Michael Moore Is Worried About Hillary Clinton’s Chances: ‘The Lack of Enthusiasm Is Dangerous’
The Oscar-winning filmmaker dishes on his new doc ‘Michael Moore in TrumpLand,’ Emailgate, and the big similarity between Julian Assange and Donald Trump.
Michael Moore doesn’t know if Donald Trump has seen his latest film, the anti-Trump documentary Michael Moore in TrumpLand, which the Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker rushed out into theaters and VOD last week in an eleventh-hour attempt to give Team Hillary Clinton a boost in the final weeks before Election Day. But he was certainly none too happy to see the Republican presidential candidate tweet as if the film was a ringing endorsement—which it definitely, absolutely, is not.
“I haven’t spoken to him, so I don’t know if he just saw his name in the title and thought it was pro-him,” Moore told The Daily Beast on Monday from New York. “Was he stupid enough to tweet that without anybody having watched the film? Or is he just crazy as a fox?”
Filmed over two nights in October, TrumpLand is a one-man stage show Moore began writing in August, spurred to action after seeing Democrats around him resting on their laurels a little too heavily following the Democratic convention. “I noticed the people that support Hillary were feeling really confident—and I thought that was dangerous,” he explained. “The more Trump screwed up and the more she won the debates, people just thought more and more that it was in the bag. I didn’t feel that way at all. I guess that’s because I live in Michigan and I see what’s going on and I’m not in an East Coast-West Coast bubble.”
Moore’s idea was to make a point by performing his stand-up show in a Republican city. But the first theater he booked, in the Ohio town of Newark, reneged under pressure from irate local Republicans. He ended up staging it in Wilmington, Ohio, “which was even better because there are like 26,000 registered voters there and only 2,000 of them are registered as Democrats,” he giggled.
Even better: The Wilmington venue, a historic local 400-seat theater, was partially restored with a $50,000 donation from Glenn Beck five years ago. Moore laughs with gratitude. “I do know that the theater took a lot of grief from the Republicans in their town—and there was a state senator who called and threatened to have their arts funding canceled if they didn’t cancel me.”
They didn’t cancel. Eleven days later he premiered Michael Moore in TrumpLand in New York. Last weekend Miley Cyrus Instagrammed a selfie to her 1.2 million followers watching it, proclaiming “I’m with her!”—just the kind of viral support Moore was hoping for, aiming to rouse disappointed Bernie stumpers, undecided voters, non-voters, and third partiers leaning toward Trump to get excited about Hillary.
“It’s also for the Hillary voters who are not very excited,” he added. “The lack of enthusiasm is dangerous.”
“Ten percent of the Hillary vote got depressed with the FBI announcement,” he said, emphasizing that he “wouldn’t take any of it seriously at all.” The damage made by FBI Director James Comey declaring that more Clinton emails are under review, Moore says, is that the “irrelevant” emails have dampened the enthusiasm Hillary’s campaign still desperately needs.
“They’re still going to vote for her,” he said of Clinton supporters, “but they’re not as enthusiastic, and maybe won’t do the work for her this weekend that they were going to.”
Moore’s own position on Hillary has shifted dramatically over the years and through this election. He backed Bernie Sanders through the primary, dubbed Clinton “Wall Street’s paid candidate,” and said he couldn’t vote for her on moral grounds because of her record on Iraq. That Moore disappeared sometime in the past few months. But he says he’s always felt the same way about Hillary and her husband.
“I really don’t think it has changed,” he said of his stance on Clinton. “I have a great deal of admiration for her. I felt that way back in the ’90s. I didn’t agree with her or Bill [Clinton] politically necessarily, but I didn’t distrust who they were as human beings. And I feel the same way right now.”
“I feel that her vote on the war was wrong. I feel she’s too close to Wall Street. And I’m also excited that we’re going to elect the first woman president in our history.”
Moore stresses the historical significance of putting a woman in the White House, even after catching heat online for tweeting that “no women ever invented an atomic bomb, built a smoke stack, initiated a Holocaust, melted the polar ice caps or organized a school shooting.”
