In 2004, Michael Moore’s controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was released to the public. The film depicts George W. Bush during his first term of office planning the invasion of Iraq and the other activities that he took part in during and before his presidency. While Moore makes valid arguments about George Bush’s business endeavors, such as his connection to Saudi business and his inactivity while reading to school kids in Florida during the national crisis of 9/11, these features never show the other things that Bush was doing during a majority of his presidency. Instead, Moore’s film focuses on the negative, painting an image of Bush that is anything but positive. These exclusions create a blank spot in Bush’s record that Moore fails to cover and without these details Moore’s film comes across as uniquely one sided. Moore’s anti-Bush attack is weakened further when he leaves questions as to the source of his information.
During the film, Moore rushes over critical information such as the departure of the Bin Laden family and where Bushes substantial vacation time appeared from. A little digging uncovers what Moore had failed to emphasize. During the film Moore says, “planes carried the Saudis and the bin Laden’s out of the U.S. after September 13th” he uses this immediately after quoting that planes were grounded and even Bush’s father could not fly. This use of narration makes the viewer believe that the Bin Laden’s were the only ones leaving the country. The key to Moore’s narration is the quick insertion of “after September 13th” because, on September 13that 11 a.m. all flights were allowed to resume (Factcheck). Moore uses another trick when he presents Bush’s vacation time: forty-two percent. This number is shocking, a president taking nearly half of his time off? Moore again fails to tell what he should have; what the report declared a vacation as. Moore’s source, a report from The Washington Post, explains that all half days, days at Camp David and weekends were counted in the data. This means that days at the pool, Saturdays and Sundays were all called vacation. By these standards almost everyone in the United States spends nearly twenty-nine percent of their lives on vacation; not counting all actual vacations that person may take. Furthermore, Moore fails to explain that the President of the United States is never on a true vacation; everywhere he goes, whether it is a Texas ranch or Camp David, the President of the United States is plagued with duties (Factcheck).
Weakening Moore’s argument even more is the films lack of sources. During the movie Moore rarely presents the name of his sources except during his interviews. The interviews Moore does place in his documentary are sometimes unreliable; the FBI agent that Moore spends five minutes with in the movie is, in fact, retired. This attributes to the fact that he did not know that the FBI had screened many of the Saudi’s leaving the country and that the Saudi’s had allowed this to happen willingly (Factcheck). Besides his interviews, however, Moore rarely declares his source instead he simply states facts in a blistering blast directed at Bush (Glieberman). Moore extinguishes his own argument, however, when he does not present a valid or accurate source of facts such as the amount of Bush’s vacation time and the screening of the Saudi’s. Including the source of his information would have bolstered Moore’s argument and given the audience a way to check up on the facts and understand how those facts were collected.
Moore does not present the context of the situations that he presents Bush in, thus weakening his film. What is happening at the time has a great influence on what a person will do in a moment and without that a short clip can seem extremely negative or positive depending on who controls the scissors. With Moore in control, Fahrenheit 9/11is a plethora of short clips and sound bites that seem, without context, to portray Bush in a negative light (Glieberman). Yet after learning more, the clips lose their significance such as the number of days Bush spent on vacation, which may now seem less extravagant than Bush spending nearly four of his first eight months on a ranch looking for “Armadila”. Such context provides a setting and theme that Moore’s film fails to provide in his film.
While Moore’s film is true to the facts, it fails to present the full story of what was really going on. This results in a weakening of the films structure that causes it to have less effect than the full story. Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, through its use of single sided facts and lack of context, lacks a broader view that provides the viewer with the information they need to know in order to make an educated decision on the politics of George W. Bush.