HBO’s “Game Change” Facts Debunked, And The Numbers Are In

March 14, 2012 by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

One would have to be living in a cave to not have known about HBO’s recent depiction of Governor Palin in their movie, “Game Change.” The movie was based on two chapters in a book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin of the same name. Tom Hanks, of all people, produced this hit piece on the former governor. To say I have lost all respect for the man is an understatement.

And then there was Julianne Moore on The Ellen Show claiming that the incidents had been fact checked in a major way. I’m sorry, but if Sarah Palin was truly alone and in a fetal position, WHO would have known that? Never mind that it is a crock of hooey, but really – the license taken with the “facts” of  a movie that is a “docudrama,” but being treated like a documentary, is just startling. But there you have it.

HBO is just GLEEFUL at the numbers they got on viewership of this movie: 2.12s million viewers, according to this Washington Post article (h/t Crawdad Hole). Wowie zowie. Let me do some math here – the average attendance of the NY Yankees games in 2011 was 45, 441.  The viewership for this “docudrama” was less than the total attendance of 50 NY Yankees games.

But there is more from this WaPo article:

To put the audience in perspective, that’s slightly fewer people than sat down the next afternoon at 2 to watch a rerun episode of History’s “Pawn Stars” (2.129 million viewers).

Over the course of the weekend, multiple telecasts of “Game Change” — which chronicles the decision of Republican Sen. John McCain’s campaign to campaign with the little-known Alaskan governor as his presidential running mate — averaged a cumulative 3.6 million viewers. That’s slightly more than half the number of people who watched an original episode of History’s “Pawn Stars” last Monday night at 10.(Click here to read the rest.)

To further put this in perspective, even after “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” LOST viewers, it still had more than this movie. By a lot, I might add.

But here’s the thing that really must be said about this movie: it did not reflect the person Sarah Palin was, or is, according to those aides who worked closest with her. For space alone, I cannot include all of this article, “More ‘Game Change’ Fallout: ‘Staffers Talk Just To Save Their Asses,’” and I highly recommend you read the entire article. Suffice it to say, those who really DID work closely with her, to a person, say this movie does not reflect the woman they know at all. What is more, they TOLD the writer of the movie, Danny Strong, all of this, and he chose to ignore it. Who did the writer Strong  choose to listen to? A man named Steve Schmidt, a “bully,” according to the article:

Well, now we know who one of those bomb-throwing cowards is, Steve Schmidt, who HBO portrays as the calm, cool, reasonable hero of the film. In real life, however, it’s no secret that he was the “super-genius” behind (“Schmidt pushed for going all in“) the moment polls prove really lost the 2008 election; when Senator McCain foolishly decided to suspend his campaign and run back to DC to save the economy. Yes, it was Steve Schmidt who “pushed” to have McCain charge off on a white horse without having any idea as to where he was charging off to. McCain went to DC without a plan, looked feckless and reckless, and never recovered. “Game Change” blames the campaign’s loss on Palin, but that’s a total and complete fabrication.

Wow. What a surprise. A man described as a “bully,” “a screamer,” and “foul mouthed” is engaging in massive CYA, and Hollywood is all too ready to buy his BS, despite the numerous other reports from people who spent far more time with the governor. That sounds about right. Except that it is very wrong, according to those truly in the know:

“There are inaccuracies. Julianne Moore as Sarah saying she won’t stand on the stage with anyone who was pro-choice? Please. I was on Sarah’s plane. Small plane. No first-class section or anything. I’d written the women’s rights speech the night before but couldn’t be with her or give it directly to her because, although she was in the next hotel room in Reno, it had first to be faxed to McCain’s people in DC before she even saw it.

“I was paid $50,000 a month to teach her women’s rights and craft the speech. She has a photographic memory. …

“This 30-minute Henderson, Nev., talk she scanned. It was on YouTube. And that stage held pro-choice women. Sarah carried the whole operation. No venue could hold the crowds — 10,000 trying to get into a stadium for 3,000 people.”

Just out of curiosity, who here knew that Gov. Palin has a photographic memory? Anyone?  The percentage of people who have a photographic (or “eidetic,” as it is officially called) is very low, especially in adults.

