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Wacko Attacko

May 31st, 2004 12:29 PM


Read Michael's response to a Fred Barnes wacko attacko column in the Weekly Standard.

On January 18, 1988, I published an interview with Fred Barnes in a publication which I edited at the time, called Moore's Weekly. I interviewed Mr. Barnes about his comments on the January 2, 1988 edition of "The McLaughlin Report," in which he expressed support for then Secretary of the Education William Bennett's theory that high school curriculum should be dominated by courses in classic Greek and English literature.

I asked Fred to share his views about two well-known classics, "The Iliad" by Homer and Dante's Inferno. Barnes reiterated to me that these books are "that everybody oughta learn. They're easy to read."

In the course of my interview, I decided to give him a pop quiz. As you can see, Fred didn't do so well. (View Moore's Weekly page one and page two, and the full column on Barnes here.)

The conservative paper, The Washington Times, liked my interview with Mr. Barnes and the paper wrote about it in their January 22, 1988 "Inside the Beltway" column (you can see it here). The Washington Times is the kind of paper Fred Barnes probably reads before he gets out of bed in the morning.

Fred Barnes did not complain when I published the interview with him 16-years-ago. He did not complain when the Washington Times article appeared in 1988. It was not until April 2002, when Stupid White Men came out, which recounted the Mr. Barnes interview, that Fox's Brit Hume reported, "Fred Barnes told me today that he never talked to Moore in his life, and that he has read both "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad" cover to cover in college."

Now that that my movie Fahrenheit 9-11 is receiving significant attention, Mr. Barnes has seen fit to publicly deny the whole thing again, even though I last referenced the interview in a book published two years ago.

Now, the cynically-inclined might say that Mr. Barnes, who has steadily faded into obscurity as an editor of a small circulation weekly, is trying to take advantage of the moment. I prefer to give Mr. Barnes the benefit of the doubt and credit his belated complaint to a fading memory. We all forget things sometimes, Fred. No hard feelings here.

Michael Moore

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