Michael Moore on Wikileaks on Maddow

Filmmaker Michael Moore was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show this evening, and the topic at hand: Wikileaks.

Moore discussed the confusion around a leaked State Department Cable relating to his film Sicko—the Guardian reported the cable stating Sicko been banned in Cuba. I reblogged that here on Boing Boing. The content of the cable was not true, said Moore tonight (he'd published a detailed explanation earlier on his blog). The Guardian updated their coverage here, and I'd updated Boing Boing's here. Maria Bustillos, who is Cuban, wrote a nuanced post over at The Awl that suggests the cable might not have been false at the time it was written— but that Moore is entirely correct in stating that the movie did not end up being banned. Go have a read.

Moore (and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann) came under much fire last week for comments on the Julian Assange rape allegations. Count me among the thousands of pissed off women who found those comments objectionable and inaccurate. Tonight, Moore addressed this in a manner that struck me as respectful for all parties involved (including Assange). Moore seems like a sincere and reasonable person whose heart is in the right place.

I'll update the post with video once MSNBC makes it available. Perhaps the most interesting element of their chat related to a newly leaked cable (I can't find it online yet) that apparently documents the U.S. attempting to shut down a screening of Moore's film Fahrenheit 911 in New Zealand, of all places.

Update: Video links for The Rachel Maddow Show segments with Moore—
1) Moore on his support for Assange, and on the "Sicko was Banned" cable
2) Moore on the need for transparency, and whether governments should be allowed to keep secrets.


    1. Say what you want about Moore, even when he’s a bit misguided he doesn’t seem like he’s being paid to say anything or that he has any ulterior motives.

      1. Right.

        Not unless he a masochist who enjoys being stalked, threatened and constantly berated by the world’s largest corporatist media armada and its indoctrinated pawns.

        I think there’s other, easier ways to make a buck.

      2. You could just as easily say that Glenn Beck is “a sincere and reasonable person whose heart is in the right place.” His schtick isn’t all that different from Moore’s:

        * Both have strong political beliefs at the core of what they do.
        * Both are superb entertainers.
        * Both are viewed as heroes by their most devoted fans.
        * Both also seem to be quite willing to bend the truth or use their platforms to bully their foes if it will get them a little more attention or make them a little more money.

        I personally enjoy most of Moore’s work (even if I occasionally find it infuriating) whereas I find most of Beck’s work simply infuriating (and only occasionally entertaining). And I think he occasionally makes a really good point. But I think ultimately he’s just as bad for America as Beck or any of the other political muckrakers out there.

        1. Actually, as the great Bill Hicks once said, the real problem isn’t the government or these talking-heads, but it’s us. The public.

          Our refusal to teach ourselves anything or stand up for ourselves is the main crux of this growing issue. We’ve let ourselves get pushed around with little resistance, outside of protesting, which I find to be rather ineffective.

          You want real democracy? Get rid of Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency; shrink the federal government to a record-keeping entity, and vote on everything yourselves. After getting some real education and taking some responsibility for yourselves.

  1. This article from The Awl has a few paragraphs with a good discussion of the Sicko vs. Cuba issue. Basically, although Moore was right that a lot of media outlets wrongly took the cables at face value, it also seems that Moore’s response was misleading in some ways, for example he didn’t note that Sicko wasn’t actually shown in Cuba until several months after the cable, so it’s possible the Cuban authorities did initially want to ban it but later changed their mind.

  2. Actually, Moore did explicitly mention that the cable was from January and that Sicko wasn’t shown on TV in Cuba until April.

    Here’s what he said.

    “So, on January 31, 2008, a State Department official stationed in Havana took a made up story and sent it back to his HQ in Washington…. [content of cable]… Sounds convincing, eh?! There’s only one problem — ‘Sicko’ had just been playing in Cuban theaters. Then the entire nation of Cuba was shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008! The Cubans embraced the film so much so it became one of those rare American movies that received a theatrical distribution in Cuba. I personally ensured that a 35mm print got to the Film Institute in Havana. Screenings of ‘Sicko’ were set up in towns all across the country.”

    1. The article from the Awl says there were “several screenings around Cuba”, but that doesn’t necessarily sound like a wide release, it would be interesting to know how many screenings had been done at the time of the cable and whether anyone could attend or if it was only for special audiences (like the audience of doctors alleged by the cable).

  3. Great interview.

    I had the pleasure to meet Michael Moore in Vancouver several years ago and a group of us sang happy birthday to him, he was and is an intelligent, compassionate yank, not many of them but they are out there.

