Palin advisers condemn 'Game Change' movie
February 22nd, 2012
08:40 PM ET
11 years ago

Palin advisers condemn 'Game Change' movie

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) - In a rare show of public unity from a notoriously media-shy group, several current and former Sarah Palin advisers spoke out Wednesday about the upcoming HBO film "Game Change," which they said portrays the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee in a harsh and unfair light.

"It's false portrait cobbled together by a bunch of people who simply weren't there," said Jason Recher, a senior adviser to Palin during the 2008 race who was a fixture at the candidate's side during campaign, but does not appear in the film.

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Recher joined six other Palin loyalists in pushing back against the film, and the best-selling book that inspired it, on a conference call with reporters Wednesday evening.

None had been offered a chance to view the final cut of the movie, and they said they were making their assessments based largely on the "tone" of the two-minute trailer, which at times portrays Palin as moody, arrogant and unhinged.

The film, which stars Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, Ed Harris as John McCain and Woody Harrelson as top McCain adviser Steve Schmidt, will debut on HBO on March 10.

The group of current and former Palin advisers – Recher, Randy Scheunemann, Meg Stapleton, Andy Davis, Thomas Van Flein, Doug McMarlin and Tim Crawford - took questions from both political reporters and Hollywood entertainment writers.

They chiefly blamed Schmidt, a source for many of post-campaign stories following McCain's loss, for spreading falsehoods about Palin that became the basis for storylines in the book and film.

"Steve Schmidt is proud to stretch the truth in his shoot-first style, and this time he has gone too far," said former Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton. "He is abusive and abrasive and nothing short of a world class bully."

Recher said flight manifests from the campaign show that Schmidt only traveled with Palin four times during the campaign, while the authors of "Game Change," Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, were never on the campaign plane.

Contacted by CNN, Schmidt said that he has screened the movie and defended its accuracy.

"The movie accurately and truthfully captures the experience of the campaign," Schmidt said.

Two of the advisers, Recher and Scheunemann, said the film's screenwriter Danny Strong initially reached out to them while researching the campaign but did not consult with them on the script or film production.

Both said they discouraged Strong from using material from the book "Game Change," which they called a "fiction."

"If the book was very misleading, the movie was going to be way worse," said Scheunemann, who spoke to Halperin after the campaign and said he was ultimately disappointed with his book. "To call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name."

Scheunemann took specific issue with one scene that, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, depicts Palin struggling with basic facts about history and government during debate prep sessions.

Scheunemann, who briefed Palin numerous times during the campaign as a foreign policy adviser, called the scene "ridiculous" and said the movie is "deliberately misleading."

Strong defended his script and told CNN that he interviewed "almost all" of the staffers involved in the McCain-Palin campaign, though Palin herself declined an interview request.

He said Palin's defenders should wait to view the film in its "multi-dimensional" entirety before criticizing it.

Strong said the production team offered a private screening to Palin and her husband Todd - which they also declined.

"We stand by the film as being an accurate and fair portrayal of the events of the campaign," Strong said in an email to CNN. "The script is also based on 25 interviews I conducted with members of the actual campaign. Secondary sources include Sarah Palin's book 'Going Rogue', other books written on the campaign and innumerable newspaper and magazine articles."

Both McCain and Palin have brushed aside questions about the film.

"I'm really not too concerned about an HBO movie based on a false narrative when there are so many other things that we need to be talking about," Palin told Fox News Sunday last week.

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Filed under: 2008 Election • Sarah Palin
soundoff (464 Responses)
  1. Donald Stump


    February 23, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. USA#0

    This, in other words, would be strike two in Palin’s gloss on Paul, since by the account of Vanity Fair’s Michael Joseph Gross, one of her most common rebukes to staffers is “I have the power to ruin you.”

    She is so arrogant and she thinks she's royalty by that hand wave.

    February 23, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. Reggie from LA

    If THEY condemned it, I'm gonna pay to watch it...popcorn and all!

    February 23, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  4. just me

    Anybody ever stop to think that her being on the ticket with grandpa McCain is the reason Obama won, and yet SHE blames all of the world's woes on Obama being elected. Hmmmmmm.

    February 23, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. Larry in Houston

    @STACY – THANK YOU For Your Post !!!! I Agree !!

    ""I don't know about other liberals, but I get my opinion about conservatives from who else, conservatives! See, we libs are not like you FOX News fans who believe whatever the FOX News and conservative talk radio idiots tell you. If they tell you to hate Obama, guess what, you'll hate Obama. You conservatives believe what you're told to believe. I don't need anyone nor a movie to tell me about Sarah Palin and her incompetency. I saw and heard her for myself.""

    February 23, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |

    February 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  6. GetCounseling

    @A Moderate, dc, Alverant, and Stacey
    "And how do you get your opinion of liberals? You watch Fox, listen to Rush"
    No, I watch the 95% percent of movies, TV shows and news created by liberals on a daily basis.
    I have conversations with actual liberals on a daily basis. Most of them are decent hard working people who want what's best for our country but they are victims of being fed the same biased information from everything around them.
    I watch CNN, MSNBC and FOX most every day and make up my mind accordingly.

    Conservatives do not have the luxury of being able to immerse themselves in the overwhelming amount of biased views that liberals do unless they only tune in to one channel.

    BTW, I am pro-choice, pro gay marriage and pro legalization of pot, but that doesn't change what I said about liberals and the hard thing for you is you know damn well I'm right.

    February 23, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. shehzad

    The fact that they are so vehemently denying the factual correctness of this movie seems to show it is indeed based on facts.

    February 24, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. Investment Advisor

    Thankyou Sarah! Keep making drives the left nutts and makes us conservatives happy!

    February 24, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  9. vizzue

    luckjoe, the movie is about all candidates who ran for President & their running mates – Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, everyone.

    February 24, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  10. Investment Advisor

    Thankyou luckjoe....dems don't like to air their dirty leads to lockjaw.

    February 24, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. mark

    It is simply impossible to showthis woman in a good light. Maybe if she took her clothes off for Playboy?

    February 24, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I bet this movie will get more views than the one about Palin in theaters last year.

    February 24, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  13. Franny

    There must be some truth in this film for Palin to be so angered. I sure plan to watch this Palin film.

    February 24, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  14. Read a[nother] book

    Today's buzzword: "Artistic license".

    The "loyalists" saw only two minutes of film (possibly the two minutes designed to get the most eyeballs) and went berzerk. Wait to see the entire movie, please. On the other side of the coin, the anti-Palins here and in the real world will believe everything the movie portrays.

    Hasn't anyone seen that even movies based on true stories say "based on a true story"? It's called "artistic license". This is why both sides should take it with a grain of salt.

    February 24, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
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