Hi there,

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to supporting non-profits. Democracy Now! is a free source of independent news for tens of millions of people around the world, but less than 1% of our global audience donates to support our critical journalism. Let’s pick up the percentage! In honor of Giving Tuesday, a generous contributor will TRIPLE your donation to Democracy Now!, which means if you give $10, we’ll get $30. Please don’t miss out on this opportunity to triple your impact. Democracy Now! doesn't accept advertising income, corporate underwriting or government funding because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. We rely on you for support—and we’re counting on you right now. I hope you’ll give as much as you can today. Every dollar makes a difference. Thanks so much.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


“Here Comes Trouble”: Michael Moore Tells the Formative Tales Behind His Filmmaking, Rabble-Rousing

StorySeptember 28, 2011
Watch Full Show
Media Options

For more than two decades, Michael Moore has been one of the most politically active, provocative and successful documentary filmmakers in the business. We talk to Moore about his new memoir, “Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life,” which comprises 20 biographic vignettes that capture how his political and sociological viewpoints developed. He also discusses the numerous attacks and death threats he received after speaking out against former President George W. Bush, after winning a 2003 Academy Award for his film Bowling for Columbine. He first discussed these fears and necessity to hire a security team on Democracy Now! last year, which ultimately encouraged him to write publicly about these incidents in his memoir. [includes rush transcript]

Related Story

StorySep 28, 2011“Something Has Started”: Michael Moore on the Occupy Wall St. Protests that Could Spark a Movement
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour is Michael Moore. His new book is Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. Your early years, Michael—why did you choose to write this book?

MICHAEL MOORE: I actually—I decided to write this book because I like to read short stories, and I’ve always wanted to write a book of short stories. And I thought, why don’t I just start with not made-up stories, but the ones from my own life, because I had a very interesting, to put it mildly, life before I was a filmmaker, before anybody knew who I was. So—

AMY GOODMAN: Your parents didn’t even know?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, no, my parents—my parents knew very well, actually, and perhaps maybe encouraged it on some level, because my mother had made the mistake of teaching me to read and write by the time I was four, so I was already doomed at that point, as soon as I entered school. And also, as I remember it, it was—asking questions was an OK thing in our household. So as a little tyke, that was not put out, the flame of that was not extinguished. So—

AMY GOODMAN: Though it did get you kicked out of seminary, didn’t it?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, but it—yes, by the time I was in ninth grade, I was very enamored, inspired by the Berrigan brothers, the two priests who had led antiwar protests, who had committed acts of civil disobedience against the war, and also the whole Catholic community around César Chávez and the—you know, at that time, there were a lot of these, you know, radical priests, and I happened—there was one actually in our parish. And so, I thought, well, this is what I want to do. But, of course, I’m 14 years old, you know.

So, I turned 15, while—I went away to the seminary—in the first year. And the priests there were not—probably not that pleased with me, again, because I was asking all these questions—why this, why that—and the Catholic Church is not an institution where you want to ask a lot of questions. So, anyways, by the end of that year, between that and the fact that the, you know, normal hormones had kicked in, and I read the rule book and figured this probably wasn’t the best place to be for a teenager, I went in to tell them I wasn’t coming back, and I sat down. Before I had a chance to say anything, the—Father Duewicke said to me, you know, “We’re asking you to leave and not come back.” I said, “Wait a minute, you can’t fire. I’m quitting.” He said, “Well, great, we’re in agreement. So, for once.” Anyways, so that was the end of my years as a potential Catholic priest.

AMY GOODMAN: Talking about illustrious Catholics, can you talk about your encounter with Bobby Kennedy? How old were you?

MICHAEL MOORE: I was 11 years old. My mother’s idea of a summer vacation was not to take us up to the lake to go fishing and swimming and all that. She convinced my dad that we should go to Washington, D.C., or Civil War battlefields or places like that, to learn American history. So she’d load us kids in the car. We’d drive from Flint, Michigan, down to our nation’s capital, where we would spend days at the National Archives reading the documents, or at the Smithsonian, walking through all their exhibits, and taking as up to Capitol Hill, because she thought it was important for us to meet our elected representatives from Michigan.

