Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore blasts the corporate media, President Bush, Ralph Nader’s candidacy, and the invasion of Iraq. We hear the full speech he gave at the Take Back America meeting in Cambridge across the river from the Democratic National Convention. [includes rush transcript]
On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, just before Bill and Hillary Clinton took the stage, a massive crowd of cameras and papparazzi burst into the FleetCenter. In the middle of the crowd was filmmaker Michael Moore. He was not an official guest of the Democrats—in fact he was directly not invited to the convention. Some observers say that’s because his blunt and spontaneous style would be too risky for a convention that is more scripted than most Shakespeare plays. Furthermore, Moore has said in recent days that he has not endorsed John Kerry, but rather the movement to remove George Bush from power. Moore made it into a skybox at the FleetCenter after an invitation from the family of former president Jimmy Carter. During Carter’s convention speech, Michael sat two seats down from Rosalyn Carter inside the skybox.
Everywhere Moore has gone in Boston, massive crowds have followed him. In fact the Kerry campaign is probably quite happy that the filmmaker is leaving town today. Moore is actually heading into George W. Bush’s backyard in Crawford Texas, where he will introduce a showing of his film Fahrenheit 9/11 at a football stadium. Moore says he has invited the film’s star, President Bush, to attend the show. While Fahrenheit 9/11 has now topped the $100 million mark, no theater in Crawford or the surrounding towns would show the movie, until last week when it was picked up by a theater in Waco. That’s why Moore decided to do his own screening near Bush’s Crawford ranch.
Yesterday, more than 2,000 people lined up in Cambridge to hear Michael Moore speak at a forum with Howard Dean. Only 500 or so were able to get in. Democracy Now! was there.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
MICHAEL MOORE: I don’t know what it is with right wingers and Republicans. They seem to have hijacked over the years the word "patriotism," the American flag, these things. And it’s an odd thing. I have been thinking about this lately. Because the true patriots are those who believe the important thing is to ask questions, you know. To dissent when necessary. And I know a lot of people have seen my film and the obvious—[cheers]—the obvious bad guy in the movie is George W. Bush. But there’s the unstated villain in the film. And that’s our national media. You’ve seen the film, right? (applause). A lot of them are mad at me right now because—[laughter]—I can’t go on a show without them, you know. But I would be mad if I were them, too, because the film outs them. It outs them as shills for the Bush administration. It outs them as people who were cheerleaders for this war. It outs them as, to be kind to those who are actually good journalists, journalists who fell asleep on the job, journalists who didn’t ask the hard questions. The one thing I hear when people come out of the theater over and over again is, "I never saw that on the news." Right? Isn’t that like—[cheers]—I never—[cheers] Why didn’t I see that? I never saw those Black congressmen being shut down one after another. Did anyone see that? [cheers]
I didn’t know there was a riot at the inauguration parade. I never saw the eggs hit the limo. I never saw that! I don’t hear from the amputees who sit in our hospitals, 5,000–6,000 of them. How come I don’t hear from them on the nightly news? [applause] I don’t hear from the mothers. I don’t see them on the evening news, the mothers of children who have been killed in Iraq and who state their opposition to this war. I haven’t seen them on the news. Why haven’t I seen this? I live in a free and open country that has a free and open press where you can show us anything. That’s the great thing about America. You can show us anything! You can ask any question you want to ask. And this is my humble plea to those of you from the press here. And don’t any of you take this personally. I don’t mean it this way, but I —- we, the people, we need you. [applause] We need you to do your job! We need you! To ask the questions! Demand the evidence! Demand the evidence! Don’t ever send us to war without asking the questions! [applause] You do us no service by hopping on a bandwagon, by becoming cheerleaders, by looking the other way, because you know that’s the safest way to play it if you want to keep your job. Or, or, you are just afraid of being accused of being un-American if you were to ask a hard question to the President or his administration. That’s not un-American. That’s pro-American! To ask the questions. That’s—-that’s patriotic! [applause] But I know it was rough. I know in those first days of the war, I know. I stood on an Oscar stage five days into the war. I know what the mood was like. It was not easy to say we are being led to war for fictitious reasons. Right?
