Film Journalist and Critic, Anthony Kaufman, interviewed “The Undefeated” producer, Steve Bannon, earlier this week in a piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Kaufman focused his questions on Bannon’s background, filmmaking influences, and what Kaufman perceived to be omission in the film. Following this article, Kaufman wrote a post at the film blog, Indiewire, expounding on the aforementioned perceived omissions and doubling down on his ignorance with an attack on Sonnie Johnson, who appeared in the film.
One of Kaufman’s complaints in his blog piece has to do with the amount of policy discussed in the film:
It’s this litany of accomplishments that really bogs the film down, and Bannon admits that he’s taking a risk with a 45-minute second act that is essentially about economic issues and energy policy. Not exactly exciting stuff.
Well, gee, Anthony. What were you expecting? A teen comedy where Governor Palin stars alongside Lindsey Lohan or perhaps a sitcom where she play opposite Alec Baldwin? Governor Palin is not Tina Fey. She is an accomplished, intelligent leader who set Alaska on solid economic footing and sought to optimize the development of Alaska’s vast natural resources. This is what Bannon focused on. This is the Sarah Palin that much of America does not yet know.
Kaufman takes issue with some perceived omissions in the film and builds a few strawmen in the process tying into his complaints about the accomplishments the film focuses on. He writes:
If you do some digging, any number of questions could also be leveled against Palin’s “accomplishments” and “meteoric rise” as a small-town mayor and governor of Alaska. I won’t bore you with all the details—although the film does—but suffice it to say that the movie, unsurprisingly, doesn’t tell the whole story about the Matanuska Diary (sic) or the Alaska Pipeline Project. It’s not hard to find out more; just check out the Wikipedia entry on the ‘governorship of Sarah Palin.’
In his WSJ interview with Steve Bannon, Kaufman asked questions about the dairy and the pipeline project as shown below:
I realize you need to make choices as a documentary filmmaker. But I also wanted to ask you about the MatMaid dairy privatization, which is used in the film to show how she turned around the state. But there’s some crucial information left out. Like she initially wanted it to stay open, and gave it $600,000 to keep it open. That seemed a little misleading.
I guess that also explains why there’s no mention that the Alaska Pipeline Project is now an ExxonMobil project, not just TransCanada.
One of the things Bannon highlights in the film is how Governor Palin privatized an Alaskan dairy that had been government owned for many years. In spite of what he claims, Governor Palin did not want the dairy to remain open, as shown by the Palin emails the mainstream media poured over looking for non-existent skeletons. This email from Governor Palin shows that she indeed did want to privatize the dairy (emphasis mine):
Dairy farmers were told their last day to deliver milk is June 27th. The state just broke its word again if we were to roll over for the board ‘ s ridiculous vote to shut it down without proper notice…Farmers will be dumping their milk in the parking lot of DNR if we don’t step in and show the leadership they’re craving and deserving.
We need to regroup and get good business minds in there to figure out close – out plan in next yr or so, or re -vitalization plan for Ag.
Kaufman’s other claim that the Palin administration devoted funding to keeping the dairy open is false as well, as an email from one of Governor Palin’s staff states that those funds were to help with the “transition” from the dairy being government to privately owned, not to keep it publicly owned.
Next, Kaufman builds a pipeline strawman. Questioning Bannon on why he did not include ExxonMobil’s role in the pipeline as if Bannon was trying to cover up some scandal. I had the opportunity to view a rough cut of the film, and Bannon largely focused on her policy accomplishments prior to her selection as Senator McCain’s running mate. Had he included more about Governor Palin’s frugal budgeting, rejection of stimulus dollars, or ExxonMobil coming on board the pipeline project in June of 2009 that occurred following her return after the 2008 campaign, Kaufman would have been even more “bored” by how accomplished Governor Palin is. If he really wants to know, ExxonMobil joined on the project in June of 2009. The first open season for suppliers to bid was last summer and included “several major players”, and the most recent project update from April of this year shows that the number of Alaskan jobs provided by the project is up 46% and the number of providers involved is up 21% since the previous report in October of 2010. Thanks for asking! Oh, and that Wikipedia link Kaufman provides confirms much of what I shared.
Kaufman also takes issue with the fact that Troopergate (or tasergate) was not mentioned in the film, nor did the film show any evidence in the film that the attacks on Governor Palin came from the Obama or his team. Let’s take a look at that. When the legislative inquiry into the tasergate situation (accusations made that Governor Palin pressured one of her commissioners to fire a state trooper who was once married to her sister) was launched by then state senator Kim Elton, it was purported to be an “October surprise” (i.e. it was political). During the inquiry process, the Obama camp made contact with the troopers’ union of Governor Palin’s former brother-in-law. Ultimately, the legislative inquiry found her as abusing power, while the personnel board, who were all appointed by Governor Murkowski, no friend of Governor Palin, exonerated her. Following President Obama’s election, Kim Elton was given a cushy job in the Interior department. It should also be noted that Elton also allowed former chief of staff to then Senator Obama and once interim chief of staff to President Obama, Pete Rouse, to use Elton’s Alaskan address so that Rouse could vote in Alaska even after he hadn’t lived there for more than twenty years. Regarding the numerous attacks following Governor Palin’s return following the campaign, a good number of those were levied by Linda Kellen Biegel (aka Celtic Diva) who was Alaska’s official DNC blogger during the 2008 campaign. Does the Obama team seem to have a role in all of this based upon these facts?
Kaufman’s most absurd observation comes in an attack on Sonnie Johnson, who appeared in the film. Just as Adrienne recently highlighted, some individuals live in willful ignorance of the fact that people of every race support Governor Palin. Kaufman writes:
For me, the most shocking moment in “The Undefeated,” however, comes with the appearance of a black person about two-thirds of the way through. I’m not sure if it’s what Bannon had in mind when he wanted to seize the audience’s attention, but the arrival of black conservative female activist Sonnie Johnson made me realize just how white everyone appears to be, in both Palin’s Alaska and Bannon’s Tea Party.
I’ll allow Ms. Johnson to respond to this absurd and ignorant charge herself:
I was able to meet Gov. Palin in Pella, IA for the premiere of “The Undefeated”. One of the first things she said to me was, “are you ready for all the hate that will come your way for being associated with me”. I told her, “I’ve got Palin in my blood”. I wish you would’ve known that little fact before you would downgrade me to the token black in your limited view of the Tea Party. I am no one’s token. Nor am I a punchline of what you think is a bad joke. If seeing me in the film was such a shock to your cerebral, then why didn’t you grow a sack and interview me yourself? Or is Breitbart right and your lack of a set is shown in your need to hide behind a blogpost. Are you a Enuch? (sic) …
If you want to know how Black I am, I dare you interview me yourself. Just tell me when and where. I’ll come to you. It would be my pleasure. Until then be grateful that, temporarily, you still have Obamacare. If my appearance was a shock to you, then just wait until our voices are really heard.
Kaufman may seem himself credentialed, as a film journalist and critic, to make ignorant projections at black conservatives or to claim scandal or incomplete fact when the facts are there. However, to quote another black conservative, Thomas Sowell, “credentialed ignorance is still ignorance”.