Dissecting “Fahrenheit 9/11”

Fahrenheit 9/11 comes out on DVD today. Poynter Online points out that this “means there are going to be a lot of new stories about Michael Moore’s” movie/documentary.

From Poynter Online: Web Tips – Dissecting “Fahrenheit 9/11” (Web Tips is a feature of Poynter which provides “Featured sites and expert advice for using the Web as a reporting tool”).

To help journalists and others sort fact from fiction, there’s now the brand-new FootnoteFahrenheit.com. The site describes itself as

an independent, non-partisan guide to the issues and questions in Michael Moore’s movie Fahrenheit 9/11. It is not a pro-Michael Moore site and it is not an anti-Michael Moore site, though some may view parts in such a light. It is simply something to help people who walked out of the movie with questions about what they saw. It also should be useful for anyone who wants to know more about what the movie has to say before or instead of seeing it.

Footnote Fahrenheit is an offshoot of one of my (Sree Sreenivasan’s) favorite sites, Footnote.tv. Both Footnote sites are run by Stephen Lee, a lawyer who used to be a journalist (for The Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, and the Detroit Free Press). In a Poynter column two years ago, I praised Footnote.tv for providing context and background to current events mentioned on such shows as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The site can help place ‘contextual errors’ within Fahrenheit 9/11 in their proper context. Here is one example:

In addition to a nagging desire to know more about some of the issues raised in the movie, one particular item convinced Lee of the need for this site. It was a soundbite of Bush saying: “This is an impressive crowd of the haves and have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base.”

Lee says he gasped when he saw that, as did others in the crowd. He decided to do some follow-up research and found that the quote had been taken out of context. Footnote Fahrenheit’s “Bush Quotes in Context” says that “Bush is not saying this to a secret gathering of Republican donors, but to attendees at a non-partisan fund-raiser for charities run by the Archdiocese of New York. Both Bush and Al Gore gave remarks at the 2000 Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner on October 19, 2000, and both mocked themselves and their own images.”