Moore, Bush, and the Saudis

The NYT reports that Fahrenheit 9-11 is mostly accurate. That’s good to know. Now how about some coverage of the charges it makes?

In all the hype, pro and con, about Fahrenheit 9-11, I was starting to despair about the prospect that any actual journalist would bother to pay attention to the actual factual assertions in the movie.

In particular, I was hoping that the film might break the virtual mainstream-media blackout on discussions of the relationships between the Bush clan on the one hand and the Saudi royal family and the bin Ladens on the other. Given Moore’s record, however, I was worried that he’d muddy the waters by making charges he couldnt’ back up.

Just as I had wound myself up to full snark and prepared to unleash a bloggic blast at the unwillingness of the Big Media to allow the facts to distract them from their job of recycling hype and spin, Progress Report pointed me to this NY Times story reporting that Moore seems to have done a very careful job of fact-checking t his time and that most of the assertions of fact in the movie are well supported by the public record.

Well, that’s something. But — I’m not to be deprived of my opportunity for media criticism — it’s still short of having reporters do real stories on what seems to me a real, and largely unknown, issue. (UPDATE the Center for American Progress has a good primer on the Bush-Saudi issue.

When I mention to ordinary folks (i.e., non blog-readers) that George W. Bush was a business partner of at least one of Osama bin Laden’s brothers, they’re mostly frankly incredulous. Yes, the bin Ladens are a big family. And yes, they claim to have disowned Brother Osama. Any responsible journalistic account of the matter would surely mention that, and carry a denial by one of the President’s acolytes that his rather gingerly handling of the Kingdom had anything to do with the millions he and his family have made from their dealings with the Saudis.

Then the readers/voters could decide for themselves just what to believe, and what to do about it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: