Palin Aides Slam HBO’s ‘Game Change’ – Media Roundup – Update

As Steve posted earlier (and I later updated), Governor Palin’s current and former aides took aim at HBO’s fictional smear-u-drama during a conference call today with members of the media. Keep in mind that these are the people Governor Palin spent most of her time with and they are willing to sign their names to their statements, unlike most of the "sources" for the book and the movie.

Here are some of the reports from that call.

From the Associated Press:

Current and former aides to Sarah Palin lashed out Wednesday at HBO’s "Game Change," describing the upcoming film’s depictions of her on the 2008 campaign trail as "sick" and inaccurate.

None of the aides said they have yet seen the movie, which debuts March 10, and some said they had asked for an opportunity to screen the film but had been denied…

Aides said none of that jibes with their own experiences with the former Alaska governor, and they defended her vigorously Wednesday.

Jason Recher, who handled vice presidential road operations for the McCain-Palin campaign, called Palin "one of the most engaged public servants I’d ever observed." Tom Van Flein, her former personal attorney, called her diligent, sharp and enthusiastic about the campaign.

Meg Stapleton, a former spokeswoman, said that she, unlike some of the others who worked with Palin during the campaign, had not been contacted by anyone associated with either the book or movie.

"They don’t want to hear anything good," she said, her voice full of passion. "We all know Palin sells and the dramatization of Palin sells even more. This is sick."

"They mock Gov. Palin, you mock Gov. Palin, as weak and unable to cope and press forward," she told reporters on the conference call. "And the movie and the trailer … say that. And yet look with your own eyes at what she and her family have endured and inspired over the last few years. Any lesser man would have hanged himself by now. So who’s weak?"

Recher noted that Palin wasn’t the primary focus of the book, and he said he told screenwriter and co-executive producer Danny Strong that the book "absolutely, unequivocally" did not accurately reflect his time with the McCain campaign.

From the Washington Post:

Palin adviser Tim Crawford last week told The Fix that the movie “Game Change,” which is based on a book of the same name, is “fiction.”

In a conference call Wednesday, several former Palin advisers agreed.

“If the book was very misleading, the movie’s going to be far worse,” said Palin adviser Randy Scheunemann. “It gives fiction a bad name to call this fiction.”

The Palin aides repeatedly criticized the authors of the popular book, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, for writing about Palin when they weren’t physically there covering the things that were reported in the book.

“It’s a false narrative cobbled together by a group of people who simply weren’t there,” said Palin aide Jason Recher.

“There’s only one person qualified to tell that story, and it’s her,” said another, Doug McMarlin.

But Stapleton gave the most impassioned defense, accusing the media of an “insatiable desire to beat and beat and beat” Palin.

Stapleton also accused Steve Schmidt, a top adviser for the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008, of exacting revenge on Palin.

“Schmidt is infamous for lining up and destroy,” Stapleton said. “He is abusive, he is abrasive, and he is nothing short of a world-class bully.”

Scheunemann added: “I think it’s pretty clear that he’s at the heart of this.”

From the LA Times:

Sarah Palin’s associates slammed the makers of HBO’s upcoming movie "Game Change" in a phone call with reporters Wednesday, claiming the movie is a fictional trashing of the former Alaska governor, who is portrayed as clueless about foreign policy and emotionally unprepared for the pressures of the campaign.

Events depicted, they said, either did not happen or are out of character with the Palin they know.

They reserved their harshest words for former John McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, portrayed in the movie by Woody Harrelson. Schmidt plucked Palin from the relative obscurity of the Alaska governor’s mansion and brought her to the attention of then-GOP presidential candidate John McCain. After McCain lost, Schmidt said he regretted tapping Palin for the job.

The call was unusual, given that Palin’s staffers — even those who are designated her spokespeople — are notoriously averse to talking to the media. Four of the seven who participated — advisors Jason Recher, Doug McMarlin, Andy Davis and Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein — have rarely if ever spoken on the record to reporters.

The other three were SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford, who organized the call, former advisor Meg Stapleton and foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, who advised Palin during her debate preparation in 2008…

"Game Change," which is to air March 10, depicts Scheunemann explaining to Palin that Germany was the antagonist in both World Wars. (In the scene, a note-taking Palin, played by Julianne Moore, does not indicate whether she knew this or not.)

"The idea that there was at any point that Gov. Palin expressed any uncertainty as to who were the various sides in World War I or World War II … or any other war is absolutely untrue," Scheunemann said. "She was incredibly intelligent. She asked very informed questions. She was very interested and she wanted to understand John McCain’s view of foreign policy because she wanted to be the best possible vice presidential nominee."

Scheunemann and Recher said they were contacted by the filmmakers, but their positive views of Palin, they said, were not incorporated into the script. The others said they were not contacted.

From 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.

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.

Much more to come, I’m sure.

Update: From ABC:

Seven of Sarah Palin’s closest confidantes have yet to watch the HBO film “Game Change,” which portrays her 2008 vice presidential bid, but they said they have already seen enough.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, these current and former advisers to Palin, unleashed a torrent of criticism at the movie, which will premiere on Mar. 10.

Palin’s former aide Jason Recher dismissed it as a “false narrative cobbled together by a group of people who simply weren’t there…

“Looking at the trailers alone, get’s my blood boiling,” Palin’s former spokeswoman Meg Stapleton noted.

The three were joined by the treasurer of Palin’s political action committee, Tim Crawford, Palin’s former lawyer Tom Van Flein and aides, Doug McMarlin and Andy Davis. Crawford, Recher, McMarlin and Davis all currently have paid consulting contracts with Sarah PAC.

None of the seven have screened the film, but based on what they have seen in a two-minute trailer and what they know of the book, “Game Change,” authored by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, each said the movie presents an inaccurate portrait of Palin…

Stapleton savaged a clip in the movie trailer depicting Palin lying in a bathrobe in the fetal position surrounded by note cards. “That’s sinful,” she said.

Along with Schmidt, the seven supporters also aimed their fire at Nicolle Wallace, who served as a senior adviser to Palin in 2008, but has since turned on her.

“Steve and Nicolle are gifted communicators, but in the game of spin they’ll say anything,” said Davis, the political director for Sarah PAC.

(H/T: JLAdevelop)



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