“Fahrenheit 9-11” had broad political reach in 2004. Overall, 31% of adult Americans saw a political documentary last year and 16% read political books Michael Moore's documentary made a powerful contribution to American politics during last year's campaign. Overall, more than 60 million people said they saw a documentary film related to the campaign or candidates in 2004.
This level of exposure in the time of a campaign to a theatrically released motion picture about that campaign is unique. Rarely do voters in the digital age spend a long time paying close attention to a single message about an upcoming election. Most campaign messages today come in short forms: advertisements, sound bites, email postings, bumper stickers.
The year of the unprecedented attention to political documentaries also involved other kinds of long-form media. The survey showed that 16% of adult Americans said they read a book about current politics or national affairs. By comparison, 7% said they attended a campaign rally. And it should also be noted that 5% say they get political information from radio host Rush Limbaugh and 3% cited Howard Stern.
Read the full report Political Documentaries in 2004 on the Pew Internet & American Life Project Web site.