7.23.2004

Fahrenheit Fact no. 35: Moore misrepresents newspaper headlines, dates

(via Moorewatch): From Bill Flick at the Pantagraph:
Moore's flick: bowling for movie edits In my e-mail today is a note that joyfully begins, "YOU ARE A HORSE'S (REAR FLANK)!!!" Another fan announces I want to "only dirtbag" and "find trivial error" with Michael Moore for the "public service ... he has otherwise done." Yet another says I "obviously ... don't fully research (my) newspaper columns" and that the writer plans to type out a letter to the editor to really let me have it. What set off this latest love-fest was a small blurb that appeared in this space a week ago on a curious scene in Michael Moore's otherwise entertaining movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11." In a flash-second early on, the movie shows various newspaper headlines on coverage of the presidential election of 2000, and one of them is from the alleged Dec. 19, 2001 edition of the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph. Golly, we thought. What an honor. Just for fun, we went back to the Dec. 19, 2001 editions, to ogle the headline and paper shown in the movie. But somehow there was no such news story in that day's paper. We found that curious. How could a news headline that never appeared in the Dec. 19 paper appear in a copy of the Dec. 19 paper shown in the movie? Now we learn how. The Pantagraph headline shown in the movie -- "LATEST FLORIDA RECOUNT SHOWS GORE WON ELECTION" -- actually appeared in our Dec. 5 edition. Illogically, if not inexplicably, a page apparently was "pasted together" to look like an actual Pantagraph page for the movie shot. And here also is why we could never find the news story. It never was one. Instead it was the headline atop a letter to the editor, significantly blown up to make it look like a news story. Since the original column blurb appeared on this page, it found its way on the Internet. It was posted on something called moorewatch.com. It appeared on Yahoo. It became a link on the national library site, LISNews.com. It became part of a reaction link of the Moore movie on CBS.com. Someone then took the time to slow down the film, frame-by-frame, and take an actual picture of the alleged Pantagraph page. (It is reprinted here, as it appears at moorewatch.com. The red line has been added by someone at the Internet site to show the page's date is wrong in the movie.) (Due to a desire not to suck up the Pantagraph's bandwidth, the image can be viewed here.) With all that, suddenly it became a flash point in something on the Internet known as weblogs -- they are chat rooms of sorts -- and, to make a short story long, that is how my e-mail in-box is overflowing with folk apparently short with me because they think I have bashed Moore for factual inaccuracy, if not manipulation. Which, uh, I have. Of special humor -- to local observers, at least -- is the world's reaction to a "Pantagraph." In the weblogs, people wonder why "a magazine" would make the movie. They wonder what was our point and, in one writer's case, "what was (my) underlying goal." (To get home by about 6 is always my goal, by the way.) Our own personal favorite is a writer who, tongue-in-cheek, declares at moorewatch.com: "Duh! Come on! You all know that the Bush and bin Laden families OWN the Bloomington Pantagraph! They simply had all of their distribution recalled and reprinted with Dec. 5 instead of 19 to totally discredit Moore!" Golly. How conniving. Despite our requests, we should add that Michael Moore remains silent to our repeated pleas for a comment. We promise not to even edit them. Moore or less, of course.
Incidentally, the original Panatagraph article can be viewed here. Why is Moore mis-representing headlines? -a_sdf (all emphasis in quoted text mine)