Bush Admin Creates Big Buzz for Michael Moore’s New Film By Trying to Censor It

Just before Al Franken’s book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” was ready for publication in 2003, Bill O’Reilly became unhappy with the way he was portrayed in the book (even though Franken based the material on direct quotes from O’Reilly himself), and demanded that his employer, Fox News, sue Franken and the book’s publisher.

“The timing is amazing. You would think that we originated this. It reads like a fiction best-seller,” Weinstein said.

The lawsuit was ridiculous. It was also a magnificent backfire, generating the sort of publicity that book publishers cannot buy — turning “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” into a bestseller, thereby simultaneously exposing and underscoring O’Reilly’s fatheadedness. If only he had followed his own advice: Shut up!

The White House political office, having apparently found nothing instructive in Fox’s experience four years ago, is pursuing a nearly identical strategy today. They are threatening serious civil sanctions against Michael Moore, one of their fiercest critics, charging he violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba when he filmed scenes from his new movie there.

The Cuban segment of “Sicko,” Moore’s new critique of the American healthcare industry, hits Bush hard and where it hurts. It follows a group of emergency response workers who contracted respiratory and other illnesses at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks as they travel to Cuba seeking medical attention that no one will provide them in the United States. Ouch.

On the face of it, the government investigation appears to be naked retaliation against Moore, with the clumsy tactical brutality and distinct odor of authoritarianism that has become the Bushies’ trademark. On the bright side, the timing couldn’t be better. The film debuts at the Cannes film festival in about two weeks. Harvey Weinstein, the film’s distributor, can’t believe his luck:

“The timing is amazing. You would think that we originated this. It reads like a fiction best-seller,” Weinstein said. Weinstein said the investigation would only help publicize the film.

If it pursues the case against Moore, the Bush White House may well turn “Sicko” into a bigger hit than “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Moore’s skewering of Pres. Bush’s response to the terror attacks, or his Oscar-winning film, “Bowling for Columbine.”

Another unintended consequence of going after Moore on this issue is that it could reawaken interest in companies with Republican ties that have done business with embargoed countries. Particularly, when Vice Pres. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, one of its subsidiaries had dealings with Iran.

3 Comments

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  • makesenseofit
    May 13, 2007 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

    The rhetoric keeps on coming. And the truth needs to be told except when the bottom line is money.

  • enuff
    May 13, 2007 - 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Is this administration the only ones allowed to break laws??? THey must have a patent on it by now!!!!!

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