November 25, 2002
FACT-CHECKING MICHAEL MOORE: Forbes says that "Bowling for Columbine" comes up short in the accuracy department. Excerpt:
TITLE: Moore titled the movie Bowling for Columbine because, he suggests, the two kids who shot up Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., went to a 6 a.m. bowling class on the day of the attack.
ACTUALLY: Cool story, but police say it's not true. They say the shooters skipped their bowling class that day.
MISSILES: Moore wonders whether kids at Columbine might be driven to violence because of the "weapons of mass destruction" made in Lockheed Martin's assembly plant in Littleton. Moore shows giant rockets being assembled.
ACTUALLY: Lockheed Martin's plant in Littleton doesn't make weapons. It makes space launch vehicles for TV satellites.
WELFARE: Moore places blame for a shooting by a child in Michigan on the work-to-welfare program that prevented the boy's mother from spending time with him.
ACTUALLY: Moore doesn't mention that mom had sent the boy to live in a house where her brother and a friend kept drugs and guns.
BANK: Moore says North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Mich., offered a deal where, "if you opened an account, the bank would give you a gun." He walks into a branch and walks out with a gun.
ACTUALLY: Moore didn't just walk in off the street and get a gun. The transaction was staged for cameras. You have to buy a long-term CD, then go to a gun shop to pick up the weapon after a background check.
Hmm. If a big corporation were this dishonest, Moore would be making fun of it.
UPDATE: SpinSanity has a post in response, concluding:
When the most popular documentary of the year is riddled with blatant lies and distortions, it's a cause for concern. When the film is part of a pattern by one of the nationís most prominent political celebrities, it's disturbing. And when the media gives Michael Moore free reign to spread his lies and distortions with very little critical analysis, it's a sad comment on our democracy.
Or at least on our media. However, another reader -- who because he works at Lockheed-Martin will remain anonymous -- points out that the plant Moore refers to did formerly do missile work. That's true, though the Titans that Moore showed -- unless he was using ancient archival footage -- were commercial vehicles used to loft peaceful payloads, not "weapons of mass destruction." (Though I believe that military spy satellites are among them).