Monday, May 24, 2004
Al Franken's next target: Filmmaker Michael Moore is as dishonest in print as he is on film -- as Fred Barnes recently discovered.
A FEW YEARS AGO Michael Moore, who's now promoting an anti-President Bush movie entitled Fahrenheit 9/11, announced he'd gotten the goods on me, indeed hung me out to dry on my own words. It was in his first bestselling book, Stupid White Men. Moore wrote he'd once been "forced" to listen to my comments on a TV chat show, The McLaughlin Group. I had whined "on and on about the sorry state of American education," Moore said, and wound up by bellowing: "These kids don't even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!"
Moore's interest was piqued, so the next day he said he called me. "Fred," he quoted himself as saying, "tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are." I started "hemming and hawing," Moore wrote. And then I said, according to Moore: "Well, they're . . . uh . . . you know . . . uh . . . okay, fine, you got me--I don't know what they're about. Happy now?" He'd smoked me out as a fraud, or maybe worse.
The only problem is none of this is true. It never happened. Moore is a liar. He made it up. It's a fabrication on two levels. One, I've never met Moore or even talked to him on the phone. And, two, I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey in my first year at the University of Virginia. Just for the record, I'd learned what they were about even before college. Like everyone else my age, I
got my classical education from the big screen. I saw the Iliad movie called Helen of Troy and while I forget the name of the Odyssey film, I think it starred Kirk Douglas as Odysseus.
Is anyone really surprised?