Progressive filmmaker Michael Moore has plenty of critics who say his documentaries bend the truth. Could the same hold true off screen as well?
The Oscar winner has been telling some frightening stories in recent years. He says he has repeatedly come under physical attack from his critics. And yet there’s virtually no corroboration that any of these attacks — one of which involved a fertilizer bomb plot — actually took place.
Documentary filmmakers traffic in the truth. Is Moore’s personal biography to be trusted?
More importantly, why haven’t any press outlets held him accountable? He’s been telling these stories for years, many of which are instantly suspicious. Yet reporters, with one notable exception, haven’t raised any red flags.
Moore Bomb Throwing Stories
The filmmaker made the press rounds earlier this year for “Where to Invade Next.” The movie finds Moore traveling the globe to find policies that work so well overseas they should be imported stateside.
It’s arguably his least radical film, politically speaking.
Moore chatted with several mainstream news outlets including Rolling Stone magazine to promote the film. That publication quoted Moore retelling some of his most frightening accounts of being personally attacked.
Here’s how the article opened:
At least half a dozen people have tried to kill Michael Moore.
Most notably, there’s the alarming 2004 account of a man who planned to explode a fertilizer bomb on Moore’s property.
“He was going to plant [the bomb] under my house in Michigan and blow it up,” Moore told Rolling Stone.
What stopped the attack from playing out?
According to Moore, the man in question was cleaning his AK-47 at home when it accidentally fired. The neighbors called the police who found all sorts of incriminating evidence on his property. That included a list of high-profile assassination “targets” featuring not just Moore but also Hillary Clinton, Rosie O’Donnell and Janet Reno. The man in question, Moore claims, went to the federal penitentiary.
FAST FACT: Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” earned $119 million at the U.S. box office, making it the highest grossing documentary of all time.
The filmmaker wrote about this incident in his 2011 book “Here Comes Trouble,” but he’s been describing it to journalists repeatedly ever since. That’s despite the fact that he claims his “team” has tried over the years to keep the story out of the press.
Moore also shared the bomb story at other public forums. Why would Moore keep telling a story he desperately wants to snuff out, presumably fearing copycats? It’s a gross contradiction no member of the press has apparently ever asked about.
That’s hardly the only time Moore’s life was in danger, he says.
Moore claims a man charged him with a sharp object in New York City, an attack disrupted by one of Moore’s security officials. The guard suffered a sliced hand as a result.
Another attack happened in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A Starbucks customer left the store and spotted Moore walking down the street. The man became enraged and headed straight for him. He flung his scalding hot coffee in the filmmaker’s direction. Once again, a Moore security guard got in the way, suffering second-degree burns in the process.
A third would-be assailant unsuccessfully rushed at Moore during a stage presentation in Nashville, knife in hand.
This is all according to Moore’s recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
Yet these incidents, both individually and taken as a whole, beggar belief. If Moore kept finding himself in harm’s way, wouldn’t that be an ongoing news story given his high profile? The headlines write themselves:
“Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore was once more the target of a would-be assassin…”
How could he, or any “team” he might employ, suppress stories like this? In our celebrity-driven age these tales would have careened across media outlets. And rightly so. No one should be attacked for their viewpoints.
The fertilizer bomb story strains credulity the most. If Clinton, the former First Lady and Secretary of State, were targeted for death it would have generated headlines around the globe. The Secret Service would have gotten involved, most likely.
A good faith investigation by HollywoodInToto.com into all of the above cases has yielded nothing to confirm these events took place. No media reports at the time confirmed them. No police accounts matching the events as Moore describes.
And certainly no news connecting the bomb attack to Clinton, currently running for the highest office in the land.
One Journalist Bucks the Trend
Phelim McAleer tried to dig up some truth behind Moore’s tales of near-death experiences. Publishing at Breitbart.com, the veteran journalist called into question some of the attacks listed above. McAleer couldn’t corroborate any of the information detailed by Moore about the assaults.
No police reports. No media clips. Nothing.
Moore’s spokespeople sent along a note from Gavin de Becker, owner of the security firm Gavin de Becker & Associates. Moore says he employed the company during the years in question.
De Becker confirmed all of Moore’s stories but offered nothing beyond his word. None of McAleer’s other requests for information that would independently confirm the attacks was supplied.
Michael Moore and the Truth: It’s Complicated
Moore’s films routinely come under attack for bending the truth.
Moore’s 2007 “Sicko,” which shredded the U.S. health care system, painted such a rosy picture of government-run health systems it undermined his more valid critiques.
And then there are the lies Moore purposely tells. Moore once told Howard Stern he was worth roughly $1 million. Yet during the filmmaker’s 2014 divorce proceedings we learned his largess is far more substantial. Several news sites say he’s worth reportedly $50 million. The divorce showed he owned nine homes at the time, including a sprawling, 10,000 foot Michigan lakefront property.
Capitalism’s harshest critic lives pretty well, it turns out. And when pressed on the matter, Moore told a reporter that he planted fake news stories about his so-called extreme wealth with the help of his writers.
“It’s a prank,” he cried, one he says that has taken place over a 20-year period.
Is this how a celebrated documentary filmmaker behaves? If so, should the public believe what he commits to celluloid?
The Michael Moore Effect
Moore has had a profound impact on the documentary genre. Before his Oscar-winning “Bowling for Columbine,” documentaries made little noise at the box office. They also rarely ignited cultural debates.
That changed following the one-two punch of “Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The latter remains the highest grossing documentary of all time. Their success made Moore a cultural icon, a far-left gadfly progressives cheered. And so did the media.
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Part of Moore’s appeal is his blue-collar, Everyman persona. He’s known for wearing rumpled clothes and a baseball cap – on screen and off. He speaks up for the little guy, the folks he says get crushed by capitalism.
That image took a hit when we learned he was worth millions via his split.
Will that image take another, far more serious blow if he can’t confirm the series of attacks against him over the years? Some transparency on his end would alleviate these questions.
HollywoodInToto.com has reached out twice to Moore’s publicity team for comment without response.
Trump & Me
The filmmaker is back in the news now via “Michael Moore in TrumpLand.” The hastily made feature took the country by surprise. And, since it’s about Donald Trump and was made by Moore himself, the release drew copious press coverage.
His box office clout has been in decline for some time. Yet he still makes news with virtually every move he makes. Or Tweets. Remember the imbroglio when he attacked Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper?” Yet no media outlet during the latest crush of Moore news asked about these attack incidents.
Why would Moore bother telling such potentially tall tales?
Moore’s stories certainly embellish his public image. Not only does Moore supposedly fight for the little guy, he risks his life doing it. The stories also paint his ideological foes in the worst light possible. They can’t hope to defeat him in the realm of public opinion. So they have to take matters into their own hands.
Will the media ever shed light on the real Michael Moore?
Todd Shepherd of CompleteColorado.com contributed to this report.