Friday, October 2, 2009

Moore vs. Cartel, NBC vs. ALG

If all goes according to plan, you’ll see the first of my ongoing media columns in Newsmax magazine in their “November” issue on sale soon, and they may keep in my brief reference to the premiere I attended last week of Michael Moore’s new documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. A few preliminary thoughts about that Lincoln Center event, though:

•After the film was shown (complete with such bizarre scenes as Wally Shawn of all people being deployed to explain economics), Moore said onstage, explaining the prominence of religion in his new film, that he was raised Catholic and spent one year in seminary, planning to become a priest, but left to the relief of the seminary heads, who he claims told him he asks too many questions.

•Moore wasn’t that eager to take certain questions himself the night of the premier, though, and when New York Post movie critic Kyle Smith walked to the audience microphone to ask Moore whether his use of “The Internationale” over the end credits meant he preferred communism to capitalism, Moore simply said he wouldn’t get into that debate. “It’s a bullshit debate,” he said, calling “The Internationale” merely “a nice French song from the 1800s.” (One rare libertarian television figure in the audience, Kurt Loder of MTV News, was among those who wasn’t laughing on cue to Moore’s disingenuous ordinary-folks evasions, though.)

•Moore acknowledged that in the film he was fairly easy on President Obama (whose midtown Manhattan motorcade he’d been stuck behind just before the premier, coincidentally). Moore said, though, that scenes of optimistic Obama-supporters, combined with warnings that we must watch to see how the President performs, weren’t really in the film to please the audience as a whole. “I put that scene in there for one person. I put that in for him.”

(Speaking of Obama, while it crosses my mind I’d just like to note that some of us — justifiably — considered Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Cass Sunstein alarming statist figures even before they became a governing tag-team, and it’s going to be very difficult to explain to future generations how these men, now the targets of an admirable upsurge in anti-socialism sentiment in America, managed to evoke admiring comments even from several libertarians I know, at precisely the time when we probably ought to be burning these specific people in effigy. Is being affiliated with the University of Chicago all it takes? We don’t mind being ruled so long as the footnotes are properly formatted and elegantly written? That may explain the academic/liberal synergy in general.)


As an alternative to documentaries like Moore’s, you might want to check out The Cartel, about the disaster that is the public school system. It opens one week from tonight, on Friday, October 9, in theatres across New Jersey, and with any luck, public schools close forever shortly thereafter.


In more mainstream reportorial news, I see that my friends at Americans for Limited Government are in the news due to (apparently) receiving an angry e-mail from an NBC producer calling one of them “Jew boy.” Now, maybe the situation is not as straightforward as it appears, but I would just like to say, as someone who has known people from Americans for Limited Government and people from network TV news, it is far more likely that a TV news producer would dash off an angry and anti-Semitic e-mail than that the ALG folks would concoct such a bizarre incident.

Even if ALG were utterly desperate for publicity, this simply has nothing to do with their preferred issues or rhetorical tone one way or the other. It’d be like me trying to get publicity for the Debates at Lolita Bar by faking an attempted arson attack by the Klan on the bar next door.

By contrast, I can assure you that TV news producers really are that stupid. And angry. And angry at anti-government groups specifically. And since TV news producers are almost exclusively leftists, it is hardly surprising that some are anti-Semites, since, post-9/11, anti-Semitism, properly framed, is increasingly acceptable in certain parts of the left, as long as you combine it with the proper condemnations of neocons, etc., but who has time for those subtleties when you’re dashing off an angry e-mail and your ratings are plummeting and you have six interviews to set up this week (hypothetically)?

And if you need current, timely evidence that news producers can be scum, might I remind you that this very week it was a 48 Hours producer who was arrested for attempting to blackmail David Letterman? Never mind what you think of Letterman — what do you think of the kind of people who produce TV news after hearing that?

And here’s food for thought: How highly should we think of NBC, ostensibly a cautious, fact-based organization, after they issued a press release not only vehemently denying that their producer could possibly have sent such an e-mail but also asserting that they know it was a dastardly publicity stunt on the part of ALG? Even if that were (implausibly) to turn out to be true…how exactly does this exalted news-gathering organization know that? Do they have a confession from ALG they haven’t told us about? Or are they simply bullshitting in a way intended to redound to their benefit, as befits the general ethos of TV news?


ALG made it up said...

NBC did an investigation and found that the email sent was “REMOVE ME FROM YOUR LIST!” and then ALG just made up that email. When outside groups challenged ALG to produce the electronic header of the email, they refused and said the story was over. NBC on the other hand produced their electronic header which proved the email was never sent.

ALG is on the right side of the issues, but the organization needs a house cleaning… This kind of stuff just discredits the right.

Todd Seavey said...

Very troubling if you’re correct — and I see that whereas ALG _used_ to contain several people I know and trust, after some reorganization in the past few years, they now don’t appear to have a staff list on their website (always something I find a bit creepy), so for all I know it’s now a rump organization of far less responsible people — and/or perhaps one crazy, Tawana Brawley-like intern.

For, indeed, the motivations of an ALG faker would have to be far stranger (psychologically) than would the motivations of a hypothetical NBC angry-person. Stranger still, though, would be a plot by a whole organization to do such a thing. That still strikes me as _highly_ unlikely. (“OK, first item on today’s agenda: the mischievous new PR plan…”) Perhaps they’re stalling while browbeating a beloved but deranged intern.

(Then again, perhaps NBC was duped by someone tech-savvy on their end but ALG is too tech-unsavvy to know how to defend themselves in convincing detail. I could certainly imagine that happening in a small organization, easy as tech stuff always seems to those who know what they’re doing.)

Gerard said...


It’s hard to take anything you write seriously when you sneer at the intellectual heft of a renowned polymath such as Wallace Shawn.

He’s had an entire collection of personal essays published.


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