Documentary or Fiction?

-David T. Hardy-

The first misconception to correct about Michael Moore's The Big One is that it is a documentary. It's not. Moore doesn't make those. . . . . it's best to consider Moore's films as entries into the ever-growing category of pseudo (or "meta") documentaries. Or, perhaps even more accurately, view it as an exercise in self-publicity.

James Berardinelli

The Michael Moore production "Bowling for Columbine" just won the Oscar for best documentary. Unfortunately, it is not a documentary, by the Academy's own definition.

The injustice here is not so much to the viewer, as to the independent producers of real documentaries. These struggle in a field which (despite its real value) receives but a tiny fraction of the recognition and financing of the "entertainment industry." The award of the documentary Oscar to a $4 million entertainment piece is unjust to the legitimate competitors, disheartening to makers of real documentaries, and sets a precedent which may encourage inspire others to take similar liberties with their future projects.

Bowling makes its points by deceiving and by misleading the viewer. Statements are made which are false. Moore invites the reader to draw inferences which he must have known were wrong. Indeed, even speeches shown on screen are heavily edited, so that sentences are assembled in the speaker's voice, but which he never uttered.

These occur with such frequency and seriousness as to rule out unintentional error. Any polite description would be inadequate, so let me be blunt. Bowling uses deliberate deception as its primary tool of persuasion and effect.

A film which does this may be a commercial success. It may be amusing, or it may be moving. But it is not a documentary. One need only consult Rule 12 of the rules for the Academy Award: a documentary must be non-fictional, and even re-enactments (much less doctoring of a speech) must stress fact and not fiction. To the Academy voters, some silly rules were not a bar to giving the award. The documentary category, the one refuge for works which educated and informed, is now no more than another sub-category of entertainment.

Serious charges require serious evidence. The point is not that Bowling is unfair, or that its conclusions are incorrect. No, the point is that Bowling is deliberately, seriously, and consistently deceptive. A viewer cannot count upon any aspect of it, even when the viewer believes he is seeing video of an event occurring or a person speaking. Words are cheap. Let's look at the evidence.

1. Lockheed-Martin and Nuclear Missiles. Bowling for Columbine contains a sequence filmed at the Lockheed-Martin manufacturing facility, near Columbine. Moore interviews a PR fellow, shows missiles being built, and then asks whether knowledge that weapons of mass destruction were being built nearby might have motivated the Columbine shooters in committing their own mass slaying. After all, if their father worked on the missiles, "What's the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?" Moore intones that the missiles with their "Pentagon payloads" are trucked through the town "in the middle of the night while the children are asleep."

Soon after Bowling was released someone checked out the claim, and found that the Lockheed-Martin plant does not build weapons-type missiles; it makes rockets for launching satellites.

Moore's website has his response:

".T]he Lockheed rockets now take satellites into outer space. Some of them are weather satellites, some are telecommunications satellites, and some are top secret Pentagon projects (like the ones that are launched as spy satellites and others which are used to direct the launching of the nuclear missiles should the USA ever decide to use them). "

Nice try, Mike.

(1) the fact that some are spy satellites which might be "used to direct the launching" (i.e., because they spot nukes being launched at the United States) is hardly what Moore was suggesting in the movie... it's hard to envision a killer making a moral equation between mass murder and a recon satellite, right?

(2) In fact, one of that plant's major projects was the ultimate in beating swords into plowshares: the Denver plant was in charge of taking the Titan missiles which originally had carried nuclear warheads, and converting them to launch communications satellites and space exploration units instead.

C'mon Mike, You got caught. As we will see below, the event is all too illustrative of Moore's approach. In producing a supposed "documentary," Moore simply changes facts when they don't suit his theme.

2. NRA and the Reaction To Tragedy. The dominant theme in Bowling (and certainly the theme that has attracted most reviewers) is that NRA is callous toward slayings. The theme begins early in the film, and forms its ending, as Moore confronts Heston, asserting that he keeps going to the scene of tragedies to hold defiant rallies.

In order to make this theme fit the facts, however, Bowling repeatedly distorts the evidence.

Bowling portrays this with the following sequence:

Weeping children outside Columbine, explaining how near they had come to death and how their friends had just been murdered before their eyes;

Cut to Charlton Heston holding a musket over his head and happily proclaiming "I have only five words for you: 'from my cold, dead, hands'" to a cheering NRA crowd.

