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July 09, 2007


Mark S

'Mike S' and 'Bugmenot' are one and the same (bugmenot.com is a handy resource that allows users to post comments on other websites without registering). I strongly suspect 'Jill Sweet', 'Carol Green', 'carolgr', 'blue collar' and 'conservativeautowork' is Michael Westfall himself.

Westfall is in the unusual position of being angry with Michael Moore, Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk. He remains upset with Roger & Me because it is a different film to the one he expected Moore to make (Westfall & Co were supposed to be the star of the show, not potato face himself), and he is now angry with Manufacturing Dissent because, ditto, it is a different film to the one he expected Caine and Melnyk to make. History is repeating itself. Both parties used his story/material to advance their own agenda, or so he feels. John Pierson significantly understates Westfall's contribution to Manufacturing Dissent (Rick Caine knows this and is smarter than to dismiss Westfall out of hand). In the original case of Westfall versus Moore there is probably a grain of truth, but Caine and Melnyk take the grain and turn it into a whopping big loaf!

My starting point in all of this is simple. I believe Michael Moore is the biggest target of inflated criticism today.

Pierson writes of Moore: "... I appear in the film pointing out the supreme irony that the installation of the Bush regime was somehow an essential ingredient for your ascent to superstardom and financial success. Let's be honest, the Clinton administration was an eight-year slog for you. Opposition is the bee's knees."

In the comments section, Caine chimes in: "What if the guy who is the most widely viewed and most popular documentary filmmaker in history also turns out to be one of the biggest bullshitters? [...] What to do with someone who has wrapped himself in the cause so thoroughly that it is impossible to seperate his film marketing from the cause?"

Are we 'honestly' expected to believe that Moore's primary motivation - the reason he plugged away all of these years - was his hope of reaching super-stardom and making it super-rich? A man with no conviction whatsoever? Incredible. Faced with this kind of crap, a lesser man would sooner have quit and walked away by now. "Let's be honest," says the inattentive Pierson. Okay. The Clinton administration was in office from 1993 to 2001; yet this was a period when Moore produced some of his finest work (The Awful Truth, TV Nation). [1] If people can't critique Moore's work without resorting to the very tactics they (falsely) accuse him of using in the first instance, then they're not worth serious attention.

[1] http://tinyurl.com/yvlcts

Rick Caine

Thank you for yet again dicussing our film Manufacturing Dissent (coming soon on DVD and depending on where you live a theater near you). We made it in the hopes that it would be a film that would be thought about and discussed long after the usual 5 minutes of discussion that typically follows any film viewing. We made it in the hopes that audiences would question not only Moore's films and tactics but also ours and every other documentary filmmaker as well. You falsely impune our motives (yes maybe we should have known more about Moore going into this doc, but the fact remains we didn't) and accuse us of the same tactics Moore employs. Please point to the fictional devices we have tucked into our non-fiction films, omitted (maybe we landed a sitdown with Moore we're hiding?) or distorting interviews and showing them in a false light (hello Larry Stecco)and taking them out of context (Bush speaking sarcastically about his public image at the Al Smith Memorial Dinner, among others) and cobble them together to make flat out lies (the splicing together of seperate Charleton Heston speeches, literally puttng words in his mouth, in Bowling, which isn't even in our movie.)

In one scene in Manufacturing Dissent Moore discussses how the Bush administration used fearmongering (trumped up WMD claims, bogus imminent threat claims, false testimony before the UN regarding mobile chemical weapons labs, etc, etc) to manipulate the American public into siding with him on the invasion of Iraq. Then in the same speech Moore turns around and tells the college students that if they don't vote for Kerry then Bush will draft them and send them right to the front lines. That statement had no more truth in then Bush's claims about WMDs. So fearmongering for Bush bad but fearmongering for Moore good? And what about the truth, or is getting people all riled up, even if its based upon lies, good enough?

We're just as frustrated as the next person that we have not gotten to the promised land with Moore's assistance. Why isn't he more effective? How about effective at all? Just maybe Moore's approach has something to do with it, which is exactly the issue Manufacturing Dissent raises. We're lefties so we get the whole speaking truth to power argument but what if it's half truth? Is it half as effective, or maybe not effective at all? Moore is hard to ignore but easy to dismiss.

