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Michael Mann vs. Michael Moore: Mann rips Moore’s film in Newsweek for using ‘tactics of denial, delay, distraction and deflection’


Michael E. Mann

File this one under the category of “with friends like this”: None other than liberal icon Michael Moore has now joined the ranks of the renewable energy-bashers. Working with Director Jeff Gibbs, his long-time collaborator on left-of-center polemics like the anti-NRA Bowling for Columbine and anti-Bush/Iraq War “Fahrenheit 9/11” Moore has, in his new film “Planet of the Humans” (“POTH”) promoted a full-on assault on renewable energy. Though Gibbs directed the doc, Moore put the full weight of his celebrity into the project, doing the talk show circuit, and flacking the film like next month’s rent depended on it. Make no mistake: This is a Michael Moore film and Moore’s reputational wagon is firmly hitched to it.

So he ended up posting it for free on Youtube on Earth Day as if his intention was to launch a hand grenade that would produce maximum collateral damage to action on climate.

While numerous other commentaries having now exposed the critical flaws in the film, a mostly overlooked aspect of the film is the way it so perfectly plays into a larger agenda underway aimed at forestalling action on climate.

So heroes become villains and villains, ironically, become heroes. Climate champion Bill McKibben is vilified for having once, long ago, supported the limited use of biomass energy. Al Gore is attacked for supposedly being “more focused on cashing in than saving the planet” (couldn’t a similar argument be made about Michael Moore and his $50 million net worth?). Moore and Gibbs were apparently “shocked to find a company owned by Charles and David Koch receiving solar tax credits”. Now, there are many reasons to dislike the Koch Brothers—but the fact that they invested in solar energy is not one of them. Only in the Trumpian era of gaslighting could a progressive filmmaker produce a polemic premised on the absurd notion that ultra-right-wing plutocrats are secretly behind the effort to end our dependence on fossil fuels. And get progressives to actually fall for it.

Writing for Films for Action, award-winning long-time environmental filmmaker Neal Livingston is even harsher: “SHAME on these filmmakers for making a film like this, full of misinformation and disinformation, to intentionally depress audiences, and make them think there are no alternatives…Let me make it absolutely clear that the new documentary, Planet of the Humans, by Jeff Gibbs — with executive producer Michael Moore, is inaccurate, misleading and designed to depress you into doing nothing.” Doomism and the loss of hope can lead people down the very same path of inaction as outright denial. The forces of inaction don’t care about the path you take, just the destination. And they love this sort of framing.

Environmental author Ketan Joshi remarks that Moore “ends up at population control – a cruel, evil and racist ideology that you can see coming right from the start of the film, while Earther’s Brian Kahn notes “Over the course of the movie, [Gibbs] interviews a cast of mostly white experts who are mostly men to make that case…”

Other fossil fuel industry shills, like Marc Morano of CFACT promoted the film and attacked its critics on social media. A feeding frenzy was manufactured on twitter thanks to the massive army of Trollbots doing the same, released perhaps by bad state actors known for this prevalent modus operandi in the New Climate War.

What we do know is that their misguided polemic furthers the agenda of fossil fuel interests and their tactic of denial, delay, distraction and deflection by feeding misleading and false narratives about renewable energy. Moore and Gibbs are setting back the cause of societal and economic decarbonization this is so critical to averting catastrophic planetary warming. Unless they do a dramatic about face, they will go down in history as having sided with wealthy, powerful polluters, rather than “the people” they purport to care about, in the defining battle of our time.




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