I finally saw the movie on Tuesday night (a late showing) and definitely had mixed feelings about the experience. The movie was definitely persuasive - walking down 86th Street after the movie let out, I saw two separate couples arguing about what they had just seen. One couple nearly launched into a full-blown fight, with the guy not really wanting to confront the allegations in the movie, and the girl pleading with him to discuss it with her.
As I walked back toward my apartment, I went through a number of distinct emotional states. At first, I was completely charged up, upset and feeling betrayed by the administration. A couple minutes into my walk, though, this started to wear off and I began to feel suspicious about Moore's version of the facts. During the film, I noticed a few things that at the time I thought were "sins of omission" - a truncated Condi Rice quote here, an out-of-context Bush clip there. Then I reminded myself that I was warned that everything Moore puts out there has to be taken with a grain of salt.
As I walked past 2nd Avenue, I was hit with this incredible wave of disappointment. As I thought about some of the things I had seen in the movie that distorted the facts, I felt betrayed by Moore. I mean, here's a very intelligent guy with a point of view who, instead of laying things out matter-of-factly and completely, leaves things out of his "documentary" that might cause people to jump to incorrect conclusions. Did Moore need to do this? Is it necessary to create propaganda in order to get a point across? Am I naive to assume that Moore would have taken the moral high road and attempted to bring clarity to the issues he discusses?
As I reached the front stoop of my apartment, frustration began to hit me. I thought about all the people who would see this movie and make decisions based on incomplete facts. I thought about all the people who would dismiss Moore's legitimate arguments after his "sins of omission" in making his case for other points of view. And I thought about all the apolitical folks out there who simply don't give a shit one way or another, or who are disillusioned from being lied to by spin doctors at all points along the political spectrum.
I'm not going to call Moore's film pure propaganda. There's a good deal of truth in the points of view he expressed in the film. But I will say that the movie's interpretation of the facts is distorted in certain instances. There's no reason to cut off Condoleeza Rice during her testimony to make it sound as if she was claiming a direct connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I know what she really said. A lot of people who don't follow politics don't know the difference, though. And that's what bugs me about Moore's film. He could have made his points without distorting the facts, but he didn't.
With Michael Moore's elevation to hero status by most of the left, I'm worried that people will lose faith in his overarching message when they find out that F911's version of the facts leaves out quite a bit. And that would be a shame. I do believe that the Bush administration engages in cronyism. I do believe that the administration duped the American people into scapegoating Iraq for 9/11 (with the help of a lazy press). I do believe that we didn't do enough in Afghanistan. But I didn't arrive at these conclusions by believing propaganda. F911 could have made its case without the sins of omission, but it didn't. And I think that's what disappoints me the most.