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To read more about Episode 243, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:15] Hey, everyone. This is Rumble with Michael Moore. I’m Michael Moore. Have you ever had just one of those weeks? It’s not the big things. It’s sometimes just a hundred little things that don’t go right. I’m sure I’m not telling you something you haven’t already experienced many times maybe, during the last couple and a half years, but boy, you just reach a point where you want to watch cartoons or something. And I don’t know, this last week has been… It’s been one of those weeks. The first thing that happened was that, you know, I’ve actually taken fairly good care of myself during the pandemic. I’ve lost 52 pounds but the reason why I am not necessarily happy about that is that I’m pretty sure half of that has to be muscle. I’ve lost muscle. Probably a lot of us have lost muscle because we haven’t used our muscles in the normal ways that we did back in normal times. And so it was bothering me and I thought, you know, we really got to start now getting back to the gym and lifting some weights. Plus, I’ve promised everybody on my podcast that Trump’s not coming back, so I have got to be in fighting shape here. So I went to the gym for the first time in a couple of years. So, you know, I’m lifting some weights and I’m doing some, you know, leg lifts and different things and I don’t know what happened. I slipped? I tripped? I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. All I know is I started to go down and this is an old school kind of gym. This is not a frou frou type place. It’s got a cement floor. It’s got, you know, those big truck tires that you gotta lift and flip over — that kind of place. And I started to go down. I could not believe it. I went straight down on my kneecaps. Man, I don’t know if you’ve ever had that happen to you, but it was the most pain. And my brain is going, “fall the rest of the way. Don’t stay on your knees like that, because they’ve just gone on to a very hard, cement-type surface floor.” And so I just decided to tip over the rest of the way and bam, my head crashed right on the cement floor. It did have sort of a thin rubber thing on the cement. But basically it was you know — it was hard enough so when my head hit the floor, you could hear the crack of my head across the gym. And people ran over and I’m going, “I’m okay. I’m okay. Step away from the fallen guy.” Wow. I just couldn’t believe it. I was okay, I just knew, like, the next day I was going to be in a lot of pain, which I was. My forehead was kind of cut up. You know, my legs were pretty mangled from landing on my knees like that. But I didn’t break anything. Didn’t have a concussion. But I also, you know, I thought. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention getting up from the bench, or whatever it was, I did. And part of that is because my mind is elsewhere. Before this happened, in the week before, I was kind of down and sad over the fact that I’d lost a good friend and mentor and somebody who has stood with me for over 25 years.
Michael Moore [00:04:11] I’m going to take a minute to thank our underwriters for this podcast of mine — I’m very grateful. And then I’m going to come back. I’m happy to share with you that this podcast is being sponsored by BetterHelp. Thank you BetterHelp for supporting my voice and supporting this episode of Rumble. Most of us, of course, are quick to show up for our physical well-being, scheduling our annual checkup or dentist appointment or whatever. But often we put off or bypass altogether, showing up for our mental well-being. BetterHelp can help you change that paradigm. BetterHelp is not a crisis line, it’s not self-help, it is professional therapy done securely online from the comfort of your own couch available worldwide to anyone who needs it. When you sign up, you’ll fill out a short, anonymous questionnaire to help BetterHelp connect you with a professional licensed therapist that fits your needs. And if it’s not a great match, BetterHelp makes it easy and free of charge to change therapists to ensure that you are comfortable and that you’re getting the help that you need and you deserve. And most importantly, financial aid is available, making professional therapy more affordable and accessible to everyone. So please visit betterhelp.com/rumble. That’s betterhelp.com/rumble. That way you will join over 2 million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHelp that they’re recruiting additional therapists now in all 50 states. So here’s a special offer for Rumble listeners. You get 10% off your first month of therapy with betterhelp.com/rumble. That’s betterhelp.com/rumble for 10% off your first month of therapy. Don’t be afraid to do this. Your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health.
