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Dispatches The Buzz
During a mid-afternoon thunderstorm in Tucson, Dave Hardy laughs as he tries to show how life has changed since he co-authored a New York Times bestseller. "Let me pull up my hate-mail folder," he says, launching into his e-mail. "Please get your hand out of the Republican pocket and quit the [expletive] journalism," Mr. Hardy reads from one spiteful e-mail. He looks at another: "This one was just entitled, 'Get a life.'"
Between the lightning strikes, the Arizona lawyer explains his sudden notoriety since authoring Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, a book that catalogs what he calls the popular left-wing filmmaker and author's distortions and half-truths. The scathing analysis of Mr. Moore's work, from Roger and Me to Dude, Where's My Country, takes its name partially from Mr. Moore's book Stupid White Men and comedian Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. Entering the political fray means that today Mr. Hardy receives hate mail from Mr. Moore's supporters. By October, he'll receive the first royalty checks from the book that debuted at No. 9 on the Times best-seller list.
Around the United States, a handful of conservatives are working to discredit Mr. Moore's films and books, and some are finding the hobby fulfilling -- and lucrative.
Mr. Hardy's co-author, Jason Clarke, set up a website, moorelies.com, just days after Mr. Moore's tirade at the March 2003 Oscars. Mr. Clarke explains that 16 months ago he was one of Mr. Moore's downtrodden Americans: As a temporarily unemployed web designer in Maine, "I considered myself part of his target audience, but I was really angered by his hypocrisy." Mr. Moore now lives not in Flint, Mich., but in an expensive Manhattan condominium.
Mr. Clarke's website at first was a pastime. Eventually, with a steady stream of material from Mr. Moore to fact-check, Mr. Clarke said it became like a second full-time job. Both Mr. Clarke and Mr. Hardy say they make some money on their websites through small donations and advertising, but costs associated with bandwidth siphon off almost all of the proceeds. Fellow Moore critic and moorewatch.com editor Jim Kenefick says he's not in it for the money, which is a good thing, because he's not making any: "[We want to be] a counter-weight to people like Moore." Mr. Moore's spokesperson Sarah Greenberg did not respond to several WORLD requests for comment.
Online Moore critics seem to be having an impact: Mr. Moore's website has set up a "war room" to deal with charges of distortions in his film, Fahrenheit 9/11. As the new book skyrockets the loose confederation of Mr. Moore's critics to greater publicity, Mr. Clarke even mused about the possibility of the critics meeting in Dallas for the premiere of Michael Moore Hates America, a guerrilla documentary making Mr. Moore the target of his own filmmaking style.
Mr. Hardy said he might even take time away from his law practice to attend. The Arizona attorney says that law may "put the food on the table," but writing about Mr. Moore puts beer in the fridge.