So, one day we’re in the Capitol Building, and I got separated from them. And I’m wandering around, and I’m 11 years old, and then I start to realize I’m never going to see my parents again. And so, I just—I see an elevator, doors open. I walk into this elevator. I’m—you know, I’m in tears. And there’s a man reading the newspaper in the elevator. The doors close. He hears this little boy crying. He puts the paper down. I turn around. It’s Bobby Kennedy. And he’s like, “What’s wrong, young man?” And, “I lost my mommy.” So he—we got off the elevator, and he took me to go find my mommy. And he ran into a Capitol police officer, and the officer said, “That’s OK, Senator. We’ll take it from here.” And he said, “No, no, I’ll stay with him until, you know, you find the mother.” And he stayed there and comforted me, and I had this conversation with him. And it was a very sweet thing for him to do. It’s something that just, you know, I held for many years after that. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know who Bobby Kennedy was at the time?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, of course. Yes, I was Irish Catholic. Yes, I would have known if I was five years old. So, yes. And, of course, this would have been—this is just—this is really just a year and a half after his brother’s assassination. So, you know, very affected by this, everybody was affected, and certainly, you’re going to Catholic school, you were really affected by this. In the country’s entire history, only one Catholic had been elected president, so it was big deal. So, yes, oh, yes, I knew exactly who it was, and I was grateful for him being there.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, you were a Catholic who was elected, as well, one of the youngest people to run for office in this country.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, right after 18-year-olds got the right to vote, I was still a senior in high school. And we had this very brutal vice principal who carried this wooden board around and gave swats to students whenever he felt like it, and he gave it to me one day, made me bend over because my shirttail was out. You had to have your your shirt tucked in back then. And I was just so upset, I went home and I saw in the paper that two school board members were retiring, and there was going to be an election in June. And I started thinking, geez, I wonder if I could run for office and be this guy’s boss? So I called the county clerk and found out I could run. I got the required number of signatures, and I ran.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, wait a second.


AMY GOODMAN: How many signatures did you need?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, actually, that was—when they said I had to get all these signatures, I’m thinking I had to get thousands of names to run, and I was a young man filled with a lot of lethargy, so I was not inclined to want go door to door getting signatures. And the county clerk said, “No, you only need 20.” And I said, “20?” He said, “Yeah, 20.” And I’m thinking, geez, I know 20 stoners who will sign anything. So, I got the petitions. I got—within an hour, I got my 20 signatures. I was on the ballot. And, you know, I was a senior in high school. I had kind of long hair. And the Republicans in town were just, “Oh, my god. This hippie is going to be on the school board.” So a whole bunch of them go and get petitions to run also, to try and stop me. But it made no sense, because they would just split the adult vote, you know, which is what they did. Six of them ran against me, and I won with a plurality of votes, and I became one of the first 18-year-olds in the country elected to public office.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what did you do with this trusty charge of the public?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, my first—first position on my platform was to get the vice principal fired.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, you were both a student at the time and his boss?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, yes, for like the last week of school, I was—yes, I was one of his bosses, and I was under fear of being hit with that board. It was an odd—it was an odd situation. And frankly, it was very—I had quite an epiphany in line for graduation, at my high school graduation. It was the night of June 17th, 1972, which coincidentally was also the night of the Watergate break-in. But we didn’t know anything about that, because we were just in line to—

AMY GOODMAN: You definitely weren’t involved.

MICHAEL MOORE: I was not involved, knew nothing about it.

AMY GOODMAN: Though you were a Nixon admirer.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yes, when I was 14, when Nixon was running against Humphrey, I was so upset at Johnson and Humphrey for this war, that my 14-year-old brain just couldn’t process anything other than, I’m not going to vote for these guys, or I wouldn’t vote for these guys. And Nixon, if people remember, he said he had a secret plan to end the war, and we’d be out of there in six months. And that sounded good to me. So, I was just this little tyke, going door to door and putting up posters for Richard Nixon. Of course, again, as I became older, as a teenager, my views on him quickly changed, once he got elected. It was one of the, you know, kind of early sort of, “Oh, wow, they don’t actually tell the truth, nor do they have to.” And so—but I was very much against the war. That’s all that really mattered to me at that age, and if you said you were going to stop the war, that was good enough for me. But, you know, I was 14 years old.