Michael Moore [00:06:10] I also want to thank our other underwriter for today’s episode, and that is Shopify. You all know Shopify. That’s the amazing platform that has been not only a long-time supporter of Rumble, but I’m also grateful for them for being part of our whole thing here with running our little store online with our hats and T-shirts and other things for you to purchase. There’s so many reasons, though, that you, yourself, can think about starting your own online store, your own online business with Shopify. Maybe you’ve had some lifelong dream, or you’re trying to build a better future for yourself or for your nonprofit, for your school, your family — whatever your reason, Shopify will give you access to all the tools and resources you need to help you start that dream to grow your own business, to help your school and nonprofit. Last November, that’s what they did for me when we launched The Moore Store, and I’m using that to raise money for causes I care about, like voter suppression and returning civics classes to our public schools. But again, it’s not just me. Shopify powers millions of businesses and nonprofits around the globe making it easy for anyone to succeed. So if you or anyone you know is looking to start an online store, go to Shopify.com/rumble. So it’s Shopify.com/rumble for a free 14-day trial, and you can get full access to Shopify’s entire suite of features. Grow your own business or your nonprofit now with Shopify today. Go to Shopify.com/rumble right now. Shopify.com/rumble.
Michael Moore [00:08:11] About 12 days ago, a good friend of mine passed away. His name was Mort Janklow, and he was also my literary agent or book agent. And it was his job to try to get what I wrote out to as many millions of people as possible. And that he did. But he was also kind of a Zen master guru, a person I could talk to about things going on in the world. And in his role as my book agent, he has stood by me during times when those who would try to get in the way of me saying what I wanted to say, he would stand up for me. He was 91. He passed away here just before Memorial Day. So he’d had a long and good life, and a wonderful wife and kids, and just kind of quietly told his wife he was going to lay down, go to sleep, and that he did. Back in 2001, he’d got me a book deal to write a book about the first year of George W Bush and my thoughts about that and a whole bunch of other things — it was called “Stupid White Men.” It turned out not to be that much about Bush, although he was in it. It was about a whole bunch of things over decades of me living life on this planet as a white guy and what I’ve seen my gender and people of my race do. And so I just let it all out. But the deal was with HarperCollins, which unfortunately — I probably should put some thought into this ahead of time — was a publishing company, is a publishing company owned by Rupert Murdoch. And they set the publishing date — publishing date, meaning the day it’s in bookstores — and they printed the first 50,000 copies and sent it to, you know, hundreds of thousands of bookstores around the country. And it was to go on sale on September 11th, 2001. And of course, we know what happened on that day. And by noon, Harper Collins had called or sent messages or whatever to all these bookstores around the country, telling them to pull my book off the shelves. And they called me and they let me know they were doing that and they just thought, “why have this be the publishing date? You know, let’s just pull it till we find out what’s going on in the world when things calm down.” It made sense to me. I mean, obviously, I was in no mood to go out on a book tour that day or any of the other things they’d had planned. So a week went by, and two weeks went by, then a month went by and it’s like, “what’s going to happen with the book? When are you’re putting it back in the bookstores?” And they called me and Mort in to their headquarters in New York on Madison Avenue to tell us that they felt like they could not put out a book attacking the president of the United States during a time like this. And they would like me to rewrite about a third of the book. And tone it down — those are the key words, “tone it down.” And then they handed me a copy of the book with all the parts marked in red that they wanted taken it out. I mean, it was just page after page after page of, you know, let’s say a third of a page, some pages complete — the whole page just gone. And I remember saying to them, using the line that the Bush and the others in power like to use, “if you give in to the terrorists, then that means the terrorists win. So you’re asking me, in a free country, to censor myself and take this out and take that out and put something that’s not so harsh against George W Bush.” And as I was saying to them across the table, that that’s not going to happen Mort pipes in. He just says, “He’s not changing a goddamn thing. Because nothing has changed, except everything has changed making his point why we need change in this guy.” You know, he just went on and was so eloquent. I’m using this gruff voice because after all these years, I still don’t have a very good New Yorker voice.
