Appearing on Tuesday's NBC Today to promote his autobiography, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore decried "the amount of hatred that was generated on a certain news channel and on AM hate radio" against him, insisting: "They daily encouraged people to essentially commit acts of violence against me." [Audio available here]
Moore leveled the charges in response to a question from fill-in co-host Savannah Guthrie about his 2003 Oscar acceptance speech that devolved into a rant against President Bush and the war in Iraq. He continued to defend those comments: "I said we're going to war for false reasons and there are not going to be any weapons of mass destruction....what I said was accurate and true, but it generated such an enormous amount of – to where they had to hire security for me and everything."
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Guthrie replied by wondering: "Do you still feel that threat, that danger?" Moore declared: "Yeah, it's not really a feeling, I think there are – in the book, I document a half a dozen assaults on me, including a very significant one that resulted in a prison term for an individual who was, you know, planning to blow up my house."
While Guthrie referred to Moore as "no stranger to controversy," she failed to actually challenge him on any of these assertions.
Here is a full transcript of the September 13 interview:
8:31AM ET TEASE:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, Michael Moore has turned the lens on himself for his latest project, he's written an autobiography and it really goes back to some of his early days, his formative years in his life. He's now, of course, the well-known filmmaker and he's certainly drawn controversy over the years, in particular for a speech he made at the Oscars back in 2003. So how does he feel about that speech now? We're going to ask him when he joins us in a few minutes in our studio.
8:34AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Controversial filmmaker and author Michael Moore live in our studio. We'll talk to him.
8:36AM ET SEGMENT:
GUTHRIE: Back now at 8:36 with a man who is no stranger to controversy. Michael Moore is an Oscar-winning director and New York Times best-selling author. He's tackled everything from health care in 'Sicko,' to homeland security in the film 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' And now he's getting personal with his autobiography, 'Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life.' And here comes trouble, Michael Moore, good morning, it's good to see you.
MICHAEL MOORE: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "Here Comes Trouble"; Michael Moore's Memorable Moments]
GUTHRIE: Well, let's talk about this book, and actually, you take on a topic that was something of controversy back when you gave, in 2003, an Oscar acceptance speech. And at that time, I don't have to remind you, you said that the President was a fictional president who had brought us to war for fictitious reasons. And in your book, you seem to come very close to offering regret for saying that.
MOORE: None at all, actually. The – if I have any regret, it's the – it's what it put me and my family through as a result of the amount of hatred that was generated on a certain news channel and on AM hate radio. And they – they daily encouraged people to essentially commit acts of violence against me. It was – I mean, Glenn Beck famously said that he was thinking of killing me live on the air. And so-
GUTHRIE: So when you say you weren't sure you'd do it over again, it wasn't because of the sentiment of what you had expressed, just the consequences of it?
MOORE: Oh, no, no, no. Yeah, because it's the fifth day of the war and I said we're going to war for false reasons and there are not going to be any weapons of mass destruction, and I was booed off the stage for saying that. But obviously, I mean, as years went on people realized that, you know, what I said was accurate and true, but it generated such an enormous amount of – to where they had to hire security for me and everything.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, and you still use that security to this day. I mean, do you still feel that threat, that danger?
MOORE: Yeah, it's not really a feeling, I think there are – in the book, I document a half a dozen assaults on me, including a very significant one that resulted in a prison term for an individual who was, you know, planning to blow up my house. So, I mean, it just – I didn't understand. You know, I make documentary films, you don't really think that that's the result of, you know, it's – it was just a little bit, you know, difficult.
GUTHRIE: Let's talk about the book, because primarily it's actually you're younger years that you talk about in these vignettes from your childhood. And you say that you were a good student and the nuns loved you. What happened?
MOORE: I turned out just the way they wanted me to.
GUTHRIE: You actually tell a great story when you were younger and you gave a speech to an Elks Club that you knew excluded African-Americans and the speech competition was to talk about Abraham Lincoln and you kind of turned that concept in a different direction.
MOORE: Yeah, the Elks Club up until 1971 had a policy, on their application it said 'Caucasians only.' And many private clubs in America had those in the 1970s, because you could still discriminate in private clubs. So I was 17 years old and I saw that they were sponsoring a contest on the life of a guy who freed the slaves and I thought, 'Geez, this is a little ironic.' So I gave a speech attacking them at this Boys State convention, and the next day I was getting a call from Walter Cronkite's producer, who wanted me to come on. And it created a whole ruckus nationwide about why in the 1970s can you still have whites-only clubs in America? And a year or so later that was the end of that.
GUTHRIE: An early Michael Moore moment. There was another moment you describe being in Washington, walking around the capital as a young boy, getting lost and running then into someone we all would recognize.
MOORE: Yes, I got separated from my parents and my sisters and my cousin and I was completely lost, I was 11 years old. I wandered into an elevator and there was a man in the elevator, and I started, I'm crying because I think I'm completely – I'll never see them again or whatever and he's reading a newspaper and puts the paper down and it's Bobby Kennedy, and he sees me standing there all forlorn and asked me what was wrong, and then he took me to help me find my parents and waited with me. And I had this incredible conversation with him at 11 years old, that I, you know, describe.
GUTHRIE: Well, it's an interesting read. You have lots of stories from your childhood. Michael Moore, always good to talk to you. Thank you so much.
MOORE: Oh thank you, thank you so much.
GUTHRIE: And the book is, to remind everyone, 'Here Comes Trouble.'