Fahrenheit 9/11 Ban

The Hill — ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ ban? Ads for Moore’s movie could be stopped on July 30

Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moore̢۪s film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC̢۪s agenda for today̢۪s meeting, the agency̢۪s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

(HT: Memeorandum)

There is a good case to be made that Moore’s film does indeed fall under the purview of the type of speech limited by McCain-Feingold, although it’s not a slam dunk. While I would be amused to see the ban enforced, it is just another sign of the outrageous idiocy of the McCain-Feingold approach. With very few exceptions, speech is supposed to be unlimited in the United States. Moore is a contemptable boob but he should be allowed to spew his venom as he pleases.

In the meantime, the movie is creating a buzz on both sides of the spectrum.

WaPo — ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ Is a Red-Hot Ticket

The White House preemptively gave the movie two thumbs down: “Outrageously false,” said communications director Dan Bartlett, when he was asked about some of its allegations. Sizzling! countered Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who plans a teach-in at a Seattle theater to tap into the “anger brewing against this administration.” The director, Michael Moore, predicted that those on the fence regarding his new documentary will be off it and on his side when the last credits roll. A group called Move America Forward has begun a letter-writing campaign asking theaters not to show “Michael Moore’s horrible anti-American movie.”

All this before “Fahrenheit 9/11” has even officially opened. “I can’t think of any precedent for it in a presidential campaign,” says Frances Lee, a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University. “As a marketing phenomenon it seems to echo ‘The Passion [of the Christ]’: intense enthusiasm, organized groups buying tickets with proselytizing zeal, the sense that one is getting something that corporate America wanted to stifle.”

I hereby predict the movie will do far less box office than did ‘The Passion.’ There are far more evangelical Christians than incredibly fat moonbats.

AP — Democrats Screen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ in D.C.

Cheered by supporters, Michael Moore previewed his Bush-bashing documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” before a mostly Democratic audience in the nation’s capital Wednesday night.

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said he thought the film would play an important role in this election year. “This movie raises a lot of the issues that Americans are talking about, that George Bush has been asleep at the switch since he’s been president,” McAuliffe said as he walked the red carpet into the premiere.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa implored all Americans to see the film: “It’s important for the American people to understand what has gone on before, what led us to this point, and to see it sort of in this unvarnished presentation by Michael Moore.”

The two-hour film depicts President Bush as lazy and oblivious to warnings in the summer of 2001 that al-Qaida was poised to strike. It also accuses the administration of manipulating the Sept. 11 attacks and fanning terrorism fears to win support for the Iraq war.

Democratic leaders need to walk a very line here, lest they be too closely associated with Moore’s extremism. What plays well in DC may not play so well in Peoria.

James Pinkerton thinks the movie might ultimately be harmful to Democrats.

But maybe Bush doesn’t really need to worry about this movie. And here’s why: If Bush and the Iraq war are this bad, why vote for John Kerry? After all, in 2002, Kerry voted with Bush and the Republicans – and against a majority of congressional Democrats – to support the war.

Try as he might, Moore will not get his R-rated film before the mass of American moviegoers. Instead, it will play heavily in liberal areas – places that are already likely to go strongly for Kerry. Bush voters will be few and far between.

Here’s the rub: The more left-leaning the locale, the more likely that third-party candidate Ralph Nader will be a force there, too. Indeed, as public opinion has turned against the war, support for Kerry has increased, but so has support for Nader. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Kerry besting Bush by four points. But Nader, who strongly opposed the war all along and proposes an immediate American pullout, is gaining, too. In recent months he has surged from asterisk levels to 6 percent. Almost all of those votes come out of Kerry’s hide. And as Democrats learned to their sorrow in 2000, it’s possible for the Democratic candidate to win the popular vote nationwide and yet lose the Electoral College, and thus the presidency.

So if Moore’s film is a hit at the box office, it’s more likely to turn Kerry voters into Nader voters than it is to turn Bush voters into Kerry voters. That probably isn’t Moore’s intention, but the problem with zealous prosecutors is that once they get their blood up for the big confrontation, it’s hard to get them to cool down, even if that would have been best for their case.

An interesting thesis. My gut tells me that most leftists hate Bush enough that they’ll vote strategically, working to elect Kerry even though they’re not enthusiastic. But my gut told me that in 2000, too.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I don’t recall the specifics of the law, but think there’s a window around the conventions as well.

  2. mark says:

    “Democratic leaders need to walk a very line here, lest they be too closely associated with Moore’s extremism. What plays well in DC may not play so well in Peoria.”

    It may be too late. Allah posted an AP photo of Senator Bill Nelson giving a big thumbs up as he went into (or came out of) the movie.

  3. sligobob says:

    I,for one, look forward to entering the movie approximately ten minutes after it has started, standing in the aisle, and bellowing: “Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Liar!”

  4. La Femme Crickita says:

    You know, whether the movie is distributed or not, what perturbs me, and should perturb any NORMAL logical person is that it is all about ‘feelings’.
    Not the truth, not the morality of the truth, but
    ‘feelings.’ Phrases like “Tapping into the anger against this administration” concern me because we are talking about manipulation here…and it is something that Democrats ‘feel’ that Bush has done to the American people. I beg to differ in so many ways…the 9-11 commission proved to an extent that if anyone was to be blamed, it would Der Slickmeister, not the Bush Administration.

  5. Quem98 says:

    Is Moore manipulative? Yes. Does that make him any different from any pundit on either side of the political fence? No. Most if not all of American media is manipulative. Just compare any international news source to CNN or Fox. You wouldn’t recognize it.

    Having seen the movie, I’ll be the first to admit that it takes a lot of cheap shots at the administration. Moore, like any other filmmaker who knows his salt, is well aware that people follow their hearts before they follow their minds and lays out his argument accordingly. Regardless of whether you agree with a single word he says, he does a very powerful job. I left the theater with tears in my eyes.

    So yes, he is a very manipulative filmmaker. That doesn’t make his film entirely without merit. It raises a lot of good points… The link between the Bush family and Saudi money, which is absolutely true (ask anyone in the business industry. It’s not exactly a secret in the right circles) He highlights a lot of issues about our occupation of Iraq and the Patriot Act (one of the more frightening pieces of legislature in US history) that need to be adressed.

    Furthermore, every American be you Liberal, Conservative, or whatever should be glad that this movie has entered wide release. Free speech still exists to some degree in our society, and this is what is going to keep us from becoming a fascist or oligarchal society. It means that there is still room for dissent in our country. Dissenting opinions are what keep democracy working.