Thursday, July 01, 2004

Will Michael Moore sue Joe Scarborough?

On a June 28 broadcast, Joe Scarborough slammed into Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," as was certainly his right. But he may have crossed the line of acceptable debate when made an outrageous statement vis-a-vis Al Qaeda.

Michael Moore, according to Scarborough, "compares the terrorists to our founding fathers."

Question: Did Moore make any such statement? If he did, you'd think that the internet would hold some record of it. So far, my search has come up goose eggs.

Scarborough's claim, if false, is actionable. I've read a fair amount about libel law. Journalists who have committed lesser offenses have lost in court and paid dearly.

For years, Democrats have refused to contest smears by their opponents. Michael Moore has said that he will stand up to lies of this sort. The time has come for him to be as good as his word.

Two additional points:

1. For the record, barely half-a-month ago, Scarborough was making noises about suing Moore over an unrelated matter. Scarborough dropped the issue, it seems. You can read about it here.

2. Scarborough, or his lawyers, might offer as a defense the fact that one can, technically, compare anything with anything else. That's why I get ticked off whenever I hear someone say "You can't compare apples and oranges." In context, though, it is clear that Scarborough was trying to convince his audience that Moore had publicly stated that Al Qaeda terrorists were similar to our founders. The important point is that Scarborough seems to have concocted the reference out of whole cloth.


A usenet response pointed out that Moore once did say that the Iraqi insurgents are similar to the American Minutement. I do not agree with the implications of this remark (did the Minutemen hang charred corpses from a bridge?) -- although I must confess that, yes, the Minutemen and the Iraqi anti-American rebellion both qualify as insugencies, so a similarity does exist.

There is a difference, of course, between a terrorist and a rebel. Scarborough, in context, clearly implied that Moore considered Osama Bin Laden like unto George Washington. Thus, in my eyes, Scarborough's assertion still qualifies as a libel.

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