09/02/04 — Invasion: What Moore was doing at the GOP convention

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Invasion: What Moore was doing at the GOP convention

Many Americans were surprised by the presence at the Republican National Convention of a man who shows his contempt for the party and for President Bush as often and as scornfully as possible.

He was brought to our attention by Arizona Sen. John McCain. In a speech that was otherwise conciliatory and virtually nonpartisan, McCain mentioned the lies of “a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe that Saddam’s Iraq was an oasis of peace.” The television cameras panned to the press gallery and, lo and behold, there sat the pariah himself, Michael Moore.

Moore had made an election-year movie, which he called a “documentary,” portraying President Bush as a callous warmonger. But, of course, you already know that because the film produced a hot cauldron of controversy.

So what was Moore doing at the Republican National Convention?

It turned out that the newspaper USA Today had sponsored him for press credentials.

When Moore got to the convention’s pressroom, a gaggle of people were gathered round him, as happens to celebrities, and others jeered. There was such commotion in the area reserved for the working press that the working press couldn’t work. Tempers flared.

Owen Ullman, deputy managing editor of USA Today’s editorial page, explained to his pressroom colleagues: “We invited Mr. Moore to write a column for us, and he asked if he could unobtrusively observe the convention.”

Letting him do so, under the aegis of USA Today, was a terrible decision.

In the first place, Michael Moore — heavy, scruffy, blustery — doesn’t go anywhere unobtrusively.

In the second, sending such an outspoken Bush-hater to the convention was deleterious to USA Today’s credibility.

The editors should have seen that Moore’s own reason for going was to gain further attention for himself and his movie. Moore himself has noted that the incident might add $20 million to the revenue of his movie.

Published in Editorials on September 2, 2004 11:49 AM