Michael Moore Defends His Integrity

by | September 21, 2009 at 10:06 PM | The Movies

This is how frustrating it is to be Michael Moore. One of the first American audiences to the see his new film Capitalism: A Love Story was in Los Angeles recently, and Moore was there for a Q&A after the film. The person scheduled to introduce him was late, so Moore randomly picked someone in the front row to do it for him. The guy then stands up and, in a scatterbrained fashion, says “The only criticism I’ve ever heard of Michael Moore is that, as a documentarian, he’s not always factual, but I’ve always seen him as a comedian that sheds light where it needs to be seen and reveals shocking truths. I’m so excited to be here.”

Moore’s response when he was handed the mic? “That really sucked.”

Then he proceeded to explain exactly why.


“The right wing and the Fox News Network, Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party go after me on bullshit things because they can’t ever debate me on the issues,” Moore said. “Back in Fahrenheit 9/11, I actually hired the New Yorker’s fact checkers to fact check the film before we put it out, because I really wanted to make sure everything was solid and tight, and I knew what I was going to get if it wasn’t. And we hired three lawyers to go through it, and I started offering $10,000 to anyone who could find one single fact in the film that wasn’t true. We started that process on every film. I still have the $10,000.”

He had even more evidence to back himself up in regards to Sicko, his indictment of the health care industry. “About six weeks ago, it’s Bill Moyers’ producer, and she says ‘I think you might want to turn on the TV in an hour when the show airs.’ I turn it on, and there sits with Bill a man by the name of Wendell Potter, the vice president of Cigna Health Insurance, one of the top three health insurance companies in the country. He was in charge of all communications in the company, and he decided to quit and come on Bill Moyers with documents to tell the following story.”

“Before Sicko came out, the health insurance industry held a number of private meetings – even though they were all competitors, they all got together, pooled their money and decided that they were going to have a campaign to smear Michael Moore and this upcoming film. They were able to get an early copy of it somehow, and went through and decided how they were going to do this campaign,” Moore said. “My favorite part of the Wendell Potter revelation and the documents he showed was the list of reporters, journalists and film critics that they felt they could feed information on Sicko to, who would be most apt to put it into their reviews or stories about me. At some point in the near future, I’m going to post on my website a side-by-side of their talking points, and things that appeared about me when Sicko came out. It will be for your comedy enjoyment. Not only did they do that, but they had their lobbyists on Capitol Hill quietly inform the Democratic members of Congress ‘anybody who associates himself with this film, endorses this film or aligns themselves with Michael Moore in any way, we will contribute money to your opponent and give you a one-way ticket back to your district.’”


But back to Potter. “He says that he was then designated to go to the premiere of the film in my hometown Flint, and he took his 14-year-old son, and as he sat through the movie, he had his St. Paul moment, where he was knocked off his horse,” Moore continued. “He sat there and said that ‘everything that this film was saying was true. There wasn’t a single thing in it that was wrong. When the movie was over, I then watched my 14-year-old get up and make a bee-line to Michael Moore because he wanted to shake his hand and get his autograph and have a picture taken with him. I watched my son do this, and here I am doing this thing that was just pointed out in the film, participating in a system that denies care to people, chucks 47 million people out of health insurance.’ If they had Cigna health insurance, his job was to try and deny as many claims as possible, kick people off in holes as soon as they do get sick, and make sure they don’t bring anybody on who has a “pre-existing condition.” He felt an incredible sense of shame watching his son standing there with me, and he said at that moment he decided he had to leave this and one day tell the truth.”

“I was watching this,” he noted. “I’d figured 20 or 30 years down the road, I would be able to hear the story of Karl Rove and what they did in terms of organizing against Fahrenheit 9/11 and hear what the health industry did to organize against Sicko. I never expected it this soon. I started to tear up. I thought ‘all the fucking abuse I’ve had to put up with.’ I’m sorry…”

Which brings him back to the man who’d said he ‘wasn’t entirely factual.’ “So I ask a guy to introduce me here tonight, and I thought ‘wow, the propaganda is so successful, the big lie, that even someone who’s here to be supportive… !’ It’s okay. As long as my wife still likes me, and my kid and a few friends, I’m okay.”

Check out Capitalism: A Love Story, opening Wednesday in selected cities.