    P.S. my only partial beef with Moore, ever, was with bowling for columbine, people in Toronto DO lock their doors *LOL*

    1. P.S. my only partial beef with Moore, ever, was with bowling for columbine, people in Toronto DO lock their doors *LOL*

      When not home or going to sleep, yeah. I thought he was pointing out that our doors are unlocked when someone is awake and in the house. Presumably not as common in large American cities.

  4. So the part of the cable that describes doctor’s astonishment at Moore’s inaccurate portrayal of Cuban hospitals is not disputed in any way? And the file may have actually been banned at the time the cable was sent?

  5. What’s not to like? His track record may have his own biases involved, but who among us doesn’t see things through their own eyes and perspective. If you think you’re unbiased you’re simply lying to yourself out of ignorance or insincerity. Everyone has a point of view. Unless you’re unconscious you are by necessity ‘biased’. Don’t kid yourself, and don’t even try to kid me. It makes you (look) stupid.

  6. Question for Michael Moore (or for that matter, any other influential public figure who supports Assange and Wikileaks): So does this mean we can publish your tax records? How about your emails and other correspondence with important people in government and business? How about the corporations who pay your bills, will you publicly support exposing their data? They might not like you doing that and cut you off at the knees, but hey, you’re for radical transparency of powerful organizations.

    Seriously, this all keeps coming back to, “Radical transparency for thee but not me.” (Starting with Wikileaks and Assange himself.)

    1. Question for W. James Au: So is a private citizen like Michael Moore the exact same as an entire Government entity like the United States of America?

      And, if so, does this mean we should all start paying a mandatory tax out of all our paychecks that goes to Michael Moore?

      And, if the moon was made out of hotdogs… would you eat it?

    2. A government is not a private person. A government (at least in a democracy) is answerable to its citizens. There is no reason why the citizens should be kept in the dark, which is, by the way, the basis for the Freedom of Information act.

      It’s unfortunately less clear-cut with cooperations, since the US legal system decided they are persons with more rights than a normal person (see spending on political parties).

  7. W. James Au, you seriously do not see the deference between the government (that conducts business on our behalf) being forced to be accountable, and the daily routines of a private citizen?

  8. The cable claimed that the film was banned, claimed that (despite lots of evidence) that real Cuban medical care was equivalent to that of the very poorest countries, and claimed that if Cubans saw the film they would be outraged. None of those claims are supported by any evidence at all.

  9. Except, the cable isn’t blatantly false, and we don’t have the information to say to. Quoth the cable in question,
    “XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that Cuban authorities have banned Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko,” as being subversive.”

    So, Unlike what Moore has said(Which has it’s own problems, as mentioned above, Such as Moore Not mentioning that it was shown AFTER the cable was sent), and what His supporters have said(Which, let’s face it, is normally exactly what mike said), a US diplomat didn’t say that SiCKO was banned. A US diplomat said “I was told it was banned.” and makes no comment on the truth of that issue.

    Further, I find it odd that Moore – who usually isn’t afraid to shoot right back at his critics and those who question his honesty and accuracy, who he dubs his “Whacko Attackos” – didn’t really address the rest of the cable, instead, focusing on the strawman of “THIS DIPLOMAT CLAIMS THAT SiCKO IS BANNED IN CUBA!” – Of course, and easy Strawman to burn, since the diplomat didn’t say that, nor comment on the truthfulness of what he had been told.

  10. “A government is not a private person. A government (at least in a democracy) is answerable to its citizens.”

    Neither is a corporation, but Assange sees fit to release their data. For that matter, neither are the members of that corporation, they’re citizens and private individuals. Wikileaks has also released private information on churches, fraternities, and other non-government organizations. Neither are Afghan civilians who have worked for US government members, or even just spoke to them, but Assange still revealed their private info and put them in danger. And we’re only talking about private individuals and groups Assange has *already* exposed. If we were to take his theories to their logical conclusion, we should expand the transparency circle even further. Why not publish emails between US soldiers and their civilian friends and relatives, those would also be of public interest. Why not conversations between influential figures and government employees, that’s also of public interest and should be part of our radical transparency efforts. Assange has decided without democratic input from any of us what secrets should be revealed, and which shouldn’t. If that doesn’t bother you, it shouldn’t bother you if others decide who should remain private and who shouldn’t.

    1. The same could be (and was) said of the Pentagon Papers.

      Sure, many of the “leaks” were uninteresting at best. But to have a true democracy, the people have to know what their elected officials are up to. Otherwise, you’d might as well flip a coin when you vote.

    2. Wikileaks next release is going to be hidden camera footage of every American taking a shit in their own bathrooms.

      The next release after that is already in the works.

      They’re going to release everything you’ve ever said on the internet. U guyz, this includes your awkward xanga entries about the sadie hawkins dance.

      Didn’t W. James Au and I warn you? Why didn’t you guys listen to us?

      1. Wikileaks next release is going to be hidden camera footage of every American taking a shit in their own bathrooms.

        So they’ll just dump that leak, correct?

    3. Disregarding your content here for a moment, temporary cease-fire: please use the enter key.

      That paragraph is like an old-growth forest. I’m almost tempted to copy it over to notepad2 so I can split it up some.

    4. I find it curious how some people are suddenly all concerned about the safety of Afghan civilians now that Wikileaks is supposedly endangering them (of which we have yet to see any concrete case), when the US government has been slaughtering them on a daily basis for years.

    5. Publicly-traded companies are not private organizations. And despite the utter travesty of that old court ruling, corporations are not people either.

      As for people dealing with corrupt organizations and governments, most times you sign away any rights you may have had by joining them or working for them. Look what happens to U.S soldiers as a consequence of joining the military. Private contractors with NDA’s?

      And if you knew anything about the digital age, privacy is pretty much a non-existent point these days, despite what many think or want. Intercepting and displaying information is way too easy, not to mention a massive business. Ever get unsolicited mail or phone calls? Have you been on Facebook? Given them your e-mail password? Ever given PayPal your bank account information? These days people are practically begging to give up their privacy. Do you think any digital footprint or record really goes away?

  11. This highlights that cables between state department offices are not checked when sent, but contain a wide range of information that is passed on to then be verified if it is deemed important. It’s chatter that put together gives a general understanding. That being said, virtually none of the cables so far have been disputed. The truth hurts –

  12. Two things, Michael Moore’s ulterior motive is Michael Moore. And, it’s not just women who get pissed off when people go victim blaming in rape cases.

  13. Maddow’s point about how we believe leaks is rather misguided. It is precisely because we are kept in dark about many things, we tend to believe any ray of light.

    Leaks would stop being sensational as soon as independent journalism returns to the mass media and democratic gov’t becomes transparent.

  14. The Sicko Wiki page, of course, already has the up-to-the-second details, quoting the cable:

    link to the now-redacted The Guardian article:
    “US embassy cables: US castigates much-vaunted Cuban health system”

    and the The Guardian corrections page for Dec 21st.:

  15. The difference between Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh and Wikileaks is that the latter give you the unadulterated source so you can decide if you agree with their analysis. The former two gentlemen make stuff up and spin more than a Rafa Nadal forehand.
    Moore is no different from Palin et al who want to further their own egos and careers on the back of someone else’s scandal. Most of the derogatory stuff said about Assange, we don’t know if it’s true or not, but we do know those same derogatory comments are absolutely true about Moore. But hey if you, like me, agree with some of what he says maybe you don’t care much about trivialities like honesty, truth, integrity and so on…

  16. I lost a lot of respect for him after his open letter to the Swedish government. So many factual errors, twisting the statistics to serve his needs and directing it at the Swedish government.

    First of all the Swedish government and Swedish prosecutors are filled with quite radical feminists and Sweden have very strong and wide laws against rape, the prosecutor of the Assange case are known to be strong on sex crimes. She has written in an inquiry on the investigation process on rape crimes that the victims can’t understand what they have gone through and be honest about it until the offender is behind bars. Basically saying that the suspected offender needs to be put behind bars as a part of the investigation. And the statistics are completely misrepresented by Moore.

    Of there is this much bending on the truth in a single letter, I can’t even believe to suspect how much falsehoods are in a whole movie.

    I support wiki leaks and even Assange and I agree with Moore on a lot of issues but it’s sick and wrong how they daemonized as a country to further their own agendas. Sweden have some of the most extensive laws when it comes to freedom of press and whistle blower protection but it also have some of the most extensive laws when it comes to rape and sexual misconduct. It’s unnecessary to claim that there is a conspiracy. It simply looks like strong feminists and some over compensation for that fact that Assange is a famous man that that travels around the world and the allegations could just as easily just have turned it to thin air if to little was done.

    1. I think Sweden has done a fantastic job of making itself a demon, thank you very much.

      You honestly think Sweden is following the rule of law here? You can’t say that without blushing, I hope.

Comments are closed.