The Reccurring Omission of ‘Game Change’ Defenders

I have been witnessing a trend with those in the media who are defending HBO’s movie, ‘Game Change.’ They keep repeating the same line about Governor Palin’s aides, the ones who stood up for her last week to correct the record, not seeing the film yet. Therefore insisting that these people simply cannot speak on the matter. Never mind the fact that anybody can see from the trailers what this movie is trying to imply, it’s funny that these film critics would use this line to defend the movie. Especially when you consider that HBO spoon-fed it to them in a letter that accompanied their copies of the film to screen. Via Politico:

In a letter to news editors that accompanied “Game Change” screeners, HBO’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Communications, Quentin Schaffer, writes:

“There has been some noise about the film … Much of it has come from several Palin aides trying to discredit it even though they haven’t yet seen it.

As Adrienne noted in this fine take-down of Rachel Weiner, “The Fix” writer used the line, and so did David Zurwik from the Baltimore Sun. I’m sure there will be more, if there isn’t already. HBO sent it to everyone and considering they’re all on the same team, it stands to reason.

The same writers in the media who repeat HBO’s talking point regarding Governor Palin’s aides not seeing the entire movie completely omit from their analysis the fact that some of these people asked HBO to screen the film but were denied. Why didn’t HBO address this in their letter since their statement was meant to address the comments made by these aides?

John Nolte took HBO to task again for their latest attempt to save face. He writes:

Before we get to HBO’s latest lame defense, here’s what the network (and Politico) won’t tell you…

Below are the names of eight people who have gone on the record to declare the book “Game Change” a falsehood, and what they’ve seen of the film (HBO refuses to screen it for them — but never mentions that in the statement) is just as false:

1. Governor Palin, who detailed life on the campaign trail in her autobiography “Going Rogue.” (In an obvious attempt at a publicity stunt, HBO did offer to screen the film for the Governor but, for some creepy reason, only at her home.)

2. Meg Stapleton, the Governor’s former spokeswoman.

3. Jason Recher, who handled vice presidential road operations for the McCain-Palin campaign and was with the governor during nearly every waking moment of the campaign.

4. Tim Crawford, Treasurer of Governor Palin’s PAC.

5. Randy Scheunemann, foreign policy adviser who advised Palin during the ‘08 campaign and who vigorously disputes the book and film’s portrayal of her as anything other than engaged and informed on foreign policy matters.

6. Thomas Van Flein, the Governor’s former lawyer, who was in almost daily contact with Palin during the ‘08 campaign.

7 and 8. Aides Doug McMarlin and Andy Davis.

That’s EIGHT people declaring on the record that it’s all a load of bull.

Here’s all HBO has:

1. Steve Schmidt, a top adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign who only now has come out as one of the book’s “background sources.” This was the genius who suggested McCain suspend his campaign during the financial crisis which, as we all know, is one of the main reasons for the loss. Furthermore, even before the campaign ended, both Schmidt and Nicholle Wallace were openly suspected of leaking lies meant to embarrass the Governor and blame her for their mistakes. Today, both are considered pretty toxic in party circles.

2.Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s, the authors of “Game Change” who never spent a moment with Palin during the campaign.

3. An untold number of background sources (Schmidt? Wallace?). The book is about 450 pages long and somewhere around 10 percent of it is about Sarah Palin, and yet….

There is not a single on-the-record source with respect to anything written about her. Not one.


Both HBO and the authors had the choice of choosing between telling the story told by those willing to stake their reputations and word on the record, or those who chose to throw rocks while cowering behind a cloak of anonymity. And we all know which way they chose to go.

So here’s the latest from HBO’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Communications, Quentin Schaffer:

“There has been some noise about the film … Much of it has come from several Palin aides trying to discredit it even though they haven’t yet seen it. HBO has a long track record of producing fact-based dramas, going to great lengths to get the story right. I want you to know about the efforts taken on this film.

That’s because HBO is afraid to let them see it. What the Palin aides are disputing is both the book and what they have seen of the film in the form of the trailer and other snippets that have been released.

If the 90 seconds or so that these aides have seen are filled with falsehoods, what will the entire film look like?

If the book upon which the film is based is all falsehoods, what will the film look like?

“It is based on the acclaimed book by well-respected veteran political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, both of whom served as consultants, checking every draft of the script to ensure its historical accuracy and thoroughness. When their book came out in 2010, it went unchallenged and unrefuted by the Palin camp. The script for Game Change was written by Danny Strong who also wrote the HBO Film Recount which was praised by both sides for its accurate portraits.

First off, Halperin and Heilemann weren’t with Governor Palin during a single moment of the campaign, and they are CHOOSING to rely on sources who refuse to go on the record as opposed to those willing to go on the record.

What does that tell you?

Secondly, to say that the book went unchallenged is provably false. Governor Palin

“In the process of writing Game Change, Strong spoke to 25 people intimately involved in the campaign, including the most senior advisors. He also reached out to Governor Palin and Senator McCain who declined to talk to him. They were also offered a chance to see the finished film but again declined. Secondary sources included Palin’s own memoir ‘Going Rogue,’ a beat-by-beat account of how she felt throughout the race, as well as other books on the campaign and many newspaper and magazine articles.

Who are these 25 people? Are they willing to go on the record? Because the eight people who are on the record have only seen about 90 seconds of the film and that was enough for them to cry foul.

More and more it is becoming glaringly obvious that what HBO and the book’s authors did was to CHOOSE who they were going to listen to based on what they wanted to hear.

In another eye-opening piece, Big Hollywood writer Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, does some more digging into the political donations of HBO management. He turns up some pretty predictable information. You can check it out here.

This whole thing boils down to credibility. The people who spoke in defense of Governor Palin last week consisted of both current and former aides. Objectively speaking, it’s safe to say that her former aides had nothing to gain or lose by speaking in her defense. They spoke for the sake of the truth and if you read Meg Stapleton’s words, with much conviction. These are people who dealt with Governor Palin for long stretches of time, on a close, personal basis. They have credibility. The two jokers on this video, don’t. Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace said one thing to cameras and something different to leftist authors behind the scenes, once they knew they weren’t going to win. They certainly had something to gain by trashing Governor Palin. That being her as their scapegoat for a failed campaign.

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