Photo: Michael Moore Twitter feed
Last night I was a guest on Piers Morgan’s special Occupy Wall Street episode. He doesn’t usually have a live audience, so I was really excited to be on the show, especially since the guest was Michael Moore.Once I started talking to the other guests, I realised there was another reason why I should have been excited — everyone else there had sent in e-mails telling stories of why they should have a seat in the audience. They were told that they might have the opportunity to tell their stories of being in the 99%.
And I was just there as a journalist.
The question someone asked me when I sat down in my seat in the front row was, “do you like Michael Moore?”
I paused, which was totally awkward. To be honest, I’m pretty ambivalent. But the people around me were die-hard fans. I was seated in between a man named Mark who had a master’s in journalism and couldn’t find a job, and another elderly woman who spent her time knitting at Occupy Wall Street because she couldn’t find a job either.
Both of them were pulled out of line while they were waiting to enter the studio and asked if they would be willing to tell their stories live, on the air. They were two of only eight people that were asked to speak. About half an hour before the show started, a producer addressed the crowd and told us those eight would be the only ones allowed to speak during the show.
One audience member asked: “Well what if you don’t agree with the way something is represented?”
The producer responded: “Well then you don’t agree. And that’s it… this isn’t a town hall.”
The individual guests’ stories, though, weren’t really much to argue about. There was a young woman drowning in student loans, a family where both mum and dad were nurses about to lose their house, and more. When Michael Moore came out, the crowd went nuts.
When Piers came out, they were less enthusiastic. He told them they were welcome to challenge Michael Moore if they wanted to, and that perhaps they should try to convey that what was going in the country was, “down to us as well.”
Finally, with about 5 minutes til air time, a producer came out and asked the crowd how many of them were unemployed, then asked how many owned a house that had depreciated in value. I’m employed, and I’m a New Yorker (read: renter) so it was illuminating moment, to say the least.
Then the show started, and that can be boiled down to a few great/interesting moments:
- Piers Morgan confronting Michael Moore about being part of the 1%, which Moore squarely denied.
- At one point Moore said that countries who sent jobs overseas should be punished. “Our jobs are a national resource,” he argued. “I would make it hard, even illegal, to do that…These are the people’s jobs.”
- Moore on Obama: “Obama is like a quarter back that pissed away the first three quarters and decided to show up in the fourth.”
- Moore on the Tea Party: “No one will remember the Tea Party… they’re a wing of the Republican party.”
- Moore on Occupy Wall Street: He asked viewers to remember that the movement is only 5 weeks old. “This movement will grow,” he said. It had already, he pointed out, faster than any other he’d ever seen. Their demands would become more clear over time, that process was already starting, which you could see from their website.
- During the breaks, the crowd talked amongst themselves or to Moore. A man told Moore the story of his mother, who had worked into her 70s to save for retirement. When she retired, she got sick, and had to pay medical bills. Within a year her savings were gone. Moore shared this story on the air to make the point that: “this is the average American, full of personal responsibility.” Corporations who weren’t paying their taxes, on the other hand, were not. Occupy Wall Street detractors would scoff at the story of this old lady, saying that the 99% were just lazy- “We’re not going to take this anymore,” said Moore. “We’re not going to listen to these kind of argument because these are the victims of this- let me just say one thing, the 1%, they only have 1% of the votes.”
You can check out that clip below. That, I must admit, was good TV.
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