And those of you who felt the same way at the beginning of this war, you know —- remember what it was like at work or at school? You had to be kind of careful. Right? And if you expressed any opposition to the war, you had to immediately say, "But I support the troops!" Right? Right? "But, but, but, but, but I support the troops." You didn’t need to say that. Of course you support the troops. You’ve always supported the troops. Who are the troops? The troops are those who come from the other side of the tracks. The troops are the people who come from families who have been abused by the Bush administration. You’ve always supported them. You’ve always been on their side! This—-[applause]—no one should question that! The way that you don’t support the troops is to send them into harm’s way when it isn’t necessary. The way that you hate the troops is when you send them off, some of them to their deaths, so that your rich benefactors can line their pockets even more. The Halliburtons, the oil companies. That is anti-American. That is unpatriotic. You do not support the troops when you do that. [applause] The thing here is, and again, I am not picking on the press who are here. [laughter] [beep] But it—that is true. We are talking about our mainstream national media. A media, for instance, NBC, owned by General Electric. You know, I understand, I understand. General Electric now has over $600 million worth of contracts in Iraq. They are war profiteers. It doesn’t surprise me that their news arm has failed to do the job that it needs to do to tell the truth to the American people about this war. There’s nothing surprising about that. I understand that. [applause] So I understand the Matt Lauers and the Lisa Myers and the people that have to work for this entity. But it’s like, you have cameras and microphones and you have the ability to get into places of power that the people in this room can’t get in to ask these questions. And the great thing about this country is you can ask any question you want. You can ask any question you want and not be arrested. Right? [applause] You would not be sent to prison if you ask a question. So what has prevented you from asking the questions? But you’ve got the little lapel flag pin on there, right? And you’ve got the TV screen filled up with American flags flying. See, we’re patriotic. We’re patriotic. But you’ve thrown down with the wrong people. You haven’t just been embedded. You’ve been in bed with the wrong people. You’ve listened to those in power and just report their lies as truth. (applause) The Bush administration and the people who support him, they represent a minority in this country. They’re a minority. The right wing, that is not where America’s at. The majority of our fellow Americans are liberal and progressive when it comes to the issues. That’s not just me saying this or wishing it to be true. Every poll shows that the majority of Americans believe in women’s rights. The majority of Americans want stronger environmental laws. The majority of Americans want gun control laws. The majority of Americans are pro-labor. Put down the whole list of issues, Americans, whether they use the label or not, and most Americans don’t like labels, but most Americans in their heart are liberals and progressive. It’s just a small minority of people who hate. They hate. They exist in the politics of hate. They don’t believe two consenting adults should have the right to be in love and share their lives together and be legally protected by the state for doing so. What would motivate that? What would motivate—[applause]—what business is it, anyways of these people? These, they are not patriots. They are HATE-triots. and they believe in the politics of HATE-riotism. HATE-riotism is where they stand, and patriotism is where real Americans stand. And that is the truth. And that needs to be reported.
