How Michael Moore deals with death threats: ‘My two lovers, Ben and Jerry’

By Kay Steiger
Friday, June 21, 2013 9:36 EDT
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Michael Moore on Current TV
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Controversial liberal filmmaker Michael Moore sat down with “Viewpoint” host John Fugelsang on Thursday evening for a wide-ranging interview that included how he deals with the death threats he’s received after making films such as Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Fugelsang began by talking about how former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowdon highlighted data gathering that got his guest to agree with the likes of Glenn Beck.

“The difference between me and Glenn Beck is that when Bush did it, he was okay with it,” Moore corrected. “He’s not okay with it now, when — as Bill Maher says — President Blackenstein is in charge.”

“I grew up in a generation where it was a Democrat who escalated the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 Americans died and it sent countless millions, Southeast Asians, to their deaths. That was done by a Democrat and it was continued by the Republican Nixon. It was a Democrat who spied on Martin Luther King [Jr.].” 

Fugelsang said it was “good for democracy” to point out the differences between conservatives and Republicans and progressives and Democrats. ”I think it wakes people out of the duopoly puppet show.”

“It’s a total puppet show,” Moore agreed. “To think that two political parties could represent the broad spectrum of political thought of 310 million people is insane.”

Fugelsang asked if Moore was disappointed to see gun control measures fail, despite weak background check measures earning more than 90 percent support among voters.

“Sadly, the message is, well, what’s the use?” Moore said of the vast majority of Americans who support it.  ”Then they’ll just go back to ‘The Bachelorette.’”

“As less and less people are attracted to the old distractions, like religion, they’ve got to find new religions to distract themselves with,” Moore continued. Ultimately, however, he was heartened by such broad support.

“I believe the jig is up for the NRA and those who support having no gun control,” he said. “It never happens on the first round.”

Fugelsang then asked how Moore dealt with the vitriolic hate mail that the Oscar-winning director received after making controversial political films like Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11.

“Well, I go to my two lovers, Ben and Jerry,” he joked. “Well to be honest … it hasn’t been easy. Especially after Fahrenheit, when I was booed off the stage at the Oscars …”

“A lot of them were cheering for you,”  Fugelsang interjected.

“I know. I know that and a lot of them were home cheering,” Moore said. “But the threats, the death threats, started. And one thing I’ve learned about death threats is that they’re great, actually. You should be grateful for death threats because those who are taking time to threaten you in that way are getting that out of their system. They just want to yell at you and just threaten you. The people who you need to be afraid of are the ones who are not issuing the threat.”

He then described a threat he received about a fertilizer bomb exploding his house. “After that I thought, boy if I had this to do over again, would I? … Would I make this film?’”

Fugelsang asked if he’d ever make a film about America’s education system or Israel and Palestine.

“Sure, I think about that all the time,” Moore said. “I think the film about the education system that needs to be made should be made by teachers.”

Watch the video, broadcast by Current TV on June 20.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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