Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 World Premiere on Monday
Moore revealed he had smuggled three camera crews into Iraq to film disillusioned US soldiers for his new documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11.

He was speaking for the first time since his public row with Disney, who had refused to distribute the film in the US because of its anti-Bush message.

Fahrenheit 9/11 looks at life in the US in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks and the onset of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Moore sent the crews into Iraq after disaffected soldiers wrote to him, he said.

"I was able to sneak three different freelance crews into Iraq," he said.

The soldiers had "express disillusionment that they had been lied to", said Moore.

"[The film from Iraq] is certainly something the Bush administration does not want people to see," said Moore.

Moore made Fahrenheit 9/11 for Miramax, which is owned by Disney.

He said Disney had backed out of distributing the film for "only political reasons".
This isn't the first time that Moore has been muzzled. HarperCollins asked him to excise 50 pages from "Stupid White Men," in which he was critical of President Bush, just after 9/11. Moore refused. Harper pushed back the release date, sitting on 50,000 finished books. The only reason why the book was finally released as Moore had intended was that a librarian stood up for him.
"This is a fascinating story because it shows what a free society does when confronted with a crisis. Do we maintain our sense of freedom and liberty and dissent and open discussion of the issues? Or do we start putting the clamp down?"
Once the book became a bestseller, Moore was ticked off that he had made so much money for a corporation that didn't have the balls to defend him. He's now with a new publisher and "Dude, Where's My Country" has been a big success.

That was two years ago. Now we have even more reason to criticize Bush, while yet another corporation, Disney, is unwilling to advance Moore's work, even when it's certain to bring them profits.

I don't see the same sort of timidity when Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly come out with new books. Gosh, I wonder why?

As consumers, we can only hope that Disney shareholders punish their board for its political timidity.

Scenes are available at Moore's website here.

* * *

This story of Disney cowering to rightwing political pressure reminds me of what they did to Bill Maher in 2001.

On the first episode of "Politically Incorrect" after 9/11, guest Dinesh D'Souza told host Maher that Bush was wrong for calling the attackers "cowards."
'Not true,' D'Souza said. 'Look at what they did. First of all, you have a whole bunch of guys who are willing to give their life. None of 'em backed out. All of them slammed themselves into pieces of concrete.'

Maher concurred. 'We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away,' he said. 'That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly'
Ok, big deal, the show is called Politically Incorrect, right? But then Texas-based radio-show host Dan Patrick told his listeners to complain to both Sears and FedEx, who both subsequently pulled their advertising from the show.

Maher later issued a clarification and apologized, but the damage was done.

ABC's Washington, D.C., affiliate WJLA -- along with 16 other stations -- decided to drop the show.

Then the White House joined the fray when Ari Fleischer said Maher's comments were: "'unfortunate' and 'a terrible thing to say.' Although he hadn't actually seen the broadcast, Fleischer said it was a reminder that Americans 'need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.'"

Sounds Orwellian, doesn't it? Guess what all the controversy did for Maher's ratings? "The controversy has boosted Politically Incorrect to its best ratings in more than six months. The show averaged 2.8 million viewers for the week of September 17, up 20 percent from last year."

So what did Disney/ABC do? It took them until May 2002, but they finally fired Maher.
ABC Chairman Lloyd Braun said Maher's controversial comments had nothing to do with the decision to replace him.

'We made a decision to go with straight entertainment programming in late night,' Braun said on Tuesday. 'That's just basically a scheduling opportunity that we felt over the long term had more potential.'

Whereas Disney executives often publicly supported Koppel and 'Nightline' after the Letterman flap, there was little support for Maher and 'PI.'
HBO had the balls to give Maher a show, "Real Time with Bill Maher," and he's never been better. If you don't have HBO, get it by August, when he'll start his new season.

(Update: Michael Moore won the Palme d'Or. Boy, I can't wait to see this movie.)