London: US officials panicked on hearing a rumour that a New Zealand cabinet minister was hosting the screening of documentary maker Michael Moore`s film "Fahrenheit 9/11" and they termed it a "potential fiasco", reveals a US cable that was put out by WikiLeaks.
The classified cable from the US embassy in Wellington in 2003 reports a string of calls to the New Zealand Prime Minister`s office and to the minister involved, Marian Hobbs, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is Michael Moore`s view on what happened to the US after September 11, and how the Bush administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Michael Moore said the New Zealand cable showed the unsettling reach of US’ influence.
"If they were micromanaging me that much, if they were that concerned about the truth in `Fahrenheit 9/11` that they have to go after a screening in a place I don`t even really know where it is - I know it`s way too long to sit in coach for me - I want to know. Because I think it speaks to a larger issue: if they have the time for that, what else are these guys up to?", Moore was quoted as saying.
While US officials were going into a tizzy, the media report said that New Zealand government was not concerned in the slightest and it can be seen in the puzzled responses recorded by the US deputy chief of mission, David Burnett, to his protests.
Giving a blow-by-blow account, the cable shows that Burnett contacted the prime minister`s office, only to be informed that they knew nothing about a screening.
He then called Hobbs - and was rebuffed by a receptionist.
Burnett wrote: "The minister`s office declined to make her available to discuss the matter."
Hobbs`s staff later informed the US embassy that the minister was only attending the screening, which was part of a series of Labour party fundraisers in her constituency.
While the cable saw it as a "potential fiasco", New Zealand officials mentioned in the cable remember little about it.
Hobbs, who retired from politics two years back, told the daily that she did not recall the event that merited the intervention of a superpower.
She said: "To be honest I can`t remember anything about it at all."
"Possibly my staff didn`t tell me because they knew I wouldn`t take any notice."