Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore and CNBC's Rick Santelli couldn't be more philosophically opposite. Style of argument differs too: Michael Moore assumes the worst in people that oppose his view.
In a March 12 appearance on WNYC 93.9 FM/820 AM's "The Brian Lehrer Show," Moore was asked to react to Rick Santelli's February 2009 call for action against the Obama administration proposal to offer a housing relief through the taxpayer to those who got in over their heads on their mortgages.
"Ah, the sound of angry white guys wafting its way through the airwaves," Moore said. "Obviously that was a pivotal moment for that, but if you notice what he's railing against is he's blaming the whole mortgage crisis on the little guy who took out a mortgage he shouldn't have taken out, living beyond his means, having a home with too many bathrooms, when in fact - as my movie points out - the FBI of all people, have stated clearly through their own investigation that 80 percent of this mortgage crisis that we've gone through has been caused by the banks and lending institutions, by the fraud committed by the banks and the lending institutions - not by the person who's living beyond their means."
According to Moore, people living beyond their means is nothing new, and Santelli's outcry was nothing more than classism and bigotry.
"Listen, there's always been people who live beyond their means, who shouldn't be spending money," Moore continued. "I mean, it is not a new thing. You probably have someone in your family who does that. I have someone. It may even be you, Brian. But that's not a new thing. It never caused a financial collapse before. This collapse was caused by the people right down the street here who took people's mortgages, divided them up a thousand ways, bundled them and sold them off to people in China, Russia and everywhere else and that's in part why we're suffering through this. The way Santelli presented it was a classist, bigotist way of presenting it."
Moore's interpretation of Santelli's Feb. 19, 2009 call is curious because Santelli was not railing against people who got in over their heads financially. Instead he was attacking the policy responses offered by the Obama administration and the federal government. However, Moore insisted it was nothing less than 1930s-era-type propaganda used to whip up anger at other citizens, rather than politicians and CEOs.
"I remember ever since I was a kid, I can remember people complaining about ‘those people' in the ‘inner city,' people on welfare, oh, ‘look at them driving the Cadillac down the street and they're on welfare,'" Moore said. "You know, I mean this kind of bigotry is not new and it's very easy. I mean, that's a telling moment. If you watch that and you just wanted to wind the clock back 70, 80 years - whipping up people who are hurting because of the economy and blaming it on essentially on their fellow citizens as opposed to the leadership, the political leadership, the corporate leadership - it's a very, very easy thing to do and why this is actually kind of a scary time. If liberals and the left don't have a plan, don't have a program, don't have something to offer to these people who are hurting and suffering - they will be easily manipulated by the right."
But if people in the Tea Party movement, inspired by Rick Santelli, were outraged at their "fellow citizens," as Moore contends - why are the protests occurring in Washington, D.C., the center of the U.S. federal government?