They keep saying that this is a 50/50 country. This is not a 50/50 country. In their wildest dreams, it’s a 50/50 country. Look at all those polls I just —- and I’ve got all the statistics in my book and I cite it all. And these aren’t left wing pools. These are gallup polls and Harris polls and even ABC and CNN polls, and they go right down the line, and you see where Americans are at. When you hear about this close election, about the 50/50 country, don’t forget the key words they always use. In a poll of likely voters. Likely voters. This is how far behind the media is with the times in which we live. They are using an old paradigm. They only poll people who have consistently voted in previous elections. But the other 50% of the country doesn’t vote. If they wanted to be honest, they could say it’s a 50/50/50 country because they never ask the other 50% how they feel. And I got to tell you, this is what they are in for a big surprise come November 2. The other 50%—-[applause]—the other 50, you can’t compare this election to any election before September 11, 2001. That day and since that day has made average Americans more aware of what’s going on in the world. They want to know more about what’s going on in the world. They talk politics now. We all know this, right? At work, you go in the bar, people are talking about politics. Anywhere you go, people talk politics. It’s cool now to talk about politics, right? It’s uncool—it’s uncool if you don’t know what’s going on in the world. It’s uncool to be apathetic. Now that has not been the case for most of our lives. Right? If you talked too much politics you were seen as kind of strange and wonky. Right? But that’s not the case. That’s why John Stewart is so popular, because people want to talk about politics. [applause]. They want to hear about it. [applause] And that’s the big story that the media has missed. That there’s been this shift in the country. And who are these 50% who don’t vote? Who are they? Are they the wealthy and the privileged?
No. They are the people who have been most hurt by the Bush administration. They are people of color. They are single moms. They are poor. They are working class. They are young people. These are the people most affected by the policies of the Bush administration, and they are now talking politics. And they are not apathetic. And I think we are going to see a significant number of them leave the house on November 2 and come out to vote. [applause I believe we’ll have the largest percentage of people voting in our lifetime come November 2. [applause]
I really, I really believe, you don’t hear that, though. You won’t see that story reported because they are just focusing on likely voters from 1992, 1996 and 2000. [laughter] And it’s a 50/50 country. Like if they just keep repeating it enough, it will be true. It’s a 50/50 country. Put your heels together now. It’s a 50/50 country. I got to tell you, I have traveled across this country quite a bit in the last year. It ain’t a 50/50 country. People are angry. They want Bush out of the White House. They want to be able to send their kids to college. [applause] They want to be able to go to the doctor. This isn’t a 50/50 country. [applause] Speak the truth. Come on. Take a real poll. Take a real poll! [applause]
A few weeks ago I was flipping around on the dial and I came across a NASCAR Race on FOX and there was NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, Jr., telling FOX. He said what did you do, what did you do the night before while you were getting prepared for the big race? He said, "Well, I took my crew to go see Fahrenheit 9/11." [cheers] [laughter] And then he said, "And I think all of America should see this movie." Whoa! I fell off the couch! [applause] I said a little prayer for George W. Bush. I’m thinking, "Oh, my God, I hope he’s not watching this race now and eating pretzels!" [cheers]
Whoa. I thought, man, if the movie has gone that far into middle America, and this is where the country’s at, how come we don’t know this? How come this isn’t being reported? What’s wrong here? Well, we have our conventional wisdom and our conventional wisdom tells us that the paradigm that we have been following over the last 20 years is the one we must follow and that’s the one we were worried about. Thank you. [laughter] Oh, it doesn’t hurt to report the truth. It’s ok. You know, I was on one of those morning talk shows and after we went to commercial, the person who was interviewing me said "You know, you know, you are right. I mean, when the war started, it was very difficult here to book the people we wanted to book, ask the questions we wanted to ask. In fact, I got a memo about my tone of voice. And apparently the brass had received a call from Dick Cheney’s office, and said that he didn’t like my tone of voice. And I got a memo on it to watch my tone of voice." I was like, "Well you’ve got to tell that story! You’ve got to tell that story." "I can’t." "Well, why? They can’t fire you. You are like one of the most well-known people in America. And, you know, you’ve got to tell this story. If you don’t tell it, I’m going to wait like maybe another week. [laughter] What’s today?" Within the week, I will put this on my website. I’ll tell the whole story and I’ll name who said it. [applause] so this person is on notice now and I am doing it in a friendly way. Because this is a good person. You know? Just that I think the people deserve