Moore problems

A San Francisco activist claims she's the originator of Michael Moore's unsourced list of dubious Bush achievements in his bestselling "Stupid White Men."

By Ben Fritz
Published April 11, 2002 12:33AM (EDT)

A list of 48 dubious achievements of President Bush appears in Michael Moore's bestselling "Stupid White Men," without footnotes or citations of any kind. A reader might assume that they are accumulated nuggets from Moore's own research.

But a San Francisco activist says she came up with the list, and she's not too happy about the way Moore is using it.

Kirsten Selberg contacted Spinsanity following a piece detailing the numerous errors and factual distortions in "Stupid White Men" to say she compiled that list for a wall that was displayed at the "Voters March West" that took place nearly a year ago in San Francisco, on May 19.

Still posted on the Voters March Web site, Selberg's list contains 47 of the 48 facts about Bush mentioned in Moore's book -- in the exactly the same order and with very similar wording. The only difference is that, unlike Moore, Selberg provides sources for almost all of her facts.

Representatives for Moore did not respond to requests for comment.

It's quite possible that Moore got his list from any number of sources besides Selberg's wall. As both she and David A. Sprintzen (wrongly cited on some Web sites as the author of the list) explain, the list was frequently forwarded through e-mail last summer, presumably while Moore was writing his book. More recently, it showed up on a number of liberal Web sites.

While Moore didn't bother to source or footnote the Bush list, at least he got his facts straight in this case, unlike much of the rest of his book -- though he does manage to change Labor Department official David Lauriski's name to Dan.

As Selberg points out, though, nothing on the list has been updated to reflect developments since it was written. To take one example: She wrote -- and Moore repeats -- that Bush proposed to cut the "Reading is Fundamental" program in his original education plan. By the summer, however, when Moore was still writing his book, media reports showed that the money was restored as the plan made its way through Congress.

If Moore had bothered to update the list, she wouldn't be so irked, says Selberg. "What upset me at first is that Moore and so many others have been repeating this list without bothering to give it the serious update it needs," she told me. "I don't mind that my work is being used by other people, but I'd like to see it updated and accurate rather than just repeated over and over by people who won't do their own research."

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Ben Fritz

Ben Fritz is co-editor of Spinsanity.


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Michael Moore