Monday, June 28, 2004

Tom McNamee: "Just the facts on 'Fahrenheit 9/11'"

Tom McNamee, reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times, demands "Just The Facts" from Fahrenheit 911. Given Moore's reputation that's a pretty tall order. He does, however, manage to present a number of facts himself, including this concerning the charge that, shortly after 9/11, the Bush administration let Saudis leave the country:

Moore is guilty of a classic game of saying one thing and implying another when he describes how members of the Saudi elite were flown out of the United States shortly after 9/11.

If you listen only to what Moore says during this segment of the movie -- and take careful notes in the dark -- you'll find he's got his facts right. He and others in the film state that 142 Saudis, including 24 members of the bin Laden family, were allowed to leave the country after Sept. 13.

The date -- Sept. 13 -- is crucial because that is when a national ban on air traffic, for security purposes, was eased.

But nonetheless, many viewers will leave the movie theater with the impression that the Saudis, thanks to special treatment from the White House, were permitted to fly away when all other planes were still grounded. This false impression is created by Moore's failure, when mentioning Sept. 13, to emphasize that the ban on flights had been eased by then. The false impression is further pushed when Moore shows the singer Ricky Martin walking around an airport and says, "Even Ricky Martin couldn't fly."