Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. His Fahrenheit 9/11, a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush and the War on Terror, became the highest-grossing documentary of all time and won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Jon Wiener: Months before Election Day in 2016 you went on Bill Maher’s show and said Trump was going to carry Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. At the time that seemed ridiculous. These were blue states. I thought you were just trying to get people mobilized to work on the election. Then on election night, when they announced that Trump had carried Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the first thing I thought was “Michael Moore knew something that the pollsters and the Hillary campaign and all the networks did not know.” What was it that you knew?
Michael Moore: Well, I live in Michigan. I don’t live in the bubble of Los Angeles. I didn’t grow up in a city like New York where the media treated Donald Trump either as a joke or tabloid fodder, where many years ago they gave him an affectionate nickname: ‘The Donald.” They didn’t do their job, and he got to continue breaking the law, discriminating against black families in his housing units, treating women the way he treated them. I’m not of that world. I come from out in that flyover place. I also had the benefit of not really going to college. I used to feel really bad and ashamed about it. I only lasted for a year, and at a commuter campus. The whole college was in one building in Flint. So I wasn’t conditioned to think of things the way liberals and people on the left do. I live in that other world, where I watched The Apprentice. If we were able to ask everybody listening to this right now, “How many of you watched The Apprentice every week when Donald Trump was the host?” I’m guessing not many would say “I did.”
JW: I didn’t.
MM: Of course you didn’t. You don’t waste your time with crap like that. You went to college, and you’re an enlightened, educated person.
JW: Aw, shucks.
MM: That’s a good thing. That’s a compliment. But I didn’t grow up that way. I watched what the majority of my fellow Americans watch. But here was the beauty and the genius of The Apprentice, and I think this will help answer your question about how I knew what was going to happen on that election night. I’m not Cassandra. I’m not Carnac the Magnificent. I am not going to make other predictions in this interview with you.