Cut to billboard advertising the meeting, while Moore in voiceover intones "Just ten days after the Columbine killings, despite the pleas of a community in mourning, Charlton Heston came to Denver and held a large pro-gun rally for the National Rifle Association;"

Cut to Heston (supposedly) continuing speech... "I have a message from the Mayor, Mr. Wellington Webb, the Mayor of Denver. He sent me this; it says 'don't come here. We don't want you here.' I say to the Mayor this is our country, as Americans we're free to travel wherever we want in our broad land. Don't come here? We're already here."

The portrayal is one of Heston and NRA arrogantly holding a protest rally in response to the deaths -- or, as one reviewer put it, "it seemed that Charlton Heston and others rushed to Littleton to hold rallies and demonstrations directly after the tragedy." [italics added]. Moore successfully causes viewers to reach this conclusion. It is in fact false.

Fact: The Denver event was not a demonstration relating to Columbine, but an annual meeting, whose place and date had been fixed years in advance.

Fact: At Denver, the NRA canceled all events (normally several days of committee meetings, sporting events, dinners, and rallies) save the annual members' meeting; that could not be cancelled because corporate law required that it be held. [No way to change location, since you have to give advance notice of that to the members, and there were upwards of 4,000,000 members.]

Fact: Heston's "cold dead hands" speech, which leads off Moore's depiction of the Denver meeting, was not given at Denver after Columbine. It was given a year later in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a response to his being given the musket, a collector's piece, at that annual meeting. Bowling leads off with this speech, and then splices in footage which was taken in Denver and refers to Denver, to create the impression that the entire clip was taken at the Denver event.

Fact: When Bowling continues on to the speech which Heston did give in Denver, it carefully edits it to change its theme.

Moore's fabrication here cannot be described by any polite term. It is a lie, a fraud, and quite a few other things. Carrying it out required a LOT of editing to mislead the viewer, as I will show below. I transcribed Heston's speech as Moore has it, and compared it to a news agency's transcript, color coding the passages. CLICK HERE for the comparison.

Moore has actually taken audio of seven sentences, from five different parts of the speech, and a section given in a different speech entirely, and spliced them together, to create a speech that was never given. Each edit is cleverly covered by inserting a still or video footage for a few seconds.

First, right after the weeping victims, Moore puts on Heston's "I have only five words for you . . . cold dead hands" statement, making it seem directed at them. As noted above, it's actually a thank-you speech given a year later to a meeting in North Carolina.

Moore then has an interlude -- a visual of a billboard and his narration. The interlude is vital. He can't cut directly to Heston's real Denver speech. If he did that, you might ask why Heston in mid-speech changed from a purple tie and lavender shirt to a white shirt and red tie. Or why the background draperies went from maroon to blue. Moore has to separate the two segments of this supposed speech to keep the viewer from noticing.

Moore then goes to show Heston speaking in Denver. His second edit (covered by splicing in a pan shot of the crowd at the meeting, while Heston's voice continues) deletes Heston's announcement that NRA has in fact cancelled most of its meeting:

"As you know, we've cancelled the festivities, the fellowship we normally enjoy at our annual gatherings. This decision has perplexed a few and inconvenienced thousands. As your president, I apologize for that."

Moore has to take that out -- it would blow his entire theme. Moore then cuts to Heston noting that Denver's mayor asked NRA not to come, and shows Heston replying "I said to the Mayor: Don't come here? We're already here!" as if in defiance.

Actually, Moore put an edit right in the middle of the first sentence! Heston was actually saying (with reference Heston's own WWII vet status) "I said to the mayor, well, my reply to the mayor is, I volunteered for the war they wanted me to attend when I was 18 years old. Since then, I've run small errands for my country, from Nigeria to Vietnam. I know many of you here in this room could say the same thing."

Moore cuts it after "I said to the Mayor" and attaches a sentence from the end of the next paragraph: "As Americans, we're free to travel wherever we want in our broad land." It thus becomes an arrogant "I said to the Mayor: as American's we're free to travel wherever we want in our broad land." He hides the deletion by cutting to footage of protestors and a still photo of the Mayor as Heston says "I said to the mayor," cutting back to Heston's face at "As Americans."

Moore has Heston then triumphantly announce "Don't come here? We're already here!" Actually, that sentence is clipped from a segment five paragraphs farther on in the speech. Again, Moore uses an editing trick to cover the doctoring. As Heston speaks, the video switches momentarily to a pan of the crowd, then back to Heston; the pan shot covers the doctoring.

