HBO's 'Game Change' Idolizes Failed Backstabbing McCain-Palin Advisers

Now that HBO's Sarah Palin-bashing film "Game Change" has premiered, it is fascinating to note that its two heroes are the very advisers who not only were responsible for the worst presidential campaign in decades, but also ended up backstabbing the candidates they represented.

As John Podhoretz wrote at the Weekly Standard:

[McCain-Palin senior adviser Nicolle] Wallace is the movie’s heroine. She is the voice of reason, the increasingly alarmed witness to the evil McCain has perpetrated by foisting Palin upon the world. It is through Wallace’s interactions with the vice-presidential candidate that we see confirmed every bad thing anyone has ever said about Palin (save that she is not the mother of Trig—it steers clear of that Sullivanian filth). Wallace (played by Sarah Paulson) delivers screenwriter Danny Strong’s inadvertently hilarious Blue State zinger when, dripping with righteous scorn during a confrontation with Palin, she says with disbelief, “Yeah, you’re just like Hillary.”

This happened near the end of the film after Palin's infamous interview with former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric.

As Podhoretz accurately noted, it was Wallace that set up this interview, and who should have been excoriated given the results.

Instead, the film depicted this as being all Palin's fault, with her left afterward in an on-screen tantrum that concluded with the former Alaska governor throwing her cellphone at a wall.

Such disparagement was standard fare in HBO's "Game Change," which despite book co-author Mark Halperin's claim Palin critics would come away with a more favorable view of the object of their disaffection, this would only be true if you turned off your television after the first hour.

Hour two was filled with the typical Palin-bashing Americans have been exposed to since McCain named her as his running mate in August 2008.

In one scene, Julianne Moore as Palin doesn't know that the Queen of England has nothing to do with actually governing her country.

Is this what Halperin thought would raise America's appreciation for the GOP's first female vice presidential nominee? Maybe he got that little absurdity from Wallace who's had terrible things to say about the former Alaska governor since Election Day 2008.

As NewsBusters reported, Wallace told the Morning Joe crew in December 2010 that Palin had "troubling deficiencies." "Heaven forbid" her becoming "the leader of the free world."

This was nothing new for Wallace who seems to frequent MSNBC to smear the candidate she used to work for.

And she's just one of the heroes of HBO's "Game Change." As Podhoretz noted, there was another:


Wallace’s deeply principled revulsion is mirrored by that of Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), the McCain campaign chief whose initial excitement at Palin’s political skills and smarts is fast superseded by his awareness of her religious fanaticism (Schmidt gets a horrified look on his face when she says she sees the hand of God at work) and her ignorance.

Yes, if ever you wanted circumstantial evidence that the sources within the McCain campaign who spent October 2008 dumping on Palin anonymously might have included Wallace and Schmidt, you need look no further than HBO’s Game Change. The movie presents a moral case for the disreputable conduct of aides who, we can presume, fearlessly drop dirty dimes anonymously to save their own standing in the liberal culture from which they desperately wish not to be excluded.

As NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's Chris Matthews this weekend said Harrelson's performance as Schmidt was "the role of the century."

It appears that for a Republican to be held in high esteem by the liberal media, all he or she need do is run a failed presidential campaign - McCain-Palin suffered the biggest landslide since Michael Dukakis in 1988 - and then backstab the candidates you represented.

This strategy worked nicely for Wallace who in 2010 published the best-selling political thriller "Eighteen Acres" which many believe took additional shots at Palin.

As for Schmidt, he's now a regular MSNBC contributor.

Unlike crime, it seems failure and backstabbing do pay, and are enviable qualities for Republicans looking to curry favor with America's media.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.