AMY GOODMAN: But moving ahead a few years—


AMY GOODMAN: —four years, to this elected position that you had, so you get the vice principal fired—


AMY GOODMAN: —as his boss and the one who’s going to be threatened by his paddle. These school board meetings, you recorded them?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, they—you know, I started getting misquoted in the local paper, you know, because I would make motions to do certain things that I thought would make the schools better, give students more rights. We had an elementary school that needed a name, and so I proposed that we named it Martin Luther King Elementary School. Of course, it was an all-white school. You know, you’re only supposed to name black schools Martin Luther King schools. I just thought, well, I think this would be good, actually, for these white kids to go to a Martin Luther King school. And, oh, my god, the town just went nuts. And they started a recall election. And so, I just—I brought my tape recorder into the meetings just so I could record the public meetings. And they reached over, and they turned it off, and they said, “You can’t record these meetings.” I said, “Well, this is a public meeting.” “No, you can’t do that.” And they passed like a rule saying that nobody could record the public meetings. And so, the next meeting, all the press showed up, and everybody put their tape recorder on the table, and people brought cameras. And it just descended from there.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about high school graduation.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yes, I was—yes, so I started to say that—so I was in line for graduation, and boys had to wear a tie under their gowns. So this vice principal, he’s going down the line, you know, checking under everybody’s gown to make sure they have a tie on. And this kid in front of me—the assistant principal stops, and he goes, “Where’s your tie?” And he says, “Well, I have a tie.” And he had one of those string ties.


MICHAEL MOORE: Bolero, yes, yes. And he says, “This is a tie.” And he said, “This is not a tie.” And he yanks the kid, physically takes him out of the line and says, “You’re not graduating.” And he’s going, “But Mr. Ryan.” And he says, “Out!” And he just takes the kid and just out to the door. And that was it. Twelve years of going to school, and the kid couldn’t graduate because he had on the wrong kind of tie. But the real thing that bothered me about that wasn’t so much what Mr. Ryan did to this student—

AMY GOODMAN: He didn’t graduate.

MICHAEL MOORE: He did not graduate, that’s right, that’s right. But that I stood there. And I had just been elected five days earlier to the board of education. I stood there and said nothing. I and all the other students. Nobody said anything. Nobody objected. And I was so bothered by that. And then I heard from the boy’s mother the next day, and she called me, and crying. And, oh, it was—and I’m just like, why—and she said, “Why didn’t you say anything?” And I said, “Well, I was just—I’m still a—I was still a student.” She said, “But you’re also on the school board.” And I thought, wow, this is the way it usually is. I really—I probably—I didn’t want to risk me not being able to graduate, you know, so I turned the other way. You know, I didn’t want to stick my neck out, because it might get chopped off. And that’s really how we’re trained. I mean, we’re trained from an early age, in the system, in the society, the schools, whatever, that wants to make sure that we don’t upset the applecart too much. And I felt so bad about myself after that, and I just—OK, I said to myself, “That’s the last time you’re going to remain silent. You see somebody being picked on like that, you see something that’s wrong, that’s just wrong, you have to say something, no matter what.”

And so, it really—at 18 years old, it had a real—you know, don’t you think, though, in our lives, it’s sometimes those small things, those little incidents, that really have profound implications for us in terms of how we’re formed and how we sort of decide to live? You know, when you were born, you didn’t come out of your mother on the day you were born and say, “I will someday, you know, host a show called Democracy Now!” Although you may have. I don’t know. I shouldn’t say that. But you were formed—you were formed by the experiences that you had, things that you saw, things that bothered your conscience, and you became who you became as a result of that. And I think we’re all like that, and I think we all have stories like that to tell.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your parents, what they did.

MICHAEL MOORE: My dad was an assembly line worker at AC Spark Plug, which was a division of General Motors, and his job was to build and then inspect the little spark plugs as they came off the line. My mom was a secretary, a clerk, in a township office. And, you know, they had a middle-class life. They were able to, by working eight hours a day, five days a week—my dad had four paid weeks in the summer of vacation time. We had 100 percent health coverage, dental coverage, all of this. You know, that was a time when you could—you know, the children of factory workers could actually look forward to going to college. And this was really a first in history, because the children of the working class never really aspired or thought about going to college. But that was something that happened in that generation after World War II. And so, I was very lucky to be—to have that kind of life and to have parents who really encouraged me to follow my conscience and to stand up and say what I thought was right and be willing to take the consequences for it, but, you know, be who you think you are.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play a quick clip from Roger & Me, that first film that took the world by storm. But just before we get to it, what led to it, you being the editor of the Flint Voice and what that meant.

MICHAEL MOORE: What led to—what led to me making Roger & Me?

AMY GOODMAN: No, and Flint Voice.

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, my own—yes, I had my own newspaper. I started a paper called the Flint Voice. I ran this for almost 10 years in Flint.

AMY GOODMAN: How old were you?

