"Though Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has grabbed the headlines, another documentary is at the center of this debate. In August, Robert Greenwald will release an updated version of his award-winning film, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. Greenwald has added a clip of President George W. Bush's February interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, NBC's Sunday morning talk show. In the clip, the president defends his decision to go to war - astonishingly unconvincingly.Good for Greenwald, right? Well, if the point was just what was intimated above, we'd be limiting ourselves to a straight argument on copyright laws, and their possible abuse by major media corporations, but Lawrence Lessig goes on to point to an even more interesting point:
Greenwald asked NBC for permission to run the one-minute clip - offering to pay for the right, as he had done for every other clip that appears in the film. NBC said no. The network explained to his agent that the clip is 'not very flattering to the president.' Greenwald included it anyway.
Greenwald asked NBC for permission to run the one-minute clip - offering to pay for the right, as he had done for every other clip that appears in the film. NBC said no. The network explained to his agent that the clip is "not very flattering to the president." Greenwald included it anyway."
NBC insists it is remaining "neutral" by denying others use of the interview. But there's nothing neutral about restricting either critics or supporters from repeating the president's words. But the issue here isn't really NBC's motive. It is the president's. Why would any president allow a network to copyright his message? No self-respecting president would speak at a club that excluded women: Whatever rights a private organization may enjoy, a president stands for equality. So why did the current leader of the free world, who rarely holds press conferences, agree to speak on a talk show that refuses to license on a neutral basis the content he contributed? Is vigorous debate over matters as important as going to war less important than protecting his image?In fact, this point is far more interesting, and I will argue important to what it really means to live in a representative democracy. My president, while in office, can in affect sell his speech? It never occurred to me, though I guess I should have expected it. This is an administration that does nothing, if not try to hide behind a veil of secrecy, and prevent itself from being held accountable to the people.