post.

Posted by: Dave L | Jul 2, 2004 3:39:43 PM

OK. I was wrong.

Anyway, none of DeLong's points pass muster.

Does the press really let Bush off the hook? Have we not heard "Bush LIED" 1000 times on the news when no one can give any evidence it was more than "Bush (and every intelligence agency in the world) was mistaken."

Posted by: Dave | Jul 2, 2004 3:58:10 PM

Excuse me, DeLong inspired points.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 2, 2004 3:59:09 PM

Could it be that Moore is using the same invalid argumentative technique as the Bush admin precisely to discredit it?

By that I mean: If some people from group A having had contacts with some people from group B means that both groups were working together to an extensive and important degree, if we are ready conclude that Iraq was significantly linked to Al-Qaeda, we also have to conclude that the Bush admin was significantly linked to Al-Qaeda. Since the latter is ridiculous, we don't have much of a reason to think the former.

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Jul 2, 2004 4:01:29 PM

When did Bush ever have any contacts with Al-qaida?

Posted by: Dave | Jul 2, 2004 4:21:29 PM

What Bob M. said; plus, for all they knew
there was one airliner headed for Air
Force One at the Sarasota airport, or
given that aWol's morning schedule had
been published, headed right for that school. Did his staff flee to the parking lot, by any chance?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr | Jul 2, 2004 4:40:30 PM

While I agree with Matthew's points, I must object to his misuse of language.
1. "media" is a plural word. It should be "media are" not "media is". But that battle is no doubt lost, since every blogger and journalist in the world makes this error.

2. "lieu" means place, or stead. "In lieu of" means "instead of"; Matthew presumably meant to say "in view of the fact..." rather than "in lieu of the fact". That could have been a slip, of course, but I've seen other people do this and maybe it can be stopped now before it gets out of hand!

Posted by: bob | Jul 2, 2004 4:56:39 PM

It is TREASONOUS to question the President about ANYTHING other than land deals, sex, and all those murders he did.

And Moore is FAT!

You liberals are lying scum.

Posted by: Al | Jul 2, 2004 5:01:00 PM

This guy got a load off his chest on the subject too - http://jcrue.blogspot.com/2004/07/read-what-moore-supporters-said-and.html

Posted by: jerry | Jul 2, 2004 5:08:58 PM

Shorter Dave:
I don't know facts, but DeLong is wrong. Muster.

Posted by: MattB | Jul 2, 2004 5:13:21 PM

When did Bush ever have any contacts with Al-qaida?

Well, he and the rest of the Bushes have numerous long-time financial and political ties to the bin Laden family.

By Bushist standards of proof, that's an overwhelming case that Gee Duhbya and Osama bin Forgotten are best buddies.

Posted by: grytpype | Jul 2, 2004 5:48:56 PM

Incidentally, I hadn't realized this until today, but Ari Fleischer has confirmed that he wrote a note (a sign, actually) instructing Bush, "DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET" after Card told him about the second plane:

http://www.needlenose.com/pMachineFree2.2.1/weblog.php?id=P1421

Posted by: Swopa | Jul 2, 2004 6:11:22 PM

leftcoastindie, s anderson, cheney's line (and he's sticking to it!) is that he got authorization from the president to order the shooting down of planes, even though there is no record of any such conversation. My guess is that cheney lied to the 9/11 commission and that bush backed him up.

That said, although cheney is a thug in every way, i don't blame him for acting in lieu of bush in this case; i agree with what matthew said, that cheney probably figured he didn't need bush, whose job it was to look presidential, not be presidential.

dave, actually, air america has gotten pretty good ratings, and many of the bush-bashing books are doing quite well in sales, thank you very much. Your point being?

Posted by: howard | Jul 2, 2004 6:27:08 PM

Dave:

Not only did Bush read on for 7 minutes after the 2nd plane hit the WTC, don't forget, he SAW the first plane hit. And I defy you to find an instance of the words "Bush lied" anywhere on network news. And no, every intelligence agency in the world did NOT agree with Bush. To begin with, "mushroom cloud" was repeated by every Bush operative implying nukes. Aluminum tubes and Niger connections were known to be either lies are less certain than Bush made out. And most importantly, war is an important step. Even Bush does not think WMD's justify war, else why are we not at war with N. Korea or Iran. Every leader in the world thought that the evidence did NOT justify war, except Bush. The meme that every leader agreed with Bush's war is false. They did not even agree on the nuke assessment Bush made.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 2, 2004 6:33:31 PM

"Not only did Bush read on for 7 minutes after the 2nd plane hit the WTC, don't forget, he SAW the first plane hit."

Umm . . . didn't Bush just make that part up? I had read that there was no footage until later that day . . .

Though to be fair, that sort of misremembering is pretty common . . .

Dan S.

Posted by: Dan S. | Jul 2, 2004 7:46:25 PM

F911 and Bowling for Columbine have something important in common: both talk about fear as a crucial driving force in American life. In BFC, Moore argues that Americans are bathed in media showing the grave dangers posed by other people who are not like them: Blacks, Hispanics, nuts, perverts, people stealing children, murders, fires, danger everywhere, germs on every surface, and carried by anyone we don't know. Guns, and gun violence, are just reactions to that pervasive fear.

F911 shows the administration raising fear at every opportunity, terrorists around every corner, waiting to use weapons of mass destruction on all of us. So, in Flint, there is the danger posed by the Wal-Mart, and we aren't far from Detroit, and you can't trust anyone you don't know.

F911 explains that the fear is used to support class divisions, and to protect the interests of the rich. They are the ones that benefit from the fear, not the decent people whose kids are dying.

Why is that not blatantly obvious? Moore says it at the end of the movie. Why is that ignored?

Posted by: masaccio | Jul 2, 2004 10:21:19 PM

Eh, I really haven't found this shaming tactic persuasive since its content was "the media's" failure to display adequate hostility for Saddam/Osama in criticizing Bush. Fool me twice...you can't fool me again, as they say. But whatever. What's less ok, in my view, is stuff like Krugman's barfy continuation to the effect that Moore is some kind of latter-day Woody Guthrie/empathic conduit to the souls of the working class (which he surely is not) and also, by implication, any apparent exploitationism is really just folksy boorishness (which aint true either). I actually didn't think F911 was anywhere near as toxic as Bowling For Columbine. I mean, he goes through his standard formula of crypto/conspiracy illogic, get lost, dead-end, create a few mawkish moments, wrap things up with class-stratification trope, but it never gets really pornographic the way Bowling does, often, and much of the Iraq montage is genuinely powerful and disturbing. Still, since everyone knows that "the media," when deployed in cases like this, is as much as anything a rhetorical fulcrum for constraining polite opinion, the liberals who are enjoining folk to get back in line, um, make me want to vote Republican. Bastards.

Posted by: spacetoast | Jul 3, 2004 12:57:22 AM

"dave, actually, air america has gotten pretty good ratings, and many of the bush-bashing books are doing quite well in sales, thank you very much. Your point being?"

You just made it for me. Matt wrote:

"It is a very strange thing indeed that the media does not provide outlets for stridently liberal commentary"

Clearly there already is.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 3, 2004 1:22:37 AM

"Well, he and the rest of the Bushes have numerous long-time financial and political ties to the bin Laden family"

If you had a clue about middle east politics, you would know how silly what you just wrote is.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 3, 2004 1:28:26 AM

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