What Heston actually is saying in "We're already here" was not the implied defiance, but rather this:

"NRA members are in city hall, Fort Carson, NORAD, the Air Force Academy and the Olympic Training Center. And yes, NRA members are surely among the police and fire and SWAT team heroes who risked their lives to rescue the students at Columbine.

Don't come here? We're already here. This community is our home. Every community in America is our home. We are a 128-year-old fixture of mainstream America. The Second Amendment ethic of lawful, responsible firearm ownership spans the broadest cross section of American life imaginable.

So, we have the same right as all other citizens to be here. To help shoulder the grief and share our sorrow and to offer our respectful, reassured voice to the national discourse that has erupted around this tragedy."

Don't take my word for it. Click here for CNS's full transcript of the speech, and here for the comparison.

Bowling continues its theme by juxtaposing another Heston speech with a school shooting at Mt. Morris, MI, just north of Flint, making the claim that right after the shooting, NRA came to the locale to stage a defiant rally. In Moore's words, "Just as he did after the Columbine shooting, Charlton Heston showed up in Flint, to have a big pro-gun rally."

Fact: Heston's speech was given at a "get out the vote" rally in Flint, which was held when elections rolled around some eight months after the shooting.

Fact: Moore should remember. On the same day, Moore himself was hosting a similar rally in Flint, for the Green Party.

Moore follows up the impression with his Heston interview. Heston's memory of the Flint event is foggy (he says it was a morning event and he "then went on to wherever we were going." In fact it was held at night as the last event of the tour.). This is hardly surprising; it was one rally in a nine-stop tour of three States in three days.

Moore, who had plenty of time to prepare for the interview, carefully continues the impression he has created, asking Heston questions such as: "After that happened you came to Flint to hold a big rally and, you know, I just , did you feel it was being at all insensitive to the fact that this community had just gone through this tragedy?" Moore continues to come back at Heston, asking if he would have cancelled the event if he "knew" and "you think you'd like to apologize to the people in Flint for coming and doing that at that time?" Moore knows the real sequence, and knows that Heston does not. He takes full advantage of Heston and of the viewer.

Moore's purpose here is to convince the viewer that Heston intentionally holds defiant protests in response to a firearms tragedy. Judging from reviews, Bowling creates exactly that impression. Some samples: "Then, he [Heston] and his ilk held ANOTHER gun-rally shortly after another child/gun tragedy in Flint, MI where a 6-year old child shot and killed a 6-year old classmate (Heston claims in the final interview of the film that he didn't know this had just happened when he appeared." Click here for original; italics supplied] Another reviewer even came off with the impression that Heston"held another NRA rally in Flint, Michigan, just 48 hours after a 6 year old shot and killed a classmate in that same town." " What was Heston thinking going to into Colorado and Michigan immediately after the massacres of innocent children?" asks a third.

Bowling persuaded these reviewers by deceiving them. There was no rally shortly after the tragedy, nor 48 hours after it. When Heston said he did not know of the shooting (which had happened eight months before his appearance, over a thousand miles from his home) he was undoubtedly telling the truth. The lie here is not that of Heston, but of Moore.

The sad part is that the lie has proven so successful. Moore's creative skills, which could be put to a good purpose, are instead used to convince the viewer that a truthful man is a liar and that things which did not occur, did.


3. Animated sequence equating NRA with KKK. In an animated history send-up, Bowling equates the NRA with the Klan, suggesting NRA was founded in 1871, "the same year that the Klan became an illegal terrorist organization." Bowling goes on to depict Klansmen becoming the NRA and an NRA character helping to light a burning cross. This sequence is intended to create the impression either that NRA and the Klan were parallel groups or (more likely) that when the Klan was outlawed its members formed the NRA. And viewers pick up just that message. "Throughout the film Moore mentions the history of the NRA and ties it closely with the history of white Americans' fear of African-Americans. He points out that the NRA was "coincidentally" founded in the same year that the KKK was founded." Source

Both impressions are not merely false, but directly opposed to the real facts.

Fact: The Klan wasn't founded in 1871, but in 1866, and quickly became a terrorist organization. One might claim that it technically became an "illegal" terrorist organization with passage of the federal Ku Klux Klan Act and Enforcement Act in 1871. These criminalized interference with civil rights, and empowered the President to suspend habeas corpus and to use troops to suppress the Klan.

