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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 17:03 GMT
Clooney hits out at 'traitor' tag
George Clooney at the announcement of the Oscar nominations
Good Night, And Good Luck has seen Clooney nominated for his screenplay
Actor George Clooney has attacked the press in the United States for describing him as a "traitor."

Clooney - known as a prominent critic of the Bush government - told the BBC that he had been "nailed" in the American media following his vocal opposition to ongoing conflict in Iraq.

He has previously claimed that one magazine even published a front cover of him with the word "traitor" across it.

The actor is currently in two Oscar-nominated films, Good Night, And Good Luck and Syriana, which both have a political message.

"I've been nailed in the American press as a traitor to my country because I said we should ask questions before we went to war," he told the BBC.

"But I never held a press conference saying 'this is what you should think'. I asked questions and said 'these are the questions that I believe I have the right to ask' - which is what our government was founded on."

Opposing voice

Clooney said that both of his new films were deliberately subtle and designed not to browbeat the audience with a message.

"I don't think getting up and screaming, and saying 'this is what you should think, this is what you should believe', ever works," he said.

Good Night, And Good Luck
Clooney stars in Good Night, And Good Luck as producer Fred Friendly

Syriana, based on the 2002 memoir of real-life CIA agent Robert Baer, focuses on US foreign policy and the oil industry, while Good Night, And Good Luck examines the McCarthy era through broadcaster Edward R Murrow.

Clooney said that it was important people understood the difference between attacking something and being set against it.

"Just because you go after Exxon, for instance, doesn't mean you think there shouldn't be oil companies," he stated.

"It just means you want to hold people responsible."

He argued that the American press "took a pass" on asking difficult questions about oil, adding that the New York Times had even apologised for doing so.

He also said that the three branches of the US government were "all on the same side" and therefore the idea of Syriana was to be an "opposing voice... to say, 'at the very least, you have to be allowed to ask tough questions'."


Meanwhile he claimed that there is a "wave" in America which claims McCarthy was right and is "trying to rewrite history," which is why Good Night, And Good Luck had been thoroughly researched.

"It was important - if we got any facts wrong, we'd be marginalised," he said.

"When you hear about Murrow talking about not confusing dissent with disloyalty, I thought that was important.

"Also, when he said we should succeed not only in the area of bombs but in the area of ideas. I thought those were also things to talk about."

He admitted, however, that both Syriana and Good Night, And Good Luck are not overly optimistic films, and that a lack of any real uplifting feeling can be depressing.

"At least in my country, the sense is that there is nothing we can do about it - it's all too big," he said.

"Can it depress the hell out of you? Yeah it can.

"But that's what Murrow talked about - the idea is not to insulate, delude and distract, but to shine a light on it and say 'at the very least, I want 25 years from now to be able to say that this is where we stood'."

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