the truth, and they need to know how the decisions get made behind the curtain. Who is pulling the strings here? Who’s calling the shots? It’s like, you know, coming from where I come from politically, you know, we always are in this place of "Yeah, you know, the man this and the man that and this corporation and this and that," and there’s probably a part of us that says "Oh, you know, it’s really, there’s, maybe it’s not that bad." And because you want to believe it isn’t that bad. You know? And then, it’s like they have made the mistake of giving me a peek behind this curtain, and I’ve seen this happen and it’s stunning to me, for instance this whole experience with Disney not releasing the film, and it’s like what—you know, the film has gone on now to make more money than any Disney film this year. And it’s like—[applause]—it shocked me at the time, because the way I have been able to get my work out there over the years is that usually with these corporations, the media companies, greed always supercedes politics or personal animosity toward me. "Oh, I can’t stand the guy. Oh, how many books did he sell last week? Well, ok. Print a few more." You know this incredible flaw of capitalism that has always worked in my favor. [laughter] The old saying, you know, that the rich man will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he can make a dollar off it, that will eventually be their undoing. But this time it didn’t happen. This time a film made for a very small amount of money that will now make, you know, at least a quarter billion dollars around the world by the time it’s done, [cheers] that greed didn’t motivate them to release this film. I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time, and it took a Canadian journalist to finally do the story, and thank god for the Canadians, you know? [applause] They are just like us, only better. [laughter] They are sort of like the Red Sox, you know? Their time will come. They like us. You know, the Canadians, they really do like us. They just wish we would read a little more and —- but it took a Canadian journalist to write that perhaps one of the problems that Mr. Moore had with Disney is the fact that the Saudi royal family owns almost 17% of Euro-Disney. And that in 1994, Prince Walid, one of the richest men in the world and a member of the Saudi Royal Family, wrote Michael Eisner and Disney a check for over $300 million to bail out Euro-Disney. And the people that helped put the thing together to bring the two together was a company called the Carlysle group. Now my film was already done, you know, but I was like, can it get any worse? Are they everywhere? But no journalist, you know, will ask Mr. Eisner or Disney the question if that had anything to do with their decision, because their good friends maybe don’t look that good in this movie. But, you know, this is what, just a small example of what we have come to expect. But the good news is that things are going to change very soon. And—-[applause]—now the other side, the unelected side, who occupy our White House, they are not going to go peacefully. They like being in charge with no mandate. Alright? They actually believe they could take us to war based on no mandate from the people. And they knew that they had to lie to the people to get them to believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with September 11 and that there were weapons of mass destruction and this, this, and that. So they’re not going to go without a fight. And believe me, they are better fighters than we are. They have proven —- you have to give them their props for that. I mean, they are up at six in the morning trying to figure out which minority group they are going to screw today. The hate that they eat for breakfast. I mean, our side, we never see six in the morning unless—-[laughter]—unless we have been up all night. You know? Well, the sun’s coming up. I better go to bed. [laughter] So they are going to fight and they are going to smear and they are going to lie and they are going to hate. And we have to get out there and counter that with the truth. We have to get out there and we have to get up and we have to get moving. And we must not stop between now and November 2. No stopping! No stopping! I’m telling you, if we don’t do it,—[applause]—Reporters have been asking me while I have been here at the convention, so how do you square the fact, this John Kerry, that he voted for the war? And my answer to them is similar to the answer actually I gave a soldier who stopped me on street a short time back. And he said to me, "You know, I was on a ship off Iraq the night of the Oscars and we watched you give your speech. And we booed along with the audience. I was very angry at you for what you said that night but now that I have been there and served my tour in Iraq, what you said was the truth. They sent us there under false pretenses." And he said to me, "I want to apologize to you for booing at you on that ship." And I said to him, "You owe me no apology. It is we, the American people, who need to apologize to you for sending you into harm’s way—[applause]—based on a lie. I apologize to you." And—[applause]—and I said to him, "Your only crime is that you believed your President. Why would you apologize for believing your commander-in-chief? You are supposed to be able to believe your commander-in-chief. You are supposed to be able to believe the President." Because if we don’t