In the Someone Left The Irony On Department for today, Michael Moore erupts in indignation today at Huffington Post over the reporting of a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks that stated that Cuba had banned his film Sicko for its fantasy portrayal of the Cuban health-care system. Moore blasts the Guardian and other news agencies for releasing the contents of the message without checking to see whether it was actually true or not. Moore says that the Cuban government actually broadcast his film nationally four months after the message was apparently written, and had been praising it for months prior to that:
Sounds convincing, eh?! There’s only one problem — the entire nation of Cuba was shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008! The Cubans embraced the film so much so it became one of those rare American movies that received a theatrical distribution in Cuba. I personally ensured that a 35mm print got to the Film Institute in Havana. Screenings of ‘Sicko’ were set up in towns all across the country. …
So what do you do with about a false “secret” cable, especially one that involves you and your movie? Well, you wait for a responsible newspaper to investigate and shout what it discovers from the rooftops.
But yesterday WikiLeaks gave the ‘Sicko’ Cuba cable to the media — and what did they do with it? They ran it as if it were true! Here’s the headline in the Guardian:
WikiLeaks: Cuba banned Sicko for depicting ‘mythical’ healthcare system
Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore’s Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash
And not one scintilla of digging to see if Cuba had actually banned the movie! In fact, just the opposite. The right wing press started to have a field day reporting a lie (Andy Levy of Fox — twice— Reason Magazine and Hot Air, plus a slew of blogs). Sadly, even BoingBoing and my friends at theNation wrote about it without skepticism. So here you have WikiLeaks, who have put themselves on the line to find and release these cables to the press — and traditional journalists are once again just too lazy to lift a finger, point and click their mouse to log into Nexis or search via Google, and look to see if Cuba really did “ban the film.”
Aw … you mean that journalists shouldn’t just release every piece information fed to them by leakers? That some diplomatic cables, when released indiscriminately, could result in unwarranted damage to reputations? That raw, confidential intelligence can sometimes be flat-out wrong? You don’t say!
You know who Moore should discuss this with, when he gets the chance? Julian Assange, and the rest of Assange’s apologists who have been insisting that Assange has been telling Truth to Power, and that he’s acting as a journalist in an era of radical transparency. After all, Moore just paid $20,000 to help bail out the man who published all of these cables, including the Sicko report that apparently was incorrect. Assange isn’t a journalist; he’s no better than a fence peddling stolen materials.
Now that Assange supporter Moore has learned that first-hand, he can dial back the sanctimony a bit, too.
Update: There were reports over the last few years (preceding the Wikileaks release) of a ban in Cuba for Sicko. They could very well be incorrect, too, but contra Moore’s claim, a Google on Cuba and the film produces those results as well (date range: 6/2007 – 6/2010).