Fact: The Klan Act and Enforcement Act were signed into law by President Ulysess S. Grant. Grant used their provisions vigorously, suspending habeas corpus in South Carolina, sending troops into that and other states; under his leadership over 5,000 arrests were made and the Klan was dealt a serious (if all too short-lived) blow.

Fact: Grant's vigor in disrupting the Klan earned him unpopularity among many whites, but Frederick Douglass praised him, and an associate of Douglass wrote that African-Americans "will ever cherish a grateful remembrance of his name, fame and great services."

Fact: After Grant left the White House, the NRA elected him as its eighth president.

Fact: After Grant's term, the NRA elected General Philip Sheridan, who had removed the governors of Texas and Lousiana for failure to oppose Klan terror.

Fact: The affinity of NRA for enemies of the Klan is hardly surprising. The NRA was founded in New York by two former Union officers, its first president was an Army of the Potomac commander, and eight of its first ten presidents were Union veterans.

Fact: During the 1950s and 1960s, groups of blacks organized as NRA chapters in order to obtain surplus military rifles to fight off Klansmen.

.4. Shooting at Buell Elementary School in Michigan. Bowling depicts the juvenile shooter as a sympathetic youngster who just found a gun in his uncle's house and took it to school. "No one knew why the little boy wanted to shoot the little girl."

Fact: The little boy was the class bully, already suspended from school for stabbing another kid with a pencil. Since the incident, he has stabbed another child with a knife.

Fact: The uncle's house was the neighborhood crack-house. The uncle (together with the shooter's father, then serving a prison term for theft and cocaine possession, and his aunt and maternal grandmother) earned their living off drug dealing. The gun was stolen by one of the uncle's customers and purchased by him in exchange for drugs.

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

5. The Taliban and American Aid. After discussing military assistance to various countries, Bowling asserts that the U.S. gave $245 million in aid to the Taliban government of Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001, and then shows aircraft hitting the twin towers to illustrate the result.

Fact: The aid in question was humanitarian assistance, given through UN and nongovernmental organizations, to relieve famine in Afghanistan.

6. International Comparisons. To pound home its point, Bowling flashes a dramatic count of gun homicides in various countries: Canada 165, Germany 381, Australia 65, Japan 39, US 11,127. Now that's raw numbers, not rates, but let's go with what Bowling uses.

Verifying the figures was difficult, since Moore does not give a year for them, but I kept trying. A lot of Moore's numbers didn't check out for any period I could find. As a last effort at checking, I did a Google search for each number and the word "gun" or words "gun homicides" Many traced -- only back to webpages repeating Bowling's figures. So far as I can find, Moore is the only one using these numbers.

Germany: Bowling says 381: Where Moore could have found this number is beyond me. 1995 figures put homicides at 1,476, about four times what Bowling claims, and gun homicides at 168, about half what it claims. (And that is purely murder: if you add in accidents and suicides it becomes 12,888 for all, or about 1,207 for firearms.) No figure matches or comes close.

Australia: Bowling says 65. This seems to be close, albeit picking the year to get the data desired. Between 1980-1995, firearm homicides varied wildly from 64-123, although never exactly 65. In 2000, it was 64, which was proudly proclaimed as the lowest number in the country's history. If suicides and accidents are included, the numbers become 516 - 687.

US: Bowling says 11,127. FBI figures put it a lot lower. They report gun homicides were 8,719 in 2001, 8,661 in 2000, 8,480 in 1999. (2001 UCR, p. 23).

Going back 1997 (first year listed in the 2001 FBI report), I can't find Bowling's U.S. number anywhere. If Moore got it from an earlier timeframe, he's juggling years to compare US historic highs to Australia's and Canada's historic lows.

It's possible Moore is adding in gun suicides and accidents, but in that event he should have added them in to the other countries, as well, which as noted above would kick Germany from 381 to 12,888.

Canada: Moore's number is correct for 1999, a low point, but he ignores some obvious differences.

Bias. I wanted to talk about fabrication or errors, not about bias, but I've gotten emails asking why I didn't mention that Switzerland requires almost all adult males to have guns, but has a lower homicide rate than Great Britain, or that Japanese-Americans, with the same proximity to guns as other Americans, have homicide rate half that of Japan itself. Okay, they're mentioned, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

In short, where Bowling gets its crime figures is largely a mystery. Many of them seem to trace back only to Bowling itself, and are not elsewhere reported: the most apparent explanation is that they were invented for the movie.