To the point Moore made, anyone who knows anything at all about Gov. Palin knows that is blatantly false from the get-go. Palin is pro-contraception and thinks the -Morning After pill should be legal, something she stated to Katie Couric in that infamous interview.

But wait, there’s more refutation to this hit job by Hanks and Company by those who actually do know the Governor, like Meg Stapleton:

In 2008 I served as senior advisor and spokesperson to the McCain/Palin campaign and I remain in that position through my tenure with SarahPAC.


He (Schmidt) is abusive.  He is abrasive and he is nothing short of a world class bully and his threats are just—they’re a mile long and deep.


I have known Governor Palin longer than anyone here—certainly longer than anyone in the campaign.  We worked closely together for a number of years and during Governor Palin’s most stressful time, in her professional life and her personal life, whether it was creating an infrastructure for a natural gas pipeline, pushing oil and gas companies to their limits, scrutiny over the entrance to a national campaign overnight, the campaign itself, the debate, a book deal, numerous entertainment offers, a resignation of writing the book, we worked closely together.  Working together, sometimes living together, living with her family and hers with mine—never before, during or after that campaign, never, ever, did I see the kind of behavior described at the end of the 2008 election, in the Game Change book, or what we have seen, read, or heard about in this movie.  Like all the others, I’ve not been granted access to it and nobody with the book and nobody with the movie contacted me either.

Oh, come on – what could she possibly know of the Governor, having lived with her and all? Sheesh! Ahem.

And Ms. Stapleton, along with the others, make an important point: none of them, including Palin, were allowed – ALLOWED – to see the movie before it aired. That, to me, is telling in and of itself.

As for the depiction of Gov. Palin as being despondent, ending up in a fetal position on the floor, her attorney, Tom Van Fein, had something to say about that, too:

I was Governor Palin’s attorney from August, 2008 through December, 2010.  I was directly involved in certain campaign issues, most critically what’s been referred to as Trooper-Gate.

Because of that, I had had regular and sustained daily contact with Governor Palin during the 2008 campaign.  I traveled on the plane with her, sat next to her at times, and I worked for hours with her.  We reviewed thousands of pages of documents in preparing for her deposition and in dealing with the accusations that were then being made and the person that I worked with and the person that I represented was very focused, diligent, and sharp.  She was motivated and enthusiastic about the campaign and enthusiastic and motivated to exonerate herself, which she did, from the false allegations that Mr. Wooten.

What you saw from her publicly at rallies and at other public events is essentially what you saw privately, if you got a chance to spend time with her privately the way we did.  She was engaged, optimistic, mastering the events and the facts of the day and all of my interactions with her, she showed leadership and resolve and was very much engaged in the entire process in a very optimistic manner exactly as you saw at the rallies and elsewhere. (Emphasis mine.)

So to the extent—and I have not seen the movie obviously or read the book, but to the extent there are any allegations that somehow behind the scenes she was not cogent or depressed or somehow lethargic or not responsive, I can categorically say that that’s false and whoever said that made that up entirely.

That is all to say, the people who know her, really know her, who walked through the 2008 campaign with her, have a VASTLY different opinion of her than this hatchet job movie takes. Only those who have already been told they should hate Palin buy any of this BS. Those of us who didn’t buy into the rumors know better (and my all-time favorite rumor was that she banned the book, “Harry Potter,” while mayor of Wasilla. Just one little problem with that – it hadn’t been written yet. Oops.) Again, there is so much more to this article, and I hope you read all of it, including the reflections by others who actually  worked with her on the campaign.

Bottom line, this HBO production was nothing more than a hatchet job on a former opponent of VP-candidate Joe Biden. Oh, I mean, Barack Obama. (You know, I am still trying to figure out why Obama always went after the VP candidate when running for president, and why he is STILL going after her in another ad that just came out recently. Really does make one wonder.) It is a shame that some folks are still so determined to tear down this competent, successful woman, who achieved one of only 50 positions in the entire country, who did great work for her citizens, enjoyed an extremely high approval rate, and was/is most definitely not the dunce she has been portrayed as being.

When will we, as a nation, not feel the need to demean and tear down strong, successful, charismatic women? For that matter, when will WOMEN feel the need to stop tearing down other women? For now, sadly,  it seems that day is too far off…

Filed Under: Opportunity