The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.
On March 10th, cable network HBO is scheduled to air their movie, “Game Change”— a hit piece in cinematic form taking aim at Governor Sarah Palin’s run for Vice President in 2008. This film becomes yet another avenue by which the network disparages women—specifically Sarah Palin in this case. After all, it this is the network which still gives so called comedian Bill Maher the platform to denigrate women– from Hillary Clinton to Michele Bachmann to Sarah Palin (and her daughter Bristol).
The movie is based upon the book of the same name which was written by political journalists John Heillman and Mark Halperin and was published in January of 2010. The book itself focuses on the totality of the 2008 presidential race including the both parties’ primaries and the general election. However, the book, and its anonymous sources, seemed to take particular aim at some of the women in the campaign, including Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin. Joanne Bamberger at the Huffington Post called the book “sexism at its worst” and noted that the book is a cross between “political commentary and US Weekly,” also stating:
Game Change isn’t journalism; it is gossip-mongering at its worst. Why do I say that? Well, essentially the whole book was written on “deep background” — meaning that none of the sources would agree to be directly quoted and the authors would preserve the anonymity of the sources. No one is accountable for what they said. The sources could say or make up whatever they wanted. Campaign staffers who were miffed or bruised over their treatment could vent about anyone with abandon and not suffer any backlash.
The New York Times also noted the book’s sexism by stating that the book was a “mean spirited (and possibly sexist) farce.” The Times’ review of the book notes that the authors describe Hillary Clinton as “bitter,” Sarah Palin as “mentally unstable,” and Elizabeth Edwards as “condescending crazy woman.” With Game Change, the objectivity supposedly required journalism has become nothing but anonymous sexist subjectivity. When the book hits the screen, however, its hackery reaches a whole new level.
The book is twenty three chapters in length, and only two of the chapters (40 pages) include Sarah Palin’s time in the campaign, yet this was sufficient for HBO to shape a whole movie around. Why? The movie will air on March 10th, shortly after “Super Tuesday” when a number of GOP presidential primaries will be held. Sarah Palin was long anticipated to be one of the GOP 2012 presidential contenders, but opted not to run this election, and those involved in the film—from the director to the supporting actors—have donated generously to Democratic candidates. When a sexist book is turned into a movie by a network known for promoting denigration of women, what can one anticipate when the movie is produced, directed and performed by those with a less-than-objective point of view? This is a brief snippet of what you can expect:
The above trailer of the film has already been panned by Palin’s allies. Former Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton notes, “looking at the trailers alone, get’s my blood boiling.” Stapleton also called the image in the trailer where Palin, portrayed by Julianne Moore, is in the fetal position surrounded by notecards “sinful.” The Treasurer of Sarah Palin’s political action committee says that the film “distorted, twisted, and invented facts to create a false narrative to attract viewers,” and her PAC offers this collection of photos from the campaign noting those photos depict the “game change that really happened.” Current Palin adviser Jason Recher, who was also part of the McCain campaign staff, also notes that the “’Game Change’ trailer doesn’t reflect anything that I recall.” Recher also notes that although the film’s writer promised him a copy of the script when he questioned the purported “facts” in the trailer, the writer did not fulfill his promise.
Although the book does not name sources, former McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt has essentially come forward as one of the sources for both the book at the film. The movie portrays Palin as unaware that the Prime Minister, not the Queen, was in charge of the British troops in the Iraq War, a false tidbit apparently spewed by Schmidt, which only appears in the film not in the book. This charge, of course, is laughable at face value, but is easily disproven by video from one of Palin’s first interviews during the campaign where she expressed her admiration for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“Game Change” proves to be yet programming attack against women for HBO. It is billed as a “docudrama,” but proves only to be an anonymously sourced and false attack on an intelligent, successful woman. Thankfully, cable viewers may have a positive alternative. Airing on the Reelz channel, just a day after “Game Change”, is the documentary “The Undefeated” which chronicles Governor Palin’s political career from a successful mayor to formidable leader in the conservative movement. You can read a review of the film from The New Agenda’s very own Amy Siskind here. Instead of watching HBO’s “Game Change”, how about a channel change?