Fact Check

Michael Moore Called Chris Kyle a Coward?

Rumor: Filmmaker Michael Moore called 'American Sniper' subject Chris Kyle a coward.

Published Jan 19, 2015

Claim:   Filmmaker Michael Moore called American Sniper subject Chris Kyle a coward.


TRUE: Michael Moore sent tweets criticizing the role of snipers in war.
FALSE: Michael Moore criticized the film American Sniper or its subject, Chris Kyle, directly.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2015]

This is going around Facebook. As the movie American Sniper broke box office records this weekend, ultra-liberal movie maker Michael Moore called the real life Navy SEAL who the movie is about a "coward." Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle was an American hero who helped protect the nation Mr. Moore lives in. Moore is an IDIOT!


Origins:   On 16 January 2015 a film titled American Sniper (based on the American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was shot and killed on 2 February 2013 at a Texas shooting range) was released in American theaters. On 18 January 2015, filmmaker Michael Moore voiced his views about snipers across two tweets which stated:

The confluence of Moore's tweets and the film's release suggested Moore was stating his opinion in response to fanfare surrounding American Sniper, and the sentiment expressed by the controversial documentarian was not well received. Industry publications including Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter published articles that suggested (at least initially) Moore had directly addressed the film, its contents, and Chris Kyle in his tweets.

On 19 January 2015, Moore issued a clarification on his Facebook page about the tweets and his opinion of the film American Sniper:

Lots of talk about snipers this weekend (the holiday weekend of a great man, killed by a sniper), so I thought I'd weigh in with what I was raised to believe about snipers. My dad was in the First Marine Division in the South Pacific in World War II. His brother, my uncle, Lawrence Moore, was an Army paratrooper and was killed by a Japanese sniper 70 years ago next month. My dad always said, "Snipers are cowards. They don't believe in a fair fight. Like someone coming up from behind you and coldcocking you. Just isn't right. It's cowardly to shoot a person in the back. Only a coward will shoot someone who can't shoot back."

But Deadline Hollwood and the Hollywood Reporter turned that into stories about how I don't like Clint Eastwood's new film, "American Sniper." I didn't say a word about "American Sniper" in my tweets.

Moore linked to the articles mentioned above, noting that the Hollywood Reporter issued a correction to its original content:

If they wanted to know my opinion of "American Sniper" (and I have one), why not ask me?

So here's what I think about "American Sniper":

Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper. One of the best of the year. Great editing. Costumes, hair, makeup superb!

Oh ... and too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling. And that he has his characters calling Iraqis "savages" throughout the film. But there is also anti-war sentiment expressed in the movie. And there's a touching ending as the main character is remembered after being gunned down by a fellow American vet with PTSD who was given a gun at a gun range back home in Texas — and then used it to kill the man who called himself the 'America Sniper'.

Also, best movie trailer and TV ads of the year.

Most of us were taught the story of Jesse James and that the scoundrel wasn't James (who was a criminal who killed people) but rather the sniper who shot him in the back. I think most Americans don't think snipers are heroes.

Hopefully not on this weekend when we remember that man in Memphis, Tennessee, who was killed by a sniper's bullet.

(Actually, outlaw Jesse James was not killed by a sniper, by rather by a confederate who shot him in the back of the head indoors and at close range in order to claim a reward.)

Another widespread rumor about Chris Kyle holds that President Obama did not even mention his death but ordered flags flown at half-staff for singer Whitney Houston.

Last updated:   19 January 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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