Palin-Trashing HBO 'Game Change' Producer Tells PBS His Propaganda Films Are 'Historically Based'

Anyone who’s actually seen the cartoonish Sarah Palin as a mentally imbalanced fruitcake in the HBO movie “Game Change” would laugh (or throw their remote-control) at the sound of the movie’s Jay Roach appearing on the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday night. PBS assembled a panel of political-entertainment makers.
 
Anchor Jeffrey Brown asked Roach, “How do you fictionalize what you see, you said you see as a kind of [political] dysfunction?” Roach insisted his liberal-propaganda HBO movies were non-fictional:

JAY ROACH: Well, what drew me to the two HBO films, "Recount" and "Game Change," is that it wasn't fiction. It almost seemed like it was. It would be hard to write sort of more Shakespearean or sort of classic drama, kind of bit of conflicts between people.

But I just wanted to be in those rooms to see a little bit of what Beau was talking about, that people could come to these decisions, given all of the forces at play, you know, have someone like Sarah Palin, for example, in "Game Change," be chosen to be second in line for the presidency. It seemed like something you would want to figure out how that could happen.

In the case of [the Will Ferrell movie] "The Campaign," it's the whole other thing of just wanting to just sort of have some fun at the expense of the dysfunction. But -- and the other thing I liked about both "Game Change" and "Recount" as stories, given that they were real-life stories, is at the center of them were people who were trying to do better, and I felt were capable of inspiring people to at least see them as what they were going through as a cautionary tale, so they could see how much is at stake, even though they were just sort of flawed individuals responsible for making those decisions.

Here Roach is talking about Steve Schmidt feeling remorse for ever suggesting Sarah Palin to McCain – both in real life and in the HBO movie, with both recounting the “60 Minutes” interview in which Schmidt trashed Palin. Roach later doubled down on how non-fictional his movies were:

JEFFREY BROWN: And, Jay Roach, what is your answer to that question about the responsibility that you might feel in how you -- how -- I guess how close to the reality you get it?

JAY ROACH: Well, it's different when you are doing something like "Game Change," when you're actually trying to make a somewhat historically-based film. It says it is a true story. The audience expects a true story. And I think they can sense when you are faking it.

So, as a storyteller, I feel like I have a responsibility to just sort of deliver on something that is as true as it can possibly be to just get it right. And I don't feel necessarily responsible for inspiring people, but I certainly try to -- I don't know -- get back to a little bit of what I remember having when I watched "All the President's Men" or a film like that, or some of "The West Wing," where you actually see all of the dysfunction and see a light shone on ridiculous behavior, petty behavior, but in there somewhere is something that makes you want to work a little harder, maybe inspires other people to work a little harder.

PBS is too liberal to hold Roach accountable for his sleazy history-mangling films. In their film “Recount,” Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong (who just scripted “The Butler”) painted Al Gore's aides and lawyers in 2000 as heroes as they tried to change the Florida election results. Slant magazine reviewer Ed Gonzalez summed it up as "a screechy example of liberal Hollywood condescension," and "the film's flair for exaggeration is as flabbergasting as it is embarrassing."

He concluded: “Only interested in scoring cheap shots, Recount tells us that conservatives are bullies on a very fundamental level, but it's most effective at conveying the sense that Hollywood liberals are only interested in making movies that showcase how right they are—or, in this case, were. And though they were, that's no excuse for this movie's wholesale smugness.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis