Media productions add value to society through the incorporation of various themes or arguments. In the course of putting across their arguments, content creators can get overwhelmed by their passion, cascading to their narrow-minded points of view that escalated into fake news. It is up for enlightened viewers/audiences to decode these predispositions through scouting for exaggerations, tonal variations, emphasizing certain ideas and even through visual depictions. Fahrenheit 9/11 aims its guns on Bush’s administration, highlighting how the government took advantage of the attack to instill fear on the masses to support its flawed foreign policy. The documentary is riddled with hints of Bias through deliberate omissions, juxtaposition and numeric deceptions in its visual presentation.
Michael Moore’s documentary argues that the war on terror was pointless, highlighting its impact to American households through the thousands of deaths of American forces, not forgetting the destruction of Afghanistan to a much worse state than before the incursion. The film goes a long way in omitting certain information in the course of painting Bush as the ultimate villain in American society while playing fast and loose with the facts (Oberacker 3). The documentary film intentionally omits the definitive video recording of the hijacked planes as they hit the twin towers, opting to include the aftermath of the terror attacks with the streets filled with smoke, debris, and frantic onlookers. It is even better when the film attempts to associate Bush with the Taliban, emphasizing their presence in Texas-Bush’s home state- without disclosing their real agenda. It is a substantiated fact that the group of Taliban representatives was essentially discussing an oil pipeline deal that was even initiated in the preceding regime.
It is important to note how omissions are a psychological tactic intended to promote a one-sided view of the situation. The tactic demonstrates the blatant forms of prejudice held by Moore against Bush, which implies that the director did not consider all the facts in developing his hypothesis (Kopel 4). Selective provision of information works to emphasize certain themes, making Bush to be perceived as the ultimate enemy of the state. The strategy allows audiences to swiftly jump to their conclusions, similar to flawed cases that only have prosecutors with no defense team to deal with. The omission of the final moments of the attack also went a long way in provoking emotional responses while also diverting attention from the terrorists to the then President Bush. By coloring how the audience interprets these scenes, the director induced a bleed-through effect that transfers emotions from one scene to affect the reception of the other arguments.
Going further, another evidence of bias is also evident in the juxtaposition created to induce negative opinions on the antagonist-Bush. The film portrays the then head of state as a fool that has no cognitive capacity to run affairs of the greatest country in the world. Such scenes are evident with the contextualization where the documentary depicts the horrific consequences of the attack that is followed by the footage of the president appearing happy and smiling with a positive body language. The juxtaposition is also put across when the film focuses on Bush grooming himself before announcing the terror attacks to the whole nation. The scene maintains how the president was only concerned about his appearance instead of the scores of victims that were covered by smoke, dust, and blood on ground zero. It is important to note that the documentary portrays Bush as well as the contingent in government as master manipulators that should not be trusted by the general public.
It is important to note how the film is keen to contextualize the antagonist, placing him in unfamiliar territory that is rarely depicted in mainstream media. The documentary downgrades the president as an inept leader that is usually not in sync with the nation’s mood. The tactic is a powerful instrument that attempts to vilify Bush, making his reactions similar to those of the planners of the attack (Howe par.2). These scenes go a long way in associating Bush with terrorists as gullible audiences quickly gobble the perceptions hook, line and sinker. The popularity and controversy surrounding Bush’s family’s close association with Osama put the bias into perspective as nobody has ever been found guilty of a crime through association. It is evident that the film places Bush at par with the Saudis against the safety and stability of the American society. Such scenes imply that personal interests motivated Bush into spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
If that is not enough, the documentary also features prejudiced lines of thinking by introducing vague or deceptive data and statistics. The film presents Bush as a lazy president that was not interested in the country’s affair but rather keen on profiting from privileged contacts. Such scenes are evident in numeric deceptions that quantify the scale of Bush’s lethargy while in office. The Documentary purports to show how Bush spent an inordinate amount of time away from the White House, reiterating how 42% of his first 200 days was spent on vacation. The director also focuses on portraying Bush as the originator of death and destruction in Iraq, echoing how countless thousands of people died in Afghanistan. The statistics are contrasted to the specific number of people killed in the attacks (2973), indicating that America was responsible for catastrophes in Iraq, creating carnages worse than the terror attacks itself through mass murders.
The decision to include falsified data is a strong indication of Moore’s bias in the course of reinforcing his arguments. By assuming that Bush went vacationing immediately after assuming office, the director aimed to paint Bush as an anti-hero not worth his ostentatious status as the leader of the free world. Statistics are part and parcel of the director’s appeal to the audience’s reasoning-logos (Higgins and Walker 40). The truth of the matter notwithstanding, it is evident that the documentary film attempts to use vague data in the course of exaggerating the negative impacts of America’s incursion in the Middle East.
All in all, it is apparent that Michael Moore’s documentary is riddled with hints of bias through deliberate omissions, juxtaposition and numeric deceptions in its visual presentation. The director took advantage of bias in putting across his arguments centering on Bush’s incapacity to tell Americans the whole truth about the 9/11 attacks. By selectively choosing to incorporate certain information, the director is guilty of information bias, selective bias and even confounding tactics intended to hoodwink gullible audiences. The overemphasis on Bush created a one-sided argument filled with vague statistics and contextualization that put the director at odds with a large number of people. It is evident that the subjective, sensational documentary only served to introduce witch-hunting and hot button topics under the guise of media freedom.
Higgins, Colin, and Robyn Walker. “Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Strategies of Persuasion in Social/Environmental Reports.” Accounting Forum. vol. 36. no. 3, 2012.
Howe, Desson. “Moore Shoots Himself in the Foot.” Washington Post vol. 18, 2002.
Kopel, David. “Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 911.” Independence Institute, vol. 12, 2004.
Oberacker, Jon Scott. The People and Me: Michael Moore and the Politics of Political Documentary. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2009. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1061&context=open_access_dissertations Accessed 10 April 2019