7. Miscellaneous. Even the Canadian government is getting into the act. In one scene, Bowling shows Moore casually buying ammunition at an Ontario Walmart. He asks us to "look at what I, a foreign citizen, was able to do at a local Canadian Wal-Mart." He enters the store and buys several boxes of ammunition without a question being raised. "That's right. I could buy as much ammunition as I wanted, in Canada."

Canadian officials have pointed out that the buy is either faked or illegal: Canadian law requires all ammunition buyers to present proper identification. (The law, in effect since 1998, requires non-Canadians to present picture ID and a gun importation permit. Moore probably told the store clerk there was no need to bother with details since he wasn't really going to buy the ammunition.). Even when Bowling is praising an area, the viewer still can't count on it to be truthful.

While we're at it: Bowling shows footage of a B-52 on display at the Air Force Academy, while Moore solemnly pronounces that the plaque under it "proudly proclaims that the plane killed Vietnamese people on Christmas Eve of 1972." Strangely, the camera only lets you see the plaque from a distance where you cannot read it.

The plaque actually reads that "Flying out of Utapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield in southeast Thailand, the crew of 'Diamond Lil' shot down a MIG northeast of Hanoi during 'Linebacker II' action on Christmas eve 1972." This is pretty mild compared to the rest of Bowling, granted. But it illustrates that the viewer can't even trust Moore to honestly read a document. (The B-52 was rather lucky: the American plane ahead of it and the one behind it were lost).

8. Race. At one point in the evolution of this webpage, I suggested that Moore tries to suggest that Heston is a bigot. Upon reviewing the movie again, I'd have to say that Moore does not make that point, although many of his viewers hold it after watching. E.g, " Heston's racist excuse that Americans are maybe more violent than other countries because we have a greater ethnic mix." Source. "Heston looks like an idiot, and a racist one at that" Source. "BTW, one thing the Heston interview did clear up, that man is shockingly racist. Beyond revulsion I never felt pity for that privileged, ignorant hypocrite." Source.

The remarks stem from Heston's answer (after Moore keeps pressing for why the US has more violence than other countries) that it might be due the US "having a more mixed ethnicity" than other nations. When Moore asks if Heston thinks it's "an ethnic thing," Heston responds (as the camera zooms in) "We had enough problems with civil rights in the beginning." A viewer who accepts Moore's theme that gun ownership is driven by racial fears might conclude that Heston is blaming blacks and the civil rights movement for violence.

But if you look at some history missing from Bowling, you get exactly the opposite picture. Heston is talking, not about race, but about racism. In the early 1960s, the civil rights movement was fighting for acceptance. Civil rights workers were subject to murder and beatings. The Kennedy Administration, trying to hold together a Democratic coalition that ranged from liberals to fire-eater segregationists such as George Wallace and Lester Maddox, found the issue too hot to touch, and prior to 1963 offered little aid.

Charlton Heston got involved, beginning with picketing discriminatory restaurants. He worked with Martin Luther King, and helped King break Hollywood's color barrier (yes, there was one.). He led the actors' component of King's 1963 march in Washington -- important precisely because it showed the strength (250,000 marchers) and acceptability of the civil rights movement, put spine into the Administration, and set the stage for the key civil rights legislation in 1964. Source.

Here's Heston's comments at the 2001 Congress on Racial Equality Martin Luther King dinner (also attended by NRA's Executive Vice President, and presided over by NRA director, and CORE President, Roy Innes). You can find photos of Heston's civil rights activism here, just search for Heston if the precise page doesn't link.

So when Heston is talking about ethnic diversity and "problems with civil rights in the beginning," he's not suggesting that race is a factor -- he's suggesting that racism is. Most of the viewers likely were born long after the events Heston is recalling. To them, the civil rights struggle consists of Martin Luther King giving some speeches, people singing "We Shall Overcome," and everyone coming to their senses. Heston remembers what it was really like, and finds a possible explanation of violence in the legacy of racism.

9. Fear. Bowling probably has a good point when it suggests that we are prone to irrational fears, and the media feeds off this in a search for circulation and the fast buck. Bowling cites some glaring examples: the razor blades in Halloween apples scare, the flesh-eating bacteria scare, etc. The examples are taken straight from Barry Glassner's excellent book on the subject, "The Culture of Fear," and Moore interviews Glassner on-camera for the point.

Then Moore does exactly what he condemns in the media.

