HBO Defends 'Game Change'… Again; And Here's What HBO Is Afraid To Tell You

HBO Defends 'Game Change'… Again; And Here's What HBO Is Afraid To Tell You

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.

Give HBO a little credit, though. At least, this time, they’re not trying to convince us that the politically-timed release date of what they had hoped would be an in-kind contribution to Barack Obama was just some sort of uncanny coincidence.


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