Moore recruits kings of spin to counter critics

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The Independent US

Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 looks like a film, sounds like a film and, after its triumph at the Cannes festival, certainly wins awards like a film.

Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 looks like a film, sounds like a film and, after its triumph at the Cannes festival, certainly wins awards like a film.

But its US release this summer is looking more like a political campaign than a Hollywood premiere, and now the production has hired two of Bill Clinton's most fearsome spin doctors to handle the anticipated brouhaha from its stinging election-year critique of President George Bush.

Mr Moore has set up a campaign-style "war room" to counter his critics, headed by two veterans of the Clinton-Gore years, Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane. "We will allow no attack on this film to go without a response immediately," Mr Moore told yesterday's Los Angeles Times. "And we will go after anyone who slanders me or my work, and we will do it without mercy. And when you think 'without mercy', you think Chris Lehane."

With every new documentary or satirical book, Mr Moore has come to regard himself as a political figure of real influence, not just a film-maker. Mr Moore has said he wants to use Fahrenheit 9/11 to register voters and raise money for military families opposed to the war in Iraq.

It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party will take his bait. George Bush Snr was quoted recently calling Mr Moore a "slimeball". But party operatives, for the moment, are seeking to depict Fahrenheit 9/11 more as entertainment than a serious critique of the man in the Oval Office.

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