The blowback didn’t surprise Moore, who chalked some of the criticism to entrenched sexism from his fellow men. “A lot of men are having a hard time with what’s happening. A lot of white guys are having a hard time with it. Eight years of Obama were a huge blow [to them] and [electing a] woman is rattling around in their brains in a way that they can’t make sense out of it.”
“But I only speak the truth,” he added. “I don’t see a lot of girls going into schools and shooting them up. There are two exceptions in 35 years. So of course you have an anomaly, always, for anything. Margaret Thatcher would start a war. But as I pointed out in my last film talking to the first woman president in Iceland, she said, when you have just one woman it’s a token and basically that person’s going to behave much like men behave because that’s how she got the token position. But when women have real power they don’t behave that way. And I’m not trying to say that women are better than men, I’m just trying to say that… women are better than men!”
He considered the impact that third-party mobilization of millennials, in large part toward Sanders’s campaign, has had on this election season. His fellow Bernie supporters should rally behind Hillary, Moore said.
“That Hillary then, that we did not like at the beginning of the year, moved toward Bernie’s position,” he mused. “She adopted two-thirds of his platform! It’s amazing. So I say to my fellow Bernie supporters, what more do you want? She’s gone more than halfway! And she isn’t Margaret Thatcher. What is your problem? Come on!”
“There should be no anger,” he continued, his voice rising. “There should be joy, because we did something historic. We got a socialist elected in 22 states. Nearly half the states voted for a socialist for president. That is stunning! People shouldn’t be angry—they should be taking a bow. We set the tone of the whole election in terms of income inequality! If the Democrats win the Senate, the chairman of the budget committee is a guy named Bernie Sanders! A socialist will be in charge of the budget!”
“If you’re angry about any of that, you need to see somebody.”
Three days after distancing himself from Julian Assange on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher in the wake of WikiLeaks’s continued attacks on Clinton, Moore defended the organization and again called Assange an anarchist—just like Trump.
“I think Julian and WikiLeaks perform a really important service and we can’t have it both ways,” Moore said. “We can’t say it’s OK when they expose the other side but not OK when they post things about our side. Having said that, I think that [Assange] and many of the people voting for Trump would like to see the system—nonviolently—blow up. I can see why Trump likes him, because Trump is essentially an anarchist. Trump is going to blow up the system with no plan for what he’s going to replace what he’s blown up. He has no real plans.”
Moore’s touchstones for analyzing the tumultuous 2016 election, appropriately, parallel the viewing habits of America. It’s how he’s able to explain why he believes Trump has gotten this far in politics, the latest in a long lineage of Republican candidates plucked from show business to elected office.
“I watch Celebrity Apprentice,” admitted Moore. “It’s a very good show. Trump is a well-liked, very popular TV star. And one thing the Republicans have learned—when they run Ronald Reagan, when they run Arnold Schwarzenegger—when they run stars, they win. Democrats don’t do that. We don’t run Oprah or Tom Hanks or any of a number of other people that would win. I’ve never understood that.”
Moore would, for the record, get behind President Oprah Winfrey. “Hell yes! And bring back her show every afternoon at 4 o’clock from the Oval Office. How cool would that be?”
He urges the Democrats to learn from the savvier GOP and put all that Hollywood liberalism to good use. “It drives me crazy,” said Moore. “Part of it is because they don’t understand popular culture, which is odd because Hollywood is so Democratic and so liberal—and yet they don’t understand their own power. In fact, they run from it when they get criticized. The American public loves Hollywood! There are three or four shows on at 7 p.m. about nothing but Hollywood news.”
“I mean, listen,” he began. “Jennifer Hudson lost American Idol, and most people think she won. She lost to Fantasia. Who the fuck is Fantasia, and where is she now? I mean, seriously—anything can happen in this election. The American public is very fickle. Last year on The Bachelorette, everybody thought Kaitlyn was going to go for Nick, and she went with Shawn. That blew everyone’s mind.”
“Well, that’s my warning about next Tuesday. We live in a country that loves The Bachelorette, Celebrity Apprentice, and American Idol; that sits in front of their TVs seven hours a day, and they do strange things. So take nothing for granted over the next eight days. Because this could go the wrong way very quickly.”