Ed Driscoll

M For Fake: Welles, Moore and Other Tricksters

You might remember the review I wrote in late April when Orson Welles’ last movie, F For Fake was released on DVD, and the brief, related blog post that it inspired. The gist of that post was that in a way, Welles’ movie could be seen as foreshadowing today’s’ media-savvy–and media-friendly–hucksters such as Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, and Ward Churchill.

I eventually combined several of those elements into a detailed article, which just went online at The New Partisan. Click on over to read it.

What I found interesting when writing it was the element that ties together Sharpton, Moore, and Churchill: The Big Lie that has become an almost entirely accepted method to break into the national scene. It gets the press’s attention, launches your national career, and then quickly gets either whitewashed or ignored as the press happily quotes your latest utterances. In a way, Welles’ foreshadowed this with his War of the Worlds mock-newscast radio broadcast, and his reaction to it. He simply laughed off the terror it caused amongst the people he viewed as the hicks and rubes in the hinterlands…and, next stop Hollywood and Citizen Kane. (The first line of dialogue Welles speaks in Kane is of course, “Rosebud”. But the second is perhaps even more telling: “Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio!”)

I didn’t get into this in the article, but you get the feeling that perhaps that the modern media eventually got jealous of abetting the hucksters, and decided to get into the game themselves. Hence, their willingness, seemingly new-found, to invent their own news to match their worldview, such as CBS’s “fake but accurate” RatherGate and Newsweek’s retracted “Piss Koran” story, which led to Dick Durbin’s recent 15 minutes of fame.