have that, that basic thing of being able to believe what comes out of the mouth of the President of the United States, my friends, what are we left with? What are we left with if you can’t believe anything that’s being said from the man who sits in the White House? [applause] John Kerry did what 70-80% of our fellow Americans did. He believed. He believed. And he believed that he was going to do something in a different way, but he believed in the majority of our fellow Americans believe. Do we point our finger at them now? Do you point your finger at your neighbors and your friends who supported the war at the beginning but no longer support it because now 54% of this country believes the war is wrong and never should have been fought? Do you? Does one in this room sit up on your high horse and look down at them? Oh, you supported the war! I didn’t! [laughter] Does anyone in this room have that attitude to your friends and neighbors and your family members? Of course not. Of course not. People come to their own conclusions at their own speed. And you know what, friends? We are getting better at this. Because during Vietnam it took years before we figured it out. This time, it only took months. It only took a few months before the majority of Americans figured out how wrong this President was. [applause]
And that applause is for our fellow Americans, because they will always respond in the right way when given the truth. They will always come from a righteous place when they have the facts and the information available to them. And as soon as it was made available, as soon as that happened, they create —- the shift took place, didn’t it? And it’s a long way from the 16 months but not that far, really, from those first days of the war. We now are the American majority. We are with them, and they are with us. And this is the American majority that’s going to show up on November 2 and remove George W. Bush from the White House. I so believe that. But—-[applause]—it’s only going to happen with our hard work and us coming from a good and gentle place with those that we speak to in the coming months. To hold out our hand and say, "Come on. It’s ok." I mean, you should see some of the mail I am getting from Republicans. I love these letters. You know? Because there are good Republicans. There are good Republicans. And I predict—[applause]—we are going to see Republicans for Kerry movements across the country, because a lot of people who call themselves republicans are that way because they, you know, they just don’t like the government sticking their hand in the pocket. Right? That’s all. That’s really their big issue. You know. You’ve got one in your family. Come on. Everyone in here, right? They just don’t like paying their taxes, do they? Huh? [laughter] Okay. But they are good on everything else, aren’t they? They believe women should be paid the same as men. Right? They don’t believe companies should be dumping crud into the river. Right? They don’t believe assault weapons should be made available easily on the streets, right? They are good on all the other things. They just don’t want their hard earned money taken out of their pocket. Well, all we got to do is show them how George W. Bush has taken that money from them, not only from them but from their children and grandchildren. These are the people that are going have to pay off this incredible debt that this war has created. [applause] George W. Bush has gone from being the compassionate conservative to the anti-conservative. He doesn’t really believe in conservative values. And we need to do that. But here’s my plea to the Democrats and to Mr. Kerry. You will not win this election by being weak kneed and wimpy and wishy-washy and lacking the courage of your convictions. The only way this is going to happen is if you stand up forthrightly and say what you believe and push for the liberal progressive agenda that the majority of America already agrees with. If you—[applause]—if you move to the right, thinking that’s how you are going to pick up a few extra votes from that very small sliver of likely voters who haven’t made up their mind yet, if you give up the very principles and things that the people in this room and those delegates believe in, to get those few votes over there, you will encourage millions to stay home. The people who are already feeling disenfranchised, who are full of despair and have sunk into their own cynicism believing what’s the use? What’s the use? You know, if the democrats move that way, they will not only energize the base, the base will stay home. I went to one of these meeting of ACT, I forget what it stands for. America Coming Together, one, two. And they put up on the screen a map of Cleveland, Ohio and they showed a precinct in Cleveland that was 96% African American. 96%. Total voter turnout in 2000, 13%. You can’t get more base of the Democratic Party than African Americans and if you don’t have a message that will inspire them to come out on Election Day and tells them with no B.S. and shows them how their life will be better, we will not win this election. That will not happen. [applause] I say this not to rain on the party. We are all in this together. And as they said last night, we have a big tent. And all of us, from conservative democrats to greens who are voting democrat, are all in this tent right now for one common goal. That’s to get our White House back in our hands, the majority’s.
