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Inside Politics

Michael Moore unannounced

"Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker makes a left turn at CNN


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Michael Moore: "I don't think it's my job as a filmmaker to tell people how to vote."
THE MORNING GRIND
VIDEO
A hero's welcome for Michael Moore at the convention.
MAKING THEIR CASE
Day Four: Thursday

• Theme: "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World"

• 4 p.m. ET: Session opens

• 7-9:45 p.m. ET: Speakers include Madeleine Albright, Joe Biden, Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, Nancy Pelosi and Carole King performing "You've Got a Friend"

• 9:45 p.m. ET: Family members of John Kerry speak -- Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry, Chris and Andre Heinz

• 10 p.m. ET: Veterans of Kerry's crew in Vietnam speak, followed by Sen. Max Cleland's introduction of Kerry

• 10:30 p.m. ET: John Kerry delivers his address in acceptance of the Democratic presidential nomination
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Michael Moore
America Votes 2004

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- CNN's Tom Foreman was working on a taped segment about "Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker Michael Moore when the door to the news trailer opened and someone said, "He's here."

Foreman grabbed a cameraman and shot across the asphalt. Moore had wandered unannounced into the gated compound of trailers that serve as makeshift newsrooms for CNN's staff covering the Democratic National Convention here.

Seconds later, Moore and Foreman were surrounded by cameras and crews, producers and reporters packing microphones, tape recorders, pens and notepads.

Foreman pressed Moore on his movie, Republicans and the media. And Moore pressed back, grilling Foreman on his role as a journalist and the purpose of the Fourth Estate.

The lively thrust and parry is below:

Moore: People are grateful that I made this movie. And that the American people have had a chance to see things that they had not seen. Probably the most common thing people say when they leave the movie isn't "I don't want George W. Bush." It's not that. Its "How come haven't I seen that scene, or that scene, or that scene on TV before?" Why are they seeing it for the first time in a movie theater?

CNN's Tom Foreman: Do you have any fear at all about taking some of the attention away from the Democrats here, who have their own plan for defeating George Bush?

Moore: I think we're all on the same boat. I think we're all on the same page. As they said last night, this is a very big tent. It's not the narrow little shed that the Republicans set up. This tent that the Democrats have welcomes conservative Democrats all the way to Greens, people like me. And all of us know what our mission is this year. And we have to all come together. We're going to put aside whatever our differences are and we're all going to come together and remove George W. Bush from the White House.

Foreman: Do you have any worry about becoming the very thing you decry in other people, a celebrity who gets a lot of fame, a lot of celebrity, but gets swept up by it? And suddenly you're speaking about things maybe you don't know as much about?

Moore: Ha, Ha. That's a good question. You know, I'm still the same person I was yesterday, that I was last week. I don't change very much. I'm a guy. By the time you get to this age, its kind of hard to get you to move.

Foreman: You're not a registered Democrat.

Moore: I'm not a registered Democrat, no. I'm an independent voter, and I'm not a member of the Democratic Party. In Michigan you don't register by party. I did vote in the Democratic primary this year.

Foreman: Who did you vote for?

Moore: Wesley Clark. I always vote for whoever the CNN consultant is on the ballot.

Foreman: An excellent move.

Moore: [Laughs]

Foreman: But you haven't endorsed John Kerry, either.

Moore: No, I have not. I'm not going to endorse anyone in the general election. I don't think that's my job. The thing with Wesley Clark was really a personal thing, because of the Oscar speech, no one on TV was willing to say anything nice about me except Wesley Clark.

He was the only one who said anything nice about me, and he said it on your network, that the reason why people join the armed services is to defend the right of someone like Michael Moore to say what he wants to say. And he was proud to be able do that, and he did that on your network.

Foreman: Because politics in this country comes down to a choice between a Democrat and a Republican in most places, why not endorse John Kerry?

Moore: Because I don't think it's my job as a filmmaker to tell people how to vote.

Foreman: Wait, wait, wait. You've been telling them not to vote for George Bush, very actively.

Moore: No, I think my movie says that. My movie says this man doesn't belong in the White House. Just like I don't think you consider it your job to tell people how to vote, but you certainly have feelings. You have political feelings. You're going to vote, I assume, I hope. Are you?

Foreman: We'll see.

Moore: You mean you don't know if you're going to vote? You can't take that attitude. You're an American, you must vote.

Foreman: Yes, I am.

Moore: Which means you have feelings.

Foreman: Sure, of course. The difference is, you're upfront about your political feelings.

Moore: And you're not.

Foreman: That's right. But that's not my job.

Moore: But don't you don't think people have a right to know how you feel politically?

Foreman: Yes, sure, I suppose maybe they do.

Moore: And then as you report the facts, as you do, they then can make their judgments, saying that they know Tom believes this way or that way, and take that whole thing into account.

Foreman: That's the whole argument for "new journalism." But the argument I'm raising here is you're very actively saying to people, "George Bush is a bad guy." You even described him today as clearly the bad guy in your movie.

Moore: Yes, he's the chief villain. But every movie has to have a villain. And I don't say that in the film. I just let George Bush speak -- or read children's books.

Foreman: But you have no intention of endorsing John Kerry.

Moore: No. No. Nope. I just don't think that's my job. When John Kerry becomes president on January 20 of next year, on January 21 that camera lens of mine is going to be pointed at him. Because that's my job then. Because he's the one in power and he's the one who has to be kept honest.

I've never met the man, I don't really want to be anywhere near his campaign, because I'm going to have to do my job come January.

Foreman: Are you going to go to the Republican convention?

Moore: Yes, I am. I already have my credentials.

Foreman: How do you think you'll be received there?

Moore: I think it will be fine. Are you implying that Republicans are not nice people?

Foreman: No. I'm implying that you have a lot of fans here.

Moore: I already have my credentials. And so do my 25 bodyguards. [Laughs] Just kidding. I'm a guest columnist for USA Today. They'll be running my columns, by the way, because I'm willing to work with an editor. You know what happened with Ms. Coulter. [USA Today canceled a column it had commissioned from conservative pundit Ann Coulter.]

Got everything you need?

Foreman: Yes, thank you.

Moore: You going to come in and wander around a little?

Foreman: We might. We've got a camera to cut loose now and I've got to get the piece on you done in an hour and a half.

Moore: Oh you do? Oh, OK, all right. Great.

Asahi TV: Just two questions. Can you comment on President Bush's ...

Moore: But here's my question on him. He's walking away. How can he do a piece on the response to me in the convention, but he's not going to see what the response is? You know what I'm saying: You don't take my word for it. Question me. Challenge me. And come with me and see what the response is, you know?

Because all the stories I read last week coming in to this were that the Democrats were going to keep an arm's length from me, and there is no arm's length. I wish there was an arm's length. You should just come with me and see what happens. It's not what was reported.

And so who are you?

Asahi TV: Japanese television.

Moore: Uh oh. Gotta go. [Laughs]

Asahi TV: Just a couple of short questions on President Bush's national policy and foreign policy. What would you like to say?

Moore: I think his lack of policy, in other words he had no plan really going into Iraq for what he would do after we dismantled everything. His policy has made us less safe in the world. If you ask most Americans, "Do you feel safer in the world today after four years of President Bush," the answer clearly is no. Hopefully that will change.

Asahi TV: How do you think the convention is working out right now?

Moore: There's a lot of people giving speeches and a lot of people applauding those speeches. That's pretty much what it looks like in there.


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