As I noted in the first two days of this series, after months of promotion HBO’s film on Sarah Palin and the 2008 campaign, Game Change, will air (finally) this weekend. Conservatives (including Palin, who has not seen the movie) claim that the film is completely unfair and mainly fiction, plus a valentine to Obama from Democratic Hollywood. But the filmmakers say it’s (sadly) all fact, except that Julianne Moore plays Palin even better than Palin played Palin.
The only thing surprising to me is that anyone at this late date would be surprised by any embarrassing facts about Palin. The truth has been known almost within hours of McCain lifting her out of obscurity back at the end of August 2008. There even persists in some quarters (including elements of mainstream media) the fantasy that Palin actually boosted McCain and drew support from women voters, when the facts (and the polls) always ran in the opposite direction.
Rather than in retrospect, I documented all this in real time in my daily pieces for Editor & Publisher, which were collected in my 2009 book and e-book Why Obama Won. This week I will be excerpting parts of that book here, leading up to the HBO film airing, to show how much was known about Palin immediately—not weeks, months or years later—and how many in the media distorted this for far too long.
September 17, 2008
A Wider Shade of Palin
It tries to stay ahead of the political curve, but this time Saturday Night Live was a bit behind the times. Its now-famous skit starring returnee Tina Fey as Sarah Palin closed with an especially cutting quip that came from Amy Poehler as Hillary. She advised journalists, clearly referring to the early swooning over Palin, to “grow a pair,” and if they couldn’t, they ought to borrow a pair from her.
But by then it was clear that, in the main, the mainstream media, for once, had cojones enough to go around.
One would like to think that the determination to vet a previously little-known vice-presidential candidate from an atypical, faraway state would have happened even if Palin and others in the McCain camp hadn’t dissed the media at the Republican convention and in the days that followed. Forget the Red/Blue civil war: This was “black and white and Red all over.” The McCain forces were saying, “Investigate, my friends, but we do not care what you find, and neither do the American people.” It reminds me of Gary Hart daring the media to keep a watch on him for any marital infidelities and… whoops.
It’s long been said, “you can’t lose by running against the media.” Well, I guess we will soon find out about that one.