Pierson writes in the open letter to Moore "You're on the side of the fucking angels with "SiCKO" and no lapses, omissions or oversimplifications can detract from its contribution to the greater good." But this is exactly the problem: the lapses, omissions and oversimplifications do distract from the greater good and to all of our detriment. This is akin to arguing that lying for the cause is good for debate. What's the point if it's based upon lies? We all want the same thing to live in a well-functioning democracy the only way we can get there is by having an informed electorate that acts upon their knowledge at the ballot box and the only way we can get there is by having media that chooses not to lie to the people. Part of our argument in Manufacturing Dissent that it is also destructive when Moore does it as it is when FOX News does it. Some say who cares if Moore lies to his lefty base and gets away with it? Others will argue it doesn't matter if FOX News lies to their viewers. For better or worse it does have an impact an that is exactly why its important. We need to be having debates based upon facts and not resting upon misconceptions and lies. How will this get us to where we want to be?

For the record, Mike Westfall, who seems to always have the last word in internet posts (under whatever pseud he chooses) was both interviewed and contributed footage to Manufacturing Dissent but it is incorrect to term this a "consultant" however grateful we remain. We never made any pretense with Westfall, we told him repeatedly that ours was a film about Moore. And yes Westfall is right there remains marvelous opportunity for films to be made about the plight of working Americans. Hopefully someone will "consult" with Westfall about that.

SiCKO, just like Moore's previous films, will have no impact on the American health care system. But hey why should some piss ant Canadians stand in the way of mighty America trying to get universal health care right? We meant many things with this film, this was not amongst them.

And maybe sometime we can go for a beer AJ and you can confess all of your ethical lapses to us like other filmmakers are doing. Let's start with the violating of your own 'self imposed' standards (if you don't follow your own 'rules' what's the point in having them?) about blogging about other films, even as you suck and blow your own mediocre and largely ignored film. I know I was at SXSW when it screened during the music part of the fest and all of like 50 people turned up for a screening in the 1,200 seat Paramount Theater, and that's the music crowd. Then we can discuss your ethically challenged principles that allowed you to put together a doc about deceased Kurt Cobain based upon interviews he granted to another under very different circumstances. To say nothing of what I don't yet know. Ethics smethics, who's kidding who here? Come confess, the filmmakers always seem to feel better afterward. Now if they just could have been as honest with their audience to begin with...

