Accuracy in Media

A story on the USA Today website said that “Sen. John McCain took on controversial filmmaker Michael Moore at the Republican convention Monday night in one of the evening’s most electric moments.  During his speech to the delegates, the Arizona Republican singled out the director of the anti-Bush film Fahrenheit 9/11, who was sitting in the press section at Madison Square Garden.”  Why was this anti-Bush filmmaker sitting in the “press section?”  It was because of USA Today, which had hired Moore as a columnist.

McCain called Moore a “disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe that Saddam’s Iraq was an oasis of peace, when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls.”  That’s a reference to part of the film depicting life in Iraq before the U.S. invasion as a place where Iraqi kids flew kites and went to amusement parks.The word “disingenuous” is being too polite.  Moore is a liar who takes the side of those killing Americans in Iraq.  He has referred to the terrorists in Iraq as patriots in the tradition of America’s revolutionary war heroes.

He is also a hypocrite.  In his August 30th USA Today column, Moore accused Republicans of putting on a big show, of appearing moderate when they’re really conservative.  Moore, a multi-millionaire, also accused Republicans of being allied with Wall Street and corporate fat cats.  His film has set a box office record for documentaries, grossing $117 million so far.

USA Today had hired conservative Ann Coulter to publish a column from the Democratic National Convention but cancelled it after a so-called “editing dispute.”  Brian Gallagher, editor of USA TODAY’s editorial page, said of Coulter: “We had a disagreement over editing.  We worked diligently to resolve the differences and couldn’t, so we decided to part ways.”  He said the column had “basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable.”  Coulter said the paper didn’t like her “tone,” “which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them.”

We happen to agree that Coulter’s column, which she posted on her website, was somewhat confusing.  By the same token, Michael Moore’s column for USA Today on August 30 was readable but laughable.  How can a multimillionaire filmmaker make fun of rich Republicans?  Why should this be taken seriously?

Brian Gallagher had been executive editor at USA Today during the Jack Kelley scandal, when a reporter was caught fabricating stories.  That’s when Gallagher was reassigned to run the editorial page.  Gallagher is also the editor who killed an op-ed piece that was deemed too favorable to President Bush.  Ronald Kessler, who wrote the article, told The O’Reilly Factor that his article defended Bush’s education policies.  But Gallagher said it relied too heavily on a source who was “pro-Bush.”  Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter who had written articles for the paper in the past, claimed the episode “shows the extent of the bias which is perhaps unconscious… the public is not getting the real story.”

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