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Surprising facts about the filmmaker Michael Moore, from the book Do As I Say (Not As I Do)

updated December 30, 2013

The Filmmaker Michael Moore
The Documentary Filmmaker Michael Moore.

The filmmaker Michael Moore is one of the most popular of modern political commentators, however it is shown that he is often hypocritical about many issues which he is well-known for speaking about, including his making false claims of having ”working class” roots and being a ”populist who stands up for the little guy,” his investing in many of the companies he criticizes including defense contractors such as Haliburton, and his having hiring practices that he criticizes in others. [Note— Also Moore’s agent is Ari Emanuel, the brother of Obama’s original White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.]

Following are points describing the information contained in the chapter of Peter Schweizer's book Do As I Say (Not As I Do) speaking about Michael Moore.

— Michael Moore has become famous worldwide due to his books and films, and he has become extremely wealthy earning in the ”mid eight figures” so far, but Moore says ”I haven’t altered my life in any significant way” .. ”I think once you’re working class, you’re always working class.”(1) He has a well known persona of being a ”common sense average joe” who criticizes wealthy elitists and claims to give away up to 40 percent of his income.(2) However it is shown that his persona is manufactured, starting with him not having a blue collar background, and he is consistently hypocritical about most of the issues which he is well-known for criticizing.

— Despite his claims of being raised in the downtrodden blue-collar industrial town of Flint, Michigan, it is shown that Moore grew up in a relatively affluent middle class family in a neighboring suburb of Davidson, where he and his three siblings went to private Catholic School. His father had a comfortable job with General Motors and retired at the age of fifty-three.(3) Moore continued to proclaim Flint being his home, even fourteen years after living in the area when he wrote in the Los Angeles Times that he was ”heading home to Flint” after the Oscars in 2003.

— After graduating from High School, Moore started publishing a small newspaper called the Michigan Voice, which was heavily subsidized by John Stuart Mott, a grandson of one of the the founders of General Motors who shared Moore’s political views. Moore claimed that he made very little money before his first commercial success with the movie Roger & Me, but it is shown that in 1988 he received a $50,000 advance from a New York Publisher for a book about General Motors, and he received another $50,000 from Mother Jones after he was fired from his job as editor, as well as receiving a $20,000 grant from the consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader.

— An article published by the British Film Institute details that when Moore visited London for business such as promoting his film Roger & Me that he flew on the Concorde and stayed at the Ritz, but he booked a room at a cheap hotel down the street where he could meet with journalists while posing as a ”man of humble circumstances.”(5)

— Moore proclaims himself an ”economic populist” who can relate to people, but his targets are actually usually average Americans rather than wealthy Elites and CEOs. The New Yorker Magazine called him out on his actual intended audience in Roger & Me not being the working class but rather affluent liberal snobs of the Upper West Side, and the United Auto Workers condemned the movie. Other movies such as The Big One have been criticized for their real targets being ordinary citizens. It is also explained how Moore’s works are made popular overseas due to his reinforcing of negative American stereotypes.

— A common theme which Moore also communicates is that racism is rampant in America, and it is shown that despite Moore hilighting racial disparities in the entertainment industry, his widespread hiring for his own projects has not in any way lived up to the standards of racial diversity that he prescribes for others, with the large number of employees in senior positions that he has hired for his projects being almost exclusively white, despite Moore even writing in his book Stupid White Men that ”If you’re African American and you’d like to work in the media... then I encourage you to drop me a line and send me your resume.” It is described how out of 134 of Moore’s past and present higher level employees such as producers, editors, and cinematographers, only three were African American.

— It is also shown that Moore is also not committed to hiring ”working class” people as he has claimed, as most of his high level employees are shown to be entertainment industry veterans with previous high level experience such as producing movies and working on popular television shows.

— In Stupid White Men, he explained an anecdote where he claimed he doesn’t own a single share of stock but rather keeps his money only in a savings account,(24) and he made the same claim in 1997 to the online magazine Salon. However, it has been shown that Moore and his wife Kathleen Glynn have a private foundation that they established soon after they started making money from Roger & Me, which allows them to donate tax free, and make money on their investments. The Foundation apparently had investments of at least $400,000 when he made the statement of not owning stocks in Stupid White Men.

— It has been shown that Moore had invested in major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Merck, and Genzyme through his foundation despite publicly railing against such companies. Most surprisingly, Moore had invested in defense contractors such as Haliburton, Honeywell, General Electric, Boeing, and Loral. It is also shown that most companies Moore invested in are high tech firms that outsource production to countries like China, and do not involve unionization. He has also invested in many energy companies, including Sunoco, Noble Energy, and Transocean Sedoco.

— It is shown that claims Moore made about his foundation’s donations have been exaggerated, and he has given away only the minimum necessary to maintain the foundation’s charitable status, with much of the donations going to friends and organizations which later provided favors to him, a common example including his funding environmental projects in the proximity of his exclusive lakeside residence which helped to maintain his property values.

— Despite Moore being known for publicly criticising corporate practices such as drastically laying off employees in times of corporate prosperity, the executives Bob and Harvey Weinstein which distribute Moore’s movies had fired 65 of 485 employees in late 2004, yet Moore chose to work with them for his next film Sicko.

— In the book Downsize This, Moore claims that every business, including his own, should always involve labor unions, but his own hiring practices have included dissuading employees from joining unions, not giving writers proper credit, and moving film production out of the country to save on production costs. It is explained that Moore is well known for being obsessed with money.

— In closing, Moore is summarized as having become extremely wealthy and an icon of the ”international left wing” due to frequently painting the American public as being ”racist, greedy, exploitive, uncaring, and criminal,” but Moore exhibits many of those same traits that he criticizes.

[Note: Additional information has come out after the book had been published, including generally concealed revelations that Michael Moore’s manager is Ari Emanuel, the close-knit brother of Rahm Emanuel— the previous White House Chief of Staff for Barack Obama who is known for being strongly pro-globalism and a military hawk. It is also important to note that Moore’s last two movies ”Sicko” and ”Capitalism: A Love Story” have been criticized for missing the mark on the issues they speak about, such as ”Capitalism: A Love Story” claiming only ”capitalism” as a culprit while essentially ignoring lesser-known globalist strategies which are being implemented.]


(1) Liz Braun, ”Moore’s a Blue-Collar Gadfly,” Toronto Sun, April 8, 1998.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Larissa MacFraquhar, ”The Populist,” New Yorker, February 16 and 23, 2004.

(5) Jon Ronson, ”The Egos Have Landed,” Sight and Sound, November 2002.

(24) Moore, Stupid White Men, p xvi.

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