Michael Westfall


Your various comments, including Rick Caine’s, relative to my participation in Manufacturing Dissent are very misleading.
For telling the Flint history I have been called a crackpot and been discounted by some on your site who want to rewrite history.
These contributors to your site know nothing about the real Flint story. They weren’t there.
I admit that it took a certain amount of courage for them to use someone from the right in their movie. The fact that Debbie and Rick had to use my material lends itself and exemplifies the importance of the issues that I have championed for 30 years.
I personally like both Debbie and Rick and found them passionate about the issues.
In my April 9, 2007 piece, Michael Moore Versus America, I stated that Debbie and Rick did a credible job in questioning Michael Moore’s ethics.
I do have a major disagreement with them on the big picture relative to the ongoing destruction of America’s auto industry, and their failure to show how Michael Moore used the work and the ideas of Flint activists back in the 1980’s as the rocket fuel to jumpstart his career.
Debbie and Rick followed direction from those who weren’t closely connected with the total Flint story beginning back in the 1970’s and failed to chronicle the bigger picture which they could have so easily done. If they had, then their film would have been a huge contender. Did they show that Moore has a problem with ethics? Yes. Isn’t that common knowledge? Yes. Did they miss the bigger more important story? Yes.
They simply made the mistake of listening to the wrong people. By listening too closely to erroneous peers and not understanding the complexity of what was going on in Flint, Debbie and Rick failed to tell the deeper and essential story about how Moore used the Flint activists work to create himself.
They discounted the real activists and the full truth. They gave some people to much credit and others who were critical, none at all. Pierson, who was nothing in Flint, continues this in his comments to this day. He thinks he was part of the story. That is delusional.
When John Pierson or anyone else says that I was definitely not a consultant they just have a clear problem with reality. They are talking the same kind of double talk that Michael Moore talks.
I think the truth is more likely that to these people the politics of liberal versus conservative is the priority. Well not so fast. Truth is still truth.
I don’t think that Rick and Debbie would deny that my material plays a major part in their movie. I have dozens of copied e-mails from them asking advice and giving thanks. I spent hours of my time helping them over a period of many months and I am greatly disappointed that they would allow others to get in the way of the bigger real story.
I am sure Rick and Debbie would concur that for months they e-mailed me weekly and sometimes daily, requesting information and suggestions. They traveled a long distance to visit, film and discuss the movie for hours at my home. They spent much time going over my documented and archived material at the University of Michigan-Flint Frances Willson Thompson Library. They sent me an autographed copy of Manufacturing Dissent as it was premiering in Texas in March.
I find it interesting that there can be still be a question that Michael Moore officially debated Roger Smith before Roger and Me. That is ridiculous. He did. He got in as my guest at the GM stock Holders meeting and was able to ask anything he wished. I was there, it is documented and I furnished Rick and Debbie with tapes to that effect.
I also furnished them critical information including documents showing that Roger Smith was accessible to us in all other ways including letters I received from him. I shared hours of my videos and audiotapes with them, and clips from my tapes were used throughout their movie. No one else could furnish this material because no one else was doing these things except my people.
I was the chairman of the union caucus in power at the largest truck plant in the world at the time. At one time my plant had over 7200 workers. There were many people with me back then and new material is still surfacing.
My people worked on every element of corporate restructuring and how it was going to devastate Americas manufacturing workers and the communities in which they lived. We worked on these issues from the 1970’s into the 1990’s until I retired. Were we right? Just look at our domestic auto industry today and you answer that!
One of the side issues back in the 1980’s was GM property tax assessment reduction fight. We were thankful to Ralph Nader who sent one of his attorneys, Jim Musselman to Flint for a few months in 1985-1986 to work on that particular issue.
Significantly, some of the most central information that I furnished Debbie and Rick was smoking guns. I was shocked to see that they totally ignored it.
The story included worker, union, religious and educator activists who were fighting to preserve America’s middle class. It is a story of corporate mismanagement, restructuring of huge American based multi-nationals and weak union leadership. It is about corporate greed and the struggle and demise of Middle America.
Come on, couldn’t the movie have asked the questions, what is the authentic Flint story, where did Michael Moore really come from, what did he base his career on and does he really have any credentials? Is he really on the side of the common man and an expert on everything from politics to health care, or a charlatan multi-millionaire playing out his illusions?
Since he claims to have come from the people, just what did he do? Did he lead any large rallies or demonstrations like the honest hard working activists who had the intestinal fortitude to address the big picture that covered all of the complex issues ranging from automation to global sourcing?
Today, the talking heads that weren’t there are all talking. They are from academia land and the liberal film industry. I am talking about you.
You base your assumptions on biased opinions not on historical fact. You only prop up information that supports your opinions and skim over any factual information that runs contrary to your political persuasions or ideologies. You people call me a loose cannon and smear what I say because I have told the documented truth while you call yourselves writers of documentaries and only use the pieces of the truth that support your political agenda. You fail to understand that the true history of Michael Moore’s beginning is the essential key to the narration of Moore’s story.

You don’t get the real story, because you are not after it.
The true documented full Flint story hasn’t been told…yet.
In the past I have refused to participate with moviemakers about Michael Moore. Debbie and Rick are avowed leftists, as are many of your readers while I am on the right. This fact should not have been used to stand in the way of the bigger picture.
Going forward I will be much more careful to whom I trust my resources with.

Michael Westfall

Michael Westfall



Michael Westfall



How about the truth from the people who were actually there? ...

Mark S.

Are you still beating this old drum?

"In Roger & Me, he [Michael Moore] miscast himself because he was not the one leading the Flint fight."

Moore never said, nor ever claimed, to be 'leading' the fight. He approached the topic from a different angle, with dark humour, because it remains, in his words, a 'serious weapon'.

"She [Nina Rosenblum] spoke in part of consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s comments about the Flint movie that I had proposed and would appear in. She said, “As Ralph Nader was saying you [Michael Westfall] are one of the truly greats of our time” … “You will be the greatest on-camera because all you have to be is yourself, and your true genius and profound humanism comes through without any effort."

Get over yourself. What kind of humanist wishes to abolish Gay and Lesbian rights? Homo's are headed straight to hell, right?

Are you ready for your close-up now, Mr Westfall?

Peter P.

You are confused.The documented Flint story has absolutely nothing to do with homosexual rights. To suggest it does is ridiculous.
Truth is truth. Even if you,and many others on this site,are incapable of believing it.


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