Michael Moore [00:13:01] So we left there at kind of a stalemate, because they are not going to put the 50,000 copies that they had already printed into to the bookstores. They had pulled it back from the bookstores, and now they were in a, I don’t know, warehouse or whatever. And this is like a month after 9/11. They said, “well, you should think about it, because we’re not putting this book out.” So there wasn’t much to think about. I just didn’t know what to do for the next month. By this point, we’re in November and they’re not putting the book out. Mort, you know, is threatening them — I have a contract with them, etc., etc.. And on November 30th, 2001, my editor there, nice guy, called me up and said, “well, the people here, the corporate honchos have decided that not only are they not going to put the book out now, they’re going to pulp — pulp, I’d never heard that word in that way before — they were going to pulp all 50,000 copies they’d printed, meaning they were going to recycle them into I guess new paper for new books. And I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I called Mort. I told him, “What are we going to do?” And he says, “We’ll have a plan, don’t worry.” I said, “I know I’m supposed to go out and speak at Rutgers tomorrow. They’re having a labor conference and they want me to come out and give a talk and I don’t want to do that.” “No, no. You should go do it. Go do it.” So I did the next day. It was a Saturday, December 1st. I remember thinking that day, I always think on December 1st, that’s the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus. And I went out to Rutgers and I took a copy. I had an advance copy of the book. And I said, “you know, I was supposed to talk about something here today, but I’m so distraught because HarperCollins is going to pulp every copy of my book that they’ve printed. And they’re just going to turn it into waste and then recycle it. So you may be the only people that get to hear anything from this book, if you don’t mind, instead of giving a talk, I’d rather if I could, read a chapter or two to you. And they applauded and I did that. And I didn’t know that in the back of the room there was a librarian. Why would I know there’s a librarian in the back of the room? There’s a librarian and she heard this whole thing and she went home and went online and got into a librarian chat room and told all these other librarians that HarperCollins is going to destroy, literally destroy, my book. And a few days later I get a call from some executive at HarperCollins — I can’t remember now who it was ’cause I’ve put so much of this out of my head — screaming at me, “What’d you tell the librarians?” “What?” “What did you say to the librarians?” I said, “I don’t know any librarians. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Well, there’s like 100 of them outside our building here picketing us. Saying that we’ve banned your… we didn’t ban your book. You refused to rewrite it.” I said, “Look, you’ve made your decision. Why are you bothering me? I don’t know anything about any librarians” Well, their picket got in Publishers Weekly, then The New York Times and all of a sudden, everybody knew that HarperCollins was going to pulp, destroy, my book and not let the American people or anybody around the world read it. And the editorials began against HarperCollins and more protests. And finally, they called Mort and me back over to the building and said, “okay.” — Oh and there was the Murdoch guy at the head of the table. You knew him because he had the Australian accent. “Okay, you win.” They said to me, “You win. Here’s the deal. We’re going to put the book back in the bookstores, but we’re not printing any more copies. So that 50,000 — that’s it. There will be no book tour. We will not spend one dime on advertising. We’ll put them in the store, that’s it. We’re done. We’re done with you. We’re done with the book. Good riddance.” One of them said to me, “What kind of book career do you think you’re going to have after this? Who’s going to want to publish you? You’re such trouble. Who would want this trouble? So maybe you should have thought of that. Mort, you’re going to have a difficult time trying to get him another book deal.” And so we left and they set the publication date and I think it was the 1st or 2nd Tuesday of February of 2002. So the book came out on that day, on that Tuesday. And by Friday, they were already in their 9th printing of the book. It was selling out so fast every day in bookstores across the country, they couldn’t keep up with it. It eventually had, oh, geez, something like 60-some printings. It was on The New York Times best seller list — well it was #1 for, oh, geez, I don’t know 30 weeks? 25-30 weeks? And then it stayed on there for 69 weeks as the hardcover. Then when the paperback came out… I mean, it just it sold millions and millions of copies. Sold a million copies just in Germany. It sold a million copies just in the U.K.. I mean, it’s literally millions around the world got to read “Stupid White Men” — this book that they said they’d never print another copy of. Of course, I don’t need to explain to you, one of the beauties of capitalism is the… What’s the old line that the capitalists will sell you the rope to hang himself with if they believe they can make a buck off it? They don’t really care what you’re saying. You can attack Bush all you want if they’re selling millions of copies of a book. The irony sometimes works in our favor because ultimately, any business that’s what they care about, right? The dough-re-me?
Michael Moore [00:19:43] Man… But if I hadn’t had Mort Janklow, I don’t know. I don’t know if I would have gotten through this. He’s considered, was considered probably the top book agent in the country, certainly in New York. Most of his clients were all these people that were not like me. They were, you know, Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz and Anne Rice. But he was also the book agent for Jimmy Carter, and the Pope. And then he had a few of us renegades — Gore Vidal and myself and others. But all through the pandemic, he checked in with me. At least every other month I heard from him, “how’s the new book coming? How are you doing? Sent me chapters.” You know, he never stopped his support. And even though he had sort of semi-retired from his own company, he made it clear that he was still my literary agent. Just a couple of weeks before he died he sent me an email, just checking in. “How you doing? Are you holding up?” And I remember being really busy that day, that week and you know, I put it in the queue to respond to him and and of course I didn’t in time. And he died. And I think we’ve all had that feeling, right, with people we’ve lost? You want that last conversation, you want that last — I don’t know, whatever that is. It’s not an unusual thing, but I didn’t get to have that last go around, that last talk that… you know, his take on what’s going on in the world. It was always so fascinating to me.