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, geez, I was 22, something like that. And I—I mean, I’ve always loved journalism, and I started my—actually, I started my first newspaper when I was in fourth grade, and the nuns, you know, they shut it down. So then I started one in the neighborhood. Then the neighbors got upset. I was listing people’s homes for sale and just coming up with prices.

AMY GOODMAN: What were you exposing?

MICHAEL MOORE: I was really just exposing why our sports teams weren’t doing very well. It wasn’t anything hugely political at that time. But it was just—I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t even write about that, that it was just so tightly controlled. The more they tried to control it, the more—I started up a paper again in sixth grade. They shut that down. I started it up again in eighth grade. They shut that down.

AMY GOODMAN: When did the police raid your paper?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, then I started the Flint Voice, and we did a story on the mayor and how he was having city employees campaign for him on city time, and he was using federal funds to pay these employees, essentially to campaign for him. And so, we did a story on it. He wanted to know where we got the story, and we wouldn’t tell him. And so, he sent the police to our printer, which was at another newspaper. And they, with a search warrant, signed by a judge, went in there and seized everything to do with our paper, including the printing plates right off from the press. And it was just a shocking, shocking thing. And it became national news. And then, a few months later, there was another newsroom raid out in Boise, Idaho, of a CBS affiliate, where they went to snatch some videotapes of a demonstration. After these two incidents, with my paper and the local TV station in Boise, a number of congressmen got behind and then passed a newsroom shield law that prohibited police from going into newsrooms to seize things. And that became the law of the land. Jimmy Carter signed it. And it had its origins, in part, from this raid that occurred in Flint, Michigan, with my little paper.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go on to Roger & Me, and go beyond, as well. We’re talking to Michael Moore for the hour. He has just written a new book, Michael Moore, the provocateur laureate, the bestselling author, the Oscar-winning filmmaker. His book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour, Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, activist. His new book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. Now, your book really sort of more ends with Roger & Me, but we’re going to go to just a bit of the trailer from Michael Moore’s first film.

MICHAEL MOORE: Testing, testing, one, two, three, four. Is this on? Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

CAMERAMAN: We’re rolling.

MICHAEL MOORE: Hi, I’m Michael Moore. In my hometown of Flint, Michigan, General Motors closed the factories and put 30,000 people out of work. To raise their spirits, I made this movie, and went off to find GM Chairman Roger Smith to get some answers. Boy, was he hard to get to.

SECURITY CLERK: We’re going to have to ask you to leave the club.

SECRETARY: You want me to call Roger Smith?

GM EMPLOYEE: It’s off-limits.

SECRETARY: Call General Motors

GOLFER: I really don’t know.

SECURITY GUARD: Off the sidewalk.

PAT BOONE: I don’t think we’ve met.

SECURITY GUARD: Do you have an appointment?

SECURITY CLERK: Mr. Smith is not in.

GM PR GUY: I don’t understand.

SECURITY CLERK: Would you mind leaving?

MICHAEL MOORE: So, while looking for Roger, I got to know some of the people in my home town a bit better, like Deputy Fred.

DEPUTY FRED ROSS: I treat a person the way I would like to be treated. Sheriff’s Department!

MICHAEL MOORE: I met a neighbor or two.

NEIGHBOR: I was color-analyzed by someone in the IMS line who had people who taught me to do colors, and I have discovered that I am another season.

MICHAEL MOORE: Talked to a PR guy at GM.

GM PR GUY: Because a guy is an automobile executive does not make him inhuman. I’ve talked to enough of them, and I know what their concerns are.

MICHAEL MOORE: I met some celebrities.

BOB EUBANKS: I was born here in Flint, but I don’t know anything about it.

MICHAEL MOORE: And kept trying to find Roger. Roger wasn’t talking, but the critics wouldn’t keep quiet.

NARRATOR: Roger & Me, selected as one of the year’s 10 best by the New York Times; Judith Crist; Siskel & Ebert; the New York Post; Cosmopolitan Magazine; Gannett News Service; the Seattle Times; the Baltimore Sun; _Jeffrey Lyons, Sneak Previews; the Toronto Globe and Mail, Rolling Stone, and more.

MICHAEL MOORE: So, Roger, if you’re out there, listen to the critics. See this movie. Thousands have. You’ll enjoy it. After all, I made you a star.

AMY GOODMAN: Ah, the trailer for Roger & Me, where Here Comes Trouble ends. Roger & Me, the importance of this? In fact, right before—as you were making Roger & Me, Michael Moore, our guest for the hour, Michael, I went with you and a few other people to the Occupied Territories. We were covering Gaza, West Bank, Israel, and you were talking about making this film and trying to collect your pennies to be able to see films in between, movies in between, so that you just didn’t sit in your living room with your Avid editing this.

MICHAEL MOORE: There was no Avid then. It was a Steen—actual Steenbeck editing machine, where you edited film. And you’re right. I knew you back then. And I didn’t know at the time, really, that this would become that. I really was just upset at what had happened in my home town, and I wanted to really kind of show people what happens when a corporation dominates in that fashion and controls people’s lives on that level. So, yeah, so while I was making it, and we were traveling, which—actually, I wrote a story about our trip there to the West Bank and Gaza. And I—that and a few other stores didn’t make this cut, because that just started to become like its own book. I mean, there were—that and subsequent trips to Israel and the Occupied Territories, that just—heartbreaking.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, didn’t you flash to it at the end of Roger & Me?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, that’s right. That’s right, because the—

AMY GOODMAN: And we all thought that would be your next film.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, well, I think I said at the time that the next film was going to be called West Bank Story. And it was going to be sort of a cowboys and Indians thing. But yeah, it—that film really hasn’t—that’s a film that’s still to be made, actually. Sadly—sad to say, isn’t it, that this is now 20-some years later. You and I were there during really what was about the first month or two of the first Intifada. And I just couldn’t believe it. You know, I mean, I traveled to many parts of the world by then, but the kind of enforced poverty and the conditions of people, what they were forced to live in, especially in Gaza, was just—I had never seen anything like it. It really affected me on a profound level.

AMY GOODMAN: Just before Roger & Me, you went to a trip in Acapulco. Talk about it.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, I was, again, without a job. I was on unemployment. And I was in the bookstore and picked up a magazine and saw this ad from the U.S. Department of Commerce, that they were having a confab for business owners in Acapulco to help them, essentially, move their businesses from the U.S. to Mexico, and I just thought that’s an odd way to spend tax dollars. And so, I spoke to some friends who worked with Ralph Nader there at the time about this, and they have a magazine, still do have a magazine, called Multinational Monitor. And they said, “Well, if you want to go down there, you know, we’ll pay for the trip, and you can write the story for us.” And so I did.

I made up a pretend business. I bought a businessman’s suit, that would look appropriate in Acapulco. It was some kind of yellow seersucker thing. I cut my hair and tried to look as corporate as possible, and actually pulled it off and was there for this entire conference, where I got to witness something I didn’t really think was going to be what it was. And it was, essentially, “This is how we’re going to destroy the American Dream. This is how we’re going to destroy the middle class. And we, the Reagan administration at the time, we are going to help you do this.” And so, it’s all these CEOs or heads of either large companies, or they were small companies, like auto suppliers, and they were getting a whole lesson in how to screw the workers here and exploit the workers in Mexico. And I’m sitting there taking notes and hoping I don’t get discovered. And I always felt it was not—it was not a compliment to me that I pulled it off so well, that I actually did look like the CEO of some company that I had made up.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t one the people there then in the Obama administration today? Jim Kolbe.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, Jim Kolbe, who was a Republican congressman from Arizona. He was asked to speak at one of the dinners, and he came down there and talked about how great it was. And they all started to chant, “Jim Kolbe for president.” And he was one of the key congressmen behind moving these jobs to the Mexican border. And he was saying things like—now I can’t remember. This is 1986, so he’s saying things like, you know, “In 10 years, you know, these Mexican towns are going to look like the suburbs of Chicago.” Of course, here we are, 20 years later, I don’t think anybody wants to take a trip through the suburbs of whatever they—Chicago, whatever you want to call it. I mean, we all know the truth: the standard of living in Mexico never really was—it was all part of the ruse, you know.

But he then—President Obama, when he became president, he appointed him as one of his trade people. And I was—I remember when that happened. I just thought, geez, this is the same guy that I saw at this private meeting of corporate dudes who was trying to help them throw people out of work in this country, and now he’s in the Obama administration. It was really kind of a—of course, listen, I mean, after the appointment of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, I wasn’t that surprised, because it was clear from Obama’s first or second month that he was not the same person that maybe we had voted for.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to that clip you mentioned, Ralph Nader in 2004, when you went on bended knee on the Bill Maher show—


AMY GOODMAN: —and you pleaded with Ralph Nader.

MICHAEL MOORE: Ralph, please!

BILL MAHER: Don’t run for president.

MICHAEL MOORE: Ralph! Ralph!

BILL MAHER: Because you’re a great American—


BILL MAHER: —don’t run, please.