And—[applause]—a word about Ralph Nader. Yes, the republicans do love Ralph. I just came from Michigan where Ralph turned in 50,000 signatures. 43,000 of which were gathered by the Michigan Republican Party. [booing] This is a painful thing to witness, because of the great Americans, Ralph Nader is one of them. His legacy, what he’s done for this country has been incredible. And what I and others tried to explain to Ralph before he decided to run is that you already did your job. The Democratic Party of 2004 is not the Democratic Party of 2000. [applause] The threat, the threat that you posed in 2000, they got the message. And it was carried on by Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich and others in this year. And they helped push the democrats toward where the majority of Americans, that liberal progressive majority, is at. You did a great thing and now, they’re in a better place. You have to admit that. Even Al Gore of 2004 isn’t the Al Gore of 2000. He’s moved! And all you have to do, if you think the democrats this year are the same as the democrats four years ago, ask yourself this question: Do you think john Kerry will ask Bill Clinton not to campaign in Arkansas for him? Huh? I don’t think so. So my appeal to the Nader voters, to the greens out there, is that we have a different job to do this year. And this is so misguided and so wrong and so uncool. So uncool to be doing this. [applause] And, you know, I think that when it comes to that day people will know what to do. But I would not have the democrats spending any time attacking Ralph Nader. Alright? That is the wrong way to go. [applause] What the democrats should be doing, and I have heard Kerry say this, is we need to give, we need to give those who are thinking of voting for Ralph Nader, a reason to vote for John Kerry. That is the right answer. That is the right answer. [applause] When I was in Cannes with the movie, I showed it to the American students who were working there. There was about 200 of them. And at the end of the movie, I asked them, "Let me just ask you a question, how many of you are," —-these are like college-aged students, -— "how many of you are thinking of voting for Ralph Nader?" Nearly half of them raised their hand. I had invited Kerry’s daughter, Alexandra, to come and sit in the back. They didn’t know she was there. And she witnessed this. And we went out to lunch afterwards, and she was shocked. How could they, after watching this movie, for two hours, with the message of the movie seems to be that Bush must go, that nearly half of them would say they are still considering voting for Nader? And I think I saw one poll recently that said 12% of 18-25 year olds are planning on voting for Nader. And I said to her, I said, "You have to tell your dad that." You know, because they —- some of the kids that gave their reasons, and they spoke with all that great honesty that comes out of an 18 or a 19 year old, right? Because there’s [beep], right? When you’re 18 and 19. And they call you on it really quickly. I said, "You need to tell your dad that the way to deal with this is to take the strong stand that needs to be taken. The majority of Americans are already with you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Speak out on these issues. Speak out about health care in the right way. Don’t put ads on TV that say we will provide health care for nearly all Americans. Don’t do that. Stand up for something. Don’t be afraid. Don’t try to be the hamburger version of the Republican Party." And I think he got that message. And I think that, you know, from what I’ve heard in recent weeks, I got to say this and I’ve said this to everybody here who’s been asking me about the war. One thing I do know about Kerry, he will not invade a country like George W. Bush did. [applause] I believe in my heart of hearts—-that this man because you know when you have been shot three times and you have been in that situation, and you know this, if you have family members who have been to war, if you have parents who were in World War II, my dad always says to me, he was in the Marines in the South Pacific and he said, "You know, if you have been there, you never want to see anybody else go there. And you want it to be the last resort. The absolute last resort." [applause] And—[applause]—so in my heart, I trust that when he says that. In closing, I just want to thank you for everything that everyone here has done. We are all in the same boat together. And it’s very important. I am glad these rallies are taking place, because, you know, I don’t know how the press will write about these gatherings of these rallies you have been having here and your speakers. This is not a niche of the Democratic Party. The things that the people in this room believe in is where the American public is at, especially where, I believe, a large chunk of that 50%, that non-voting public, is at. And it’s going to be our job to get them out on November 2 and that’s what we are all going to do. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you.