Michael Moore [00:21:38] When you do the things I do, you need people in your corner that are going to fight for you because the system is set up to make sure my voice isn’t heard. Just like for many of you, it would be. They don’t want to hear from us. Of course they don’t. We’re not here to put a Band-Aid on things. We want real change and we want it now. And I’ve had a few of these individuals like Mort Janklow who would stand with me no matter what. No matter what. I have the same thing too, with my agent for my films and TV, Hollywood stuff, you know — Ari Emanuel. He’s that kind of person. Fahrenheit 9/11 never would have saw the light of day had he not been willing to go on the record with The New York Times to tell them how Disney, which owned Miramax at that time, refused to release my film because they didn’t want to upset the governor of Florida because they were going to expand Disney World down there, and they wanted to get tax breaks and all that. And so they were going to kill my film about Bush because Jeb Bush was the governor. I was thinking about that last month with DeSantos going after Disney. It’s like how many things have just kind of flipped on their head during this time we’re in right now? But if you are able to see a movie of mine or read a book, or somehow I’m on television, trust me, it wasn’t easy. There was a lot of rigamarole that I and others went through just so that you could hear my voice. I’ve written a little bit about it in my books, and I’ve talked a little bit about it on this podcast but I think some day here I’m going to share some of these stories that are just… I don’t think it’ll make your head spin because you’d probably go, “of course. Why are they even letting him say anything?”
Michael Moore [00:24:01] My best to Mort’s wife, Linda. They’ve been married since, I think the 1950s, late ’50s, early ’60s. Wonderful people. Linda’s father was Mervyn LeRoy, who was the producer of The Wizard of Oz, and a director of a number of films back in the ’30s and ’40s. And her grandfather is Harry Warner, one of the five Warner Brothers. And the stories, just having a lunch or dinner with them, and just the stories of old Hollywood and just incredible information and inspiration for this great art form known as the cinema. But Mort was in my life to help me get my books out there, get me the right publisher. I’ve had eight, I think eight books I’ve written. And in some part, thanks to his encouragement and to his battling for getting what I needed to get them into the stores to get them out to the people. All eight of those books ended up on the New York Times bestseller list. I’m grateful to him for that, but I’m more grateful for just the company that I got to keep with him and what I got to learn about this world, the other parts of the world, the peek behind the curtain that growing up in a factory family in Flint, Michigan, would never give you. And to be able to learn that and deal with it. And to have somebody stand by your side. It’s a very powerful thing. So, my condolences, and my love, my best to Linda, his widow, his two kids who are not kids anymore. I don’t know… There are other people that I’ve known, other friends that have died during the pandemic, some because of the pandemic and that’s been difficult. We’ve lost a lot of creative people. A lot of people in the arts. So whoever we are coming out of this pandemic, they won’t be forgotten and they will live on in us, in the work we do. And we move forward. I feel today, tonight, that I’ve lost… I don’t know how to put this… I’m a little less protected. I don’t mean to make this about myself, but you know Mort — he was only five days away from his 92nd birthday and he was still working. His assistant told me that before he went to bed that night that he passed away, he watched two documentaries. He was just such… he was so smart and he could outsmart all the bad people. And now what do I do? Well, you know, I’m of an age now where I’ve seen enough and I’ve learned enough and I know how to fight the good fight, how not to give up, and to look for people where I can help them. I can help protect them. I can help get their movies made or their books published or whatever. So all good will come of this. But on just a personal level as I wrap this up, I’m just sitting here thinking, you know of this loss, I guess… And so it goes.
Michael Moore [00:28:06] All right, my friends. Thanks for letting me share all that with you. I’m okay. I hope you’re okay. I really hope you’re okay because we don’t have another choice here in terms of what we have to do. So be well. Treat yourself well. And thanks to my producer and editor, Angela Vargos. And thanks to all of you.