"I was savaged by some papers after 'Fort Apache the Bronx,' said Newman. I was most offended by the New York Post," which he claims misrepresented events surrounding the location of filming of 'Fort Apache.' "But journalists and newspapers protect each other, like doctors do. They won't name the paper that did these things. They'll only say 'Mr. Newman has attacked at New York newspaper.'
"That's too bad, because if some papers are not accurate in their news stories, and report events that didn't occur, it damages the credibility of all papers, through guilt by association. It's unfortunate when responsible newspapers won't take the irresponsible ones to task. So I felt I'd like to do a picture about media abuse."
Though his feelings on the subject are clearly strong, Newman insists that "Absence of Malice" is not "an indictment" of the press. Rather, he maintains, "It's simply a cautionary tract that says, 'Look around.' Of course, I expect the chief violators will be most offended by the picture, because their arrogance is so great. But I wanted to call attention to the situation."
Ironically, the movie might have been more "cautionary" and more effective if it had gone about its own business more singlemindedly. "Absence of Malice" is an unusually thoughtful film, by current standards, requiring a fair amount of brain-power just to follow its convoluted plot, much less mediate on its meanings. But besides raising a few hackles and raking a bit of muck, it wants to be a glossy Hollywood entertainment, too. Inordinate time and energy are diverted into the love angle, which is goopy despite tasteful treatment by the filmmakers.