MICHAEL MOORE: Don’t do this to the country.


MICHAEL MOORE: Don’t do this! Don’t do this, Ralph!

AMY GOODMAN: OK, there you go. You’re pleading with Ralph Nader not to run. Where—

MICHAEL MOORE: In ’04, yeah.



AMY GOODMAN: This is ’04.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: This is right after the Iraq war.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about where we were then and where we are today, the whole trajectory.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, of course, I was a very big Nader supporter and traveled the country with him in 2000, but all with the promise from him that we would—he was not going to push it in the swing states, that he was really going to try and get his votes from places like New York and Texas, places where it was already sort of decided who would win. And then he started to campaign in the swing states. He was upset at Al Gore, because Al Gore had wrongly kept Ralph out of the debates. And so, so the focus became Al Gore, and the bigger picture, I think, in my opinion, got lost. So, by the time '04 came around, and we're in the first year of this war, Bush had to go. I mean, this was—there was just no messing around at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go back—


AMY GOODMAN: —to the time when you felt so deeply about this, actually, before 2004. Let’s go to 2003. Let’s go to that night in March—


AMY GOODMAN: —at the Oscars.

MICHAEL MOORE: Five days into the war.

DIANE LANE: And the Oscar goes to Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore and Michael Donovan!

MICHAEL MOORE: On behalf of our producers, Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan, from Canada, I’d like to thank the Academy for this. I’ve invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to—they are here—they are here in solidarity with me, because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction, and we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it’s the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you! And anytime you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: And the music swelled, Michael Moore, five days into the Iraq war, winning the Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine. Michael, when I was coming up this morning, I was in the elevator with a man, and there was—and another man, and then someone hit a button. But one of those men did not get off, and he’s coming up to our floor, and I’m thinking, “Hmm, I wonder who he is?” And then I saw the Secret Service-like earpiece, and that relates to what happened after this. Talk about your life after getting the Academy Award.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, starting backstage, where people were wanting to punch me for what I said, it escalated over a series of months from threats to attempted assaults to actual physical assaults, to where I literally couldn’t walk down the street without somebody trying to hit me, punch me. One guy in Fort Lauderdale took the lid off his coffee and threw it in my face. And I think one time I was here—actually, when you opened your studios, I told some of those stories for the very first time to you. This was—when was this? About a year or so ago?


MICHAEL MOORE: And I had never really—I’d been told not to speak about this stuff, especially because some of this, which led all the way up to somebody planning to blow up our house, and who was caught with the bomb making materials and everything, because his AK-47 accidentally went off, and the police then discovered that he was intending to kill me and a number of other liberals. And when I told those stories on your show that night, not knowing, actually—I thought it was just a—we were having an opening reception here for your studio. I didn’t realize it was going to be on the air like a few days later, and I’m thinking, “Oh, my god.” But then, people—

AMY GOODMAN: You record school board meetings. We record receptions.

MICHAEL MOORE: I get that, yes. If you enter here, it shall be broadcast. But you know what happened was that the response I got from people, it was like, oh, you know what? Maybe I should tell these stories. And it really inspired me to sort of start the book by laying out the sort of seven years of what I’ve had to live under and what I’ve had to live with. And you mentioned the guy in the elevator. At a certain point, there in '03 and ’04, the studio at the time, who was releasing Fahrenheit 9/11, had to hire ex-Navy SEALs and Army Rangers to protect me. It was just a crazy, horrible way to have to live. To this day, when I appear in public, or if—you know, there has to be this kind of security in the places I go to speak—I'll almost demand it—because every time they announce if Michael Moore is coming, they get those phone calls. So it’s not the way anybody would want to live.

AMY GOODMAN: What do they say? As many death threats—

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —against President Bush as against you?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, the person who was hired by the administration to consult with the Secret Service said that “There’s George W. Bush, and then there’s you,” in terms of number of actual threats. And there was a file of over 400 people who had actually made, or had tried to act upon, these threats with me. So, it’s a lousy way to have to live. I don’t like it. But I don’t stop what I’m doing because of it, because then the terrorists win, right?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have to end right here, but we’re going to do part two after. We’re going to put it online at democracynow.org. Michael Moore is going to be in New York at St. Mark’s Bookstore, hoping to save it, on Thursday night, and then on to Washington. We’ll talk about that in a minute. His new book is Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Up Next

“Something Has Started”: Michael Moore on the Occupy Wall St. Protests that Could Spark a Movement

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation