You value information that is presented to you based on your trust for the sender. There’s a huge difference if an opinion is presented by Greenpeace, or by a lobbying group sponsored by the oil industry.
Today’s media consumer must be more critical to what he reads than any generation before. With so much noise, spin and counterspin, we must always ask ourselves, in whose interest is this information presented.
It cannot have escaped anyone that Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 is anti-Bush. It is also fairly obvious that such a controversial film would be met with some opposing attitudes, especially since Moore is deep into revealing lies of the people he dislikes. That in turn makes him an easy target for opponents who uses Moore’s own tactics to portray him as a fake and a person who himself is very careless with the truth.
Since the film had its Swedish premiere yesterday, several different views about Moore and the film have been presented. Some positive, some negative. Either way, I thought it would be quite interesting to take a closer look at the arguments his opponents use.
Before you spam my mail box with angry comments, this is NOT an exercise to define Michael Moore’s film as the truth or as a lie, I haven’t even seen it. I am merely trying to put a light on hidden agendas and why certain types of information is being brought to your attention, so that you will be able to fully judge its value.
Recently, six individuals, out of at least four are involved in Muf, the youth organization of Swedish moderate party, started a campaign against Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11. They have started a network called Pro Veritas and its accompanying website Finn59fel cites 59 possible deceits in the film. They operate under a grassroots image and the notion that they have the truth, Moore is simply a liar. Well, are they just truth seekers or do they have a hidden agenda? Is it an astroturf campaign or is it legit? Maybe they have just been spun themselves by forces that they are unaware of.
The Cato Institute is one of the most influential think tanks in Washington D.C. with influential corporate sponsors like tobacco giants Philip Morris. The institue has close ties with media mogul Rupert Murdoch. It was also partly founded by and have received funding from oil and gas moguls David and Charles Koch, two of the richest individuals in the US. The Koch brothers contribute large sums to conservative and libertarian forces. As an example, President George W. Bush has received $109,000, and 19 out 20 top recipients of Koch campaign cash have been Republicans.
Writes the Center for Public Integrity:
In late 2000—as the Clinton Administration was preparing to leave office—Koch was hit with a 97-count indictment for covering up the discharge of more than 15 times the legal limit of benzene, a carcinogen, from a refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The company faced penalties of more than $350 million. Four Koch employees were also charged individually and faced up to 35 years in prison.
Three months after the Bush administration took office—and just before the lawsuit went to trial—the Justice Department abruptly settled the case. Koch agreed to pay $20 million and plead guilty to a single count of concealment of information. In return, the Justice Department dropped all criminal charges against Koch and the four employees.
Writers Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado claim that the Cato Institute “played a key role in forming the ideas and policies of the new Republican majority in Congress.” Clearly the Cato Institue is supported by pro-Bush forces and by supplying arguments why Michael Moore is a potential liar and the anti-Bush movie is full of deceits, Republican-friendly interests can help Bush get re-elected. Now their argumentation have reached all the way to Swedish movie theatres.
Whether you choose to believe in Michael Moore or not, when you meet Pro Veritas campaigners outside movie theatres, now you know who is behind their arguments. Be critical.
Full disclosure: This article was published yesterday by Anton Andreasson and goes pretty much in the same lines as what I have written above. However, I hadn’t read it before I wrote my post, so I have not copied Andreassons work.