TIME magazine just served up a softball interview to Michael Moore, allowing the controversial director to promote his new movie, Sicko, a “hard sell” for government-funded health care.
Moore says the American people are “persuadable,” and boasts that he has already “moved the needle” on another subject, the Iraq war, with his movie, Fahrenheit 9/11.
In “Michael Moore Gets Ready to Rumble,” posted May 17 in the online version of TIME, reporter Jeffrey Kluger gives Moore what amounts to a free ride while demonstrating the “promote our fellow liberals” mindset of the magazine.
TIME: A portion of your audience is pre-sold on your politics, but another portion is undecided. Is your finger-in-the-eye style the best way to change minds, or does it give people a reason to tune you out?
Moore: I've already moved the needle on some things. In March 2003, I stood up at the Oscars and said we're being led to war for fictitious reasons, and I was booed. Only 20 percent of the country agreed with me. I should have learned my lesson and gone away quietly. Instead, I made Fahrenheit 9/11. I did that because I believe that the majority of Americans are not only persuadable but that they have a generous heart and ultimately want to do the right thing. Now I am in agreement with 70 percent of the country about Mr. Bush. So it took a while.
TIME: With Sicko, do you think you picked an easy target? After all, you can't find a whole lot of people who are happy with their HMO.
Moore: This film does cut across party lines. Everybody gets sick; everybody has had a problem with insurance or the prescription drugs they're supposed to be taking or an elderly parent who needs care. On the surface, it does seem that the only people who are going to be upset are the executives of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
TIME: So if there's no argument that the system is broken, why use your energies to start one?
Moore: Because what's even more broken is the fact that our Congress and White House are bought and paid for by these two industries, which rival the oil industry in terms of money and influence. They have a vested interest in maintaining their control. But they're not dumb. They know which way the wind is blowing and that this is the No. 1 domestic issue with Americans. Their job now is to try to control it so that universal health care is run through them, so that they can still skim the money, make the obscene profits and keep their investors happy.
TIME: Of the declared presidential candidates, down to the Dennis Kucinich level, say, who do you think has the best health-care plan? Including Kucinich? We could include him.
Moore: Then Kucinich, but he doesn't go far enough. He supports what he's calling a single-payer nonprofit plan, but from my read, it would still allow [private] entities to control things, as opposed to the government. What's wrong with the government? The right wing and the G.O.P. have done a wonderful job brainwashing people that government doesn't work, and then, as Al Franken says, they get elected and proceed to prove the point. [Laughs.]
Moore states that Social Security checks that arrive on time prove the government's ability to fund and provide health care. In Moore's liberal world view the government needs to take care of the people, because the people are not responsible enough to take care of their own health care needs.
Moore quotes Medicare and private health care statistics, and follows all of that by claiming that all the facts in his movies are true. He even states that he has offered $10,000 to anyone who can prove the facts in his Bush-bashing movie Fahrenheit 9/11 are false. Kluger weakly follows up with, “Have you had to pay anything?” Moore's response, “Of course not.” But as Newsbusters' Dave Pierre notes (see posting here), plenty of authors have debunked Moore's lies.
But TIME isn't interested in debunking Moore, but in promoting him. The magazine willingly gave him a platform to tout his latest propaganda piece, which holds up Cuba, of all places, as the example on which the American health care system should be modeled. Yes, communist Cuba. Thanks, TIME. Be sure to send Fidel a copy of the story.
Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.