We now have the ultimate proof that the sudden emergence of fraudulent conservative Donald Trump as a presidential “contender” has indeed sucked all the metaphorical oxygen out of the discussion of legitimate candidates. The E! Network just debuted its “Sarah Palin True Hollywood Story,” and hardly anyone in the news media seemed to care.
Just a few short months ago, such a scenario would have been almost unthinkable and I am sure that was a large part of the reason that the network decided to green light the project in the first place. Heck, has there ever been anything done of this magnitude on Sarah Palin and gotten less attention? I doubt it.
This is especially remarkable because, should Palin decide to run for president (I still think it is 60/40 that she will), this show targets the exact demographic with whom she will need to get a second chance in order to have a legitimate shot at beating President Obama: women who are not news junkies.
But even with the stakes legitimately high and the timing exceedingly relevant, the buzz created so far by the program has barely exceeded that of a typical Joe Biden appearance (one where he refrains from falling asleep or saying something criminally stupid).
There are many reasons for this and the media’s fixation on Trump is just one of them. Before I explain further, let me disclose that I was interviewed for the program and the memorable interview I did with Palin for my film “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted” was licensed by the producers and used extensively in the program (more on my interesting personal experience with the show later).
One of the many problems with this “documentary” is that it tries too hard to be “fair.” What I mean by that is that it takes an incredibly polarizing subject (Sarah Palin) and tries desperately to split the proverbial baby. Thus, the show neither pleases nor angers anyone.
Of course, we are taught that in journalism (if such a profession still exists) being “fair” is about as good as it gets, but I do not mean this analysis as a compliment. This is because the word “fair” has been co-opted within the news media to mean “the middle point between two different versions of the same story.”
This definition is the basis for much of the bias in the news media. It gets implemented this way: one side says two plus two equals four (or there abouts), while the other side claims two plus two actually equals something closer to fifty, and then the media declares that the “truth” must be somewhere in the middle. Of course this gives a massive advantage to the side that is the most extravagant liar, which, for many reasons, seems to usually benefit liberals.
I have no doubt that the “True Hollywood Story” producers thought the show they created was “fair” to Palin. One producer even e-mailed me during post-production to assure me that I would be “pleased” with the program.
After all, in most of the media Palin has been portrayed as an inept, uneducated, unintelligent extremist who is thoroughly corrupt (two plus two equals fifty), and since E! only made her look mildly unprepared, possibly crooked and overly ambitious, while also saying some very positive things about her, they were “easy” on her by comparison.
The fact that their “math” (two plus two equals about twenty-five) is still wrong is irrelevant to them. They came in between the conservative and liberal versions of Palin and therefore were “fair.” (Donald Trump seems to fully understand this rule, laughably claiming he is worth $8 billion so that the media will buy the already inflated estimates that he is worth $2 billion.)
A classic example of this phenomenon is that professional Palin-hater and blogger Shannyn Moore was not only interviewed for the show (despite having no special knowledge or expertise of Palin’s story) but was not even identified as someone with a vicious anti-Palin agenda, instead being described, with some undeserved respect, as a “radio talk show host.”
My guess is that, in “fairness world,” the producers probably rationalized that since a “Palin defender” like me was part of the show, they needed someone like Moore for “balance” (the notion that I would be thought of in the same vein as an embarrassment like Moore makes my stomach turn). Ironically, I am quite sure that Moore wasn’t thrilled with the show either since, based on the rather innocuous comments they used from her, they clearly left her most provocative/inaccurate statements on the cutting-room floor.
Unfortunately, many of the most important/truthful things I said in my interview (largely dealing with the many media myths created about Palin during the 2008 election, which are the focus of my documentary) also met the same fate, but for very different reasons.
After my taping with a producer, who had exaggerated his power in the production but who was more knowledgeable about the media sins committed against Palin than anyone who has ever interviewed me, I was asked to license my Palin interview for use in the show. Weirdly, they don’t pay interviewees but they legally have to pay for interviews they need but which were taped by others. Since Palin understandably didn’t do an interview for the show, they needed tape of her. I just had no way of knowing how badly they required it.
Without getting into all the confusing specifics, I was given two options on how the licensing would work. I took the one that would pay me less (we’re not talking big bucks here) but which I felt would incentivize them to use as much of my Palin interview as possible. I have always felt this interview (having very little to do with me) was the best and most important she has ever done. My main goal in this entire film project was to expose the most people I possibly could to the truth and I saw this as another great opportunity to make that happen.
As it turned out, E! used significantly more of the interview than I ever expected (with some clips being taken totally out of context). While I am pretty sure that, on balance, this was good for Palin, it didn’t work out so well for me. My good intentions not only undoubtedly cost me a significant amount of money (compared to if I had taken the other option), but it also meant that the program had the ability to use Palin herself on many of the same subjects that they asked me about. So in my effort to spread the word, I single-handedly cost myself money and air time. Now that is brilliant!
The bottom-line lesson of all of this is that it is nearly impossible, especially for a conservative, to get the full truth of a controversial subject into the mainstream. There are simply too many hurdles. Had “True Hollywood Story” lived up to their name and told the real truth of Sarah Palin (which the producer who interviewed me clearly knew), they would have risked antagonizing the Hollywood community. Once the initial narrative on a subject is set (usually by liberals), it acts like a gravitational pull from which all future stories will be forced to fight.
I have spent most of the last three years swimming against that tide when it comes to correcting the media coverage of Obama and Palin. I was never delusional enough to think that the truth would “win” this war, but this E! show was another missed opportunity to win a battle against the lies. It is also further evidence that the truth never really had a chance.
John Ziegler is currently a documentary filmmaker who most recently released a movie on the 2008 election called, “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” He has also been in radio talk show host in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Louisville and Nashville. Ziegler has written two books and has appeared live on numerous national television shows including the Today Show, The View, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC.