See also: Mother Jones Ralph Nader
Michael Moore was born into an Irish Catholic family on April 23, 1954 in Flint, Michigan. He was raised in Davison, Michigan, a white, middle-class suburb ten miles east of Flint. His mother was a secretary and his father worked as an automotive assembly-line worker. At that time, the city of Flint was home to many General Motors factories.
After eighth grade, Moore enrolled in a Catholic seminary. “He admired the Berrigan brothers [radical Catholic priests Daniel Berrigan and Philip Berrigan] and thought that the priesthood was the way to effect social change,” wrote The New Yorker’s Larissa MacFarquhar in February 2004. “This resolve lasted only through his first year, though, after the Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series for the first time in Moore’s life and the seminary wouldn’t allow him to watch the games.”
At age 18, Moore ran for his local city school board on a simple platform: “Fire the Principal.” He won, becoming America’s youngest elected city official. The principal, who had been kind to Moore as a child, was forced to resign a few months later.
Soon thereafter, Moore began attending the University of Michigan but dropped out during his freshman year. He was subsequently hired to work on the GM assembly line, but he called in sick the first day and never went back.
Next, Moore became a local hippie and hosted a Sunday morning radio show called Radio Free Flint, where he developed a reputation for staging whatever stunts and protests would attract media attention. He coud often be seen on television, leading anti-nuclear protests and other rallies, or criticizing the police.
In 1976 Moore began working for a small leftist newspaper, the Flint Voice (later called the Michigan Voice), which he edited for ten years. This position gave him access to left-wing activists and fundraisers, and an opportunity to do occasional commentaries for the National Public Radio feature All Things Considered. He also became involved in the anti-apartheid campaign at the University of Michigan.
In 1983 Moore traveled to Nicaragua to observe the Communist Sandinistas who were engaged in a civil war against the rebel Contras, the latter of whom were supported by the Reagan administration that Moore reviled.
In 1986 Moore was hired as editor of the San Francisco-based socialist magazine Mother Jones. But his authoritarian arrogance quickly alienated most staff members, and within four months he was fired. Adam Hochschild, chairman of the foundation that owns Mother Jones, described Moore as “arbitrary,” “suspicious,” and “unavailable.” Journalist Matt Labash reported that the termination “was partly due to Moore's refusal to run a piece critical of the Sandinistas.” In response to his firing, Moore sued Mother Jones for $2 million and eventually pocketed $58,000 from the magazine's tax-exempt Foundation for National Progress.
After leaving Mother Jones, Moore was hired by Ralph Nader to write a media-critique newsletter from Nader's Washington, DC office. But Moore soon lost this job as well, because, according to Nader, he spent most of his time away in Flint instead of working on the publication. Moore, by contrast, contends that Nader fired him as a result of jealousy over the fact that a publisher had paid Moore an advance of almost $50,000 for a book (that in the end he never completed) about General Motors.
Next, Moore used the money he had gotten from Mother Jones to fund the production of his first film, Roger & Me—an assault on General Motors, its chief executive Roger Smith, and its large-scale worker layoffs in Flint, Michigan. With assistance from the movie critic Roger Ebert, Moore sold his documentary to Warner Brothers in 1989 for $3 million.
In 1995 Moore released Canadian Bacon, his only non-documentary film production. Its fictional plot, which satirized America's obsession with its own military strength, centered on a U.S. president who tried to boost his sagging popularity by engineering a pointless war against Canada.
Moore also directed and hosted his own television show, TV Nation, which aired in 1994 and 1995 before being cancelled due to its small audience.
In 1996 Moore published his first book, Downsize This!, a broadside against corporate America's alleged abuse and exploitaion of working people.
Moore continued to work in television with The Awful Truth (1999-2000), a satire show jointly produced by the cable channel Bravo and Britain’s Channel 4, and Michael Moore Live (1999), which broadcast from New York City but aired only in the United Kingdom. In addition, Moore created The Big One, a documentary of the tour he had made for his 1996 book Downsize This!
Bowling for Columbine
Following the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 (in which two young Colorado gunmen murdered 12 students and a teacher), Moore purchased a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association (NRA). He explains: “I became a lifetime member after the Columbine massacre because my first thought after Columbine was to run against Charlton Heston for the presidency of the NRA.... My plan was to get 5 million Americans to join for the lowest basic membership and vote for me so that I'd win and dismantle the organization. Unfortunately, I figured that's just too much work for me so instead I made this movie.” The movie to which he referred was Bowling for Columbine, an anti-gun documentary that reached U.S. theaters in 2002. This depiction of America as a violent, gun-crazed culture was honored at the Cannes Film Festival in France and won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.
It was soon revealed that Bowling for Columbine was replete with staged, concocted, or deceptively edited content. For example:
Moore defended his falsehoods by claiming that he was chiefly an entertainer and thus should not be held to the same standards (vis à vis accuracy) as a reporter or historian. The hypocrisy underlying Moore’s anti-gun outrage would become clear in January 2005, when one of his own bodyguards was arrested in New York City for possession of an unregistered handgun. All told, Moore had a total of nine bodyguards at that time.
Stupid White Men
In 2001 Moore published the book Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, which argued that President George W. Bush and the leading members of his administration—for whom the book is titled—had collectively done more damage to America than had the members of any other demographic group. Notably, the book excoriated both Republicans and Democrats, who allegedly differed from one another in only one substantive way: “The Republicans tell you they're going to screw you; the Democrats don't, but then do it anyway.”
Spinsanity.org pointed out that Stupid White Men was “riddled with inaccuracies.” For example:
Also in the book, Moore demonized wealthy Americans as greedy exploiters of the poor and middle class: “There is no recession, my friends. No downturn. No hard times. The rich are wallowing in the loot they've accumulated in the past two decades, and now they want to make sure you don't come a-lookin' for your piece of the pie.”
In 2003, an Indonesian suspect stood trial for the 2002 Bali terror bombings. During the course of that trial, the defendant (who was ultimately convicted) had his lawyer read to the court excerpts of Stupid White Men as justification for his hatred of the West.
Dude, Where's My Country?
In 2003, Moore published the book Dude, Where's My Country? Like his previous productions, this, too, was rife with errors and distortions. As Spinsanity.org reported, “Michael Moore makes at least 17 factual errors or misrepresentations in his latest book ... ranging from stating disputed information as fact, to repeating a media myth, to twisting his own sources.” Some examples:
During his book tour to promote Dude, Where’s My Country?, Moore stopped off in Cambridge, England, where he lamented before a large audience: “You’re stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.”
Moore dedicated Dude, Where’s My Country? to the late Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Movement activist who had been accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer she was attempting to impede as it destroyed tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists to smuggle weapons. In the book, Moore made numerous significant assertions about Israel and its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians:
Moore's Views on Israel
Moore has long sided against Israel vis à vis its conflict with the Palestinians. For example:
In late 2002, Moore stated that President Bush was preparing to invade Iraq as part of a strategy to “create weapons of mass distraction” that would “get people's minds off” the fact that during his administration, “the country has lost 2 million jobs, the stock market is down to nothing, and … the deficit is now ... $200 billion, when we had a surplus before.” Just as important, Moore added, was Bush's “desire to have control of the second largest supply of oil in the world.”
In October 2003, Moore, rejecting the notion that a key aim of the Iraq War was to combat terrorism, was quoted in the University of Michigan’s student newspaper saying: “There is no terrorist threat in this country. This is a lie. This is the biggest lie we’ve been told.”
As the Iraq War dragged on, and American troops became mired in deadly combat against a lethal insurgency, Moore clearly sided with America’s adversaries: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy,” said Moore. “They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.”
In 2004 Moore released the film Fahrenheit 911, whose title alludes to the classic book Fahrenheit 451, about a future totalitarian state in which books are banned. Moore's film won the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival and became the highest-grossing documentary of all time, taking in more than $200 million worldwide. But like Moore's previous films, this too was replete with what Spinsanity.org described as “deceptive half-truths and carefully phrased insinuations.” For example:
So thoroughly did themes of American evil saturate the content of Fahrenheit 911, that an affiliate of Hezbollah offered to help promote the film in the Middle East. As noted above, Moore had no comment when questioned about this.
Democratic Party Hero
Because the Left clearly saw Fahrenheit 9/11's potential for discrediting the Bush administration and ultimately helping Democrats regain the White House, Moore was personally invited to attend the 2004 Democratic National Convention. There, he was treated like royalty and given a seat of honor at the side of former President Jimmy Carter in his presidential box. Democratic leaders such as then-Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota openly embraced Moore as well.
Slacker Uprising Tour
Also during the 2004 presidential campaign season, Moore was a frequent speaker on U.S. college campuses. His “Slacker Uprising Tour,” where he exhorted young voters to support Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican incumbent George W. Bush, took him to dozens of schools—mostly in swing states—during the closing days of the campaign. Emphasizing that even those who were politically uninformed and disengaged had a civic duty to vote Bush out of office, Moore urged cheering crowds of college students to observe “the slacker motto,” which was: “Sleep till noon, drink beer, vote Kerry November 2.” On one occasion, Moore put a twist on that slogan and issued an alternative mantra: “Pick nose, pick butt, pick Kerry.” He then ended with an echo of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels from the Communist Manifesto: “Slackers of the world, unite!”
In 2007 Moore released Sicko, a documentary extolling the purported virtues of Cuba's government-run health-care system. The film completely ignored that system's many serious problems, which are discussed at length here.
Capitalism: A Love Story
In September 2009, Moore released a new documentary titled Capitalism: A Love Story, which likened free markets to the taking of property at gunpoint. The movie ended with the playing of the Soviet national anthem, The Internationale, and Moore stating: “Capitalism is evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it.”
Moore's Longstanding Contempt for Capitalism
It should be noted that Moore's anti-capitalist sentiments have deep, longstanding roots. For example:
Notwithstanding Moore's disdain for capitalism, he has been unable to articulate what a preferable system would actually look like. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, for example, Moore stated that “capitalism is an evil system set up to benefit the few at the expense of the many.” Cooper then asked: “So, what system do you want?” To this, Moore replied: “Well there’s no system right now that exists. We’re going to create that system.”
Moore Denies That He Is Ultra-Wealthy
Though he routinely excoriates wealthy people, Moore himself is one of the richest individuals in the world. He has a net worth exceeding $50 million, and lives in a 17th-floor, $1 million-plus apartment in New York City. As of July 2014, he owned a combined total of nine real-estate properties in New York and Michigan. In the summer of 2015, he put his 11,000-square-foot lakefront mansion in Michigan up for sale, with an asking price of $5.2 million. When he gives speeches in various venues, Moore charges up to $30,000 per appearance.
When confronted with these facts, Moore typically tries to deny that he is in fact ultra-wealthy. In a 2011 interview, for instance, CNN's Piers Morgan asked the filmmaker whether he was “in the 1%” of top income earners. Moore repled: “I'm not in the 1%, no.” When Morgan pressed him further “to admit the bleeding obvious,” Moore said: “No, I'm not.... How could I be in the 1%? No that's not true.... I am devoting my life to those who have less and who have been crapped upon by the system. And that's how I spend my time, my energy, my money on trying to upend this system, that I think is a system of violence, it's a system that's unfair to the average working person in this country ...”
On a previous occasion, Moore—again trying to depict himself as a man of relatively modest means—declared, “I don’t own a single share of stock!” But on November 1, 2005, World Net Daily reported that the filmmaker in fact owned tens of thousands of shares in U.S. stocks. Most notably, he owned more than 2,000 shares of Halliburton—the gas and oil company he had excoriated in his film Fahrenheit 911.
Energy and Global Warming
In May 2009, Moore, upon learning that General Motors had declared bankruptcy, wrote that he was “filled with ... joy.” Using the occasion to denounce America's carbon-based economy and corporations generally, the filmmaker charged that GM had “ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with.”
