Documentarian and political activist John Ziegler produced the definitive film on media bias in the 2008 presidential election, Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted. We may soon see significant portions of John’s film repurposed for another look at Sarah Palin both then and now in a television program in two weeks. John tells me exclusively that E! Entertainment Channel has licensed his film for an upcoming “True Hollywood Story” look at Palin — and that Palin supporters may well be pleasantly surprised by the results.
According to John, E! will announce as early as today that the program will air on April 20th. John also took the time to answer a few questions from me via e-mail:
Q: You documented terrible media bias against Sarah Palin in your documentary Media Malpractice…How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted, and that involved the major news organizations. Now you say E! is doing a “True Hollywood Story” on Sarah Palin which will air April 20th. That sounds like a media-bias nightmare. Should Palin supporters “be afraid — be very afraid”?
A: I totally agree that on paper this would seem to be a disaster waiting to happen. After all, Hollywood tends to be at least as politically biased as the news media, but I have a feeling Palin supporters might be pleasantly surprised.
I could be wrong and I have been fooled before by lefty media members pretending they will be fair to get access (Howard Kurtz immediately comes to mind), but the E! producer I dealt with on this was far more knowledgeable about what really happened to Palin during the 2008 campaign than any mainstream media member I have been interviewed by since the film came out, including Matt Lauer and Barbara Walters.
E! interviewed me for two hours and every question was dead on. I am sure that means that they will use all of 45 seconds, but at least the real truth got put into the mix. The producer told me I would be pleased with the results, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I am sure I will have some strong opinions when it does.
Q: I find it curious that E! hasn’t already announced this project, given its short time frame for promotion. Did you expect them to make a bigger splash with this?
A: I agree that it is weird that no word of this show has leaked either officially or unofficially until this interview with you. The legal paperwork they gave me indicates a debut date of April 20th and producers indicated recently that they were on track for that and that they would start publicizing it two weeks in advance, which would basically mean today.
Q: They have licensed parts of your documentary for use in their program. What do believe the focus will be, based on your interactions with them?
A: They licensed my interview with Sarah Palin for the film in a way that indicates that they intend to use a decent chunk of it. I know for sure that they intended to use her reactions to the condescending Charlie Gibson interview. I hope they address half of the misconceptions about the 2008 campaign that I discussed in my interview with them. I know that even the technical people (which always seems to happen in such interviews) were very interested to hear that the real Palin was very different than the one they have been told about by the media.
Q: Does this new E! program have anything to do with the start of pre-production of “Game Change,” the upcoming HBO miniseries? Have you heard from HBO at all?
A: Not that I am aware of. The “True Hollywood Story” is a documentary format while “Game Change” will be a docudrama.
I am quite sure that “Game Change” will be beyond outrageous in its depiction of Palin and will expose a massive double standard that obviously exists in Hollywood when it comes to the “rules” for docudrama. As we are seeing with the “Kennedys” mini-series and saw with “The Path to 9/11,” when liberals don’t like a historical drama they literally don’t even need a substantive reason to censor it and can absurdly claim that all conversations depicted need to 100 percent proven to be used. Somehow, I am quite sure that “standard” will suddenly be dropped when it comes to Palin and “Game Change.”
Q: Did the Palins get a chance to work with the E! producers?
A: I know that they were offered that chance, but like most subjects of “True Hollywood Story,” they declined, which was probably the right call. I do know that many friends from Sarah Palin’s pre-fame days did participate and the producers were very interested in that portion of her story.
Q: Based on your interactions again, were the producers aware of the problems with the media coverage of Palin from 2008 forward?
A: Surprisingly so. I was shocked that a producer from E! would know more about what really happened than those from the news media. After all, E! is not exactly known for substance and Hollywood isn’t really a place where people are usually allowed to have anything other than the Tina Fey vision of Sarah Palin. I don’t know what they will actually use, but they asked me about nearly every key piece of “Media Malpractice” that occurred against her. They had clearly watched my film and I think I changed the minds of at least two of the crew members. Let’s hope that comes across in the actual show.
Q: If Palin wants to run for President, she will have to address the narrative that the mainstream media have built over the last three years. Is this an opportunity to do that?
A: Assuming the show is as fair as I think it will be, it certainly could be. This show will be shown numerous times on a network whose demographic is full of women who are not political junkies. This is exactly the demo that Palin would have to get a second chance with if she has a chance to beat President Obama.
Obviously she and I have both been burned before by media outlets, but I have my fingers crossed on this.
It would certainly be ironic if the most fair look at the Palins comes from not a traditional news organization that claims objectivity, but from a channel that focuses on entertainment. We’ll see what E! has to say later today, or this week.