A week after Countdown host Keith Olbermann and guest Michael Mooresparked a Twitter protest over their dismissive treatment of rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Moore made an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show in which he failed to address the protest directly, but made their imprint obvious in his transformed rhetoric on rape accusations. In a crowning irony, the man whose zeal for transparency-God Julian Assange started this protest finally made direct acknowledgement of it…in a private Twitter message to #MooreAndMe creator Sady Doyle.
Underneath a segment in which Michael Moore extolled the virtues of WikiLeaks’ enforced transparency as the antidote to American misbehavior ran an undercurrent of secrecy over Moore’s bad behavior. Rachel Maddow credited the #MooreAndMe protest, in a post-show blog, with closing the gap between Julian Assange’s presumption of innocence and the dignity of his accusers, but failed to mention them at all on the show.
Moore, for his part, made all the right noises about taking rape accusations seriously, but also failed to mention the protest, or his own actions that sparked it. This, despite the fact that the central premise of the protest was that Moore engage them in a way that Roger and Me antagonist Roger Smith had never engaged Moore. A quick perusal of the #MooreAndMe hashtag demonstrates that they overwhelmingly wanted that engagement.
This afternoon, though, the creator and spearhead of the protest, Sady Doyle, revealed that Michael Moore did, indeed, know that she existed:
But you know we fought, and we fought, and I was tired, and I was scared, and I was crying, and I was outside the tower, and I knew we had to not go away. And then, well… then he came down.
That was in my Direct Messages inbox. On my Twitter. At the bottom of the 200 unanswered e-mails; I almost ignored it, almost blitzed right past it, because it was on Twitter and those are just new “follow” notifications.
I got a “thank you” from Michael Moore. You did. We all did.
Obviously, as a chief defender of WikiLeaks, Moore is in no position to complain about the publication of his private message, and probably assumed it would become public. I can only guess at his motivations at keeping the message private, but in doing so, he gets to maintain the “official story” that he respects rape accusations, and his dismissive comments to Olbermann get to remain in the Memory Hole.
Despite the inherent hypocrisy in this veil of secrecy (more akin to a fig leaf), the protest’s creator takes a mature, big-picture view. Doyle is rightly proud of the difference her protest made, but goes on to take the measure of the imperfection of this result (so far):
The mountain moved, like, three inches to the left. If you weren’t looking closely, you wouldn’t notice that it had moved at all. You definitely wouldn’t think to thank or acknowledge the incredibly hard work of the people who moved it. But we moved a mountain. We did the impossible. We went from just a random bunch of frustrated feminists, a random bunch of people on Twitter, to a force capable of changing the rape apologism in the narrative of one of the world’s biggest news stories.
The mountain moved. The man came down from the tower. And we still live in a rape culture; we’re still not done fighting it; the narrative around Assange, in particular, is still hugely misogynist and hugely dangerous for those two women and will still encourage rape survivors not to report. We didn’t get a full apology and correction from Michael Moore; we didn’t get a full apology and correction from Keith Olbermann; neither of them have donated to the many rape crisis and anti-rape organizations to which we’ve provided links; heck, we didn’t even get credit on air. But we know what we’re capable of now. And that is immensely important.
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