Further, Moore called for President Barack Obama to “tell the nation that we are at war [against polluters] and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices” (e.g., “light rail,” “bullet trains,” “cleaner buses,” “windmills,” and “solar panels”). Asserting that cars “are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature,” Moore warned that their continued proliferation “would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.” “To help pay” for a movement away from reliance on automobiles, Moore said the government should “impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline.” “This,” he explained, “will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.”
In 2009, Moore said “it's absolutely a good thing” for government to drive private health insurance companies out of business and replace them with a single-payer system. Maintaining that “we should be like every other Western Democracy and have a single-payer health care system,” he elaborated:
In April 2010, Moore condemned Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, for having signed into law a bill deputizing state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of any individuals whom they had stopped for some legitimate reason, if the behavior or circumstances of those individuals subsequently led the officers to suspect that they might be in the United States illegally. Said Moore about the legislation: “I think it's the result of a bunch of bigots in the Republican Party of Arizona. That's ... what it's the result of. And it's sad that they're behaving that way, and it makes the rest of us look bad as Americans.”
Later in 2010, Moore lauded Bradley Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who had stolen and distributed, to the Julian Assange-founded website WikiLeaks, hundreds of thousands of classified documents containing sensitive information about the American government and its military. According to Moore, Manning was a “patriotic” individual deserving of a “Profiles in Courage” award.
The Killing of Osama bin Laden
Soon after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011, Moore denounced the killing as an “execution,” explaining:
“We've lost something of our soul here in this country … something that separates us from other parts, other countries where we say everybody has their day in court no matter how bad of a person, no matter what piece of scum they are, they have a right to a trial.... After World War II, we just didn't go in and put a bullet to the head of all the top Nazis. We put them on trial.”
Occupy Wall Street
In the fall of 2011, Moore became an avid supporter of of the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and spoke at some of its gatherings. In November of that year, he proposed a number of suggestions aimed at helping OWS “wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.” These suggestions included:
When Moore attended an Occupy rally in 2011, he was accompanied by two bodyguards.
In December 2012, Moore spoke out publicly about a recent incident where a deranged gunman had shot and killed 26 people (including 20 children) at a Sandy Hook, Connecticut elementary school. The killings, he explained, had occurred as a consequence of “who we are” as a nation. Elaborating on this, Moore said: “We are a country whose leaders officially sanction and carry out acts of violence as a means to often an immoral end. We invade countries who didn't attack us. We're currently using drones in a half-dozen countries, often killing civilians.” Adding that “we are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves,” Moore continued:
“We're an awfully fearful country considering that, unlike most nations, we've never been invaded. Why on earth would we need 300 million guns in our homes?... It's because too many white people are afraid of black people. Period. The vast majority of the guns in the U.S. are sold to white people who live in the suburbs or the country.... I think it would be worth it to (a) do our best to eradicate poverty and re-create the middle class we used to have, and (b) stop promoting the image of the black man as the boogeyman out to hurt you.... Calm down, white people, and put away your guns.”
Further, Moore suggested that “we need a ban on automatic AND semiautomatic weapons and magazine clips that hold more than 7 bullets.” (Emphasis in original.) “We need better background checks and more mental health services,” he added. “We need to regulate the ammo, too.”
In March 2013, Moore called for the bloody crime-scene images of the December 2012 shooting victims in Sandy Hook to be released to the public. Publishing them, Moore reasoned, would turn public opinion against Second Amendment defenders and effectively "finish off the NRA [National Rifle Association]."
Eulogizing Hugo Chavez
When Venezuela's socialist, anti-American president Hugo Chavez died in March 2013, Moore, who had met Chávez at the Venice Film Festival in 2009, tweeted:
"Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all. That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically-elected president.... Before they cheeleaded [sic] us into the Iraq War, the US media was busy cheering on the overthrow of Chavez. 54 countries around the world allowed the US to detain(& torture) suspects. Latin America, thanks 2 Chavez, was the only place that said no."
Moore Derides Military Snipers As Cowards
In January 2015, American Sniper -- Clint Eastwood's newly released film about the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was credited with more confirmed kills than any other sniper in American military history -- was setting box-office records. Moore took the occasion to disparage snipers in general as "cowards," tweeting: "My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse."
Calling for the Mass Release of Black Prisoners and the Disarming of Police
On April 30, 2015 -- while the city of Baltimore was being overrun by rioters protesting an alleged act of police brutality against a black arrestee -- Moore posted the following tweets on his Twitter account:
Moore Supports the Importation of Refugees from Syria
In November 2015, Moore objected to the decision of approximately 25 mostly Republican governors -- including Michigan's Rick Snyder-- to bar the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their respective states, for fear that the refugees could not be properly vetted and thus might include terrorist infiltrators among them. In protest, he wrote the following letter to Snyder:
"I just wanted to let you know that, contrary to your declaration of denying Syrian refugees a home in our state of Michigan, I myself am going to defy your ban and will offer MY home in Traverse City, Michigan, to those very Syrian refugees you’ve decided to keep out. I will contact the State Department to let them know I am happy to provide a safe haven to any Syrian refugee couple approved by the Obama administration’s vetting procedures in which I have full faith and trust.
"Your action is not only disgraceful, it is, as you know, unconstitutional (only the President has the legal right to decide things like this).
"What you’ve done is anti-American. This is not who we are supposed to be. We are, for better and for worse, a nation of descendants of three groups: slaves from Africa who were brought here in chains and then forced to provide trillions of dollars of free labor to build this country; native peoples who were mostly exterminated by white Christians through acts of mass genocide; and immigrants from EVERYWHERE around the globe. In Michigan we are fortunate to count amongst us tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim Americans.
"I’m disappointed in you, Governor Snyder, for your heartless and un-Christian actions, and for joining in with at least 25 other governors (all but one a Republican) who’ve decided to block legal Syrian refugees from coming into their states. Fortunately I’m an American and not a Republican.
"Governor, count me out of whatever you think it means to be a Michigander. I look forward to welcoming Syrians to my home and I wholeheartedly encourage other Americans to do the same.
Moore Participates in Anti-Trump Rally Organized by Russians
On November 12, 2016 -- four days after the election of President Donald Trump -- Moore participated in a “Trump is NOT my President” rally in New York City. It was subsequently revealed -- in a February 2018 indictment signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller -- that the anti-Trump rally had been organized by a group of Russians whose “strategic goal” was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.” During the November 12 rally, Moore posted to his Twitter page a photo of himself posing with other protesters. He also posted to his Facebook page a lengthy video of himself debating Trump supporters.
Moore Says That No Country “Sh*ts on Its Own” People As Much As the U.S.
In a February 9, 2017 conference call held by the Progressive Democrats of America, Moore said that the Trump administration’s pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare was evidence of America's unparalleled willingness to abuse its own people: “Civilized countries that have universal healthcare – no country, no group of people, no tribe sh*ts on their own to the extent and the level that we do to each other; it’s the most embarrassing and humiliating thing about this great country. Humans anyplace else, what they don’t do is sh*t on their own. They need their own for their own defense. They need their own for their own survival – they need their own. They need to protect their children, not say to the child, ‘sorry, no, we got rid of Obamacare. We won’t help you. You’re sick? Tough.'”
One-Man Broadway Show Aimed at Undermining President Trump
On May 1, 2017, Moore announced that he was preparing to perform a one-man show on Broadway titled “The Terms of My Surrender,” which he described as “a humorous play about a country that’s just elected a madman [President Donald Trump] — I mean, there’s really no other way to put it.” A promotional flier for the show, which was slated to open for previews on July 28, read: “Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting president?”
For additional information on Michael Moore, click here.
 Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph [Kindle Edition], by Dennis Prager (HarperCollins Publishers, 2012), Highlight Loc. 1129-34.