Independent/Alternative vs. Mainstream Media

Many issues immediately rose up after the incident of the September 11 bombing, many of which include criticisms and comments on what really happened and who actually did it. Michael Moore was one of these people. Michael Francis Moore is a Michigan-born director cum author cum political activist that has been known widely because of his fearless views on globalizations, large corporate companies, Iraq Wars and the US intervention, and most especially, a major critic if the US President George W. Bush.

He was the author of several best-selling books including political writings about the country’s leaders. This includes “Downsize This (1996), “Stupid White Men” (2001), and “Dude, Where’s My Country?” (2003). Moore started a lot of directing stints, starting from documentaries about his hometown, to fictional satirical movies, and back to award-winning documentaries where he became known by the masses, developing a lot of following, a lot of friends, and a lot of enemies as well.

He became involved with primetime television when he was given the chance to host and the same time direct the television series “TV Nation,” a news magazine show that tackles delicate topics which other television shows avoid. It aired for 9 and 8 episodes on NBC and FOX respectively. He had another major series, “The Awful Truth,” which tackled the wrong doings of major corporations and politicians. This television stint lasted the whole 1999 and 2000. He was given another series, “Michael Moore Live” aired in UK. He was awarded for being “The Awful Truth,” as a good producer and host.

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Michael Moore Became involved in creating various takes on political and corporate wrong-doings through audio-visual media like music videos, fictional films and comprehensive documentaries. Through these, he was able to communicate to the people to his perspective on delicate topics regarding the political and economic players of the country and was often hated by these people because of his “offensive” creations.

Michael Moore’s works came into light with his take on the aftermath of September 11, ’01 bombings. This film documentary is entitled “Fahrenheit 9/11” which examines the possible “links” between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden’s families. It is a documentary against the Bush administration which elicited various reactions from the President’s allies and friends. He aimed for the film documentary to be watched by a lot of people, not only the Americans but all over the world. This is to enlighten them, show them what could be a very upsetting truth about Bush and his call on terrorism.

Fahrenheit was given recognition and was awarded the top honor at Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’OR, setting a record to be the first ever film documentary to have won that prize. It has been an award-winning work of Michael Moore, making it the highest-grossing documentary of all time, earning an almost 200 million dollars all over the world, 120 million of which, came from United States alone. It became a talk of the world, since it tackles on a different perspective of the September 11 terrorist attack, putting the President himself, George W. Bush, on the hot seat. This rather different look on terrorism greatly affected how people looked at the President, thus eliciting anger and negative reactions from his followers. They condemned the work of Moore, including his friends in the mainstream media.

Moore and his “Farenheit 9/11”

There had been a lot varied reactions with Moore’s award winning film documentary. A lot of these were the negative reactions from different news networks, all saying that Moore was telling the whole American viewers his preconceived lies about the President George W. Bush and the September 11 terrorists’ attacks.  Moore allowed to be interviewed by ABC’s anchor George Stephanopoulos on the “This Week” show. He was able to address and recognize the major points of his critics.

Taking the situation of the Saudi Nationals, including the alleged bin Laden family; they were allowed to leave the United States just after the September 11 attacks. During that time, all commercial flights were grounded. Moore is saying that it is the President’s doing to clear those flights, because of the fact that they have family business ties to the Saudis, thus leading to the clearing of the bin Laden family also. The former security adviser Richard Clarke, known to be a Bush critic said that he was the one responsible for clearing the flights, thus alleviating Bush of the doubts connected to him. Moore’s say on this was that Clarke made a wrong decision because he admitted making mistakes, but he already apologized to the families of the September 11 victims.

Mainstream media’s take on Moore and his “Fahrenheit”

Moore’s response to the interview could be considered as his evasion to the topic, but this wasn’t taken by News channels lightly. ABC, instead of putting it on the subsequent news stories, have made a direct action against it. The network launched direct actions, two-pronged attacks on the film and its accuracy, starting from their early morning News shows up to the station’s late night news.

They hit on Moore and his work without allowing Moore the chance to respond to their grave claims that are greatly damaging. Segments started with the graphic question, “Fact or Fiction?” thus hinting that Moore is not a reliable source, feeding the viewers with his lies, damaging his reputation to the people. They just relied on Clarke’s statements, yet didn’t make the effort to ask the side of Moore for his answers.

“Good Morning America” publicist Bridgette Maney said that ABC News gave Moore his fair share of a chance to respond, to defend him of these accusations. Cathie Levine, ABC News spokesperson said that they didn’t lack any attempts to give Moore a chance, that they had ran a clip from the Stephanopoulos interview after the airing of Clarke’s statement. Yet, the clip they have shown didn’t have any response from Moore. They have wrongly positioned the man, showing the people that he’s a liar, yet his justifications was not shown to the public, an example of the negative publicity they are giving Moore.

Another station that reacted with Moore’s “Fahrenheit” was NBC, giving out highly negative assessments of the film documentary.  These were shown on both their “Nightly News” and their cable channel, MSNBC. They tagged their coverage of Moore’s works as a “truth squad report,” again clearly implying that Moore’s works were just but a work of fiction, a product of his imagination, a documentary conceived from lies and radical imaginations. Lisa Myers, a senior correspondent of NBC, clearly showcased the hilarious, comical moment in Fahrenheit 9/11, as an important part of the “truth squad’s” expose.

In this part, it shows when Moore asked some of the legislators to sign their children up as volunteers to fight in Iraq on the President’s campaign against terrorism. Lisa Myer’s pinpointed one incident, when Moore failed to put in and include the comments of a confused Republican congress member, Mark Kennedy. He replied that his nephew was called into service and that he’s already going to Afghanistan. Lisa Myers pointed that Moore didn’t like the legislator’s response that’s why he didn’t include it on the documentary. Moore rebutted that in the Stephanopoulos interview that when they interviewed Kennedy, he didn’t have any family members in Afghanistan. But just like ABC, NBC made no effort to include this rebuttal in their reports.

Considering the responses from these mainstream news giants, they are all one-sided. It is possible that Moore could have fabricated the contents of his film documentary, but they lacked a lot regarding the explanation of Moore’s side. They have loaded leading phrases, like “fact or fiction,” and “truth squad,” which could be wrongly interpreted by the viewers, implying Moore’s lack of credibility.

They have also omitted Moore’s answers to certain important question, making him look like a liar who can’t defend his statements, thus making him look bad to the people. Why would these networks do these, clearly showing that they are giving a bias in this case? Looking closely, NBC is owned and managed by General Electric, a company that plays a key role in National Defense because they are their prime contractors. On the other hand, ABC is owned by Disney, even though they have no evident connections to the government, they solely depend on the benefits they get from federal regulators, benefiting from the influence they have on the people, thus maintaining a good image to the people.

Disney even manipulated its subsidiary, Miramax, on handling of Fahrenheit’s distribution, pulling pressure in order for the latter to pull their support in the dissemination of the film documentary on a larger scale. When you look at it closely, both NBC and ABC have a lot to gain in joining the attack on Moore’s work rather than staying still, being neutral.

Independent/Alternative media on Moore and his “Fahrenheit”

On another perspective, Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” documentary film got overwhelmingly favorable reviews from the majority of independent media. Fahrenheit ignited a “fire” which led to various discussions on some alternative media that people access everyday. This includes blogs, journals, and web-based system for information dissemination.

There has been a fairly large contribution from websites talking about important points on Moore’s film documentary. There were negative comments, yet they were seemingly justified by sites and posts that tackle favorable reactions on Fahrenheit. Thus, Fahrenheit made a difference, wherein not only the Americans derived a sense of the level of deception they have had, but also to those who wrongly accused Moore, forcing them to bear the humiliation it entailed.

Conclusion/Implications

The implication of Michael Moore’s work to alternative media was very positive. It elicited personal opinions from people reading it or those who have come across it. This was the main difference between the information dispersal between alternative and mainstream media. The audiences, the people reading or hearing or watching the news feed could interact, reacts, comments and discuss essential points. There is transparency, because they could question the reliability, the credibility of the source of information.

Whereas the mainstream media could clearly manipulate the information they are feeding the people. Take for example the omissions in Moore’s statements, his rebuttal to the negative points raised by his critics. They were deliberately manipulated, removed by the News stations in order to prove one aspect. It is to further question Moore’s credibility as a source of information, as the one who conceived the idea of the “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

References:

“Michael Moore Exposed”.  2005. February 8 2007. <http://www.mooreexposed.com/>.

Hitchens, Christopher. “Unfairenheit 9/11:The Lies of Michael Moore.”  2004. February 8 2007. <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2004/06/unfairenheit_911.html>.

North, Gary. ” Mainstream Media Vs Upstream Media “.  2005. February 8 2007. <http://www.rense.com/general65/mains.htm>.

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