A seemingly contrite Michael Moore on Wednesday walked back his dismissal of the sex allegations against Julian Assange, saying the WikiLeaks founder should answer questions about the claims made against him by two women.
Appearing on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, the filmmaker behind Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 said that "every woman who claims to be raped has to be taken seriously, and those charges have to be investigated to the fullest extent possible."
Moore came in for criticism after he told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann last week that the sexual assault allegations against Assange were "a bunch of hooey" meant to persecute Assange for leaking sensitive US State Department cables through his secrets site WikiLeaks.
“The charge is his condom broke during consensual sex,” Moore said. “This is all a bunch of hooey as far as I’m concerned.”
Police and prosecution documents from Sweden, obtained by the Guardian, showed that the accusers went further than to claim that Assange had unprotected sex, suggesting some of the sex acts between him and his two accusers may have been non-consensual.
Assange has yet to be charged in the investigation that has been ongoing since August.
Moore's comments attracted so much negative attention that Keith Olbermann temporarily stopped Tweeting due to the negative public reaction when he defended the filmmaker.
Speaking with Maddow Tuesday night, Moore made clear he is now taking the charges against Assange seriously, saying the WikiLeaks founder "has to answer the questions" about the allegations leveled at him by two Swedish women.
But "that's not at issue here," Moore continued, arguing that "there is a concerted attempt to stop WikiLeaks."
Moore paid homage to "poor Bradley Manning," the Army private alleged to have provided the State Department cables to WikiLeaks who has now spent seven months in solitary confinement in US military custody.
"His crime ... is that he did what they said at Nuremberg we were supposed to do," Moore said. "If you see something immoral happening, you have a responsibility to stand up as a human being."
Moore also told Maddow that it's a fallacy to say the US is fighting two wars. He said that US military action in Pakistan, Yemen, the horn of Africa and Colombia adds up to six wars.
"We're a six-war country," he said.
For her part, Maddow appeared to be confused about the location from which she broadcast Tuesday night -- the 92nd Street Y in New York. At one point, she alluded to it as being a Christian organization, evidently thinking it's part of the YMCA. However, the 92nd Street Y is actually affiliated with Jewish groups.
Here's part one of Maddow's interview, broadcast by MSNBC on Dec. 21, 2010.
Here's part two of Maddow's interview, broadcast by MSNBC on Dec. 21, 2010.