Given the prominence of schoolyard killings as a theme in Bowling for Columbine, Moore must have asked Glassner about that subject. Whatever Glassner footage was taken in this regard is, however, left on the cutting-room floor. That's because Glassner lists schoolyard shootings as one of the mythical fears. He points out that "More than three times as many people are killed by lightning as by violence at schools."

Bowling for Columbine follows the very adage it condemns: "If it bleeds, it leads." Fear sells -- and can win you an Oscar.

10. Guns (supposedly the point of the film). A point worth making (although not strictly on theme here): Bowling's theme is, rather curiously, not opposed to firearms ownership.

After making out Canada to be a haven of peace and safety, Moore asks why. He proclaims that Canada has "a tremendous amount of gun ownership," somewhat under one gun per household. He visits Canadian shooting ranges, gun stores, and in the end proclaims "Canada is a gun loving, gun toting, gun crazy country!"

Bowling concludes that Canada isn't peaceful because it lacks guns and gun nuts -- it has lots of those -- but because the Canadian mass media isn't into constant hyping of fear and loathing, and the American media is.

Which leaves us to wonder why the Brady Campaign/Million Moms issued a press release. congratulating Moore on his Oscar nomination.

Or does Bowling have a hidden punch line, and in the end the joke is on them?

One possible explanation: did Bowling begin as one movie, and end up as another?



The point is not that Bowling is unfair, or lacking in objectivity. One might hope that a documentary would be fair, but nothing rules out a rousing polemic.

The point is far more fundamental: Bowling for Columbine is dishonest. It is fraudulent. It fixes upon a theme, and advances it, whenever necessary, by deception. To trash Heston, tt even uses the audio/video editor to assemble a Heston speech that Heston did not give, and to turn sympathetic phrases into arrogant ones. Moore's object is not to enlighten or to document, but to play his viewer like a violin, to the point where they leave the theater with heartfelt believe in that which is, sadly, quite false.

The bottom line: can a film be called a documentary when the viewer cannot trust an iota of it, not only the narration, but the video? I suppose film critics could debate that one for a long time, and some might prefer entertainment and effect to fact and truth. But the Academy Award rules here are specific. Rule 12 lays out "Special Rules for the Documentary Award." And it begins with the definition: "A documentary film is defined as a non-fiction motion picture . . . ."

David T. Hardy [an amateur who has for the last year been working on a serious bill of rights documentary], to include the Second Amendment.

[PS--if I don't reply quickly--I'm getting about 200 emails a day on this, so often I can reply immediately only to the more amusing threats and have to leave the rest for a quiet moment.]

A few additions:

Wall Street Journal weights in on criticism of Bowling, as does Debbie Schussel.

A list of some criticisms not given on this page, and reasons why.

Where Moore did have a point, and should have done his homework.

Equal time: emails critical of this page. [NB: I'm getting around 200 emails per day, of which about 40 are critical, for a total of 250-300 to date, and I've had time to post a half dozen or so. Please don't feel ignored if yours doesn't make it. And don't try to jump to the head of the list with "You don't have guts enough to post this." It's been done. I get 4-5 of those a day.]

A brief reply to two responses I've received in emails:

Objectivity: (sample from email): "In other words is fiction and non-fiction that far removed from one another. My immediate response is NO!" "Your entire article is retarded. We're talking about making FILM. ALL film is subjective. Have you not even taken an entry level course in film before?"

Response: The point is not that Bowling is non-objective, or even that it is biased. The point is that it is intentionally deceptive, and that is a different matter entirely.

Nothing is real: I've received several responses to the effect that the camera changes everything, etc., so in video there can be no truth or falsity, hence lying is not unethical. Sample: "tv and movies, newspapers or even documentaries *are* constructions, not "the truth" ("truth" is subjective personal opinion/experience, which would be impossible to commit to videotape or celluloid)."

Response: This certainly has given me some insight into how some in the media view things!

Can we agree upon one core premise: to deliberately deceive a viewer is wrong? I'm not talking bias, nor emphasis. Editing a speech to create sentences that were not spoken. Telling the viewer that this is the history, when you know the opposite happened. Talk basic ethics. Is that what you'd teach your children? Everything is subjective, so truth and lies are ultimately the same, all that matters is whether you're good at it?

Finally, let me plug a book I've published, on the Waco affair (OK, what's a page without some shameless commercialism? At least it wasn't one of those %$#^^@ popups, and I stuck it at the very end.)